I haven't been here in a while, and probably won't be here all that often.
However, if you are for whatever reason still interested in chatting or catching up with me you can find me on twitter under Audioworm, or on Sk.y.pe under ladoddsy.
Hope you're all having a pleasant time :)
This time in two weeks I will be sat in Mumbai airport, 7 hours through my 12 hour stop over, waiting to board my flight to Dubai.
My time in India is nearly up, and while I have enjoyed my time here, I am most definitely ready to go home
This hasn't quite dawned on me yet, as I didn't realise it was my birthday until I checked my phone and saw the date, but it still seems somewhat wrong. I'm no longer a teenager in any capacity (except maybe mentally) so I know have to actually pretend to be a grown up :o
Oh well, I hope everyone has a good day, because I am going to be stuck in the lab all morning, and then in the apartment by myself unless I can find anyone to eat dinner with.
The trip to Goa this weekend was one of the best trips I have been on while in India. The mixture of relaxation and exploration was pretty much spot on, and it allowed me to chill out enough considering how much I have to get crammed into the next few days.
I've been to Goa before, so getting there was pretty routine. We sat in our seats for an hour or so, chatting, before some elected to go up to the sleeper beds on top, so the rest of us could chill out on the seats. I ended up finishing Dirk Gently after about an hour of the journey (the book is fantastic, classic Douglas Adams) so had to borrow Ciaran's Stephen King 'On Writing' which I am thoroughly enjoying.
Once in Goa we got a taxi from the train station to our Hotel in Calungate, Hotel Fatima. Named after 'Our Lady of Fatima' which is a pretty common theme in Goa due to the heavy Portuguese influence on the area. It had gone midnight but we hadn't had dinner so we set off to find somewhere to eat. Luckily, this is Goa so everything is open until 3 or 4 in the morning, and after a small trek down the main road we settled on Hotel Linda, which was a bit of a mistake.
We were pretty much the only customers in the entire place, yet it took over an hour and a half to bring out 4 biryanis and then the brought me out a chicken one, so I had to wait another 15 minutes for them to change it. The place was despicably slow. We were all a little soured after that bad start to the weekend but went to Tito's lane (which is hilariously described as a 'rough area' by the 5 star hotels in Goa, and they actively discourage you going there) and found a bar to get a drink in and enjoy some of the Olympics (India is 4 and a half hours ahead of the UK so we get the Olympics late in to the evening).
Returning to the hotel we got 5-ish hours sleep before being awoken to go enjoy the day. We started with a fancy breakfast in the Nazri Hotel just across the road from where we stayed. It served a vaguely European breakfast and reminded me, without much fondness, of the resorts in the South of Spain. The food was acceptable though.
We then headed back to our hotel to pick up the car and bike we had rented. The bike was a standard motorbike, of reasonable power and reliability but the car was an old, quite banged up Gypsy 4x4, with an open top back. Two jumped on the bike (it was always two of the Indians) and the rest of us piled into the car. Driving along the Indian roads in an open top car was almost always a fun experience, even when we were caught in the rain.
We drove out of Calungate and headed towards the old fort in Goa. We set out across the beach and then climbed the mound upon which the fort had been built. It was now mostly ruins, with only the main wall still standing in any sort of grandeur, but the signs of human influence were all over the place. The carved pits, vertical juts, and grass covered stair cases showed that nature had begun to reclaim the hill again.
We relaxed at the top, enjoyed the view, and just soaked up the atmosphere. We were wondering around, exploring the nooks and crannies of the place when Ciaran and I noticed the looming rain cloud billowing in off the sea. Maybe it was because as residents of Ireland and Wales we are used to watching for rain clouds, or maybe the Indians just aren't used to seeing them come in that way, but we knew it was going to be heavy. We quickly started to assemble everyone and try to head back down the hill. We couldn't find Fri, or the rest of the Indians at the top so we assumed they had already begun the descent, as the clouds were pretty ominous.
Just as we started to descend the rain started, and it was extreme. The rain was blowing in horizontally and in a huge volume. My usually oversized umbrella was barely holding up to it, and was only keeping a small part of my person dry (I elected for this to be the part with my mobile phone and wallet). The rain kept up at this ferocity for the entire descent. Just as we made it back to the beach the rain eased off, and we got a call from Fri asking us where we were. It turns out he had been at the top and had taken shelter from the rain and was now alone. While he was coming down we realised that Havaz had slipped on the way down and cut his arm up on barbed wire, which meant we would have to get him to a clinic somewhere, but he seemed in good spirit and said that he would just get everyone back to Calungate and then go deal with it.
We headed back to the car in hope of using the nearby bar for shelter while we waited for the others, but on the walk back the cloud cover cleared and the baking heat returned to dry everything off. Good show, Goa.
After a we had been waiting a while for the Indians to return we began to call and ask where they were, and they told us they were waiting further up the road, walking down, and asked if we could go pick them up. As Havaz was the only Indian with us, he asked me to drive the bike up to them, but I protested and volunteered to take the car instead.
Until this weekend it had been about a year since I had last driven. Even though I passed my driving test first time, I never needed a personal car, and then cost behind them (mainly insurance) is too high for me to see it as viable. I am occasionally insured on my parent's car when I go home, but this year of University has been pretty sparse on the home visits, and when I do return they are generally very brief. So getting into a slightly beaten up old 4x4, on Indian roads, was a slightly unexpected experience, but I was looking forward to it.
All cars pretty much drive the same, though this one was loose in all the wrong places. The handbrake was a little hit and miss, and would sometimes get stuck up, and other times not seem to work at all. The bite was extremely loose and a lot of throttle was needed to catch it on the hill start (yeah, the jeep was parked on a hill when I was given the keys), and there was no power steering, which was coupled with a wheel that had a lot of give before the wheels of the car actually turned.
After a slow start of trying to start on a hill and spin it so it was facing the right way, in a small car park, I got back in to the swing of driving and was off. The first gear change up to 2nd was a shock as the gear box felt like it was never in gear, and I was merely pushing the stick to where I hoped there was a gear and coincidentally, there was. A quick jaunt down the Indian roads, managing to squeeze by a few lorries and buses we met up with the Indians who had come down the other side of the hill. They took back control (something to do with licenses) and then we drove off to another beach.
I don't remember the name of this beach, but we didn't spend long there. It was rainy and windy, with an extremely rough sea, and worst of all, extremely beach merchants. The off season inspires desperation, so the merchants hound you for your attention and the attempt of a sale. After an amusing lowering of their price I picked up a piece of trash bracelet for 10 Rs. It isn't particularly Indian, but it is something to have until it breaks apart in a few weeks.
After the beach we decided to head to Baga (the beach next to Calungate) because it was more touristy, so we could get a drink and a bite to eat. We found a nice little place on the beach, where we sat for a few hours and enjoyed the view (which included a tight-roping child who was impressively talented) of the beach as the sun set. After spending far too long by the beach we headed back to the hotel to shower, and for some to enjoy the pool the hotel had. It was a bit of a crappy pool, with 4 strokes covering the length (or 8 of the Indian strokes. I am a bad swimmer, but even I can swim better than the Indians), but it passed.
We jumped back in the car and headed for a nice restaurant called de Baga Deck which served some pretty good food. I ordered the pasta and was impressed with how nice it tasted, and compared to the two first pasta dishes I had in India, which were vile, it was a nice contrast. After the dinner we once again we returned to our hotel, and the rest of them had a few drinks, while I rested my eyes (remained mostly conscious but was able to recharge myself). Ciaran headed out to the bar from the previous night to watch the Boxing, Ireland's only medal hope left, and we waited around with the intention to join him later.
When we eventually went to join him, we took the car out again and somehow managed to miss him as he headed to the hotel. Our destination was a fast food joint called McCain's which was apparently I must visit because of it's famous Garlic Cheese Naan, which I will admit was delicious, but my appetite in India has drastically reduced so I was still full from dinner. After the food was consumed we bought a litre of fuel (which you can do here, the stores just have petrol in water bottles) we jumped in the car and went to explore Goa while was quiet.
Havaz drove us out of Calungate and we headed for a beach somewhere to East but we drove into a rain storm, which is not fun in an open top car, so we turned around and headed off further South. We ended up in a small Catholic town and got out for a wander. This turned into a 15 minute dawdle down residential back streets as we looked for the sea (which we could hear) until as we entered a very dense residential area and we heard an old lady shouting out to us, asking us who we were and what we were doing. We couldn't see her but knew we had entered the wrong area so did an about turn and moved back to the car with haste. This haste somehow attracted the local dogs who hounded us as we quickly moved back to the car.
When we got back to the car Havaz decided it was time to turn the tables on us complaining about his driving and gave Caitlin the keys. Me and Caitlin both hold British driving licences so it isn't much of an issue with the actual driving, but the car is a bit of a love-child. She did a pretty neat job, though I suspect this was due to her extreme caution and never leaving third.
As we approached Calungate she hopped out and Havaz drove us down towards the fort we went in the morning, but we stopped early to enjoy the massive reservoir. This stop was less eventful, as we were in the middle of no where, so we quickly hopped back in and I was given the keys. The road back to Calungate was a lot smoother than Caitlin's, and the roads a lot straighter so I got to enjoy the ride a lot more as I had fewer concerns to worry about. Driving is something I really used to enjoy, and the gap from it had lead me to believe that I didn't care too much anymore but driving in Goa (which made you feel like a rally driver) really brought back the fun.
We called it a night once I pulled up outside Hotel Fatima and we slept for a few brief hours.
The Sunday morning was slow, as we slowly awoke over two hours, packed up and then moved over to the Nazri hotel for lunch. The food there was good, not as good as the restaurant but it was good nontheless. The pool there was significantly nicer than Fatima's and after lunch there was a good four hours spent by the pool, which involved swimming, and then for me a huge amount of reading.
Having finished Dirk Gently I have borrowed Ciaran's Stephen King's 'On Writing' which is a fascinating read for me. It is part biography, and part blunt instructions on how not to screw it up royally. I love grammar, I find it fascinating, so listening to someone with such a command of American English (a distinction he comments on, and complements British English, but expresses that the only use of British English in the world market is the majestic poise that can be obtained with the pedantry of British English) talk about the importance of grammar, and how some parts should not be used, while others should solely be used. I love it.
After we'd been in the hotel for far too long we moved back to the beach shack from the day before, passing by all the stalls and markets, so that when the time came, we could get a taxi for the first leg of our journey home.
The taxi leg was the simplest and most relaxing, after which the journey became manic. We transferred from the taxi to a bus that took us Margao, and then got in a bus (we should have got in rickshaws) that said it would take us to the train station. The driver had said he would take a lot of people places, so we were basically in an over sized taxi. After shouting at the driver we arrived at the station with 5 minutes to spare before our train left. We got on in a panic, but had made it.
The weekend was a blast, and the few hours of reading and sleep on the train where a nice way to cap it all off.
I am still in India (I am here until the 16th of September) and I am enjoying myself now. My luggage is here, internet now works in my flat, my work has started and I have started visiting other places around the country.
We just got back from Hampi which is a town full of old temples and ruins, which was pretty impressive, and we climbed up to the Monkey Temple on top of the tallest hill in Hampi which lead to me getting exceptionally burnt. I have pictures, but I have slow, limited internet here.
I'm in Dubai right now, stopping over on my way to India :)
I arrived on Friday morning (after having not slept on the Red Eye flight over so hugely jetlagged) and I leave at midnight tonight. The UAE is a mental country which is really nice but also insanely decadent.
In less than a week I leave for three months of work in India.
I'm working at the Manipal Institute on their super-conducting nano-film work, I think mostly as a lab monkey doing optical and chemical tests.
It's really quite soon
'Science is hard. So I shall ignore it and pick my own answer'
The amount of rage that sentiment fills me with is ridiculous.
I think I may be wired differently but that line of thought just does not sit with me at all. I like to learn, I like to explore, I like to see working explanations. I like being rational.
More worryingly, if kids are allowed to get through the US education system without a basic understanding of evolution then America feels needs to sort itself out.
So much annoyance, too tired to formulate into several thousand words of angry rebuttal
My exams for January are now completely done. As am I.
I don't think I have felt so drained in a very long time. I've been living on a really crappy schedule recently which has left me getting very little sleep and at an inconsistent times. Getting up at 5AM this morning didn't help but a morning exam required it.
I now have 10 days to mellow out, recover from sleep and get my body in a state where it may be able to actually attend lectures. I think I am going to go play a lot of video games
After about 10 days of cramming in as much as work as possible, meeting about 5 deadlines and not sleeping all that much I can finally relax.
But I can't as I am part of the committee holding, running and competing in the national debating competition here in Swansea. I have six lovely people from Aberystwyth crashing in my front room, and I have to be up at around 7AM tomorrow to get a shower before they all do, and then take them somewhere for breakfast and then get them all to the University in time to register for the competition.
I best that means I should try and get 7 hours of sleep (which seems like way too much, which is probably a very bad thing)
Laurence Brewer, the remorseless killer of James Byrd Jr. was executed in Texas yesterday
Troy Davis, convicted of killing Mark MacPhail, was executed yesterday in Georgia after being forced to wait for a torturous four hours while the Supreme Court decided if he was to live or die.
One was guilty, one was possibly innocent. Neither deserved to die
Part list permalink /
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series H60 74.4 CFM CPU Cooler
Motherboard: MSI P67A-GD53 (B3) ATX LGA1155 Motherboard
Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory
Hard Drive: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Hard Drive: Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB 2.5" Solid State Disk
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 6950 2GB Video Card
Case: Corsair CC600T ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply: XFX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-B123L/RSBP Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)
(Generated 2011-09-17 00:23 BST+0100)
I am known for my general anti-establishment views and support of the power of the mass, but there is no defence of the actions this evening.
There is no cause being fought for here, there is no message to spread, there is no idealogical clash here. Just criminality and theft.
I hate people, truly hate them
And managed to speak to two of them. Neither of them who were willing to donate. I got 125 voicemails and 13 parents. By the time the end of the day came I was prepared to beat my head in against a wall.
And why did it have to be the day where everyone else made over £1000 in donations each. The Universe is conspiring against me
...became President, would that make America a theocracy?
Michelle Bachmann: "And in the midst of that calling, God then called me to run for the United States Congress."
Theocracy: A political unit governed by a deity (or by officials thought to be divinely guided)
I know it is a loose definition but it seems to fit her belief that she was told to run by G-d, which would imply she believes she was divinely guided