Posted in Daily post

Bud and Two leaves

tea

I was pleasantly surprised with the Daily word prompt – TEA.

My glorious childhood was among’st this backdrop.  Sri Lanka’s upcountry was mainly adorned by Tea estates.  But this was no ordinary Tea Estate.  This was my little utopia.

My dad worked as a Scientist at the Tea Research Institute (TRI) in Sri Lanka.  Tea being the major export of the country, this research facility also was one of the largest organisations of the country.  It was also important to establish the research centre where the Tea actually grew rather than in a major city.

Very large laboratories of all disciplines such as Bio Chemistry, Entomology, Pathology etc were established with the latest equipment’s.  All the staff were given Housing. Rather beautiful and luxuries houses were built for the staff.  They were maintained by TRI as well.  The lawns were mowed, regularly painted and furniture’s were upgraded. Most of these things were primarily established by the British.  So you did get a feel of the British presence in the decor and style of the Bungalows.

We had our own transport.  Buses for the staff and their family to go to school, shopping etc.  A large fleet of cars with drivers for staff and family.  Our own little hospital and medical facility, Post Office,  Telecom and even a  Water dam and purification plant. Our own club house, sporting venues the list goes on.

We were all removed from our core extended families.  This became our extended family.  It’s not a cliche’ when I say, we lived together in harmony without any racial or other disputes.

The labs were my playground.  This was the era before Occupational Health and Safety or Work Cover mandates.  But we didn’t have any accidents, this was also an era where people used something called common sense.  We didn’t need a sign that said “Slippery when wet”.  Anyway, coming back to my playground or playgrounds, I had no siblings and no playstation or any other electronic device.  Not even internet, so I had to learn to amuse my self and I lived mostly outdoors.

The soil here was really great.  Everyone had a great garden filled with flowers, fruit treas and vegetables.  Constantly we would exchange our produce.  I spent most of my time up a fruit tree.  When I got bored with that I would walk to the lab. On the way I would frolic through the Tea fields, run up and down the extensive stairs that went from the Tea Factory to the Lab.  Every one knew me.  I was like the common village dog, that was fed by every butcher.

I mainly played in the Bio Chemistry Department as that’s where my dad worked.  But I knew the entire geography of all other labs as well and had at least one friend in each department.  Yeah I know they were grown ups and I was a kid, but they were still my friends and showed me “cool” stuff.  I knew to operate the centrifuge and I played with Magnets.  I knew about Poly Phenol’s long before I went to high school.  When I think about it now, it wasn’t really playing, my dad was teaching me Science and I was doing science experiments.

One bud and two leaves – all that is plucked to produce tea.  Silver tip is the only one uses just the buds and hence the high cost.  I would accompany my dad on many of the guided tours he would take our visitors and I knew all this information long before I started school.

dad stamp

The above is my dad on an old Sri Lankan Postal Stamp. He is injecting radio active isotopes into tea leaves to study the pattern of the nutrients movement.  Nutrients from the root did not evenly go all over the plant.  The mother leaf (the bigger leaf on the bottom) fed the one on top and so forth.  When you removed the big leaf right underneath baby leaf, the leaves further down acted as a surrogate and fed the bud.

That was one amazing child hood, it all came to an end when I lost my dad at 19. Such is life, still grateful that I had this childhood and to all the uncle’s and aunties of TRI who were there for us then and even now.  Children of TRI hold a special bond.  All of us grown up and adults now.  But most of us are still in contact even from different parts of the world.

Disclaimer:  It’s a long time since I left TRI, some information shared here may not be completely accurate.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tea/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/soil/

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=two+leaves+and+a+bud+book&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjV17SrzLDVAhXEF5QKHS14DU0Q1QIIdSgB

 

https://www.google.com.au/search?biw=1280&bih=894&q=tea+plantations+sri+lanka+nuwara+eliya&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjHvd7KzrDVAhWLe7wKHX6UATAQ1QIIuwEoAQ

 

 

Posted in Australian Politics, India, Jobs, Jobs going overseas

Aussie Jobs Going Overseas

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The topic for today is Aussie jobs going over seas.
 
While we gripe about those coming on 457 Visa to work in Aussie Businesses, we are losing much larger amount of jobs to overseas companies and not realising it, just giving in without much complain. IT Call centers was I guess the beginning. We’ve all experienced the feeling of annoyance when we ring our Telco companies. Our mood is already at breaking point because the internet is not working or the phone, and add to that to be answered by someone who from the get go you know is not going to fix the problem. He/she has an answering sheet, same solution “after you pull the socket out of wall, press it with a ball point and say “Ohm Shiva” (sorry I am not being a racist here, I am just peeved to the core). Anyway, what have we done about fixing that issue, Well nothing, more and more Aussie companies are establishing their call centres overseas.
 
Along with that we are losing more supporting industries such as accounts departments to overseas as well. Yes, I have a vested interested in it as I am losing customers. But my annoyance goes further than my own personal gain/loss.  If these overseas establishments are doing a good job, I wouldn’t care so much. Not that I wouldn’t care but at least I will have to acknowledge that if a company could perform a task for half the cost but with the same efficiency, yes I will have to bow down and accept it.  But, my outburst today comes from having to deal with these companies on behalf of my local clients.  Whether it be Philippines or India, it is the same drama.  I am not sure who they employ in these places, if they actually have an accounting background or not.  Even if they had, whether they are familiar with our practices, laws and overall business culture.  
I have had payments made regularly minus the GST amount.  When you send them an email explaining this, it will then go through a million chain email from one person to another.  You wonder if it is worth the drama to be chasing for $14.97 for three months.  How should I write it off as, along with “Bad Debts” as account category, should have another one called “no understand GST”
Today’s outburst comes from an issue that I have been dealing with for a client of mine.  This clients’ client was an excellent payer.  I never had to pick up the phone chasing payments.  Like clock work the payments arrived on time along with a remittance advice.  End of last year I saw a new pattern emerging.  Suddenly I had to start sending emails and even phone calls chasing for payments or remittance advises.  Payments started coming in late and sometimes late and short paid.  Then since March nothing.  Client slowly revealed that they’ve gone overseas for the final stage of processing the invoices.  So, I would be sending the email to my clients office in Adelaide and then he would send it to Melbourne and then it goes to India.  Between May to date I think I have been through roughly 20 -25 emails, and god knows how many phone calls.  Each email gets more interesting than the previous.  I had dates given to me about payments made for the March and April invoices.  Again this email would have gone through five people before it comes to me,  I would then go back to the original bank statements to see if any payments had come through, that I may have mistakenly allocated to someone else.  Nope, so I would start the next chain of emails, saying no such payment has been made to our account on that day, before that day or after that day.
I received an interesting email today.  It came straight from India.  It started apologising for the delay in payments, they have identified that payments were not made since March. “Hallelujah”, finally I thought.  Anyway, I stopped reading there, as I wanted to finish the normal routine stuff first and then to come back to this email.  Anyway, if they’ve made the payment, I don’t really care for the rest of the fairy tale. So I went back to finishing the mundane stuff.  End of the bank reconciliation to my disappointment I realised that there was no payment from them.  So I went back to read the email to see if and when the payment would be made.
Mr Rahul Blah Blah Blah has sent me the email and has cc’d the email to another billion pen pushers and starts off by saying that they give their sincere apologies and after reconciling their accounts have found invoices dated after March have not been paid. “Finally” I thought, we are on the same page. He has given detailed information of the past invoices and when they were paid etc.  Advising me that I should reconcile my accounts according to that.  I felt like “Asterix” and “Oblix”
oblix toc toc toc
Well the email continues on to advise me that after I reconcile my accounts as per THEIR advise to print out a current statement and to send it to him directly and he will make the payment the following Monday.   I have sent him a very polite email cc’ing the rest of the Rahul’s, Gupta’s  and along with the rest of the Australian entourage.  So in short, the saga continues.
But this is a serious issue to think about.  More and more jobs are going overseas. Whether it be accounts departments, IT or Manufacturing.  I understand that our wages and other wage related expenses are slightly on the upper bracket leaving businesses with a smaller margin of Profit (in theory).
In my opinion I think it is mainly the medium to small businesses are the ones who are most affected by our high award rates and workcover, super and other industrial awards obligations, and receive the least amount of assistance from the Government.  There are many obligations (including financial payments) that needs to be met by businesses that venture into employing staff from overseas on the 457 visa.  Most locals are not aware of these things and the Governments don’t explain this either when they go for their vote grabbing slogans.
I wonder if there are same or if any requirements for companies that go overseas to subcontract their company functions? When we lose jobs to overseas, aren’t we then losing the PAYG revenue as well.
Talking about IT call centres going overseas, I had an interesting conversation a couple of weeks ago with the Tax departments IT help centre.  Guess where that call went to?  I am some one who is skeptical about “Cloud” servers so imagine how I feel about our ATO going to India.
Politicians constantly talk about job creation.  Before we talk about creating jobs, we should think about not losing the ones we have.  Each year University students find it almost impossible to find internships in Australia especially in Engineering and medical fields and some have no option but to go overseas.  Some even have to pay for their internships.  Same predicament once they graduate.  They have to go overseas for the jobs.  All this for the CEO to have fatter cheque.  I am not suggesting a Communist or a socialist policy here.  But there has to be a balance.  Total Capitalism will ruin the core social structure.  We still need some parts of the societies needs to be owned/met by the Government.  Governments shouldn’t be influenced by big businesses nor by the unions. Unions are a necessary organisation to keep businesses accountable, and could be a very important body for negotiation of the two parties.  But bullying by either party should not be tolerated/condoned by the Governments.
My blood pressure has come down.  Time for a refill cuppa.
Please Note: I have nothing against Indians or Phillipines or whoever else from the rest of the world.  But completely against our jobs going to whoever else other than Aussies (who are paying taxes in our country)
Posted in Goa, India, travel, True Story, Inspirational

Destination Goa (Part 9)

Goa beach

We moved from Baga Beach to Candolim for the last leg of the Holidays.  Beautiful Hotel, slightly pricier and more up market than Acron.  Can’t really fault any of the facilities. customer service, etc.  Beautiful setting right on the beach, amazing gardens, decor etc, etc.  however, I felt it lacked the personal touch.

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HA..  Yes, had to snap that one.

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Amazing spa, massage treatments. We got ourselves thoroughly spoiled. We didn’t do too much sightseeing after we came to Candolim.  But we did roam the roads during the day and sometimes late evening/ early night.

We came across couple of great restaurants.  Soi was one of our favourites.  For many reasons – good food, great service and so close to our hotel.  When the mercury hits high, along with humidity, you just don’t want to drag that leg of yours too far.

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Loved the sign in front of Tuscany, showed that when you are on holidays just take it easy.  Throw away that schedule.  Gutsy move for a business though. We wanted to check the place just because of the sign. But neither of us were in the mood for Italian food.  Maybe next time.

Months of planning, then finally the day arrives for our flights from opposite hemispheres to take off, then 1.00 am in the middle of Mumbai Airport, two 50 years old’s, hugging and almost shrieking like two teenagers, then the late night chats about our personal lives, we cried for each other, we advised each other, we laughed at each other and tomorrow it comes to an end. We say good bye to Goa and to each other.

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Adios Goa.

I will make another post to cap off everything.  Especially about my trip back via Mumbai, my misconceptions about India etc.  I think I owe them that much.

 

 

Posted in Goa, Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Politics, travel, True Story, Inspirational

Destination Goa (Part 8)

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As they say it’s been a long time between drinks.  But in my case there has been many drinks but not much writing.  What are the excuses that I can pin it on … broken finger, work and possibly a lack of interest or if I am to be totally honest and say addiction to Asian Teledramas. I know how stupid it sounds but I think it was an escapism. Started with watching Japanese dramas with subtitles with the excuse of learning the language, then I ran out of Jap dramas so I merged to Taiwanese so I started to learn a bit Mandarin.  I have now progressed to Korean.  Finding Korean hard to learn.  Its a bit like French and German, similar grammar patterns but German has a stronger accent making it hard to pronounce than Japanese.  The two subjects I started to write about has brought about the writers block.  What I am finding out is that travelling is great but writing about it is not so much.

The other piece that I am currently writing is about my friend whom I lost in the civil war in Sri Lanka.  In all my other writings/stories I hardly had to think about the audience.  But, somehow in this one I am aware of the audience.  Not necessarily because I am scared to upset the Sri Lankan readers, I think the issues that I am touching upon are necessary for reconciliation, it’s an actual snapshot of real life in a war torn country, along with other social issues, in my opinion an unbiased recount of evils of both sides.  I am not by any means condoning Terrorism but, I do visit the possible reasons for the birth of one.  In this regard feel it’s an important topic for the current climate in the world.  Prevention is always better than a cure.  My reason for writing this story is probably as most times to heal my heart of losing my dear friend Lalith.  I have probably a lot of anger inside me regarding this.  But the irony is I come from the clan that killed him.  I haven’t settled on a title either.  I have changed it so many times “Friendship and war”, “Friend from the other side”, “Friendship across enemy lines” the last one I have come up with is “Ammba Yalluwa” which translates to something like childhood friend/soul mate.  I think I might settle with that.

I am usually not worried about offending someone when I write, but in this story I am and that is really having an effect on my writing.  Discussing this with my son, he started to say, you can’t really worry about offending people, it’s your thoughts, it’s your reasoning, it’s your point of view.  I get that but this subject is a hard one.  This is not a subject where I tell a Christian what I think of his Anti Gay sentiments.  The wounds go deeper than that in this.  As a Tamil who lived amongst the Sinhalese and understood them way better than my own kith and kin from Jaffna (north of Sri Lanka) my so called unbiased views may not sit well with those who were tortured by the Sri Lankan Army. My views on why Terrorism grew in Sri Lanka will not be accepted by the Sinhalese either.  My sister-in-laws friend and mum who had to witness her two brothers and her dad being burnt alive will never accept my theories and explanations about the Sinhalese.  Lalith’s family never thought that all tamils were terrorists and they all had to die.  However, wrong that theory is, I will have to accept that anger.  Arj (my son) said something that really hit the nail.  “Emotions aren’t rational, there is no way you could explain to kid in Syria that the Americans are nice people”  All that kid has, heard, seen and experienced is the opposite.  It is such a charged subject, I want to do justice to this story, but I am so torn as well.

I started to write about Goa and I have written two paragraphs of my other project.  So, lets start about Goa.  Today’s topic is Goan food, music and culture.

Maybe the reason I fell in love with Goa is due to the similarities of Goa and Sri Lanka. They were both Portuguese Colonies and hence the similarities I guess.  But it’s just uncanny how similar Goa is to Sri Lanka and how different it is to the rest of India.

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The above is stuffed okra.  That was one of my favourite dishes (that I took a photo of before digging into it first).  I don’t think Sri Lanka has a stuffed okra dish, but similar to stuffed banana chillies.   Similar dishes are pan rolls (in sri lanka we call them Chinese rolls not sure why because I don’t think the Chinese are aware of that roll), muscat (Goan’s call it Bibinka) and Thothal

muscat muscat thothal thothal

The best thing about it is that they view these as possible breakfast items and it is on the hotel breakfast buffet.  Yes, of course I thought I was in heaven.

The curries are so different to the normal Indian Cuisine.  A curry with the Rechad spice mix a must try.  Fish is big in Goa.  Not sure, if the laws have changed in the recent months but at the time we were there, Goa is one of the places in India where you can buy beef and alcohol in Restaurants rather freely.  Most places in India have a ban on beef due to the cow being a revered animal as most of them claim to be Hindu’s.  Not sure which part of Hinduism says its okay to eat all other meats but not beef, per my understanding of the religion all meats were out as it was considered to be killing another animal.  I guess that’s another argument/beef (sorry for the dad pun, couldn’t help myself) for another day.

Clothing/culture:  Goa is still kind of part of South India.  The South India that I know is very conservative.  Goa not so much or not at all.  It’s a party town.  Again very similar to Sri Lanka, Negambo in particular.  Night life is very alive, and not just filled with tourists, this is mainly by the locals.  Ladies in pretty sexy clothes, having a drink or two or more. Nothing atrocious, but no conservative woman in a saree with flowers in her hair sitting quietly in a corner.

Music: At these live music places its all English music, the one place we were at was all 80’s gems.  But their local music is very similar to the Sri Lankan Baila.  Again I think we can thank the Portuguese for that.

Ok the above is just a clip from the youtube to give you an idea of the Goan music, next I will post one from the Sri Lankan Baila to show you the similarities

 

Memories are a bit vague now, but I think the two places that we tried out was Tito’s and Kohi bar.  Personal preference is Tito’s but I guess for the young ones Kohi Bar may be more attractive.

Just like in Sri Lanka Goa produces a lot of Spices as well Cashews.  Cashew snacks are very similar to Sri Lanka as well.  They go one better and have produced an alcohol drink with it as well called “Feni”, Looks clear like Vodka, as a shot it feels pretty potent, but great in a cocktail.

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I like to end it here for today.  Adeus (good bye in Konkani – Goan language)

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Goa, India, True Story, Inspirational

Destination Goa (part 7)

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I left my last blog with a “but…”

Sorry for the cliff hanger. Ok lets get ready with the mission impossible theme music for the build up. Sorry for the disappointment,  no major buts (or butts), realised that to keep a travel blog interesting is harder than I thought. Also I was writing my blog at night after a long day, so I decided to stop right there after the but.

Jan and I were really tired, hungry at the same time excited.  We were torn between admiring the view from our balcony or adorning the bed.  Not sure of the order, but I think there was a shower, coffee for Jan and tea for me and then a bit of a nap. More like an attempt at a nap, we were both over tired and over excited to actually fall asleep.  Both of us fighting jet lag from different hemispheres didn’t help either. The whole day one of was sleepy and the other wasn’t, the one who wasn’t kept the other one up.

What I loved about these rooms were that each one was a seperate unit.  Its not a hotel where it’s just a big square building with a corridor in the middle with rooms on either side.

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The gardens werew well kept.  The pool looked clean.  Slowly the fear of being in India was disappearing.  The major plus with Acron was that the breakfast was extended till 1.00 pm.  I think for those on holidays with teenagers who are usually an off shoot of the sloth family, this would be a definite plus.

Jan and slowly descended down the stairs to have some brunch.  There is something to be said about eastern hospitality. But at acron it was more than just eastern hospitality.

I like to add something I wrote on”trip advisor”.  For this jogs my memory of individual names and events.  Please note I am not paid for this segment/tendorsement.  I am writing purely for the benefit of the readers who may be enticed to make a visit to Goa.

“No 1 in Goa, Should be No 1 Anywhere”5 of 5 bubbles

I am not surprised that this place is rated number 1 in Goa at present. I am looking for a word higher than Excellent to describe their customer service. There is customer service and then there is Goan Service and then above that would be Acron Service. We were treated like queens from the very beginning and it didn’t end even after we checked out.
We arrived very early from our flight. They were still willing to pick us up that early. After 3 back to back flights we were extremely exhausted. Taking this into account, they got our rooms ready and let us check in straight away. And this was at 8.30 am. They did not charge a penny more for such an early check in. Paul and his comrades see to it that the pampering and special treatments start from then on.
We booked Acron because we couldn’t get all of our stay in another 5 star hotel. So we were going to stay here for the first 3 days and then move to the other. I am glad the other place didn’t have the availability which made us come here. Else we would have missed this gem.
Ashwini and Gautam at front office make anything look possible. They organised us a trip to see a spice plantation, churches and temple. Our driver Avinash was with us the entire day. A very polite and knowledgeable man. Anytime you want to step out of the hotel to see the beach or get a bite, they will organise a free shuttle car. The beach is only a 10 min walk, so you have the choice of walking or they can organise a vehicle.
You’re treated with Breakfast from 7.00am (I am not sure, we never woke up early enough to find out) till 1.00pm. You will be greeted by Rajesh the tall elegant lad, Chinmoy a really sweet natured human being, Sooraj sweet but cheeky as well, I am smiling as I recall. There were many others whose names have escaped my jet lagged memory. Along with all of them looking after you and having a chat you will also get a visit by Mildred. Mildred is like the icing on the cake. You are in this happy place, your room is perfect, your view is amazing and the service is faultless and you think nothing can top this nor does it need any topping. And then they send you Mildred. She is a breath of fresh air, full of energy, anything you need, and she will make it happen even suggest things to do, places to go and she will organise and make it all possible. She fits the job and the job the fits her perfectly. I am not sure the word Customer Service is adequate with the staff here. As it is so genuine it transfers to another level. I have to congratulate the management as well. They have picked the right staff with the right attitude and given them the confidence and latitude. Which we found lacking in the 5 star hotel.
Loved the architecture of the place. Losing the corridors and mass building, it gives the illusion that you are living in your own town house. The pool with a look of overflowing into the river, again gives that illusion that you are one with the river. Pool chairs inside the pool, well that’s a novel idea, but works as well. Free drinks and live music at the pool side from 7.00pm – 8.00pm is again a nice touch.
I could keep on writing. If you are thinking of visiting India, I think Goa is a must and if you are visiting Goa, stay at Acron.

I think in my bnext blog I will talk about the food, culture and everything else.

 

5 of 5 bubbles

 

Posted in Goa, India, travel, True Story, Inspirational

Destination Goa (part 6)

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We were really tired after the million flights and we wanted to get to our hotel asap.  We were concerned if we could find our driver from Acron Waterfront amongst this massive crowd.  Just then we saw the name board  with our names on.  Hard to explain our feelings at that time.  It was a combination of relief and excitement.

We walked to our van.  I don’t think it was parked legally.  But I think that was the norm. Our van started off surrounded by a lot honking.  I put my seat belt on.  My sister in law Jan tried to put hers.  But her side belt was broken.  I joked that was her punishment for making me marry her brother.

Our actual holiday was now starting.  Our driver didn’t speak much English.  But seemed like a nice guy.  He smiled a lot for the million questions we were asking.

We were trying take in all the scenary of Goa.  Looked pretty green.  But we also saw snippets of poverty.  Modern billboards adorned the sides of the freeway.  Battle between modernisation and poverty were rather evident.

Poverty is confronting, especially if you are from the western world.   But, only a few of us want to really get involved.  Most of us our sympathisers from a distance.  Jan and I belonged to the same hypocrisy club.

We were hoping and praying that our hotel was somewhere nice.  Acron was on the other side of Baga bridge or beach or both.  It was a fair distance away from the airport .  The road was becoming more remote.  Our concerns were hightening.

Eventually we entered into Acron.  It looked really beautiful.  We were greated by more smiling faces at their outdoor reception/ office area.  We were immediately offered a drink. I think it was Gauva juice.  We were sceptical about accepting the drink due to all the warnings re water.  We were assured this was clean and safe.  I took a few sips.  It did taste nice but was scared to take in more sips.

We booked the garden view rooms, as they were a few bobs cheaper.  It was still pretty early in the morning, but they announced that they had a Waterview room ready and they were going to give it to us and didn’t charge us anything extra for early check in nor for the upgrade of the room.

We were both so tired this gesture was heaven sent. Good start to our holiday.  But…