Our Adventures

India Visit

The beginning of our trip; we landed in India in December 1990, not a mobile phone or email in sight.  We kept in touch with family by poste restante (sending letters to the local post office which we picked up on arrival in cities along the way). We transferred that same morning from Delhi airport to a flight heading for Kathmandu (eventually) after being barred from the airport but through tea with airport manager and other stories we finally boarded the flight, landing later that day in the shadow of the Himalayas.  We woke that first morning to the  beautiful echoing silence of prayer bells, adventure and the beauty of other worlds ahead of us to be discovered.  We were to be away for 14 months.

Highlights From India & Nepal:

We trekked to the Annapurna (2nd highest after Everest) Base Camp.  Surrash, our amazing porter and guide, carried our bags. He was half my size and held my hand on many occasions while Neil strode ahead determined to get to the top before Christmas…

We stayed in an old (little) Maharaji’s  palace in Udaipur, in the state of Rajashtan in India.  It’s called the “City of Lakes” and is a stunning place with Moghul architect and a palace in the middle of the main lake where they filmed the Bond movie Octopussy. In true Indian style entrepreneurship, the owners of the palace facilitated us taking a taxi (driven by brother-in-law) to our next destination as the trains were mysteriously not running.  And what a trip, we shared this old ambassador car with another London couple who turned out to live just across from the River Thames from us.  For ten hours we revelled in the shockingly beautiful landscape of this part of India, stopping off in all sorts of places rarely visited by anyone;  an abandoned Maharaja’s fort, a Jain temple, small villages and farms.  That day we also shared diarrhoea, Chelsea football club, our hopes and dreams and the beginning of the most special of friendships.

Just before we shut down for Covid, we held an evening for our “Writers’ Book Club” which I get to attend because I have the keys and in theory I am writing a novel (for last 10 years).  We review short stories and essays mainly and I just love what we read, the discussions and the group.  I learn such a lot and come away enthused and full of potential. This last week we reviewed “Interpreter of Maladies” a short story by Jhumpa Lahiri which was set around a temple in Konarak in the state of Orissa in India, which we had visited on our trip in 1991.  I had kept a diary of this trip all written on the cheapest and lightest of notepads (for carrying in a backpack).  I went about digging out these notepads all filed in date order and there was my entry for the day we visited the Konark Temple.  Here’s what happened to us that day:


Neil was dragged almost against his will to see the Sun Temple.  We got a rickshaw to the bus stop from the old guy who kept making us feel guilty because we never took a rickshaw.  He charged us 12 rupees which was far too much of course.  We sat on the bus ready to go and realised that we had no change for the bus fare.  Neil then went in search of change, buying things we didn’t need, one of which was a packet of biscuits, chewed on by God knows what! A man begging for money was given them. He looked at Neil with disgust. The journey was about an hour and we arrived to find the place teeming with Indian tourists and beggars of every shape and size, not to mention tour guides and postcard and book vendors.  Neil was not impressed, it was too busy.  We just wandered around looking at the carvings.  I found it fascinating and went around the back to find a quiet few moments where there was no nobody.  A lot of it looked like it had been eroded by time.  On the bus back an old man started to talk to us, in between looking at my very white legs from under the seat.  Actually he was very interesting, telling me that in fact it was not eroded but that the Muslims has destroyed it in about 1500 A.D.  He told me about his family while Neil took pictures of a boy hanging out of the window with Neil’s sunglasses on.  Later we walked back to the hotel, had some lunch and walked to the beach for a little bit.  Had some tea on the roof of the hotel and decided to go back to watch the fishing boats coming into the village.  It was fun to watch them wheeling and dealing with their catch of the day.  It didn’t seem like they caught a lot to us.  A little community was set up on the beach, people selling coffees and various snacks.  When the fish was sold or not sold, the women took it off in baskets balanced on their heads.  Neil helped the fishermen carry one of the boats on to the beach.  (Some of the boats were in fact two pieces of wood tied together).  Later we had dinner, our nightly allowance of one beer at Mickey’s restaurant for our last night in magical Puri.

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