29 September 2008

Congratulations, Welcomings, and Celebrations... oh my!

First of all, congratulations to Dr Matthew Carrillo who, on Monday 22 September, officially passed the Florida Bar. Stop by Gainesville Running and Walking and congratulate him. While you're there, get fitted for some shoes!

New Roommate
Dylan finally arrived in Goa last Friday (19 September). After such an exhausting trip from Seattle via way of Germany and then Mumbai, Dylan still managed to stay awake and share his experiences with Tony and me over breakfast at the Marriott. He has quite the teacher—having already taught me how to properly hold a guitar—and is already contributing to projects at work. Unfortunately, he has had some problems with his computers—blown capacitors and Blue Screens of Death (BSOD). Macs are so much easier. ;-) Regardless, our Goan triumvirate is now complete.
Dylan and Tony showing Chris their new iPod 3Gs

India's Coke
Yes, there is delicious Coca-Cola here. But, at one point, Coke was banned in India. Or maybe just parts of India. In fact, soft drinks have a rocky history in India. This is all anecdotal; I can't really find much on the inter-webs about it. Anyway, Thumbs Up is a popular soft drink that was bought by the Coke company. At the suggestion of my friend and co-worker, Wiebs, I decided to try some. It's very similar to Coke with a little bit more Indianness in it. I'm not sure what that means, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. I probably won't ever buy it again, but you've got to try new things when you're in new places.
500 mL bottle of Thumbs Up

Birthday Extravaganzas
There were four birthdays this past week among our circle of friends. Two of which were celebrated in excellent style. There are photos on facebook as well as my Picasa page. One of them was catered by an excellent chef and had a full bar. I did manage to end up in the pool by the end of the night. It was an amazing Infinity pool which over looked the ocean. So it basically felt like I was on the edge of the world. Anyway, it would have been even better with all y'all here, so come visit soon!
Dylan and me in the Infinity Pool at the Edge of the World


07 September 2008


Panaji police station decorated for Ganesha ChaturthiPanaji police station decorated for Ganesha Chaturthi

It has been quite a week. Work is as fun as ever. I feel like I'm already contributing to the company. I'm safely navigating Goan roads on my scooter (yes, mom, I do have a helmet and yes, I do wear it). Of course, this doesn't mean the adventure is over. Far from it.


Lord Ganesha is an elephant-headed Hindu deity. To save you a trip to Wikipedia, here's a summary. As a young deity, Ganesha would protect Parvati, his mother, from anyone who would try to disturb her as she bathed in the river. One day, Shiva, Ganesha's father, returned from war and wished to see Parvati. Since Shiva had been away, neither recognized the other and so Shiva chopped Ganesha's head off. It was later replaced by an elephant's.

Anyway, so Ganesha Chaturthi is the annual celebration of Ganesha's earthly reincarnation. The length of the festivals vary from a day to seven or more days. At the end, Ganesha devotees return him to the sea.

Going Local
So around one in the morning, I heard people walking and singing in the streets. I took some video from my balcony and returned to watching anime, when it hit me. I'm in India, I need to get out there!

Ganesha devotees waiting for statues
I drove around for a bit and found the group of people huddled behind the back of a covered truck, waiting. Naturally, I had no clue what was happening, but waited around anyway; trying to get close enough to act like I was in the know, but far enough not to get directly involved.

There were about eight statutes handed out in total. Each one was given to groups of five to ten people. In a very organized fashion, as each group received their statute, they moved down towards the beach. Once everyone had their statues, I was alone in the road wondering what to do next. Just then, one of the participants looked at me and smiled.

I asked if I could follow through awkward sign language. He motioned me to follow, so I quickly ran up to him and said hello. His name was Chris. A friendly, hairstylist from Goa but currently working in Dubai. Chris explained to me what was happening (basically everything I wrote in the previous section). Afterward, we all ate some sweet, coconut desserts. Chris told me that everyone had abstained from eating fish and meat and would now go home and break the meat-fast.

I have plenty more videos which I would love to share, but don't feel like struggling with Blogger to upload anymore. The whole experience was quite interesting and I owe a special thank you to my Che-Guevara-t-shirt-wearing tour guide.

Birthday Bumps
Now I knew my co-workers were as crazy if not crazier than I am, but I was in for a real surprise on Tuesday. Once a month, RZ2 Games has a party for everyone who had a birthday that month. To quote our company president, "In India, on your birthday, you get your ass kicked and have cake smeared in your face." Can't wait til December!

Here's how it works: four guys pick you up by your legs and arms and everyone kicks you. Then, you cut your cake and instead of getting to eat the first piece, it's placed on your face.
What's the number for 9-1-1?
In America, when you are in trouble and in need of help, you call 9-1-1. In the UK, 9-9-9. So what's the fire/medical/police hotline number in India. Ha. Are you serious? No.

UPDATE: Actually, the very next day after making a note to mention the lack of such a number in my next blog entry, Goa announced that it had a number to dial in the event of an emergency. It's 1-0-8. A little harder to remember than 9-1-1, but still, nice to know it's there. Given the ubiquitous nature of text messaging here, I think one can even text HELP to 1-0-8 for assistance. Probably.

Oh, and I added a bunch of pictures to my Picasa Web album.


01 September 2008

Everyone loves Bob Marley

Just a quick note, everyone loves Bob Marley. When we're chilling by the beach, sippin on some tropical drinks, and the DJ puts on some Marley, you know you're in a good place. Everyting aiight, mon!

Kya (pronouced like Kia, the car company) means what in Hindi. My friend Rinan offered to give Tony and me Hindi lessons. Thursday was our first lesson. We went to a local, Portuguese restaurant called Venite. We ordered barbeque pork chops, beef pepper steak, and some salads with advocados and prawns. I was shocked that they actually have advocados here as I haven't been able to find that, black beans, or romaine lettuce. Rinan has assured me that all of these are obainable here, so I'm really psyched.

Wake-up call
I've been in Goa for a little over two weeks now. For the most part, this place is great even during the off-season (also known as the Monsoon season which can last from April until September). If you're planning a visit, however, it should be sometime between late October and early March as you are guarenteed perfect weather.

So, the wake-up call? It's a rooster. You know the domesticated bird that cock-a-doodle-doos at sunrise to welcome a new day? Apparently, the Good Lord didn't see it fit to equip our neighborhood alarm clock with a brain, so it can be heard crowing at 3:30 in the morning, around 5, again at 6ish, 7, 8, noon, 4 in the afternoon, or whenever it needs to breathe.

On Friday night, Tony and I were tired of all the drinking we'd been doing and the dancing and the karaoke, so we decided to take it easy and caught "Wanted" at the local INOX movie theater. Surprisingly, the theater was much nicer than most places in the States that I had been to. The tickets were Rs 180 (~$4.12) each, the drinks were cheap (no ice of course), and we were checked for weapons at the door.

India is very patriotic. So, before the previews started, the Indian national anthem was played. Also, intermission. That's right, half way through the movie, there was an intermission. But if you're one of those people who try to see a double-feature by returning to the lobby after the movie, you're out of luck. They have staff stationed to prevent anyone from re-entering the lobby.

We're going to the fair!
Just kidding. I mean, there was a fair. Complete with a Ferris wheel and boat-pendulum ride. In addition to these death traps, there was a variety of vendors selling cloth and jewelry.

Jesse met Vicky at a pool party in Delhi last week. She's from London and was on her way to a wedding in Bangalore, but was first stopping in Goa. Jesse volunteered Tony and me to act as her tour guides, which was fun. We met at Britto's Restaurant right on Baga beach. The food and converstation were interesting. We met some guys from Germany who were on vacation as well as a family from the UK who were moving to Pune, India where the father was helping start a school. How great is that?

The next day we hung out at the Marriott. We ordered some margaritas and cheese burgers and enjoyed a full afternoon of lying poolside overlooking the delta. Vicky's into sunsets, so we had two nice ones this weekend and she was happy. I hope everyone from the UK is as cool as she is.

Final Thoughts
India has many problems to address. Like the US, India's education system is in need of much improvement. Unlike the US, however, not every child is given the opportunity to get an education. At the risk of exposing my naivety, I failed to make the mental connection between the lack of opportunity and the hundreds of child-beggars I've seen here. It's scary to think with a country of over three hundred million children, that most of them aren't getting educated. Just imagine the chaos that can be caused by someone's ignorance and multiply that by a couple hundred million.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of intelligent, educated Indians. These are the ones that have been fortunate enough to afford an education. I think education should be the top priority of not only India, but the United States as well.