Ozora, Boot Sales and the Road to Goa.
October 10, 2021
To my great surprise, recently I contracted pneumonia. It was immediately after that forest party we all attended in North London. There had been a lot of physical contact there, hugging, kissing and dancing for hours in close proximity. Me and my friend Louise were both very ill afterwards.
It was my first big gathering since the pandemic and so our immune systems were too weak to stand up to any nasty viruses. Lucky it wasn’t Covid, I had 5 tests that were negative but I was very ill in bed for three weeks, my doctor said it was a good job I had had my pneumonia jab just a month before.
Unfortunately for me, although I’m now almost completely recovered, now having only a cough, a slight fever and feeling fatigued, this affected my stamina for our next big night out.
On Friday we had such a fun night when me and my whirly crew went to Ozora.
The evening started off well, we met at the Barrow Boy pub on London bridge. It turns out they had been showing American football before we arrived and were now holding a celebratory disco afterwards.
The place was packed with people dancing to some naff music like Rick Asley and Abba, but we quickly got into the mood and had fun dancing along, despite it being £6 a pint.
We then all made our way over London Bridge to the Steelyard for Ozora.
Now, let me begin by saying, the Steelyard is not my favourite venue, its security are overkill, its drinks are too expensive, £7 for a small bottle of cider and the layout is cold and unwelcoming (that said my friends seem to love it).
After the mass of security checks at the door we entered and immediately met up with loads of familiar faces.
The music at first was a bit weird and not psytrance, so I chatted with some new people in the top bar. Then all my gang joined me and we chatted until the psytrance began.
I knew I was still weak and tired from my illness but managed to dance for about an hour but the fatigue overtook me and I slipped out, leaving the rest of my crew to enjoy the rest of the evening.
Personally a whole night of psytrance is not for me. I like a bit of everything like they have at Whirly-Gig and at the summer boat party at Psymera.
I hope and prey Whirl-y-Gig will be back with us soon, but I still enjoyed my night out with my friends and they all had a fabulous time.
It was to be a busy weekend as on the Sunday I was running my market stall again.
Things have not been great this year with the hippie clothing business after many cancelled festivals due of the pandemic, but I’ve done ok online on Etsy and my first boot sale had been a surprise success as well.
Its now autumn and so I probably only have one or two opportunities to do these boot sales before they close for the winter, so I was pleased when Louise my dear friend, offered to drive me to this weeks market.
It was a bit cloudy when Louise arrived at 6.20am for our early morning trip to Apps Farm boot sale in Surrey, but it was not cold and so I felt confident I would do well that morning.
There were a lot of sellers and it took a while to get in and set up. The stall was looking good and we were ready to rumble.
When I last came with Las it was a beautiful day in summer, now with autumn upon us it was grey and chilly. It was visibly quieter than the last time but there was some interest and I made £75.
Unfortunately my weather app and the lovely weather lady Carol on Breakfast tv were wrong in their forecast when they said it would be dry all day. It rained.
Straight away many of the stall holders packed up and left (not a very hardy lot). Me and Louise bundled my stock in the back of her car as, naturally, it was getting wet.
After a while it stopped and I put the stock out again and immediately made another sale. Then five minutes later it started raining really hard and we were left with no choice than to pack up and leave.
I hope my final boot sale of the year with another friend Ryan will be a better day weather wise; still £75 for four hours work isn’t bad.
I have to be realistic, if I want to spend longer periods in Goa I will have to find full time work for a few months until the festival season starts. These two pandemic years have not been kind to me financially.
And so to finish, I start with the beginning, the beginning of a new direction for this blog. I want to make this into a blog about my hippie Kushi life in Goa and my travels around India.
But before our journey begins, I want to write about this years difficult road towards my returning to Goa.
I have been desperate to return to Goa after the pandemic and I felt pretty sure it would happen, but I was not ready for the daily frustrating twists and turns in the whole situation. Political games are being played, tit-for-tat reciprocal actions are being played out and its been, frankly, exhausting. All I want is a clear “yes, you can go” signal from our government and India’s government; instead, for weeks we have had nothing but turmoil; like the announcements below:
“UK moves India from its “red” to “amber” travel list. From August 8, Sunday 4am local time, fully vaccinated passengers traveling from India will not be subjected to compulsory 10-day hotel quarantine. The legal rules stipulate testing requirements and quarantining at home/in place as well as eligibility for exemptions.”
“Tourist visas, suspended due to Covid-19, set to resume
The Centre is likely to resume tourist visas after 1.5 years of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.
India TV News Desk
New DelhiUpdated on: September 15, 2021 18:24 IST
The government is set to resume tourist visas after 1.5 years of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. As per reports, a meeting has been called by the Home Ministry that will be chaired by Home Secretary to discuss issues related to resuming tourist visas.
Disrupted due to the pandemic, tourists visas were suspended for around 1.5 years, however, the situation is likely to be change as the country is reporting less than 30,000 Covid cases per day.
India has so far seen two devastating coronavirus waves while there are some predictions being made for a third wave, however, many experts say if at all it comes, the impact won’t be that bad as vaccinations are keep happening and herd immunity is also helping to recover the infectious disease.”
“India is extending its ban on international flights till September 30, 2021, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced on Sunday. As usual, the DGCA clarified, “However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis”, referring to Vande Bharat and Air Bubble flights. International all-cargo flights shall continue as normal.”
“Goa reopens for tourists; check out who all are allowed
Goa has finally reopened for tourists after remaining shut for months due to a second wave of Coronavirus cases across the country, and rise in COVID cases in the state.
As per reports, this popular beach destination will now allow entry of travellers who are fully-vaccinated at least 14 days before the date of entry, as well as those who are able to provide a negative COVID-19 test report, accredited by ICMR labs (except those coming from Kerala who would required to present a negative RT-PCR report. The said decision was taken after that state registered a consistent decline in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Earlier, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant also added that new SOPs for travellers, mandating full vaccination or negative RT-PCR test results will be laid down in view of upcoming festivals.
Revealing more on the updated travel update, Nilesh Shah, President of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) added that now Goa is ready to welcome tourists with open hearts. He added that the government has put in place strict measures to follow, whereas guidelines have been laid down for tourism business. He further added that a majority of the Goan population has been vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID vaccine, and that in the next 90 days, the entire population will likely be vaccinated with both doses.
Meanwhile, Goa Airport Director Gagan Malik expressed delight that Goa is once again reopening to visitors, and that it is a ‘good sign,’ and reiterated, “Aviation industry has suffered huge losses (due to COVID). In Goa, we had an average of 77 flight operations per day, which stands at 30 now. All airlines barring one have restarted their operations.”
“Media reports are saying the UK is expected to overhaul its travel guidelines starting October 1, after the country’s health minister expressed that “he wanted to get rid of” expensive PCR tests for travelers as soon as possible. A new system based on vaccination status may be introduced, instead of the current traffic light system where countries are categorized as green, amber (like India), and red. The UK’s Heathrow Airport saw a 71 percent drop in footfall in August when compared to the same month before the pandemic struck.”
So, at this point my hopes are up for returning to Goa in 2021, little did I know what was to come:
‘Reciprocal tourism’ likely as India set to allow foreign tourists
In an attempt to revive the tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors, the government has already announced that the first five lakh foreign tourists will be issued visas free of cost.
Written by Divya A | New Delhi |
Updated: September 24, 2021 10:41:52 am
“The e-tourist visa has been suspended since March 2020. (Representational)
As India looks to restart tourist visas and allow international tourists after a gap of one-and-a-half years, “reciprocal tourism” may be the way forward, according to sources in the Ministry of Tourism.
On Wednesday, while addressing the Global Covid Summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “We also need to focus on addressing the pandemic’s economic effects. To that end, international travel should be made easier through mutual recognition of vaccination certificates.”
The date and modalities for opening up of the country to foreign tourists are being discussed by officials from the Union Home Ministry (which decides on visas) with all the stakeholders, including officials from the Ministry of Tourism, state governments and tour operators’ associations. A formal announcement may come in a week’s time, an official from the Ministry of Tourism told The Indian Express.
In an attempt to revive the tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors, the government has already announced that the first five lakh foreign tourists will be issued visas free of cost. The e-tourist visa has been suspended since March 2020.
The free visa will be issued till March 31, 2022, or on a first-come-first-serve basis, whichever is earlier. Even as the total financial implication of this move will go up to Rs 100 crore, officials in the Tourism Ministry say the footfall and revenue boost as a consequence of this monetary exemption will offset any such losses. Also, there has been a lot of pressure from stakeholders in the tourism industry since the sector has been hugely hit due to the pandemic and restrictions.”
“India is also buoyed by the dip in Covid cases and a higher number of adults receiving the first dose. A few countries in Europe, the US, and tourist destinations such as Maldives and Sri Lanka have already opened their borders for vaccinated Indian travellers.
But with the UK expressing doubts over India’s vaccine certification, sources say the line to be taken by India will now be “reciprocal”. It was in this context that the Prime Minister had insisted upon mutual recognition of vaccination certificates.
Officials say the opening up is expected to be phase-wise to gauge the response and implications, if any. “Deliberations are on — when to open, how to open, and for whom. Keeping in view low infection rate in the country and vaccination status, calibrated opening is being contemplated,” said a senior official, adding that they were expecting a complete reopening by January 2022.”
“The Economic Times reporting that the e-visa facility for the UK and Canadian citizens has been withdrawn from the first week of August this year. The treatment appears to be based on reciprocal considerations. As per a Ministry of Home Affairs official, “Now, they have to apply for a regular sticker visa at the Indian embassy. Tourist visa is already suspended and people visiting India under other categories of visa now have to apply for regular sticker visas.” India has also denied e-visa facility to Chinese nationals due to the Galwan Valley incident.
On Tuesday, a notice from the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger flights to another month, that is, till October 31, 2021. The notice states: “In partial modification of circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has further extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of October 31, 2021. This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA”.
At this point I felt that me and my Goa friends were starting to go slightly mad. One minute good news, next minute bad:
“Covid: India imposes 10-day quarantine on UK nationals
There have been tensions between the two countries over the UK’s mandated quarantine for Indian visitors
India has imposed mandatory quarantine for all UK nationals arriving in the country, even if they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
From Monday, British citizens will have to undergo ten days of home quarantine after arriving in India.
India’s government said the change brought “reciprocity” to its rules.
There have been tensions between the two countries over the the Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, known as Covishield.
Indians who are fully vaccinated with that jab must still quarantine on arrival in the UK.
But similarly-vaccinated travellers to the UK from many other countries are not facing the same restrictions.
Officials in the UK designated Covishield an approved jab last month after a major backlash in India against what many saw as a discriminatory rule.
It is India’s primary vaccine, with more than 720 million doses given out so far. It is the same as the AstraZeneca jab used in the UK vaccine rollout.
New UK travel rules due to take effect on Monday dictate that travellers from a range of countries will not have to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated.
But India is not on that list, which has prompted further protests and accusations of discrimination.
Last month, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met with his UK counterpart Liz Truss at the UN in New York and urged her to resolve the quarantine issue.”
“The UK government updated its travel advisory for UK travelers to India after New Delhi’s decision to impose reciprocal curbs on visitors from the UK starting Monday (October 4). From October 4, UK travelers arriving in India, irrespective of their vaccination status, will undertake COVID-19 RT-PCR test on arrival at the airport and on day 8 after arrival at their own cost and will undergo mandatory quarantine at home or at the destination address for 10 days after arrival in India. The Indian government’s move follows England’s new travel norms coming into force on Monday, which require even fully vaccinated Indian travelers to the UK to undergo the same level of PCR tests and quarantine restrictions as unvaccinated travelers. This is because the UK government is yet to officially recognize India’s vaccine certification.”
So, I now knew at this point in time that Goa (India) was now (or would be mid-November) open for tourism and we CAN finally return to those beloved beaches.
At present we would need to quarantine for 10 days on arrival.
I was pretty confident that this situation would be sorted out and by the time I leave for Goa on 12th December 2021 we will no longer need to quarantine. Lets see what happens between then and now.
And finally the news we needed, which hopefully results in us no longer needing to quarantine for ten days on arrival in India.
UK to ease travel rules for fully-vaccinated Indians from Monday: Details here
Updated: 08 Oct 2021, 05:21 AM IST
No quarantine for Indian travellers who are fully vaccinated with Covishield, says UK
In what comes as a major relief for Indian travellers, the UK on Thursday announced that it will scrap tough COVID-19 quarantine travel rules for 47 destination, including India, from Monday and said it would recognise the vaccine status of arrivals from more countries in the latest easing of restrictions.
This means that all Indians who are full-vaccinated with locally-produced Covishield Covid-19 vaccine will not be required to undergo mandatory 10-day quarantine any more.
“Eligible fully vaccinated passengers and eligible under 18s returning from countries and territories not on the red list, can do so with just a day 2 test,” the UK government said in a statement.
From 4 am Monday 11 October, eligible travellers vaccinated in over 47 new countries and territories including Brazil, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey, will also be treated the same as returning fully vaccinated UK residents, so long as they have not visited a red list country or territory in the 10 days before arriving in England, the statement further added.
The decision comes after the UK government revised its travel restrictions for countries under the red list. As per the order, 47 countries and territories will be removed from its red list, making it easier for more people to travel abroad to a larger number of countries and territories. Passengers returning to England from these destinations will no longer be required to enter hotel quarantine.
The current red list is now reduced to 7 destinations: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
Transport minister Grant Shapps said on Thursday that travellers arriving in England from 37 countries and territories would also face fewer entry requirements as their vaccine status will be recognised, including arrivals from India, Turkey and Ghana.
“The measures announced today mark the next step as we continue to open up travel and provide stability for passengers and industry while remaining on track to keep travel open for good,” he said on Twitter.
However, passengers who are not an eligible traveller with an authorised vaccine arriving from a rest of world destination must still take a pre-departure test, a day 2 and day 8 test and complete 10 days self-isolation (with the option of Test to Release on day 5).
Earlier today, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that there can be an early solution to the India-UK travel restrictions row. India has taken reciprocal action against the UK’s new international COVID-19 travel rules which India has termed ‘discriminatory’.
Talking to reporters MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said “We took it up with UK authorities at various levels but without success, that’s why October 4 onwards we have applied reciprocal measures for all UK nationals arriving in India, so that’s in effect, discussions are ongoing, nonetheless, we remain hopeful that some solution may emerge.”
The UK initially refused to recognise Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). However, following India’s strong criticism of the decision, the UK on September 22 amended its new guidelines and included the vaccine.
However, the move did not provide any relief from quarantine rules for Indian travellers vaccinated with two doses of Covishield.
Later, British officials said the UK has issues with India’s vaccine certification process and not with the Covishield vaccine.
The Covishield Covid-19 vaccine is manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India from the combination of UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.”
From now on these blogs will focus on India and Goa and my adventures in paradise.
There is still a lot of work to do but my Hippie Kushi Goa life plans are finally getting back on track.
Until next time…