Trips to India Holidays


Other travel documents









This page needs a lots of input from Joy!

29 September 1985 Joy and Catherine to India

I had offered / told Joy to "do something special for your 50th birthday" in June 1985. What I didn't expect was that she would resign her job as teacher and go off for months to India studying Kathak dance.

Joy flew out with her friend Catherine (they had studied Kathak dance together with Nilima Devi at Leicester CICD) in late September. a couple of days after our big 25th wedding anniversary party at Florence Nightingale Hall, food by the hall, dance with Don as MC, speech by Mary.

Joy and Catherine stayed in a hotel in Baroda, but when Catherine came home from India after a month Joy moved into the house of her dance teacher Janaki Damle.

Many adventures for Joy to write!

24th March I flew out to attend Joy's final "programme" or dance performance. I flew Gulf Air into Mumbai = Bombay, taxi to Victoria railway station at 3am or so. Then I slept briefly on the concourse floor with my luggage strapped to my ankle until woken by cleaners with hoses at about 6am. The usual (didn't know it at the time) hassle getting a train ticket, there are 3 visits to different windows. We stayed at Damle Wada, it was the last month of Joy's long stay. They were amused that we wanted to sleep together. Joy gave a dance perforamce at Damle Wada, Everyone thought it great.

While we were both there I tried to show the Western husband by helping with the ironing and so on. Indian husbands wouldn't do that. But later trips on my own I allowed myself to be waited on hand and foot.

On one of our India visits, we were taken (a long bus ride) to a village where one of the students lived. We were shown round the village, followed by a crowd of locals who hadn't seen white Europeans in the village before. And I was taken to the village potter, and made a fool of myself trying to throw a pot in the middle of a horizontal cartwheel. In the evening the return bus never arrived, so we slept on a thin mattress on the corrugated iron roof of their house, looking up at the starts. Lovely, it was warm! And the loo was at the other end of the garden, involving a walk along the top of the wall between the houses. We caught a bus back the next morning.

We visited Delhi for 3 days. travel by 3rd class sleeper train 5 pounds for 1000 km each way return. From Delhi a day bus trip to the Taj Mahal. Joy got gastroenteritis from drinking the water, the Baroda water was OK but not Delhi.

Lots of problems with Joy's visa, which she had extended as a student, not a tourist. The police wouldn't give back her passport, they sent it to Ghandinagar (state HQ) to look at the visa. After chatting in the department whether a bribe was needed, we went to Ghandinagar to sort it out. Joy lay on the floor poorly, I played the "noble husband come to India to fetch weak wife home" act, and was given a NOL (no objection to leaving) certificate with no evidence in the passport of the problem. Joy was very poorly while we were there.

Thursday 17th April 1986 Arrive back from Bombay.

Teaching "Unix" trip by Eric 29th September 1986

It was coincidental that Joy stayed during her first Indian trip with her dance teacher Janaki, and that Janaki's husband was professor of engineering at the local university, MSU (Maharaja Sayajirao University) at Baroda. He had then invited me to come and talk on Unix to the Indian Institution of Electrical Engineers. So I stayed at Damle Wada. Being on my own, I was looked after hand and foot. The gentleman in charge of a local Buddhist temple came and stayed, and told endless moral stories as we sat on the balcony on their swing seat. Wonderful!

I taught the course "Unix for Super-users" to Indian Institute of Electrical Engineers. Attendees pestered me out of hours, evening, early morning (6:30am) when I went with Baba Damle to the vegetable market for today's food.

While I was in Baroda the Australian cricket team visited to play the Maharaja's 11, so all lectures were cancelled for the duration, and I got a free ticket to the players' enclosure, This also entitled me to free unlimited "Thums Up" ice cola drink while I was there. The Aussies indulged in "mooning" in front of the spectators, all good entertainment. In town people mistook me for one of the Aussies, there aren't many white folks with beards here.

I went for weekend with Anant to Mount Abu in Rajasthan. At the Gujarat/Rajasthan border the coach stopped, everyone got out and purchased beer and cigarettes, Gujarat is a dry state. We visited a Jain temple and monastery, all leather goods to be left at the entrance, I left my shoes but lied that my wallet was imitation leather.

Afterwards I went down to Goa for a brief holiday, Someone on my course had said "I have a brother in Goa, when you get off the plane ask for him". I did that, and got special treatment and a hotel organised! I bought a "Gandhi Superman" postcard, for which Goa is famous. I was well looked after by friends of friends.

Then more tourism further south to Bangalore, Bangalore is the silicon valley of India. Once again a student on the course in Baroda knew friends in Bangalore who would look after me - I stayed with rich family, he was boss of the huge railway wheel foundry there. We had guards on the gate. I was driven everywhere in a chauffeur driven white "Ambassador" car, rather embarrassing, I'd rather be with the masses. I was also driven to a famous palace just south of there, very lavish. While there the film "Ghandi" was on TV, my host was involved in the massed exit from Pakistan after partition.

19 January 1987 Joy to India again

Monday 19th January 1987
Joy report 08h00 Heathrow for 10h00 depart to India. Janaki at Baroda?

Thursday 16th April 1987
Joy arrives back Gulf Air GF037 05h25. Collect her from Don+Mary's.

1991 Eric teaching "Formal specification"

22 Feb 1991 Business visit by Eric until 21 March. India -- Baroda / Vadodora -- stay at Damle Wada. I taught Formal Specification and Z for the students/staff at MSU, plus a general talk at Vidyanagar University nearby. Vidyanagar have a huge IBM 370 mainframe in a computer room for show, but the PCs outside are more powerful!

Afterwards I had arranged a three day holiday in Sangli with the Velankar family. The usual long Indian train journey. At Poona station on the way, a friendly face saw me through the carriage window, it was Anguli on her way back to Sangli, lovely to recognise a face when I was so far from home. Instead of 3 days rest (what I expected) I did on the first day a talk at local Walchand University to all students, huge hall, three thousand of them, I was walked up the middle isle by the president to rhythmic clapping! It's a good job I had a student friendly topic to talk about (computers to mark student work). Second day a talk to locals "Education in the UK" in the marriage hall. They asked questions about Trade Unions in the UK, careful, Baba Velankar was in the chair and he doesn't allow trade unions in the factory. Third day a visit to a company making equipment for producing natural gas from cow/human waste. One cow's waste produces enough cooking gas for 2 people; you need 2 people for enough gas for one person.

The Velankar family run the big spinning and weaving factory at Sangli. They live within the factory compound. Morning breakfast was sitting in the shade with chai (tea) with added ginger and cinnamon, lovely. I was taken round the mill. All the equipment was brought over from the UK in the 50s, and is a complete working mill as in Victorian England. Walking round the noise was amazing, you couldn't see across for dust, the shuttles hit you if you weren't careful. Just like the old industrial mill songs that we sing.

On the train on the way back to Mumbai to catch my plane home, I chatted to the lady opposite, she turned out to be senior in the South Bombay Post Office. She organised that her chauffeur drove me to the airport, very convenient, it saves hassle with taxi drivers, it's good to talk. At the airport folk from Baroda had come down to say goodbye and brought me a quantity of Shrikhand

10 Jan 1995 Joy to India, Ahmedabad

23 March 1995 Eric arrives Ahmedabad , depart 27th . I was spending a few days en route to Malaysia (manning a Nottingham University exhibition stand) and China. We went to the "Calico Museum", a wonderful gallery of woven (and printed?) fabrics from all over India.

6 April 1995 Joy depart Ahmedabad

5 November 1997 Joy with Jan and a "Jules Verne" holiday

Joy and sister Jan went on a "posh" tour of some of the palaces of Rajasthan. Jaipur ...

Joy and Eric at Baroda and Amritsar 2 November 2000

Saturday 4th November 2000
Arrival at Heathrow due 06h20, arrived early at 06h00. No waiting to get checked in, but Joy's cabin baggage was too heavy. The weight was mostly my pots we were taking for presents, so we unpacked and repacked and checked it into the aircraft hold, but kept some precious things with us. Then we went duty-free shopping (whisky for gifts and books to read) and had a coffee. Depart Heathrow British Airways BA139 terminal 4 gate 6 10h20 on time in an old Boeing 747-200 Jumbo. An hour into the flight I wrote down eleven failings of British Airways compared with Singapore Airlines (I'm spoilt using Singapore, they're so good)-- no personal TV (in the back of the seat in front) therefore no choice of films, difficult to see the screen, no route map TV (most airlines show a route map of the route and how you are progressing), no initial warm wipes to make you feel cleaner, no newspapers to read, your tray doesn't slide towards you to make eating easier, the kids are boarded with everyone else (they ought to go on first), no menu of meals/timetable (it's nice to look ahead to what's coming up), we were missed when they came round with drinks and pretzels (they served us when we pointed that out), no sound track on one (Billy Connolly) film, and they switched the film off before the end. But they did serve kids food before the adults (good), and the whisky was in small bottles (easier to take some for future use). There were five babies around us, but they were all very well behaved. Our seats were on the end of a middle block of 4, fine, we could get in and out easily without disturbing others. I did my stretching exercises twice (I try to do them every 3 hours while travelling) in a space at the back of the aircraft. I looked out of the window after the second exercises to see Sharjah and the edge of the Persian Gulf all lit up beautifully below us, and lots of ships waiting out to sea.

Sunday 5th November 2000
We arrived Mumbai (= original name for Bombay, now back in use) "Sahar International Airport" at 00h35 (just after midnight here, 5h30 ahead of GMT, they say to get an approximation rotate your clock upside-down, strange, but it almost works). That's 14h15 - 5h30 = 8h45 flying time, short by Singapore standards. We spent 2h15 in the queue waiting for our immigration visas to be checked, typical Indian bureaucracy & inefficiency; we taught them bureaucracy in the colonial days! We chatted to a lady called Ila (pronounced "Eela") Anand while we were in the queue who was also going on to Vadodora (= old name for Baroda now back in use) like us. After over 2 hours in the immigration queue the luggage then came through quickly, but they had stacked it all in a big heap (it presumably appeared off the plane while we were all waiting in the queue), it was very difficult to find ours in the middle of the heap. First thing is to get some Indian money, I changed £100 travellers cheque to IR6700 at a bank in the airport (IR = Indian Rupees, 1 pound = 66 Indian Rupees, IR100 = £1.50). We caught the free shuttle bus (but nothing is easy here, it was hard to find where the bus left from) from international arrivals to the terminal for domestic flights "Santa Cruz Airport" (actually it's the same airport, but a different terminal building round the other side), we tipped the boys helping with the luggage IR10 = 15p. We were checked in at the other terminal by 03h00, then a long wait (remembered to take malaria pills daily and weekly, and a dose of asthma inhalers). Tried not to go to sleep, or we might miss the plane out! Boarding for departure by Jet Airways 9W431 05h50 (Boeing 737-800), we arrived Vadodora airport 06h40; brand new plane, pristine, excellent in-flight service, only time for one quick meal. It was dark when we left Mumbai, but light when we arrived (only about an hour's flying time) at Vadodora. We are staying with Vidya & Arvind Kanitkar, Shivaji Road, Dandia Bazaar (actually the Turkish word "bajar" means "street" not "market"), VADODORA 390001. (It's 9 years since I was last here, about 5 years for Joy.) Vidya made dance dresses for Joy when she first came here, they own a sari shop nearby. We were picked up at the airport by Vidya & son Vikram in their small minibus. As soon as we got to their apartment block we had nice cups of milky sweet Indian tea (half-half milk-water, put in the tea leaves, and boil for a while; then lots of sugar, and perhaps added ginger or cardamom or masala spices, and you make loud slurping noises, and pour the tea into the saucer and slurp it from there) and a long chat. Their place is a block of flats, each floor occupied by a different one of the 4 Kanitkar brothers, all first names begin with "A". Long drop "hole-in-the-floor" loo of course (with cockroaches at night), and nice cooling bucket & jug shower (just right for India, they call it a "bath", you have a bucket of cold water and a small jug, the cold water from the jug cools as it pours down you). Baba Damle (where I've stayed previously, Joy learnt dance at his wife Janaki's dance school, she died a few years ago, he's a retired professor of engineering at the local university) came round 10h15, and he and I went round to Prof. Patak's house (Patak has a temple in the house) to chat about my university connections (Why am I involved in work within a few hours of arrival? daft!). Patak is ex-head of Computer Science here, I know him from previous trips, now he's Pro-Vice-Chancellor, acting Vice Chancellor, very busy, very important! I asked how was my friend Ram Mohan (a logician in mathematics department) and before they could answer he appeared, he's organising my talk on Tuesday. Lovely to see Ram, he's a real gentleman, we spend time together on a previous trip, I refer to him in my logic book. Walked back home with Baba Damle, then we chatted with Arvind about what we need to book in the way of trains and hotels etc. Joy went to sleep while the rest of us lunched (she slept 3 hours), I lay down after lunch (and slept 2 hours); we needed that, after not much sleep for 2 nights. Evening meal was to have been with Dr Damle at his house Damle Wada (where I stayed last time), but his cooking lady was off, so he took us out instead. Joy and I walked to his place (we need the exercise after so long in a plane travelling), the Indian way to cross a busy road is to walk slowly and the traffic will avoid you. Joy recognised all of the walking route there, I think I could have found it. His lady who cooked meals wasn't around, so we 3 took a rickshaw to Hotel Express. If the rickshaw driver wants to turn right, he just heads diagonally across the road from 100 yards before the junction, oncoming traffic dodges either side. The hotel has a Gujarati restaurant, lovely décor (Gujarati meal = a large steel plate, a "thali", with everything on it, some things in heaps e.g. salad, chutney, potato, others in little dishes e.g. yoghurt). Very posh, but still the bill came to only IR400 = £6 for 3 people. Rickshaw home to Kanitkar's (one broke down half way there, so we got out and hailed another). Baba went on to his home, Joy & I stayed up chatting to Arvind & Vidya until 22h30, then we went to bed, I was out like a light. Very hard bed, keep the fan going to cool you and to dissuade the mosquitoes!
[They really do use the word "brother" here to mean cousins and all sorts as well as blood brother. And "grandchildren" include great nieces and any "brother"s grand children.]

Monday 6th November 2000
Woke at 06h30 then went to sleep again and slept 'till 08h30, generally slept well. Joy thought the bed was hard (it is, there's only a thin hard mattress, but that's OK by me, that's how they sleep here). Slow chatty morning doing not much. Joy and Preeti (Vidya's daughter) went shopping, first to the chappal man (skinny leather sandals, they ordered a pair for Joy to collect tomorrow), then to Baroda Prints (a fabric printing firm, beautiful designs, she bought fabric for a dress or two), and then took some of the fabric to be made into a dress for tomorrow. Arvind took me on the back of his motor bike to the station to get our train tickets for Delhi to Amritsar and Pune to Sangli (you have to fill in a detailed form for exactly what you want, it's just as well I'd printed everything off from the Internet before we left), there were long long queues but Arvind & I joined a short queue for retired / disabled people, the cost was IR2200 = £35 total. Then we went to a phone office downstairs (most home phones can't phone out of town, let alone out of country). I phoned the hotel "Heritage" at Chandigarh all OK (but they were very casual), but I couldn't get through to the Amritsar one (it turned out later that we were dialling the wrong city code), cost IR70 = £1 total for the phone calls. Then to a "cybercafé" run by a friend of Arvind's to email the Amritsar hotel instead of phoning, then home. Lunch, and sleep again; the Indian habit of a siesta (they say "Take rest, Joy") is attractive! About teatime Joy and I walked round to the Nimbalkar's (parents of Nilima in Leicester who danced at our 25th wedding) apartment and had a chat and sociable time. He's 80, and not very good eyesight, but we showed them (and everyone else we saw) assorted photos of us and our family. Joy stayed with the Nimbalkar's for a few days in 1985 when she came here for the very first time. We walked home, getting used to avoiding the scooters and rickshaws. There were evening phone calls from Sunetra (friend from Joy's dance days here, we are seeing her Wednesday evening) and Ram Mohan (confirming tomorrow morning pickup at 08h20 for my University talk).

Tuesday 7th November 2000
It's an auspicious day because it is the start of the preparations for the wedding of Vikram (Arvind & Vidya's son) to Snehal (we pronounce it "snail" to their great amusement!) on 21st December (they wish we were here for it). 08h15 I was picked up by Ram Mohan (now runs the computer centre, a logician, gave me some ideas for the logic book) for my talk at MSU (Maharaja Sayajirao University, the local university where Baba Damle was Dean of Engineering, it's the largest faculty of engineering in India, highly respected, I've worked there before). I gave a talk using PowerPoint (on my laptop computer I carry about 4 talks ready prepared, you never know, PowerPoint is a program for hooking the computer to a projector) on "Overview of CourseMaster". About 20 staff there, Patak stayed for the first hour. They showed me all the new labs since last time I was here, still not very good by our standards; I'd like to see if their syllabus is modernised too. Then home to Kanitkar's by Ram's car. Joy had spent the morning with Preeti at a sale of Kashmiri goods (the Kashmiri merchants wander round the country staying a few days at each town), and bought a dress top. We phoned Kumudini in Ahmedabad, all arrangements are OK for our arrival there to stay with her on Thursday. In the afternoon Preeti & I went with Joy to the chappal maker, she bought / collected the ones ordered yesterday, he has made them for her today (they are lovely), and then he stuck a loose bit on my sandals. Then off to a dress maker (wonderful, see photos) whose boss lady had made a dress for Joy today from the fabric she bought at Baroda Prints yesterday. Then on to Baroda Prints, their "factory" [room at the back] was closed, they said to come tomorrow to see them printing their fabrics. In the evening we went to the "Annapurna" restaurant (very near Vidya's apartment, owned by Vidya & Arvind) with Vikram, Snehal & Preeti; no charge for the meal as they own it! Their paper dosa etc was wonderful. Then home, but while walking up the stairs (4 flights) we got interrupted at the 2nd level (Abhay & family) and stopped for ice cream with them.

Wednesday 8th November 2000
It's our last full day in Vadodora. Joy and I were picked up 08h00 for breakfast at Ram Mohan's (it was the only time we could find for us to meet him socially, I want Joy to meet him. He lectures in logic at MSU.). We drove (Ram has bought a car but cannot drive yet, one of his students drives him everywhere in his car!) to his house (he has added a second storey since I was here last, it's out towards the airport, will there be a third storey next time?). We looked round the house, all the rooms are all light and airy. My camera flash and spare battery dropped down out of the case as I was photographing a guava flower and fruit from a second floor balcony. All was found scattered below (the battery was stuck on a branch), scratched but OK, phew! Breakfast of "idli"s (rice cakes), coconut chutney, sambar, vegetables, fruit, etc, far too much! And a cup of lovely sweet Indian tea! Other university folks were there, including the new head Prof. of Applied Maths, not sure of the others, I recognise some faces. Joy & I gave Ram's wife (2 daughters also in evidence) some Nottingham lace as a present. Back home for 10h20. Mid-morning 10h40 driven by Vikram with Preeti to see Snehal (Vikram's fiancée) and family at their house, past the station near Express Hotel. Nice very posh modern 4th floor apartment (a lift, the first we've seen!), all the wooden built-in furniture designed & made for them. Then yet more food (tomato soup and toasted cheesy sandwich). We gave Snehal's Mum a bowl of mine. After a rest back at "home", we went to "Baroda Prints" to photograph their fabric printing process (all done by hand of course, and they judge where to stamp the designs all by eye); lots of photos. Then on to Damle Wada to see Baba Damle again before we go. Yet another drink, boiled water this time. He really wants us to stay there next time, but it's quiet at his house ("Damle Wada") with only him there (since Janaki died), where Vidya's apartment is always busy. Kadamb & Kumudini's dancers (we're staying there tomorrow) were on TV, Joy knew most of the dancers. Evening pickup 17h30 and we were taken to see Sunetra (Joy got to know her when she first came dancing here, phone 561172) out of town to the east(?). Nice low rise housing, again very airy. They both work in banks. More food, at least it's all veggie, it doesn't lie heavy on the stomach. Rickshaw home late, IR30. They've put another mattress on the bed for Joy, it's marginally softer now.


Thursday 9th November 2000
Up 06h45 (me) to shower (these Indian bucket and jug shower are so lovely in the heat, you have a big bucket of cold water and a jug to pour it over your head, wonderfully cooling as the water cascades down) and last packing for this stay at Baroda. Vidya drove us in their microbus to the bus station for our "Luxury bus" (no luxury at all) from Vadodora to Ahmedabad. I queued and bought 2 tickets at IR45 = 70p each. Our seats were near the back, not much space for the luggage, Vidya & Arvind waved goodbye from the road as we left. The bus was supposed to take 2 hours, it took nearly 3, not the most comfortable, but I'm determined to travel by every possible means of transport while we're here. All the rivers and irrigation canals we passed over were dry, just some with a bit of stagnant water in; Gujarat has a serious drought, and may have to move 3 million people out of the state into other areas. It's a really bad drought here, no rain for 2 years (well ...), but the greens / environmentalists are against a big dam nearby which would solve all the problems but engulf many villages; difficult problem. Generally chaotic traffic. We were met at the bus station by Kumudini's driver Kalu (such luxuries are wonderful, but I feel guilty), and taken straight to Kadamb College of Music and Dance. Joy knew and was warmly welcomed by everyone, Kumudini (= Kumiben informal name) is the boss lady if this famous college which she set up (she has choreographed for the Royal Ballet, is on United Nations artistic committees, etc), and Joy knew all the main choreographers, dancers and musicians. We then drove with Kumiben to her house (on a private "colony" = estate with a wall round it, guards at the gate, and its own swimming pool, out in the suburbs). Very beautiful. She has let us have her room for our stay, kind of her, all very luxurious. It's still a jug & bucket shower! Lunch was cooked & served by the cook. After a "bath" and chat, the driver drove Joy and me to a new temple at Gandhinagar (I forgot the name), built by devotees of the same Guru as the Neasdon (NE London) one. It has a complete funfair attached. We saw a video show, and a set of dioramas showing some of the Indian epic stories, Ramayana, Mahabarat etc. Back home after dark, and meal here, including chicken (Gujarat is a veggie state but Kumiben isn't) and Indian beer (Gujarat is a dry state, but Kumiben can ask for some if she pretends she need it to help her sleep!) for me and Indian wine for Joy! It was a comfortable bed, there was cable TV with BBC World. There was a nasty smell of anti-mosquito stuff put here by the servant, there were enough mosquitoes around for us to put special "Odomos" ointment on.

Friday 10th November 2000
I had mung beans for breakfast, local traditional, they often have a hot veggie meal. Joy stays with toast & coffee. We were driven to Kadamb College with Kumiben 09h30. Joy had a long chat to Kumudini about the state of Kathak dance and choreography in the UK, and Kumudini talked about her latest co-production with some French hip-hop dancers (sponsored by the French Embassy here) was all over the front page of the newspapers today. The choreographer (French) was there, Kumiben criticised his choice of costumes. While Joy met other friends I was driven off to the Gandhi Ashram (where Gandhi spent a lot of time while he was stirring things up in favour of Indian independence). It's not particularly well set out but causes inspiring thoughts. The old buildings are preserved, and there's a new building full of historical documents, photos and quotations. Joy in the meantime went shopping with Nandini and Anar (her name = pomegranate). I was driven back to Kadamb, then Kumiben, Joy & I set off to Atul (the college's chief composer /musician) Desai's for a generous lunch. Atul composed the music for one of Joy's stories "Chota Hathi" which she developed while she was here once. The Desai family (& daughter = Vaidehi) all know and welcome Joy! After lunch (with Kumiben's car & driver) we picked up Raksha Bhatt (who Joy stayed with on one of her previous visits, our friend Shivani in the UK has also stayed with her) and we went to the famous Calico Museum. We had a guide, all free; at first she pestered us to go faster than we wanted, forever rushing us onto the next exhibit, but then eased off. It's a wonderful world famous collection (best in the world?) of printed / painted / woven fabrics, many hundreds of year old. No photography was permitted, but I photographed the outside of the building. The guard insisted I photograph him, he kept a fierce expression for the photo! Joy bought a number of nice cards and pictures. Car back to Raksha's. She took us out (Kalu drove) to a strange folksy restaurant for a meal. It's a strange theme park in the open air, lots of imitation ruins. We were seated on stone benches and tables and were served by a queue of turbaned waiters bringing one small dish each. Perhaps 8 waiters queued bringing dishes. A strong fan kept the mosquitoes off, but we put Odomos cream on anyway. Kalu took us back to Raksha's for a chat, then home to Kumiben's. Phoned Mum from there. I had another of Kumiben's Indian beer!

Saturday 11th November 2000
Up 08h00. Joy broke a chair at breakfast, we westerners are heavier than Indians! I eat cooked veg again, a nice change from England; Joy has toast. We always remember the malaria pills at breakfast time. At 10h00 we were driven with Kumiben to Kadamb (dance & music college), and the driver then took Joy & me on to Raksha Bhatt's. Her husband Hiren was waiting to see us, but then went straight off to work. Then we went with Raksha by rickshaw with her to "Wall Street Finance" quite a way away (she had said "Just round the corner") to change another traveller's cheque for £100 to IR6540 this time (living with friends is cheap, but we'll need cash for hotels in Amritsar and Chandigarh). Then she took us on to the city museum, brick & concrete building designed by French architect le Corbusier (he has lots of Indian connections, see Chandigarh later). The museum contained lots of history (pictures, documents, quotes, of course details of lots of problems they had with the Brits and getting rid of the Brits, always interesting) and work by local artists, and descriptions and explanations of local religions and festivals. I photographed some of the paintings. The section on Indian religions and their festivals was interesting. Then lunch at Raksha's, yet another Gujarati thali meal. Joy and I took a rickshaw to a bookshop run by another of Joy's friends, Manjari (wife of Kadamb musician Ramesh). We arrived at the shop at 15h30, she arrived at 16h00, but she said she wouldn't be free until the shop closed at19h00. So we read books then I went for a long walk observing local life (looking in shops, visiting a plant nursery). It turned out that someone came to relieve Manjari so that she could go home, but I didn't get back to the shop until just before 19h00. Then by car and scooter to Manjari's place for yet another Gujarati thali meal! We had a good chat to husband Ramesh who was very involved (he's the Kadamb tabla player) in making Joy's "Chota Hathi" music on her last trip here; I've edited that music and turned it into a CD for Joy to use at school. We were driven back to Kumudini's for 21h00. Chat & pack (and watch BBC World TV). We chatted to her son-in-law Shishir Hattengadi; he was a professional cricketer, played for India and Dundee, he has played in test matches at Trent Bridge Nottingham, and used to come to Nottingham once a year with his own piece of willow for Gunn & Moore's to make a cricket bat from it. He says (modestly) that he is still recognised around India.


Sunday 12th November 2000
Day for moving on, the alarm was set for 05h45. Shower, and a cup of tea. Kumudini's driver Kalu loaded the luggage while we weren't looking, and drove us to the airport, got there 07h15. No problems in spite of lack of signs in English, Joy took her wheely bin luggage in the cabin, we departed 09h30 Ahmedabad on Jet Airways 9W702 for Delhi, arrived 09h30 on time. We got a pre-paid taxi (better than haggling) IR165 = £2.50 to "Old Delhi" railway station (not to be confused with "New Delhi" or "Delhi Cantonment"), about 45 mins, one suitcase loose on the roof rack, the driver assured us that the case would be OK; it was. Not much traffic. As usual we had to pay the taxi driver extra for the luggage, of course! Two porters took the luggage on their heads to platform 8 (they asked IR100, got 20). We couldn't find any train information, two trains came and went which weren't for us, it turned out that our train was over an hour late. The automated announcements in Hindi and English were hard to understand (their English is different from ours), but we asked other people to check that we were on the right platform. We bought water, bananas and crisps on the platform to sustain us! Trains have a reservation list stuck on the coach when the train arrives, and posted on a notice-board on the platform. Our train eventually arrived, with Amritsar written in English & Hindi on the destination boards. It departed Delhi 13h30 instead of scheduled 12h10, 1h20 late; the ticket inspector confirmed for us that it went to Amritsar. We were in "second class AC" (air-conditioned); the only reason for AC is that it means you have windows, less dust and grime comes in. Without AC the windows are just empty openings. It was a sleeper coach, out of 60 berths (in cabins of 4) there were initially 10 passengers, by the time we got to the end of the journey we were the only ones in the carriage. The inspector assigned to the coach vanished long before we arrived at Amritsar. We bought more crisps, mango juice, ice cream on the train (they come round at some stations where the stop is longer). The train eventually arrived long after dark (we didn't know how many stops to expect) at 23h00 instead of 20h50, and we got a rickshaw (with our luggage loose on the roof-rack again) to the hotel. He happily drove the wrong side of a roundabout, then down the wrong side of a dual carriageway, hooting at everyone coming the other way, because it was a short cut to the hotel. The driver offered to look after us for our tourism tomorrow, we accepted. All OK checking in at the hotel even though they didn't have any record of our booking, I heaved a sigh of relief! Too late for a meal or drink, all closed. We had a shower (it wouldn't go hot, but you get filthy travelling, even cold is OK) and bed. The climate here is distinctly cooler than Ahmedabad.

Monday 13th November 2000
Leisurely up after all of yesterday's hassle, and the hotel is relatively luxurious! We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, I had omelette, Joy had boiled eggs (rejected the first as too hard, next were OK), toast & jam, ice coffee for Joy, masala tea for me, cost IR337 = £5. The rickshaw collected us as arranged last night at 10h30; a young driver, and an older man as guide (who drives a cycle rickshaw usually but enjoyed telling us that he is learning to drive). First of course straight to the Golden Temple (you MUST see it); leave your shoes at the office, wear something on your head (I had a bit of cloth with me, provided yesterday by Kumudini who had anticipated the need). Wonderful large square pond (the "Pool of Nectar", that's what "Amritsar" means) with the real gold covered temple in the middle; wonderful reflections. So photogenic. We wandered at our leisure for over an hour. There was a blue carpet all the way round (if the sun's hot the marble is unbearable, we were there relatively early in the day). Lots of stones on the surrounding stonework were engraved e.g. "Gift of 1000 rupees donated by Mr Singh & family of Bradford". Then the guide drove us to the Jaliyan-wala-bagh Memorial Garden, set up in remembrance of the massacre here of hundreds of women & children by the British (whoops!) in 1919. All details were in the building, including about the Indian who later in London shot the British major who ordered the shooting. Then we went on to the Durgiana Temple, not as good as the famous Golden Temple by a long way. Then on to the City Art Gallery (closed for re-decorating), then to the Maharaja art gallery (closed because it was Monday), the guide sympathised with us! So the guide took us on to a statue of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh in a park, then to the hotel for 13h00. Two hours slob. Then at 16h00 the same driver and guide took us to the India-Pakistan border, 28km (about an hour) away; I hadn't realised it was so close (and the large city Lahore, is less than 30 km = 20 miles the other side). The rickshaw survived the journey with much smoke and heat and screaming engine! We passed fields of rice, it all looks productive, no drought here. At the border there was an amazing Wagah-Attari border ceremony , every Sunday at dusk 17h00. They have set up large grandstands on the Indian side for the audience (several hundred people) to watch. The Indo and Pak soldiers try to outdo each other in silly synchronised military marching with high kicks, all in a combined ceremony to lower their 2 flags and close the gates! The two sides worked exactly in time with each other, even the trumpet calls were synchronised. Quite amazing, everyone clapped and cheered each part! On the way home we stopped to photograph a Khalsa College (like a palace, built by the Brits). Then at the guide's insistence we stopped at the Mataji (mother's) Temple. Amazing trek upstairs, along walkways, kneeling through a tunnel, paddling along a stream, all past lots of statues of gods. The theory is that it's difficult to find a god. At the end we were garlanded and had the magic orange mark on our foreheads. All done in bare feet on dirty paths! We found later that it symbolises the walk up a mountain to Vaishnadevi's temple somewhere near Jammu in Kashmir, where there are tunnels, streams... Back home to the hotel 18h45. Nice Indian meal in the hotel restaurant (beer for me = IR70, gin & tonic for Joy = IR30 = 45p, two chicken dishes, nan bread with garlic, etc, food IR510 = £7.50), gulab jamans were described on the menu as "dollops of .....".


Tuesday 14th November 2000
Time to move on! I set our alarm for 06h45. Same breakfast as yesterday, plus toast, but Joy got only one egg (but it was OK soft boiled), IR386! Paid the hotel bill (food IR1333, room IR4400, laundry IR95 = total IR5828), paid by Travellers Cheque for £100 converted to IR6700, and I collected IR870 change. The "taxi" came 09h00 spot on time, it turned out to be a jeep-type 4-wheel drive vehicle, very smart, looks tough, I was worried we might get a rickshaw! It was fast driving, dangerous by English standards, overtaking anywhere, dodging in and out, expecting others to get out of the way, non-stop use of the horn. Crossed the Beas River over a long bridge. They had stops every hour or so, supposedly for our benefit, but actually so that the guide Madan Lal could have a fag! We passed a big sugar-cane load which had overturned, it was just too heavily loaded. The first stop was at a small "Tourist Refreshment Station", clean loos were appreciated, we didn't refresh ourselves. A later stop was to fill up with diesel fuel (IR30 = 50p a litre), we paid IR800 for it, part of the taxi fee in advance. Crossed another dam, the road was one direction only but no-one bothered, they just squeezed past each other making it very slow. We passed through miles of rice and sugar cane areas, Punjab is the "food basket" of India. The outskirts of Chandigarh were very industrial, with iron factories etc. We arrived Chandigarh proper at 13h30, and then there was lots of asking the way to find our hotel. The only address we had was "Sector 35-C" (it's a newly built = 1967 city, all districts are just known by "sector numbers", but there are no helpful road signs telling you where each sector is) and the Heritage Hotel (I had booked on the phone, but they had no record of it). Joy paid the rest of the taxi fee (and of course a tip), IR2700 total. We were duly installed in a deluxe room (the choice was economy, deluxe or a suite, we don't need a suite of rooms)! We have a huge (Triple? Optimist!) bed, large TV on cable (so we can watch BBC World) and a fridge with soda & Pepsi. We unpacked, relaxed and got organised! We dined in the hotel restaurant to save going out, but it was not desperately thrilling. The staff try to be helpful.

Wednesday 15th November 2000
We had breakfast (mango juice without ice, toast) in the dining room, but they act as though everyone normally has breakfast in their room, we'll try it tomorrow. Then we walked along the shops outside looking around, and found a PCO (public call office, you can phone out). Then we looked for a bank to change some more English money, we'll need it for the hotel bill. Several of the banks we passed were closed; were we too early? The local branch of the Bank of Punjab was open, but this branch doesn't do foreign money changing! A very courteous Sikh there offered to drive us to their other branch which does foreign exchange, very nice of him, and gave us a name to ask for in the bank. We chatted religion as we went; most Sikhs and Hindus are very tolerant. He also says that there is a bank strike today, of most banks, that explains the closed banks! At the bigger branch we went to they weren't ready ("We have to wait for today's exchange rate"), but sent us next door to a branch of Thomas Cook's, where all was simple £200 = IR13000 about. Then we took a cycle rickshaw (Joy and me must make a heavy load by their standards) from there to Nek Chand's sculpture garden, the "Rock Garden" for IR20. Joy has been looking forward to that more than anything else on this trip, she was thrilled, it turned out to be super for her. She took about 100 photos! It's all sculptures, grottoes, people, animals, all made of scrap materials. There's a lovely colonnade with a swing under every arch. Lovely to see so many adults swinging like kids again, but Joy says that they all swing in India anyway. We shopped at a street market outside the garden. We took a cycle rickshaw back to the hotel. The hotel gave us a map of Chandigarh, they've been promising it ever since we got here. Now I can see that the sector numbers are not in any sensible order! I put today's photos into the computer, there are so many that the computer took hours to digest them. Early evening we took a cycle rickshaw to sector 17 (the "shopping sector") to wander round the shops, and we bought 3 Pashmina shawls. Afterwards we couldn't find a nice restaurant, so we took a motor rickshaw back to the "Khyber" restaurant (highly recommended in a brochure) which is near our hotel, it was very good. We walked back to the hotel (5 minutes), watched TV and bed.

Thursday 16th November 2000
Breakfast served in our room today, both of us had mango juice, fried eggs (even though I asked for omelette), toast and ice coffee (Joy) & masala tea (me). Checked what our leaving bill will be with reception (to see how much money to change), it'll be about IR6000. Phoned Sangli (our next stop) IR90 from a local PCO (Public Call Office) to confirm arrangements; tried to email the kids but their computer email system failed, but it still cost IR15. We took a pedal rickshaw to the "Rose Garden", we checked with the driver several times on the way as we were going in the wrong direction, we ended up at the "Rock Garden". Ah well, paid him off! We walked towards the bougainvillaea garden, but distances are more than you think, so we hailed to rickshaw to the Art Gallery. Joy enjoyed the gallery, old and modern Indian art. Entrance IR2 = 3p, permission for camera IR5, we bought a couple of prints & postcard IR41. Then to the City Museum next door, a history of the planning and making of the city. It was started after partition partly to house refugees. There were all the letters between the Indian Government and prospective architects; most British architects were too busy building British garden cities after the war! Then down to the shopping area. Coffee, coke & ice cream at "Hot Millions". Wandered around the sector looking for the main admin buildings (supposed to be interesting buildings by le Corbusier), but couldn't find them. Found an area where lots of lawyers were available for hire, all sitting at tables in the shade behind one big building. At a Handloom House shop (Joy has used other Handloom House shops elsewhere) we bought a kurta for Eric IR232, a table mat set (for AHJS?) IR298, some white good silk 3m for IR636, and 1m of other silk IR137 (I think it's for Catherine). Then time for a motor rickshaw home IR50, and slob for a bit, it is supposed to be a holiday! Then we walked along to the Khyber restaurant again (we overshot, missed it!), very good again, one Afghan dish, one Khyber speciality. I had the runs during the night, but was fine by morning. That would be a problem if we were travelling, but no problem when you're at the hotel.


Friday 17th November 2000. Travelling day, but not until 12h00. Breakfast in the room again, while we gently packed and watched TV, no rush. Paid the hotel bill. Taxi at noon, IR300 to the airport (but he wanted more), only 20 minutes. As usual here (especially Punjab), it's a civil airport on one side and a military the other, so they are worried about security. We had to wait for the luggage scanner man to appear. Joy phoned Jean & Rory at 13h30 here, 07h00 there; they're fine. The bank man (when I tried to change some more money) said "I don't give a good rate, wait till you get to Delhi.". Lots of security, we were searched at least 3 times, but there is a terrorist threat here close to the Pakistan border. We fly Jet Airways flight 9W3304 at 14h40 due to arrive Delhi 15h40, it was all on time, but hazy so no good views. We had a meal on the plane. When we arrived, we walked out and straight to the departures terminal, and checked in for the next flight. It was all a rush, we had about 40 minutes for the changeover. The announced "Last call for Pune" before we were checked in, then we hurried out onto the tarmac, and waited for our luggage to arrive from the other plane and get loaded on this one. We want to be sure the luggage makes it! Depart Delhi Jet Airways flight 9W363 at 15h30 to Pune, due to arrive 18h35. We had another meal on the plane, arrival was on time. We got a pre-paid taxi to the station IR200 (no arguments this time). Of course a porter rushed up, grabbed our baggage and took our cases onto the platform, we have a 3 hour wait, I think he wanted us to employ him for all that 3 hours. Other trains came and went, but we felt organised. I walked and explored, the main entrance hall is all marble with a brass plaque "Opened by Sir ..... in 1925". There was a "resting room for men" with filthy loos! It turned out that the porter had dumped us in exactly the right position on the platform, it was right by our carriage (A1) when our train Sayahdri Express arrived on time at 22h25. We had a lower and upper bunk in the end compartment, the other bunk (there were only three) was someone else getting off at Sangli, so he can wake us up. Two sheets and a blanket were provided, we were rocked to sleep; it's all very slow and gentle. The train departed late at 23h00, but arrived Sangli more-or-less on time at 04h30 (the guard woke us up in time, but I had set the alarm). We were met by a company (Sri Gaganan Weaving Mills) car and employees with a welcome letter from Anjali, and taken to a company apartment (well, one room, a few mosquitoes, they say it's only 5 minutes walk from the factory where they live and where the celebrations will be). Shower (cold bucket & jug), couldn't find any hot water, but too tired to care; anything's nice after so much travelling.

[Our Sangli contact is the Velankar family who run spinning & weaving mills here. The "old" man's wife was sister to Joy's first dance guru in India, Janaki Damle at Baroda. Both women died a while ago. The old man Baba is 75 on the 19th, hence the two days of celebrations we've come to, and he still runs the mill with a rod of iron. He has four daughters here, Anjali (now effectively the boss) who has stayed with us with a sister Chitra now dead. Then the twin sisters Purawa & Uttara, then the youngest Varsha now married with a 2 year old Chaitanya whose birthday is also the 19th.]

Saturday 18th November 2000. Birthday celebrations day 1. Alarm set for 06h45, glad we had had those showers when we arrived! We both got a good 1 to 2 hours sleep. We were picked up by a company car and taken to the marriage hall, where we met Baba (mill owner whose 75th birthday it is tomorrow) & Anjali (one of the 4 daughters who run the factory) & the others, lovely to see them all again. (Anjali came and stayed with us once, and it was she who once found me unexpectedly on a train a Pune station.) First there was a religious ceremony in the next hall, five professional chanters chanting something scriptural for half an hour. Baba sat in front of them, women sat one side of the hall, men the other side. Afterwards breakfast was served outside, it's lovely cool and fresh air here in the mornings (someone said we were 1600 feet above sea level). Then everyone (including the locals) was shown round the spinning mill, then the weaving mill. I took lots of photos, the equipment is fascinating. It is mostly ancient, but that means that they can repair it themselves, and they make all the spare parts themselves, and they employ lots of people. After the tour lunch was served for everyone in the garden of their house, still in the mill compound. Who cares if they drop the pots on the earth and pick them up again? We then went back to the room to sleep for a bit, and were collected in time for the evening concert. First a singing lady "I can sing in 9 languages", she couldn't get off the microphone; even later on she insisted on publicly thanking everyone and making general comments on the proceedings. We know enough Indian singing to know that she wasn't very good; perhaps she just had a sore throat tonight. Then there was bharatanatyam dancing by a well covered woman, some of the positions reminded me of Shobana Jeyasingh's shows. Then her son did a solo; he had an incredible stage presence. When we met him afterwards he turned out to be quite small, that shows what a stage presence he has. Then another man did a solo, not such an expert, still bharatanatyam. Those all had the same musicians, OK but not thrilling. For the second part, another music group came and played, with a fabulous drummer and a good singer. They played for some Kutchipudi dancing by the same well covered woman. Pretty good. After the show was over everyone present had a meal in the other hall adjoining, buffet style, then we staggered home to bed. Joy was sick several times in the night, is it food or a bug? (Anjali said that she hadn't yet booked our rail tickets on to Bombay later in the week, but we found out later that she had!)

Sunday 19th November 2000
Birthday celebrations day 2, the actual birthday(s). Joy was very sick in the night, was it some water she drank? She's very trusting of local water, I'm not at all! At the mill all water is boiled, at our room it isn't. We walked to the Marriage Hall for 08h00 for cup of tea (for me, nothing for Joy). Outside the hall is a big display of photographs of Baba's life, you can leave them outside because it NEVER rains here outside the rainy season. And there's a beautiful rangoli (coloured pattern made of sand) on the path outside the hall. The first ceremony was blowing out of candles and cutting of cakes for Baba & grandson Chaitanya aged 2. The 2 year old had a vivid pink cake, we all had a bit for breakfast outside afterwards, along with a usual Indian breakfast. Then back inside again for some singing by the four girls. Then Joy & I sang, one of the Nightingale songs and Ho Ri Ho Ro. It went OK, I played harmonium; there must be a number of musical people in the audience, several came up and commented on our harmonies. Joy went back to bed. Then a somewhat long (and for me boring) slide show of old family slides. You stood up and clapped if you were on a photo. There were several of Joy's guru Janaki when she was young. Then lunch in the next hall, Anjali carefully sat me next to a banker with the ICICI bank so that I could have a good chat. Joy meanwhile slept in a back room feeling grotty and being sick again. In the afternoon Joy danced a Kathak spot (amazing when you saw how sick she was), while I worked the tape recorder (and fought off lots of inveterate knob-twiddling Indians). Everyone applauded, Joy's dance was much appreciated. After that we went back to the room, Joy was sick again, and went to bed. The evening do at the mill was at 18h00, a 2 hour speech by Baba on his life history all in Marathi, I was advised to miss it. I walked from our room back to the hall at 20h00, they were only half way through! He had compared his life to that of Sindbad the sailor, I gather. I went round the back and eat early, refilled our water bottle, and walked "home" for 20h30. Joy was sleeping still.

Monday 20th November 2000
The temple started chanting 06h00! If I ever buy a house in India I'll make sure it's not near a temple! But at 07h30 there was a power cut, bliss, silence. Up at 07h00, nice hot jug shower, and there's a stool to sit on while you scrub your feet (they get black with all the "shoes off" inside houses and other buildings). Roughly packed the luggage, but not very carefully. Joy felt better. At 09h00 we took the luggage downstairs, and a car come to take us to the Velankar's house in the mill compound; we can stay there now that the other 75th celebration visitors have gone. We can also chat and swap photos, they've been too busy with the celebrations lately to spend much time with us! We were welcomed, and breakfasted with everybody (family and some remaining visitors) at a big table; Joy had little (she'll be OK soon), I had lots of local cooked food! We were taken to our room downstairs in the guest wing, we'll be sleeping under mosquito nets here. Lots of mosquitoes, so we spread Odomos (cream from a tube which scares the mossies away) on regularly. I always get a few bites before I remember to put the Odomos on. More opening of 75th birthday presents left over from yesterday. At teatime we sat with Baba and he gave me a long lecture on what's wrong with Indian politics now, what he says is just like the book I'm reading, lots of criminals are getting elected to parliament. Everyone is fascinated with Joy's embroidery, especially since it consists of elephants and palm trees! After dark we went for a short walk with Anjali round the nearest part of town, and of course the obligatory visit to a temple. Evening nosh, then, when we had all the family together, we presented Baba with the plate I've done; "Ramachandra" "75" with an Indian "Om" symbols and an elephant; it's a good one. It was much appreciated, Baba is very practical and appreciates hand-made things. The twins are very much into photography (last time in London they bought 3 cameras, all their prints of their holidays are A4 size, very good), they were very interested in details of my digital camera. The laptop was also a hit, especially with all my historic family photos of my ancestors, and of Joy and me when younger!

Tuesday 21st November 2000
We slept under mosquito nets, but no problems. Very unromantic. Early 08h30 tea in the garden in front of the house. Wonderful (relatively) cool mornings here. It was lovely, we took ages, two ladies sang, Joy and I sang (they all comment on the way we sing harmonies, they just sing unison) and Baba played tin whistle. Then breakfast inside, cooked food as usual. A car took Joy, me, and Anjali shopping at 11h00, the twins went in a separate car. We shopped for three hours, lots of knick-knacks for Joy's Indian work, a dress for Joy (we chose the material, it will be made for her by tomorrow afternoon, IR870 = under £15 for the material and the making), seven and a half dozen gungharoos (at IR25 for 12, bells to go on her legs for dancing, heavier cast brass than morris bells) for Joy, and tee-shirts for the boys (in a shop called "Cuff and Collar"). In the meantime I took lots of photos of street scenes, shops and traders. We got back home (the driver had waited for us all this time) 14h30, time for lunch and rest (they always "take rest" after lunch). In the evening I put my CD-ROM of Foresters & Cloggies onto their new computer (which was a birthday present for Baba from his daughters), copied it all onto their hard disc, then we all looked at the pictures and played the music. It contains pictures and music of the morris, cloggies and our band, plus 6 hours of music. We tried unsuccessfully to phone hotels in Mumbai to book a room for Thursday night, but all were either fully booked or phenomenally expensive (perhaps they were just trying it on). So Anjali decided that we should stay an extra night, then go by train in the daytime Friday, and then straight to the airport to check in.

Wednesday 22nd November 2000
Plan A-- Day train to Mumbai tomorrow Thursday. Plan B-- Evening train to Mumbai = Bombay. Plan C-- Day train to Mumbai Friday. We shall see. After coffee/tea (there was a long power cut) the 4 "girls" practised bare-foot clog dancing with Joy teaching. She taught treble-and-quick-change, oompah, swannee and the Bob's-your-uncle break. They enjoyed it! I played Indian harmonium for them (sat cross-legged on the floor), then one of the twins played tabla with me, trying to learn all the rhythms. Anjali sent a man to the station to try and change the train reservations, it's all OK to travel by "AC chair car" on Friday (the daytime trains aren't so busy, it's 12 hours and most people go sleeper overnight). Afternoon rest, I played on Baba's new computer and emailed to myself and the 3 kids. Then the driver took Baba, Anjali, Joy me 40 minutes drive through the countryside (terrible road, lots of sugar-cane being harvested, lots of temporary wig-wams for the temporary itinerant workers). We went to a dairy factory "Chitale diary" (that's the man's name), and saw the buffalo milk being "bottled" in plastics bags (Indian standard way of selling milk), some dried and turned into milk powder. They also breed buffalo and have their own computer controlled herd. They also have started a vineyard, acres of wines of different varieties, some to be sold as grapes, some for raisins, some for wine. And they also pulp mangoes and pack the juice! The boss man knows Baba, so we were treated very well. The plant is very modern, clean, not like the mill! Back in the dark, appalling driving by our standards. While we were waiting to eat dinner, the girls brought out a wonderful English-type sponge cake with 40 candles for our wedding anniversary, what a kind thought! We have photos! The candles soon melted with the heat while I tried to set up a tripod for the camera. Back on Baba's computer there were email replies from Hamish (very smart & professional, background = a photo of Sean) and Rory (dry humour); I replied to them! After eating (Joy didn't eat, she was full!) we danced. I played harmonium for Joy to do some complete bare-foot clog, we sang for me to do a morris jig, then we got them dancing some simple community dances such as Pat-a-cake polka. They taught us some Indian simple wedding dances. Wonderful company, then we were ready for "bath" and bed.

Thursday 23rd November 2000. Our last day here! Breakfast (well, chai = tea and spicy spiral chaklees, they also have sweet flaky pastry things but they're too sweet) sitting in the front garden, having a swing. Very pleasant, they like us to correct their English (otherwise as long as we can understand what they mean we ignore bad English); there can be a lot to correct. As usual the power was off most of the morning, but when it was on we switched Baba's computer on. There was an email from Angus (as expected all tatty and full of spelling mistakes), so all three kids have received our email from here. Joy and I walked round the compound photographing the beautiful flowers and leaves. Some of the larger butterflies here flutter and then glide for a while! I think our butterflies only flutter all the time. We also photographed the mill, it looks remarkably like the old original Arkwright mills in Derbyshire, perhaps it was modelled on them. Joy's specially made dress was collected by a worker, it looks lovely, they took one day to make it. We'll have a fashion show later. I taught the twins more about using the computer, we did various emails and sent a greetings card via email to their sister Veena in USA. They then started teaching Baba the computer, that'll be a slow job. Joy watched a video of Indian dance (Bharatanatyam style?) which Anjali recommended, it was actually a film all about a dancer. Joy and I went with Anjali to the factory packing section to buy some fabric. While looking at some fabric we turned round and there were 30 of the workers wanting to look at us! They are particularly fascinated by Joy's Indian dress and long white curly hair! I took their photo, Joy wrote her name for one of them! In the evening Joy & Anjali went shopping for last minute things, and of course Joy overspent and Anjali subsidised her. They also bought snacks for the journey tomorrow. I went to the Rotary Club meeting with Baba; I understood nothing since the talk was in Marathi, but was presented with a red rose as an honoured visitor. The talk was on "Shakespeare's London" but in Marati. Baba himself drove there in his small car, he took it gently. We saw our first cockroach when we went to our room to pack. We owe Anjali IR300 for Joy's spending, IR850 for railway tickets, IR200 for presents for servants, IR1000 we are borrowing = IR2340 = £40 total we owe when she comes to see us.

Friday 24th November 2000. We sat in the front garden for a bit, and I quoted my ancient Chinese poem, all very philosophical. "Close friends remain close friends wherever they roam. Even at the earth's end you would seem next door.", by Wang Bo 670 CE. The company green minibus took us about 09h00 (they said 09h15 would do) to the station. Depart Sangli 09h25 on the daily daytime express train, it arrived on time, you get a 10 minute warning bell, and they tell you exactly where to wait for your carriage or "bogie". The train journey is 450 kilometres = 280 miles, takes 12 hours to Mumbai (the daytime trains are less busy than the overnight sleepers) and cost us IR240 = less than £4 each. We are in the "AC chair car" coach = air conditioned with reclining seats. Joy prefers it to first class non-AC. It's single track from here to Pune, the route we came down on last Friday night, fairly slow, we crossed the line at least twice on the way to see the dairy the other day. We eat some of the snacks provided by the girls, chapatis with salad, all sorts of spicy bits. The was a delay at Satara station caused by a lie-down protest on the rails ahead of us, and protests going on opn two other stations! The train eventually arrives first at Bombay in Dadar should be at 19h30, actually 20h50 (we get off there, it's nearer to the airport, 30 to 45 minutes by taxi). The train goes on to Mumbai "Victoria Terminus" (the railways were built by the Brits, hence names like "Victoria") about 20 minutes later (if we miss Dadar we'll just have a longer taxi ride). The taxi from Dadar to the airport was very dodgy, they all try every possible means to make money out of you! IR50 to the porters from the station to the taxi (they wanted 100), IR500 for the taxi (they wanted 750 plus another 100, and insisted on putting the luggage on the roof). We had a coffee / coke-cola as soon as we got to the airport, time to relax, that's the end of wonderful chaotic India for now. We checked in at Mumbai Sahar airport at about 22h30. We immediately saw Ila, who we'd chatted to in the immigration queue on the way here, she's on the same flight home as us (Indian, lives in Harrow). Joy bought a last few knick-knacks in the shop. I changed my last IR760 to £12 or so.

Saturday 25th November 2000. The incoming flight was 30 minutes late (it's exactly the one we caught on the way here, due here at 00h35). We should depart Mumbai British Airways BA138 02h45, but it was half-an-hour late. Check-in facilities were all very simple. Most of the flight was in darkness. Since I slept a lot I did only one set of exercises. I saw the captain down here at one point and had a chat; he's reckons the weather is really consistently bad at the moment, global warming and all that. We should catch up the lost time, he says, the "head wind" delaying the incoming plane will help us going back. Due to arrive London Heathrow terminal 4 07h20 (duration = 7h20 - 2h45 = 4h40 + 5h30 time difference = 10h10 flight time). There is a FlightLine coach 09h35 from Heathrow to BroadMarsh 13h40, but we may catch an earlier one at 08h30 to East Midlands Airport. No, the earlier bus was full, so we had a coffee in an Italian restaurant. I bought a Guardian to read, full of news about the railway problems here, with a longish bit about how good Indian Railways are. Jean & Rory met us in our VW at the bus station, in pouring rain, we got soaked crossing the road! Home, collapse! I put the photos up straight away to look through them, good system. Jean & Rory left 16h00, they have a dance booking tonight. We weren't very active!

16th Janusary 2007 South India holiday trip with Babli

Our great friend Babli offered to organise a holiday for us and her in south India, an area we had never explored. It was wonderfully organised, she was an excellent “native guide”!

Tuesday 16th January 2007

We departed by taxi to Heathrow early, at 07h30, it cost £12.50 each for five people. We flew to India by Qatar Airways via Doha. After checkin, we had to drink all our water before the gate, security didn't allow any liquids onto the plane. Even our shoes were checked. There was time for a good coffee & croissant at "CafeItalia". Checkin was at 08h30 but we didn't depart till 11am 40 minutes late due to no-show passengers. Arrival at Doha was at 20:40 local time (GMT +3 hours). We used free internet terminals in Doha airport just because we could! Coffee at a "Costa Coffee", but they took only notes, no rials, so we had to give them £5 = 29:23 rials and collect the unwanted change.

Wednesday 17th January 2007

Our onward flight Doha to Trivandrum, QR240 should have departed at half past one but was 50 minutes late, We arrived at Trivandrum 08:15am 50 minutes late. Our baggage was collected OK, always a relief! We changed £100 to 8400 rupees, that's quite a better exchange rate than last time we were in India. We were met by Murugan (the boss of the hotel where we were staying), and presented with garlands. I tried a photo but the camera was steamed up! While we were being driven to the hotel, Murugan was done for using a mobile phone while driving, fine R5000 but he gave the policeman a R100 bribe instead, very Indian. We arrived at our "Small Tiger Hotel" at Kovalam Lighthouse Beach at 10h00. The hotel is just about the size of our house, very friendly. Unpack, chai, coffee. Room is R700 / night, we paid R5000 in advance. We walked the short distance to the loacl sandy beach (pale and black sand), lots of little shops, restaurants and internet cafes. Fishing nets were being pulled in. Then for a swim in the warm big breaking waves, I soon had sand filled bathers. You'd need to be careful of the undertow on the waves, I felt I was being pulled outwards at one point, bit I had Joy with me. Lots of pestering vendors everywhere you went. Evening meal (just yards from the hotel) was at the Suprabhatham veggie (everything in India is veggie unless it says "non-veg") restaurant. I had avocado vinaigrette, lovely.

Thursday 18th January 2007

It was a warm night! Breakfast at 09h00 was chai + rice + a funny solid coconut sausage thing with banana and milk. Joy bought a lunch R500. Swimming again, lovely, we stayed in the water until we were wrinkled! Kingfisher beer (all restaurants have no alcohol on the menu, if you ask they give you a little price list out of their pocket) but not as good as Cobra. We worked on next week's tour. Today we went to the "Lonely Planet" veggie restaurant for evening meal, nice PYO buffet R600 but I'm still not un-jet-lagged. We played the "Phase 10" card game with Babl; later we taught Murugan, but he's not real;ly into cards gamesi..

Friday 19th January 2007

09h00 we went by rickshaw to see Babli's Ayervedic medicine consultant. We all need massages. Very oily (cinnamon oil?), lying on a hard board, but he kept stopping and going off to answer the phone. We shopped at a stall for fruit, and got money from a hole-in-the-wall. We swam in the warm sea in the afternoon again, I keep getting knocked over by the waves, Joy's always near to help. As it was a bit rough the lifeguard whistled a gang of Indians out of the sea, but he left us in. He said to us "Indians can't swim", but the local fishermen who go out in small boats obviously can. We walked to order from the trouser man. Played Phase 10 with Murugan and Shyju (much more of a card player) again. Evening meal tonight was at the "German Bakery" cafe called "Waves" on the sea front. Lovely watching the waves in the dark, and the row of lights from fishing boats.

Saturday 20th January 2007

Time to remember our next quinine pills. All three of us went to to the same massage place again, Joy likes it, Babli swears by it, I'm giving up - it doesn't thrill me at all. I walkld back, further than I thought, I got quite worried by the hear, but made it back to the hotel with lts of stops to sit in the shade. Another afternoon swim, but I was more cautious this time, I got a bit frightened yesterday when I found myself out of my depth. 17h00 we walked to the bus with Babli, but instead caught rickshaw into Thiruvanantapuram for their Flower Show (interesting, dusty, but really fairly grot) and their Arts Festival (snack cost main course R50 waffle R50), one big dance show. But then there was a show by the "West Bengal State Dance Company" - just stunning, the best I've ever seen. The West Bengal State company is full of Shankar references. We had front row seats after noodles and chocolate waffles. The rickshaw waited for us, and chardeg R400 for the evening.

Sunday 21st January 2007

Slept best yet. Joy & Babli to massage. Shyju took me to the phone shop for a new SIM in our mobile, company AirTel R200 for the SIM, R400 to unlock the phone and put it in. We are now on an Indian provider, ridiculously cheap, our number is Indian +919895340482. I walked around, took photos, watched fishermen, the sea was a beautiful blue. I went to the internet cafe "Green Land" to make a photocopy of the phone documents, and used the internet for 30 minutes for R10. Joy took R8000 from the ATM. We departed 14h15 (late because of Babli) driven by Murugan to Kollam to see a procession of 51 dressed up elephants. They were accompanied by a great band of drums. Overall it was chaos, traffic & animals mixed up, elephant drivers up among the power cables. Back near home we had coconut milk and inner. The tour cost R1200. Evening meal was at Suprabhatham again. We paid Murugan another R10000 for hotel rent.

For reference our hotel is Small Tiger Hotel, Kovalum Lighthouse Beach +91 471 2487219.

Monday 22nd January 2007

Our alarm was set early at 07h00 for a quick breakfast of toast and chai 07h30, then depart 08h00 for our 14 day tour of south India. We were in Murugan's car (Lancer) with driver Basheer. It was a mad rush via Kollam to Alappy (always lots of spellings for place names in India), we arrived late at 11h30. But there was our bamboo houseboat, and as soon as we were on board we chugged (outboard motor) off along the "backwaters". Crew = Shaji (engineer, manager), Pradeep (driver) and Saji (cook). Peaceful cooked lunch the other side of a big open area. We asked them to choose narrow "canals". Lots of water hyacinth. Lots of birds. Plenty of water buses (boats sounding like buses, they must have bus engines). Lots of women washing clothes on the edges. Joy & Babli went for a ride in a dugout canoe, very low in the water, it looked dodgy! We bought fresh prawns, but the cook over-grilled them into charred offerings. Evening meal on board (moored in a quiet spot) was rice, pappas, veggies, chicken curry. Bed at 21h00 after shower. 191 km driven by our car to board the boat.

Tuesday 23rd January 2007

Hot naked night under mosquito nets. I got up at 07h00 to a misty view of palm trees, fishermen in dugouts, and a rising sun - just beautiful. We set off at 8. Breakfast on the move was rice, coconut slab, omelette, toast (their bread is always white, sweet, not my style). We arrived back at the port 01h00, Basheer was waiting for us. 85km to Cochin, arrive 12, found a fairly grot but cheap hotel Woodlands Hotel, Woodland Junction, M G Road (every town has an M G Road, M G = Mahatma Ghandi). Boat trip R100 each around harbour and across to Jewtown with it's synagogue and Dutch Palace, then to Fort Cochin with St Francis Church (Vasco de Gama) and Chinese-style fishing nets. Back 18h00 to hotel. Walk to "Ceylon Bake Shop" for a VERY hot curry. None of the ATMs liked me. 85km driven.

Wednesday 24th January 2007

Alarm 07h00, depart 08h00. Stop for breakfast 10h00 for breakfast (Joy & me) chapatti, lime squeezed on, and sugar. Lovely! Babli always has a big cooked breakfast. Adimali stopped for drinks and to look at spices. Narrow road up into the hills to the "hill station" (i.e. used by colonial Brits in the old days for a break) Munnar for 14h00. Tea plantations everywhere, just beautiful. Nice hotel "Hill View" on the edge of town. Lovely views. Changed £100 of TCs to R8650. Walked around the local plantations and eucalyptus trees, saw 2 kingfishers. Evening meal at the hotel restaurant, playing Phase 10. Bitterly cold, last week it was -4, now it's +4. Extra blankets, not many warm clothes! 165km driven.

Thursday 25th January 2007

Today we are in Munnar in Kerala, a hill station 6000 feet up, tea plantations everywhere. Today is strike ("bandh") of all transport so we are here for the day, we were going to move on. It's a nice place! Pleasant walks into town etc and time to read. Stopped at a tea centre, read all about it! A very friendly internet cafe gave us maps too. Cold ice coffee. This is Kingfisher country. Babli looks after the (our) mobile phone, she is a phone freak and has puts plenty of rupees on it! She's always looking at it and changing the tunes. Evening meal here, I got the runs for 2 hours, but otherwise all OK! Very cold again.

Friday 26th January 2007

Big breakfast for Babli as usual. Two nights 3 people R5500. Depart 09h15 for Thekkadi. Through tea, cardamom. Nice with your own driver, he stops to let me photograph when I want. Very bad road a lot of the time. Signed into the "Lake Queen|" hotel, medium. Babli lunched, we didn't. Rickshaw to the "Spice Garden", we tagged onto a French group. But now we can't remember what the photos are! Rickshaw back, Joy & Babli shopped at a Kashmiri shop opposite. Grot evening meal! Lots of Phase 10.

Saturday 27th January 2007

Happy birthday Rory! Alarm 05h30, off 06h00 to the boat ride on the lake in the big "Periyar Nature Reserve" which has tigers, elephants etc etc etc. We saw a deer, a pig, a fox and 2 otters. Humph. And it was cold and raining, the animals stayed in bed. But the crowd of Indians always keeps us amused, and we seem to amuse them too. Back for a nice thali lunch below the hotel. ATM didn't like me. More shopping opposite. Watched TV, collected washing R75. To an Ayurvedic restaurant for a nice meal R230. Then Phase 10!

Sunday 28th January 2007

Windy rainy night, misty morning. Woken 06h00 with boy with a new bar of soap. Then another knock with a bucket of hot water. Then another knock with 3 cups of tea. Then another knock to collect the teacups. Hotel bill for 3 for 2 night R2300. Depart 07h30, very long day's drive since where we'd planned to stay was full of a political congress, and it looked grot anyway! Last bit in the dark, arrived Mamalapuram (or Mahabalipuram) 21h00. Basheer asked and was told "All the hotels are full", the first one we asked at "Sea Breese Annexe" had plenty to spare, we had a nice balcony overlooking the little shopping street. Nice meal at the other (main) bit of the restaurant, our rooms were in the annexe. Walked to beach 50 yards away. Looked at stars, Orion right overhead, not a clear atmosphere. 650km driven, 1170 so far.

Monday 29th January 2007

Peaceful day at Mamalapuram. I slept well. Breakfast continental for Joy & me at the hotel. Internet cafe session. Then most of the day by the hotel pool, swimming and reading. I walked to the "Shore Temple", a UNESCO world heritage site R250. Stone very worn by sand and wind. Walk round town in the evening, then the hotel restaurant. Chatted to an Aussie lady working here.

Everything going well here. Two days ago we were in the best south India wildlife reserve (Periyar near Thekkadi), very famous for tigers elephants etc etc. Up at 5am for trip to see all the animals dawn feeding by the huge lake. It was very cold, and drizzle. We saw 1 fox, 1 deer, 1 wild pig

and 2 otter and we shivered. So much for tigers! All part of life's rich tapestry!

Today we are at Mamalapuram on the east coast south of Chennai = Madras. Very warm = 30 degrees. Lovely hotel by the beach, with swimming pool, very expensive at about 7 pounds 50 (yes) a night. There's a UNESCO world heritage temple here, we'll walk there this afternoon, Babli says it's very small, so Joy's idea of showing off a posh dress to go round it is irrelevant.

Tuesday 30th January 2007

Babli was sick in the night. Depart 07h30, arrive Pondicherry in rush hour 09h00 along a good new empty road. Round 2 temples, OK but not thrilling for me. 90 km driven. Then walked to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram & meditated for a bit. Then to a temple with elephant. Then found "Park Guest House" to stay at, south end of the sea front, overlooking a lawn and the Bay of Bengal. Very very nice R500 / night. Babli poorly, I went for a walk. Then Joy & me to a local restaurant for soup & crepe. Then bought "Electro"? medication for Babli. ATM for R8000 on Joy's, that one always works. Evening pizza at the same place, Babli came & had soup.

Wednesday 31st January 2007

Slept with the door open, under mosquito nets, hearing the sound of the ocean waves breaking - wonderful. Restful day at Pondicherry. Walked to a trad Indian breakfast, full curry meal. Round the central gardens. Shopping at a very posh fashion shop - Babli bought! We had drink at rooftop "Madame Shantee's". 15h00 driven to Auroville 10km north. Auroville is a city in the forest in south-India, dedicated to human unity, and based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. All very eco, bio, self sufficient and architect designed. Walked to the dome, but gardens closed. Tea & croissant! Back 18h00, eat at "Le Club", "best French restaurant in India", I think not. Veggie gratin for me, good!

Thursday 1st February 2007

Photos of sunrise. Off 08h00. Stop at Chidambram for temple for Joy, but disappointing. On to Thanjavur, grot hotel, grot lunch opposite. 16h00 to the temple, just wonderful, plain stone, fantastic carvings. Then to the palace & museum, disappointing, hardly anything there. Since the hotel is grot, we went to a posh meal at an adjoining posh hotel, very civilised! Phase 10 in the foyer of our hotel, it's better than the rooms!

Friday 2nd February 2007

Drive 08h00 to Madurai. Past many hundreds of wind farm, and granite outcrops being mined. Hotel "Rathna Residency", perfectly good and cheap at R500 for us 2 per night. Lunch at the hotel, & walk to the temple, huge, painted, much of the courtyard covered in. Then to the top floor of a 5 story shop to look at the view, in return for a sales pitch on Kashmiri silk carpets, £6000 for a big one. Basheer eat with us at the hotel, and we taught him Phase 10.

Saturday 3rd February 2007

Woke with a cuddle, breakfast at 09h00. We drove to the Palace (very good, & they do a sound & light show sometimes) with museum. Then a temple/garden on an island in the mille of a tank, with silk spinners in the streets around. Then the Ghandi museum, lots to read there. Evening meal back at the hotel, cashew rice, beer etc.

Sunday 4th February 2007

Depart 07h00 for Kovalum. Chai stop 08h30. Brake pad failure 09h30. Waited for ages while they searched for a second hand car they could nick the pads from! And they were filling LPG cars very crudely. Basheer arranged an Ambassador to take us on, very gentle and slow. The chap had to fill in forms to cross from Tamil Nadu into Kerala. Arrive 17h00, met by Murugan and Shyju to carry the luggage. Shower & change, nice to be "home". I paddled and watched the sunset. Evening meal at the German Bakery "Waves" overlooking the ocean. G&T for the ladies.

Monday 5th February 2007

Routine day. Massage for the ladies, walk for me. Internet cafe. Changed £200 TC at 86.7/£. Back to chapati lime sugar chai breakfast at 12h00. Swim in the ocean, knocked over, it's fantastic. Read, another walk for me. Evening meal at local veggie, Suprabhatham, good selection. I tried pancake, but rather solid - they know how to make chapatis etc but not pancaks! Played Phase 10 with Murugan and Shyju.

Tuesday 6th February 2007

Usual routine morning. I changed our homeward tickets to the 13th, no problem. Joy took R8000 from ICICI ATM. Chapatti. Read. Swim. Evening meal overlooking the sea, not good, so moved for dessert to the German Bakery.

Wednesday 7th February 2007

Routine morning, Eric dropped by their rickshaw, failed to make friends with the ATM, walked home, very sweaty. Ticket change reported OK, so emailed everyone. Emails describe cold weather in the UK! Found a "tiger" rug in "Sinbad" shop, but too expensive. I have prickly heat rash on the upper chest. We paid Babli R30K, that covers all our debts for the tour. We ordered a number of shirts. Swimming was bigger waves than usual. Bought "Yak Yak Yak Yak Yak" shirts. Ordered 4 elephant painted T-shirts. Katakali show at "Planet Bamboo", R250 each, very good. Meal at German Bakery.

Thursday 8th February 2007

Breakfast included (pale) red bananas, good taste. Not as dark red as in Africa. Routine morning, another long walk for me, passed various craft shops. Lunch, swim, read. Ordered pink chappals for Joy. Checked finance with Murugan, we're paid up including airport taxiing. Evening to "Lonely Planet" for buffet and dance show. Good buffet, appalling dancing. Babli knows people, so didn't pay. We left before the end and went to the "German Bakery" overlooking the sea for G&T for the girls and home-brew Indian whisky for me. Babli claims to be de-toxing and cleansing her body, but is grabbing the chance of Joy's company for some cleansing alcohol drinks before we go. Played Phase 10 with Shyju, he's quite a card sharp.

Friday 9th February 2007

Massage 30 minutes earlier. I enjoyed my long walk. Long internet session, R15. The NTL website has become a VirginMedia website. More checking chappals and shirts. Rickshaw to Thiruvanantapuram for retail therapy (Babli late being ready as usual). The rickshaw stayed with us. Eat at Suprabhatham, but no avocados. Crosswords instead of Phase 10. The daily swim -- or fight the huge waves of warm water -- is super. It's a great feeling when the waves rear up well above the horizon and well above me, I only did somersaults once yesterday so must be getting better at judging them. Joy keeps a careful eye on me, but gets knocked over while she's watching me instead of the incoming waves. There are a few surfers, but the waves aren't really predictable enough for them.

Saturday 10th February 2007

First time, mosquito bites in bed last night. I must have been lying against the netting. Routine morning, but a long hot walk for me to Kovalum Harbour. I've never been so hot-bodied. I walked along the coast from the hill behind our lighthouse to the fishing port south along the cliff-top "road". Gentle downhill all the way there, uphill all the way back. Burning sun, no shade, I've never been so hot as I was on the way back, I didn't know whether to hurry to the top of the hill for the palm-shaded path down to our beach or slow down. Stopping just got hotter! On the landward side were fishermen's palm leaf huts, untidy, filthy, rubbish everywhere, plastic bags, stinking! The other side of the road was the azure ocean, waves breaking at the foot of the cliff, fishermen out from small beaches in canoes, just beautiful, what a contrast. A tanker was delivering water to the huts, they had all their water pots out ready. New VirginMedia website has crashed! The swimming was good, but we suddenly found ourselves out of our depth, and had a bit of a frantic swim back to shore, it seemed very slow! Bought a better tiger rug from another shop, R11K, paid by VISA. It'll come as a complete surprise when Joy gives it to me on the 12th March. Murugan was at Small Tiger, and gave us 22 folding stars which we wanted for Christmas decoration. Dance show at "Planet Bamboo", same as Lonely Planet, grotty, so we went before the end to German Bakery. An unexpectedly hot chilli gave me hiccups for a while. Lovely to sit in the dark and watch the waves and the fishing boat lights.

Sunday 11th February 2007

Cuddle. Rickshaw 30 minutes early, then routine day. Internet website OK again. More people on the beach because it's Sunday. Good swim. Much chasing up of shirts and chappals and buying little local things. Lime sodas (my usual drink here) and cheese crackers (super) at Fusion Cafe. Evening meal at another restaurant on the front (Fusion was too busy). Good mix including supposed Salad Nicoise, more like cole slaw. Passers by chatted to Babli!
This may be the last email, since today is our last "routine" day, tomorrow Babli has a secret outing organised for us, but we don't know whether it's morning only (it certainly includes breakfast, she says) or whole day. We wait with baited breath.
Afternoon was the best yet swim in the sea, mountains of unruly water, judging whether to swim out and try and catch the wave before it breaks or head away from it. I got somersaulted by waves twice. After a while (30 minutes?) we realized that we were out of our depth, so a frantic and hurried swim towards shore, it seemed to be against the current for a while. Great.

Monday 12th February 2007

Surprise present for me from Babli. We all went 30 minutes in rickshaw to Somatheeram, a western-oriented Ayurvedic medicine centre. Buffet breakfast. This morning I had my early birthday treat from Babli, India style, a trip to a very posh western-oriented hotel/beach/medical place. The present was a "rejuvenating massage" for 90 minutes. I feel rejuvenated, so I must therefore be younger, so it's now too early to be a birthday present (dubious logic). Anyway, it was good, he swung on a rope above me and practiced bare-foot clog dancing on my back and front, hand and foot massage all over, buckets of warm oil, then a shower to wash all the oil off. All set in beautiful gardens above a huge & lovely beach. Great experience. Now for a slob and a cold lime soda, then Joy and I will have our last swim -- not so much a swim, but a fun 30 minutes fighting the warm waves. Collected the last shirts, which were ready just in time! Food at same as last night, very nice. Chocolate and coconut custard, lovely. Phase 10 with Shyju again.

Tuesday 13th February 2007

Qatar Airways Depart Trivandrum QR241 09:15:00 AM arrive Doha 11:30:00 AM; Depart Doha QR1 12:45:00 PM arrive Heathrow 05:30:00 PM; National Express bus Departs: 19:30 Arrives: 22:35
Up at 05h30, shower, packed. We took the luggage up for 06h30 drive (farewell to Shyju) by Murugan to the airport. Excess charge for changing ticket dates was expected, £100 (always quoted in pounds), but they wouldn't accept pounds. They changed the money but wanted more, I enjoyed the argument. They then upgraded us to business class, very nice, free champagne for Joy, super meal on super crockery. Early into Doha, depart on time. Early into Heathrow (economy class). Changed bus tickets, and a simple journey then taxi home, back for 23h00. Phew, a long day, awake for 24 hours.

Some sayings from India.
[Road signs]
Impatient on road; patient in hospital.
Obey traffic rools.
Alert today, alive tomorrow.
Hurry causes worry.
Dip your light, save a life. [Just NO-ONE dips headlights]
Speed thrills but kills.
Don't drink and drive, someone is waiting for you at home.
[On police car]
Polite but firm.
People friendly police.
[In restaurant]
Spiritual coffees [=Irish coffee etc]
Bloddy Marry
[Tourist destination advert]
Ride on a wave of happiness in happy land.
As close to heaven as it gets.
Smile, you're in God's own country.
Be at the edge of time.
Treasure of leisure.
[Advert for photocopier]
Uniqueness can never be duplicated.
[Restaurant advert]
[Advert for concrete!]
If it's worth a dream it's not worth a compromise.
[Men's underwear brand]
[Bra advert]
The right tone for your melodious mood.
[Road works]
[At start of small town]
Sweet and lovely village.
[Local hotel]
Simple - gentle - caring
Experience the art of staying

Translation off the WWW
The question about the Ayurveda offered in Kovalam is justified. My answer: nearly everything, which in Kovalam Ayurveda offer, states, to originate from old Ayurvedafamilien. For it Ayurveda insists many more in the distribution of oil on the body, knows it also not about Ayurveda. But like one the tourists under the term Ayurveda the money from the bag pulls, that understands her masterfully. Generally one can say thus: Kovalam Ayurveda = approves of to expensive tourist lubrication. The few exceptions know, what I thereby my. 

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Eric's life history summary is here
Corrections and additions welcome, email Eric
This copy editedThursday 02-Dec-2021