Social Media

Citadella,_Victoria_(Gozo)

I was amazed to get back home today and posted on Facebook some pictures of my trip to the Cittadella in Rabat Gozo, within minutes I had comments from literally all over the world. The power of Social media is changing the way we keep in touch with world events and also keeps family close whatever the distance. Social media is sometimes attacked because of people who abuse its power, but we can and should ignore those who simply want to divide us. We are one, we are all the same whether we come from the west or the east, we are all humans.

I will always maintain that Love is what binds us together. In my small way I try to spread this to my friends. Organised religion whatever the faith has been the source of so much division and deaths, as a Buddhist, and not allied to one particular religion I feel we can all learn something from the teachings of The Buddha. People I respect have surprised me with this lack of understanding but maybe given time they will see the path, the middle path, no extremes, no games played just a straightforward message to love our fellow man (and woman).2016-02-01-1454365830-3844375-vishnu

213594ad357713aa64dca4e3d0e1aae2Maybe I’m an idealist but I truly believe that if we all just stood back, put our political and religious differences aside we would all be able to experience a new hope for our, and our children’s future. I would love to turn on the news and see American’s and Iranian’s embracing each other, and seeing that through Love anything can be achieved. We as the human race have a duty (while we are here) to do our best to make the earth a better place, we are but specks of dust in the universe, quite insignificant really, but while we are here (which is just the blink of an eye) we have a duty to those that come after us to make things better than we have made them so far. Whether it be Vishnu, Jesus Christ, Mohammed or another higher being we look to, we are all one. And surely we should accept that any higher power that preaches hate and killing is wrong (none of the above do).

So after my sermon (sorry) as I said once many years ago when I was a young sales manager “Let’s all pull together as a team”. Ha that was in the days when I worked for the people who made Anadin, I could do with some of that now.

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Customer Service part2

So now it’s down to name and shame, I have given these ‘suppliers’ enough time to redeem themselves, now it’s time to open up the ridiculous situation they have put me in.

DeBono Upholstery.img_4057

THE LAST TIME THE AWNING WAS UP..

John DeBono on the face of it appears to be a nice guy, and I’m not so sure it’s with him that I have ‘De Bone to pick’. This whole episode would border on a comedy sketch if it didn’t have such serious consequences, not just for me, but for the organisations my little tea shop was going to help and it’s customers. This ‘awnings’ debacle started with the landlord of the shop Joe Sultana. When I was viewing the shop for the first time he pointed out that the largest awning was damaged in one corner where a bus had hit it. “Insurance I asked”? No he was too late to claim on insurance he says, so I have to sort out the damaged awning (not such a big issue me thinks), famous last words again. He introduces me to two suppliers and I find DeBono Upholstery to be the most ‘convenient’. After a long process we agree the material and colour of the new awnings and a price €1250 to cover both frames, we have the chairs covered at the same time (I do most of the work on those).

They arrive and remove both frames, several weeks later the job is done its looking good and Hug’s Tea shop is finally open for business. But not for long! After a rainfall the ‘Hug’s part of the sign slides off the awning, it’s replaced (I am told) by a butterfly that lands at the same moment on the spot where the Hug’s lettering used to be. “It’s a sign” Margaret one of the ladies there at the time say’s. No,it’s called delamination I replied jokingly, (I used to run a very large paint company, so I do know a bit about paint).balcony

BEFORE WORK BEGAN

I contact John DeBono we have a problem. Now I come to think of it even though my Guru Prabhu has come to my tea shop in Gozo from Bali and blessed the place, perhaps this is indeed a sign and I should think about giving it another name. Hug’s teashop has barely opened its door when the sign comes down and we agree a new name ‘The Divine LOVE Teashop’ this is not only a name agreed to be a good one by Prabhu, but also Father Gerard from Ta Pinu.

Now the ‘fun’ begins. I chose a new graphic but have to get Aaron at Gozo Creations to make a 3 part stencil, so that John DeBono can do the job. I spend hours going backwards and forwards sorting out these issues. I buy the paint to do the job. Paint that won’t slide off at the first sign of rain. This is not only costing me a lot of money in materials but each time I have to close the shop to do what these suppliers should be doing for me I lose custom and money. But I kinda figured that not having a sign above the door to tell people what we are, isn’t going to help pull the customers in.

I collect the stencil from Aaron at Gozo Creations, he’s not there but his guy hands me the stencil with the invoice attached. I take both to John DeBono, at this stage I’m not sure who’s responsible for the €50 cost of the stencil. I detach the invoice and leave the stencil with DeBono. I return to the tea shop only to find a message from Aaron saying why didn’t I pay the bill??? Hang on here who’s the customer? This is about customer relations. It then transpires that he goes to DeBono, gets the stencil off him and takes it back to his shop. These people are absolutely effing crazy, customer service? They wouldn’t recognise customer service while they have a hole in their backside. Angry.. well I’m trying very hard not to be, but this whole episode is disturbing my Karma. I go, pay the bill (cash as always they accept no other form of payment). I retrieve the stencil for DeBono. At each stage of painting they ask me to make sure they are doing it right, so at each stage I close the shop to drive into Rabat (Victoria).

Eventually after a very long process the awning is finished. It’s looking good (not great) but better than nothing. Now I’d already paid €625 of the bill for the awning, so DeBono is owed the other half. No problem I have the money (despite having no customers). He initially agree to collect the money when he brings the awning to fit, then keeps changing his mind. I’m getting a ‘tad’ bit impatient. I’m losing a LOT of money here, all of my pension is invested in this, and this is no joke. So now we have a standoff, my attorney as far as I’m concerned should sue the arse off him, teach him and whoever is behind this a lesson. I want compensation for loss of earnings, distress, materials supplied etc. PLUS what about the theft of my awning frame?DCIM100SPORT

THE HUG’S SIGN

I am Buddhist and believe in peace but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire and I firmly believe this is one of those times. So here I am I open the teashop proper in July 2016 and January 2017 still no sign. Enough said….. click here to see the place>>>>>>>>>>   Before I moved in

The landlord ‘Joe Sultana’ is a small man with a ‘complex’. He enjoys flexing his skinny muscles especially when the ladies are around, he’s around 70, wears gold earrings, he has a ‘Russian’ wife and two small children. Nice kids, nice wife, but as his wife confided once to Lidia (my own, now ex Russian business partner) he’s not all he appears to be. The ‘restaurant’ that he used to run, is filthy when I move in, I mean really filthy. He used to prepare food in the basement. If the health department had seen the conditions down there he would have been closed down. Jeffries was a health hazard, and apart from anything else it took many hours to bring the place up to scratch. I worked day and night (helped by Lidia) to paint, move walls, sort out plumbing …the list goes on. I eventually got quite ill and spent 6 weeks recovering. But hey, onwards and upwards (LMAO). Now this Joe Sultana is a crook there’s no other way of describing him. While I’m away he persuades Lidia (my partner) to pay him €50 cash for utilities?? First of all that wasn’t our utility consumption, secondly he was taking advantage of a lady, and this Crazy Brit draws the line there.

We have a contract I stick to the contract, he completely ignores a contract ‘that his attorney’ drew up. He arrives without warning demanding rent, bawling and shouting in front of my customers. I try to calm him down, “I’ll go to the bank and get your €600 (I don’t keep that sort of money in my back pocket)”. He also wants a utility bill paying (a bill for supply before I even moved in). I am in grave danger of losing my temper and believe me if that happens I wouldn’t want to be around.

Now when I came to Gozo I came to rest, relax, heal and retire. I’d had a pretty rough time with my ex-wife in Texas, she took me for every penny I had, and I arrived with very little money in Gozo at the start of May 2016. But I worked hard and made something, not just for me but for society. Now Gozo is going to experience another crusade because I have absolutely nothing to lose. I have named and shamed everyone so far. I will continue until this place is running in a way to deserve its place as the leader of the EU…we shall see??

 

GEORGE CARLIN

Well I was checking out YouTube and ended up watching some of George Carlin’s stuff.. That was a good performance in itself.

George Carlin was much more than an ordinary comedian more a teacher or social commentator. He uses bad language to good effect, he entertains and teaches at the same time. Enough from me check out some of his stuff:-

SO OK THAT’S IT FOR TONIGHT..I’M OFF TO DRAW UP MY LIST OF PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE KILLED..STARTING WITH Hmmmmm. PEACE, LOVE & THAT OTHER STUFF.

SMILE

I’ve had what some would call a frustrating day today, but I have to smile at what’s gone on and the way the system (and I use that word in the broadest sense), how the system works. Actually I still haven’t clearly worked it out. They call me CRAZY, well I’ve learnt to keep smiling and with some of the experiences I’ve gone through today may help some of you to avoid the pitfalls.

OK so here we go, I arrive in Gozo and am given the keys to my apartment. Joe my landlord has been great and is always looking for ways to improve things and help me with anything I need. I have to say, this isn’t the typical experience that people find, but he’s a bit crazy (like you know who). So I’ve absolutely no complaints on the number 1 thing you have to do when you arrive, GET SOMEWHERE TO LIVE! My village (I’m still not saying where it is) is perfect for what I need, but I think I’ve covered that in my previous posts. But the second thing I felt was important was to make sure I had access to medical care if it was needed. I arrived with my E.H.I.C (European Health Insurance Card) they’re given to you for free provided your country is a member of the EU, so if you take ill while away then you’ll be treated there, and the bill is sent to (in my case) the British N.H.S.

It’s a reciprocal arrangement for all EU countries, so whenever you go on holiday to an E.U country, and if your home country is in the EU always make sure you have your little blue card. Consequently I go to the very excellent hospital in Rabat and walk to the accounting department and hand them the S1 form I was sent from H.M.G in the UK. This is to arrange for me to qualify for Maltese health care. The “little blue card” isn’t any use once you’re a resident here, although I’m sure if you needed treatment they’d use it. So the lady in the office takes the S1 form which the UK government sent to my new address in (Ah you nearly caught me there). They do that to make sure you are a resident, if it was done any other way I guess that would open the “system” to fraud.

Now the next thing I need is to open a bank account “easy peasy in any other country”, but not here, at one stage I complained to the bank and said “perhaps I should find someone else willing to take MY money”. OK I know I don’t have a lot but that’s never stopped anyone wanting what I’ve got anyway (no names mentioned). Without access to your money you can’t buy “stuff” or pay rent, so having access to money is, I would say quite important. However you can’t open a bank account unless you’re a resident. HELLO! So wait for it, to obtain residency you have to show you are living here permanently, and show copies of bank statements. Are you still with me? I’m not sure I am.

Now I’ve been with HSBC since before they came to the UK, and they suggested I became a Premier customer years ago, I didn’t need to do anything but my “personal banker” Jill, arranged an account in the US for me, and I had very little to do to get it. I wasn’t exactly loaded but was getting money from different sources in the UK and the US. I’ve gotta say I’ve been a Premier customer for several years and it’s a great program with lots of benefits and it costs NOTHING (just click the link and see). So Michael at the bank, after a rough start (me going just a bit crazy with him-sorry Michael) gets stuck in and starts really helping to ease the process for me and removes a LOT of the unnecessary red tape. But the final thing he needed was me to prove I had been accepted as a resident. “Go to the Ministry” he says, “and get the paperwork going they will give you a temporary document which we can use to prove you are a resident”

4be5be96-d344-4b1e-9550-5001a40730b2The Citadella Rabat

So I get up very early this morning and drive into Rabat/Victoria (I prefer Rabat as that’s what the Gozitan’s call it and it was us Brits that forced them to change the name to honour Queen Victoria) and that’s just not cricket old chap. Anyway I’m there by 7-15 am they open at 8 am but it was a lovely day so I sat in the courtyard and watched the staff arriving for work. A nice young lady opened up the door smiled and said, we don’t open ‘til 8, Oh I know I’m fine here in the sunshine (yes all you people in the cold and rain, eat your heart out).

So it’s now 8 am, she says you can come in now, she promptly goes and takes a selection of forms staples them together and asks me to bring them back when they’re completed, along with all of the other things I need to prove “economic self-sufficiency” Now I’m no lawyer and I don’t agree with age or sex discrimination, in fact I fought a case in the US against one of the US’s biggest retailers for just this type of discrimination (and this will be the subject of another blog), but this young lady who was smiling throughout the whole process clearly expected me to go away and I was n’t sure what her problem was (surely not me I’m just an innocent Crazy Brit).

Now No.1 I may be wrong here, but I though one of the things about being in the EU was the ability to settle in whatever member state you wanted.

No.2 I’ve looked, but the forms I have don’t appear to be referenced, so they can’t be seen on the internet and is that kosher?.

No.3 despite my inane ability to keep smiling I was starting to lose it, but hey ho, it’s a lovely day so what.

ministry

Enjoying the sunshine not aware of the battle to come

I told her I’d like to complete them in the office, she was clearly upset and hovered over me as I started to fill out the forms. Before I could go much further she asked if I had the form given to me by the UK government the S1 form (don’t anyone forget to get that, it’s most important) well no I said, I’ve given that to the hospital and they never gave me a copy. Do you also have the last 6 months of bank statements? She said. Holly crap I’m tottering on the verge now, well it’s like this I say, my bank accounts are in the US and the UK and as yet I don’t have one here. So give me copies of those she says. (This is not going well). “I’ll tell you what” I say smiling ” I’ll go back to the hospital and ask them for a copy of the S1”, we prefer the original she replied, Oh.. OK I’ll ask for the originals, I’m sure they won’t mind giving me those now they’ve seen them. (Famous last words).

At this point I’m taking a break, I have a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes (no not for high blood pressure) but thank god for that little blue card, see you later.

Ciao, well that didn’t take long and how well it went. The service the doctor gave me here was in a different league to what you’d get in the UK or in the US. I have to say I wasn’t surprised as Malta ranks 5th in the World Health Organisation table of Countries. But consider this, I called in at the pharmacy Ta’Pinu and the pharmacist Marica rang the doctor for me and arranged the appointment at the pharmacy with just 2 hours’ notice. Now that is unheard of anywhere in the world and just goes to show how importantly the Maltese regard their health care. And the doctor (I’m not sure I can tell you her name –ethics?) knew what she was talking about, and appeared far more knowledgeable than the average doc. The U.K and U.S by the way are way down the league table in ranking. Anyway, surprisingly my blood pressure was normal and the issue I have (numbness in the hand) is due to me leaning on my arm while I’m writing these blogs (crap I’m doing it now). So I can now issue a health warning not just for reading but for writing these darn things.

Back to those famous last words
“I’ll go back to the hospital and ask them for a copy”, we prefer the original, Oh OK I’ll ask for the originals I’m sure they won’t mind giving me those now they’ve seen them”.

I drive to the hospital, the hospital here is excellent and the staff are very attentive, however when I popped my head into the administration office things went downhill quickly, but its not the ladies fault so I keep smiling. My S1 form had been sent off to Malta and they don’t keep any copies so I’ll have to wait for about a week for it to make its way to me. But what happens if it gets lost in their “system” well I have absolutely no idea! So after trying very hard to persuade the lady to help me out and even my erratic behaviour and sob story didn’t work, I thanked her for her help (do that whatever the case) and I then made my way back to the Ministry. Maybe they would take pity on me. No chance.

Oh!”Dearie me” I said smiling like a Cheshire cat. Thank you for your help I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. But if you see me begging on the street corner because I’ve no money remember me, I said to her. Dead silence, no response apart from that “sweet” smile again. Well at least this helps me demonstrate to you how important it is to keep as many documents as possible and bring them with you. Now I thought I was being clever when I set out for Gozo I scanned everything into my external Seagate hard drive and guess what, it stopped working! After long periods of live online chat this was the final message

“Dear John: Thank you for contacting Seagate Support. Based on your replay, you have a defective. Unfortunately, the drive is out of warranty and cannot be replaced. If you are interested in recovering the data via Seagate, please contact our fee based Data Recovery Services by visiting the link below:http://www.seagate.com/services-software/data-recovery-services/consumers/in-lab-data-recovery/    Alternatively, you could remove the drive from the external enclosure and connect it into a compatible third party enclosure. However, note that if you are not very careful, you may damage the platters, thereby making it difficult for even data recovery experts to recover the files. For additional assistance, feel free to contact us at:http://www.seagate.com/gb/en/about/contact-us/technical-support/  Regards, Leslie Seagate Support ref: _00D00hhzl._5003Aeau8r: ref”

I’m dumbfounded! I need to go and lay down in a dark room, close my eyes and just relax, I should really go to the Lotus-Tal-Qalb to chill out, but I’m there tomorrow for another massage, I need to de-stress and Nico is just the person to help, besides now I have a physical issue with my hand so I convince myself I can afford it .

Now you would think at this stage nothing else could happen to frustrate me aha. I didn’t mention that just before I came to Gozo I bought a new cell phone, I sat on it and the screen cracked. I ordered a new screen from eBay, not a lot of money but expensive for carriage, and I have to wait awhile for delivery. But I’ve been ordering a lot online recently, to get things I couldn’t find on Gozo, a landline phone for example. So I mentioned this to someone and they suggested I went to Sound and Vision. Sound and Vision continued the trend for the way Gozo retailers display themselves (very low key). I go inside it looked quite small on the outside, but when you go inside you find the place is massive, it’s like walking into my Tardis, small on the outside, but big and well stocked on the inside. I explain my predicament to Jason the owner and he’s happy to wait for the screen I bought on eBay to be delivered and see if he can fit it for me. Big relief thank you, so what’s frustrating about that. Sound and Vision have a large display of phones and they’re the same as the one I bought on eBay. They’re cheaper and I can have one right now. Crap I’m throwing good money away here, so I buy a cheap non-electrical phone so when I have a power cut (with my luck it will happen) I can still use the phone. Everything you need right here on Gozo, it’s just that you have to search to find it. I think I’ll have to give up blogging and maybe offer my marketing services to the local retailers (there was a time I was OK at that).

So remember, Gozo residency can take some time to process (no longer than other countries though) it’s something of a mine field getting through the process. Don’t lose your temper with anyone, they’re just telling you what they’ve been told (it’s just a pity that they’re all told different things). But this is part of the charm of Gozo, at least you interact with humans instead of talking to a machine. So if you haven’t yet moved here, and are thinking about it, COME, its wonderful, but prepare as much as you can, and bring all the relevant documents. Forget the clothes and all the other crap I brought, and remember when out shopping that the shop on the inside is way different than the look of it on the outside. But isn’t that nice (not seeing all those advertising banners) and what have you, it all looks so “un-commercialized” just like going back in time.

I’m in that Tardis again.

addiju sakemm il-ħin li jmiss  (goodbye until the next time)

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John Paul Chalkley aka The Crazy Brit