Sunday, 6 January 2019

White madam

There are so many remnants of the Empire still left, and an auto rickshaw driver referred to me in conversation with a temple worshipper as ‘Gori Madam’, which translates to ‘white madam’.

As with most destinations, you choose your style of travel according to your wallet, but often in India you can easily dip into 5 star luxury, stay in an old heritage place or just pop in to eat at the best hotel in town. Here you get an interesting glimpse into old Raj life.

Par Rumpa pum par

It was a lovely experience to go to midnight mass in the Portuguese old city of Dui. A choir assembled at the front of the church and accompanied by a guitar belted out jazzy songs. One of the Christmas carols we sang I’m sure was the little drummer boy, to which in very high notes we had to sing the chorus including Par rumpa pum par.

 It was amazing to go to a mass, as we spend so much time in Hindu temples and it’s nice to see something more familiar, which in the same vain seems so austere compared to local temples. We sat in front of a couple we had met earlier at sunset point, who had travelled to Dui to go to church. The service ended around 1.30am and we had to cadge a lift from a family in the congregation, as the streets were full of barking dogs, unwilling to let us share the sidewalks. 

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

They’re more English than the English

At Palitana we stayed in an amazing old Palace, where the old great uncle had once taught Edward how to play polo. You get a glimpse into the old Raj, and an unfortunate thing is the removing of the wonderful spices which make Indian food so amazing, to be replaced with bland vegetables fit for an English palette! 

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

You are meant to come here

In Ahmedabad we got up early to join the heritage walk, only to be taken to the wrong Swaminarayan temple. Too late to join the walk we meet an Anglo-Indian woman who talked to us about the temple and then we join her husband for a free breakfast, which is offered at many temples. Her take was that we were meant to come there, so we went with the flow and followed her recommendation to head to the nearby Swaminarayan ashram, the same Hindu sect of the Neasden temple, the largest Indian temple outside of India. Escaping the city chaos was welcome and the ashram was a tranquil oasis, and we were the only westerners in sight!  Very different from other ashrams I’ve visited, as the devout were all Indian. 

Oh no I’m a married man

Affection is not outwardly demonstrated here in India. You don’t see married couples walking arm in arm, but men sometimes do walk hand in hand! So as an outsider you have to be very culturally sensitive and when greeting friends or saying farewell you dampen down your contact. On saying goodbye to Kamlesh and his family I made sure that hugs were given in the privacy of the house, and when I went to hug his brother in law he declined saying he was a married man. It’s interesting to realise that it’s a real cultural exchange staying with people and we all definitely learn from each other.  

Why the tiny cups?

We English love a good cup of tea, and a masala chai becomes an everyday treat here. Full of ginger or cardamom the masala chai is delicious, but there’s always a catch .... it’s always served in a tiny cup, leaving you wanting more! Same issue even in someone’s home .... why the tiny cups?

Friday, 21 December 2018

Scream if you want to go faster

I haven’t been on a fairground ride for years, and as we headed out to the night market in Jalore and spotted a huge swinging ship ... of course our initial  thoughts were an absolute no to go on, but if Kamlesh’s nine year old cousin was prepared to go, then so should we. So on the opposite side of the boat was a large group of women, one holding a baby. Even on the first swing I clung on tight, and quickly clamped my eyes shut and screamed as the swung back and forth reaching 180 degree swings, leaving our seats as we descended. For what felt like an eternity, with a bruise forming on my inner arm I clung on .... a girl opposite was standing at the back squealing with joy, countering my squealing with fear, at last it stopped and we stepped off the rickety stairs and laughed with relief, as even the boys admitted their fear.  Never again, but we were proud to have successfully fired three shots each on a rifle at the entrance, bursting the tiny coloured balloons. Much to the onlookers amazement we both hit 3 out of 3 targets each, sadly no prize other than our pride!