Monday, 10 December 2018

A knife?

A seasoned traveller yes, but still much improvement is required. With Em’s advice as a fellow traveller ‘don’t over back’ I was determined this time to start off with a light backpack, and not one that would buckle the knees of a coolie in a train station. Mission accomplished but a last minute change of things in the airport queue meant I put my handy bag of things in my hand luggage. 

So it was only at the second round of airport security at Delhi airport that my day back was snatched away by a surly security guard barking instructions of open and knife? at me. My protests of ‘oh no, no knife’ melted away when I realised alongside my two sporks and head torch, washing line and ear plugs was my fabulous Swiss Army knife, which has been with me on many adventure, but mainly opening beer bottles and slicing mangoes. A pressie from a old boyfriend is now in the pocket  of a new owner, so enjoy! 

Sunday, 9 December 2018

The planning is done and off to Heathrow later

I used to live ten miles from Heathrow, a hop skip and a jump to fly away. Now living at the end of the country it’s quite an undertaking to get there. Luckily I stop over with a friend and then head to the airport. Just managed to stay ahead of yet another yellow weather warning across Cornwall as I drove up country, but India here I come !!!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Where's my glasses?

How often do you check your bag before you go - camera, wallet, shopping bag and phone - check. However it's unexpected when you loose things along the way, especially when a monkey steals your glasses! Vrindavan is full of monkeys, living mostly in harmony with people. They have however learnt to take things, knowing that they will get fed as a reward for returning them. I was walking along the dusty road by the Yumana River when I felt a heavy clunk on the head and quickly realised that a monkey had swung over and stolen my glasses. I was panic stricken and screamed for help.... and a couple came to my rescue. Luckily a fruit seller was approaching and they got two tomatoes and another guy threw them at the monkey, who thankfully abandoned my glasses and made off with the fruit. What a shock, and what probably only took five minutes felt like such along time .... and the relief afterwards was huge. I'd only spent 20 rupees to get my precious glasses back and they firmly stayed in my bag until I left town!!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Come to the wedding plese

It's definitely wedding season, the most auspicious time to tie the knot is upon us. The streets are full of processions, bands, grooms on horses and drummers. Even in Samdari where Kamlesh was getting married we ended up dancing in someone else's parade! When we stayed by the bird park at Bharatupur our hotel along with all the others long the main highway were all hosting weddings. So after our mega 25km cycle ride round the bird park, when we get back we're invited to the wedding, as it's the sister of one of the guys that works at our hotel. So we spruce up and head to the wedding, escorted by the brides brother. Rapidly we are introduced to all the family (grandma loves touching my hair!), greet a very surprised groom, who is entering the wedding venue on a horse and get taken round the venue. Hilariously when the couple eventually get on the stage to perch on the marriage throne, the brother insists we gallop up the stairs and have our photo taken with the happy couple ... however we are the first to get photos taken, before family and friends and the bemused look of the new bride was priceless!

Monday, 11 December 2017

You can't disinfect India

It's great to see so many Asian tourists travelling in India, and I was amused to sit opposite a couple of Thai girls on the train to Agra and as they got on the train they sprayed their seats, either to disinfect them, or make them smell nice I'm not sure. However it is impossible to disinfect India, and this is one of the biggest things you have to get used to. The filthy streets, cows wandering around, working camels and water buffalo with carts, donkeys, dogs, open sewers, men pissing on every street corner. It's not for the faint hearted. But it is wonderful, colourful chaos, full of adventure and challenge!

Can you see the Taj Mahal?

The pollution across India is unbelievable. As we got closer to Agra the smog hung low in the sky like a dense fog. It was so sad to see the farmers having to grow essential crops in this situation. You can always see people burning piles of plastic, which is strewn across India, in the rivers, ponds, streets and fields. By the time we headed to the fort to gaze at the Taj Mahal it was lost in the smog. There needs to be a huge education here, as plastic is strangling every village, town and city. It is such a throw away society on one hand. Bottles, bags and wrappers are easily thrown on floor without hesitation as there are no bins. Cows merrily chew the bags, which makes them ill. All the stations are making an enormous effort to clean up their act, so it's a good start!

Dancing on the rooftop

A simple evening walk out to find a tailor turned into an unexpected fun night out. We had been gifted some material from Bandu's dad at the wedding along with 100 rupees, so we wanted to make some pj's etc. We soon found some auto drivers who knew some tailors and we were rapidly all measured and ready for our bespoke clothing to be made. We then took up their offer and were soon dancing at a rooftop club, enjoying a hilariously unexpected night out. It's so interesting to suddenly mix with drinkers and dancers, given the strict vegetarian and alcohol free existence of the majority. When we were with Kamlesh's family we were vegetarian and tea total. Imagde - it was a sober wedding!