and so the makeover begins.....
The biggest challenge I faced during the first couple of months was spending money. I was used to department stores with tempting irresistible displays of every imaginable household item, large out-of-town superstores with rows upon rows of decorative items. Mapusa, our local market town and nearest shopping centre came as a challenge indeed.
Has anyone ventured into Viranis? I spent many hours in there clutching my list. Most things were either in the ‘godown’ (I never discovered where this mysterious ‘godown’ was but it wasn’t for want of pleading with them to take me and let me browse in there) or, if it wasn’t in the godown, then a boy was shoved up through a hatch in the ceiling of the shop and after what seemed like an eternity would triumphantly throw a dusty packet down into the shop.
“Perfect! just what I wanted I will have six in that size and colour”
“Sorry madam – out of stock”
“Ok show me what six matching pieces you do have in stock”
“No sorry only two-two pieces” I came to realise meant pairs.
I often felt like I was about to lose the will the live. Before leaving the UK one of my pet hates was shopping but oh how I longed for a trolley and wide aisles.
The next biggest challenge was learning to ask the right question.
Dharmendra (DDK upholsterers) came highly recommended for any upholstery or curtain requirements. He was summoned to meet me at Gonsalves House where we spent several hours discussing the soft furnishing requirements resulting in a long shopping list. I promised to drop the fabric off later that afternoon but Dharmendra somehow found it impossible to give me directions to his workshop struggling with opposite, behind, next to, in front of. To put him out of his misery I stopped him in mid flow.
“I know the village, is there a sign that can be seen from the main road?”
“YES there is a sign” he shouted triumphantly.
“Don’t worry then, I will find you” and I shot off to shop ‘til I dropped.
Later that afternoon – the car piled to the roof with curtain poles and bolts of fabric - I was driving slowly through Nerul looking for his workshop. Suddenly a very excited Dharmendra leapt out in front of me pointing towards a small building with the roller shutter door at half mast with just a glimpse of a row of sewing machines. Thankfully Darmendra had been on the side of the road that afternoon otherwise to this day I would never have found it. I was puzzled to say the least
“Dharmendra – good you were here, I was lost, I thought you said you had a sign!”
“I have” and pointed proudly to a large sign above his workshop that proclaimed ‘CHICKENS’
Despite the steep learning curve I managed to get our first three villas ready, photo shoot done and prints posted (yes I know posted) back to Linda in the UK.
Meanwhile life went on for Linda who was leading a double life at her word processor (note before Pc’s). One window open with a policy paper on some topic or other and underneath it the draft of our first brochure. Her colleagues, well aware of her escape plans, would walk across the office shaking the soil out of their trouser legs much to the puzzlement of her boss. Steve McQueen and Dickie would have been proud of Linda’s escape tunnel plans.
Sadly no copy of this magnificent first attempt brochure exists today (unless someone has kept one knowing they would be collector’s items one day).
The villas ready, the brochure printed now all we had to do was tell people.