A Travellerspoint blog

Mahal this

sunny 43 °C

Its hot... very hot.

Pardon me for the informality and let me expand. Its very very very hot! We currently reside in Agra, home too the Taj Mahal and very impressive it is too.. a big white domed tomb... lovely!
Any way more if this hot place later firstly let me tell you a tale of thieves, corpses and of course our return from the mountains. So we were riding racks around a snowy lake last time, yes. Well I shall continue from there.. after discovering China 'pon a Yak, we headed west toward a little town named Pelling. Pelling is a samll place with a few hotels, a couple of Buddhist Monestrys..and a small compliment of tourists all of whom are trying to book jeeps out of Pelling! Its just a little bit too quiet.. and the monestrys are inconveniently located atop of mountains, one assumes the walk lets a monk become one with nature or someother hippy nonsense, but after seeing a nice jeep full of monks and driven by a monk arrive in the car park of one of the monestrys after her ladyship (i will explain in a moment) and I had struggled up the lofty hillock I get the impression its more for the lovely views and of course their amusement as the foreign tourists arriv on the brink of a heart attack! When your religion prevents you from harming all other living things I guess you do get a little passive agressive!

  • Her ladyship is christened thus as she has been suffering a little in all departments.. back, neck, stomach, insect bites and the rest, anyway shes not shy about informing me of her many problems and as such I must treat her in a precious fashion for of breaking her! Just as well for the lonely planet guide to infectious diseases theres plenty in their for her too choose from!*

Anyway for all Pellings charms it was like I said.. too quiet! So we like everyone else left swifty enough.. heading back to the Darj.. we did have one interesting experience when we joined an Indian tour group for half a day... the Indians are a bit like Japanese tourists only with crap cameras and absolutely no respect for nature... the general form is:
1) Get in jeep
2) talk loudly and shrilly (if female).. intersperse with burps and the occasional hucking up of phlem.
3) Arrive sight, decamp from jeep.. through rubbish over the edge of road.
4) Take picture of sight with friends (if waterfall throw more rubbish in the catch pool at the bottom)
5) Get in jeep and repeat at next sight!

It was as you can imagine a rubbish tour! But there you go.. anyway we retired to the Darj where you proceeded to buy up souvenirs from the local bric a brac stores. It looks like we have a buddhist monestry in our back packs! Anyway the Darj passed and the time came for us to take of our jumpers and return to the heat of India in the summer! Hmmm Hmmm.

And here starts the most grueling journey to beset us so far! Darj to Varanasi by jeep and by train. The journey did not start well, about an hour into our jeep ride down to the station a small child began projectile vomiting like the girl out of the exorcist only rather than green slime it looked like a banana smoothy.. delicious! Pandamonium broke lose with the father cupping the protein rich shake in his hands whilst the child maintained an erie calm throughout, never once crying and I think I saw it turn its head 360 degrees! Anyway the journey continued and after 3 hrs of vomit induced nausea and the fear of repeat performances.. we tumbled on to a train for the next leg of the journey a 14 hr trip to Patna... located in precisely the middle of nowhere. We arrived at 4am having had barely any sleep to find a railway station rammed full of sleeping Indians! I should note that just before arriving at Patna a thief had tried to steal some jewelery from a woman on the train sitting right next to where we were. There was a huge commotion with Indians running allover, but the thief had been smart and struck as the train was pulling out of the station.. suffice to say he got away, extremely sneaky! Anyway where was I..yes Patna.. Patna is rubbish we had to stay there for 7 hours or so untill our train on to Varanasi left and they were punctuated by bugger all with the exception of being befriended by an Indian boy who gave me a magic calculator.. hmmm ok. I'm still not sure if its a bomb or whether there's some drugs hidden inside.. I wont be taking it with me from india! But still he seemed like a nice chap!

Anyway we got to Varanasi finally and it was hot! Varanasi as some of you will know is famous for its ghats where the hindus come to bathe, clean and burn their dead relatives on the banks of and in the river Ganges. Its a strange place with the old town being made up of hundreds of cris crossing narrow passage ways all of which have the potential to be extremely dodgy indeed! As you can imagine the 25 degree jump in temperature took its toll and for most of the 2 days we were there it looked like we had just been swimming in the Ganges! Not a good idea as the water is septic playing home to 1.5 million nasty bacteria jobbys per cubic millilitre of water.. basically its about 5000 times dirtier than the max amount deemed safe for bathing by the WHO.. nice! We took a guide on the second day who toured us through the streets of Varanasi and around the many temples as well taking us on a dawn boat trip which was pretty amazing. He even took us to the temple where a bomb went off about 2 months ago.. good old morbid tourism then! We saw our share of toasted ex hindus on the banks of the Ganges mostly in ash form thankfully for Jens sake! Our guide was an interesting fellow by the name of S.K. Roy who is notable for 3 things; 1) he drank the water from the ganges and survived 2) he had a huge tooth that stuck straight out of his mouth and 3/ whenever he dated a building artifact etc his date would be out by between 500 years and a millenia. I think the last 2 can be attributed to 1st probably! A strange man, who at one point declared he wanted a picture of me to put in his advertising, where he would pass me off as a young 'before he was famous' Andrew Flintoff. He obviously would have to put before he was blonde, blue eyed and six foot whatever flintoff is and also before he undeerwent facial reconstruction surgery.. a strange man as I said before.

Anyway thats that from the big V.. quite a nice place and I had a haircut from an overzealous barber who should have know better.. after telling me he would cut not to short not to long he proceeded to cut far far to short to the point where he had a cutthroat razer our to cut 'a beeet closer sir'! Jennie throughout expressed her displeasure at his handiwork by sighing heavily as opposed to stopping him.. she later told me she coud see it was getting to short and I shoud have stopped him.. she obviously failed to notice that a) I cant see what he does on the back of my head and b) he had a sharp knife! Anyway I look like a marine now which isnt as fetching as it might be.. thanks god hair grows back... I feel i got my moneys worth all 35p of it! Right anyway we jumped on yet another train last night to get to Agra this morning where it is hot! around 43 degrees today and rising towards 47 degrees later this week... i think we might melt! Right thats it I'm off to get an ice cream! hooray

p.s. I lost my pipe somewhere so am feeling less colonial without.. should find it soon enough.. so will still be able to take Dehli for England and the Queen come sunday.. we shall attack from the east where they least expect it! Off to Jaipur tomorow before Dehli and then on to Singapore and next stage of our adventure.

Regards all... A.J. Mulliner Esq

Posted by andyabroad 00:20 Archived in India Comments (0)

Shangri La

Greetings...STOP...
Have arrived Himalayas...STOP...
Quite Cold...STOP...
Raining lots...STOP...
Wish it would stop...STOP...

Ahahahahahaha

Only for me then, Ok as you might imiagine I am in embroiled in a himalayan adventure.. we currently reside in the forbidden state of Sikkim, its rained some and also its snowed some. Maximum altitude achieved to date 3780m.

Right right, a back story..ok..so...
We left Calcutta on.. i dont know it was a while back... we took an overnight train a la pleb class to a funny little place by the name of New Jailpaguiri or something, you will be pleased to know that this hardened colonial did not sleep a wink thanks in main to a huuuuge thunder and lightnening storm that started about 2am and continued for a few hours. The windows in pleb class are not so much windows as holes in the train so as you can imagine i got wet! Sandall the rascall had bagsied the top bunk which didnt have windows and subsequently slept like a proverbial log. I also had the unpleasant spectacle of the insect life of India's rolling stock to contend with represented in the main by a rather large cockroach beast who inspite of my best efforts remained alive for the entire night! Anyway train arrived early.. yes it took me some minutes too recover also, the idea of a train arriving early is unbelievable espeacially when you have had the priveledge to grow up in a country where the trains will actually stop outside a station to avoid being early. Hmmm anyway I was awake anyway having spent the night doing front crawl up and down the carridge, Sandall however was very much asleep and when I informed her of our impending arrival, her response was along the lines of 'piss off the train doesnt get in for 2 hours' and then she rolled over. Suffice to say I dragged her from the top bunk and dragged her off the train (if only, in my emasculated state the best I could do was implore her to get up, which she did eventually when the passengers for the return journey started to board the train!).

Right so we then went on a mission to find transport to Darjeeling.. the finest relic of the Raj and truly my very own colonial Shangri la. So pipe in mouth and woman in tow we located a share jeep (the only way to travel in timely fashion around the mountains) and set off for the hills! Our driver was of course a lunatic, we rounded alpine bends at rediculous speed narrowly missing tibetan refugees at every turn. His delusions peaked when he took us on the longest and most perilous short cut I have ever been on.. the man decide that the road was a little on the boring side and, I kid you not, proceded to drive through a village (no road, I mean a village) and then straight up the side of the mountain! We made it and I can tell you within all honesty my bowel movements have been ever so slightly on the loose side since then). Eventually we arrived in Darjeeling which of course was lovely. It was of course settled by the British!

Anyway we arrived and found places to sleep etc etc. We then proceeded on an enthusiastic sight seeing trip of the town.. abit tricky when the entire place is enveloped by a cloud, but then again Britian didnt become great because clouds stopped play, so onwards we went! There's a surprising amount to see in the Darj considering it hangs off the edge of a mountain, highlights of our trip would ahve to include oour little visit to mad lady of the Happy Valley Tea Plantation. Listed as a working tea factory where one could take a guided tour, we surprised to be greated by the female fruitloop and her hoards one of whom was despatched to guide us around a field of tea. Now let me tell you as an avid tea drinker, there are few things I find as thrilling as a nice cup of Darjeeling's finest and a good chat about the ins and outs of contempory tea manufacture upon the Indian sub continent. However our man proceeded to wander around the tea fields and point at the factory and repeat the word 'broken' and then at the tea and pointing at different parts of the leaf would repeat '1,2,3'.. now I'm a slow learner but after the 25th time we decided it was best to take him back to his owner and proceed on our way. The first part we accomplished, the second part however leads to a tale fo blackmarket dealings and the femal fruitloop. On depositing the tea guide back where we found him, we were promptly hijacked by a mad lady who claimed she could make 5 second tea. Now being tea coniseurs we eagerly accepted this offer to witness extreme tea making at altitude. The tea lady on finding out we were English launched into a pro English speach, claiming that the French and Germans were too odd and hard to understand! The of course just as I was giving the Churchill two fingured salute in salutation of her audatious speach.. who should walk in but 2 Frenchies and 1 German, where upon the fruitloop gave them the cold eye and started making tea.. I tell you what we trained em well! The tea was good and we bought some from her learning that what we were buying was actually a part opf a batch for twinnings and as such she was prepared to offer us rock bottom prices.. hmm yes! The best part was when she refused to be photographed by the French for fear of being exposed as a black market tea dealer! Anyway.. yes.. ahh tea!

Ok so Darj was fun but we felt we must do more.. we had a choice either Rajastan in summer i.e. 50 degree heat or perhaps Sikkim at a slightly more anglified 15 degrees.. so as you mgiht of guess we followed the familiar and headed north to rain and overcast skies! We arrived here in gantok the capital of Sikkim yesterday. Gangtok mirrors Darjeeling without any of its charm, the hotel we booked into left much to be desired, noisy smelly and expensive.. anyway Sandall went to war and got us a better room ce matin so alls well that ends well!

I am pleased to see that Tottenham held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw (thats the Tottenham I know and love.. why win when you can draw!), Henry was magnificent but it just goes to show French genius will never beat the British alone! Anyway I digress Liverpool did well also, good game although I'm not sure Sandall appreciated me watching that late into the night! Ah well priorities!

Anyway,so today we organised a trip up to this place called Tsomgo lake up near the Chinese boarder of Sikkim, its quite high at 3780m and today it was all covered in snow! Amazin.. our guide up there who was called Borbino or soemthing, had a slight speach impediment and a minor issue with the English language in general.. for most of the trip he would inform us with enthusiasm that we had passed 'army.. army' whenever we sighted a rediculously camoflaged hut or as in most cases full on camp! When I say camp I mean camp, considering the place is a mountain they choose to decorate their buildings in a lovely hue of yellows,pinks, oranges and (thank god) green. They were without doubt the most obvious and the gayest army camps I have ever laid eyes on. Perhaps its a cunning strategy of distracting the Chinese army should they decide they need even more room that they have now! Anyway we arrived finally at the lake (I did at one point have to get out and push along with the guide to get the rediculous contraption up the hill), we were riding in a small van thing the like of which is driven by thieves and crap plumbers in Britain.. I think they're called Nissan Midgets.. absolute rubbish! So we got there are there was two feet of snow on the ground! What fun.. but wait it gets better.. on our arrival we were ushered by our guide straight onto some Yaks.. yes hairy cows which then proceeded to take us round the lake. You can sort of see how Britain was bale to conquer this part of the world way back when.. riding a Yak to war would have been a fairly fruitless exercise.. you'd have been late for a start! Anyway it was an amusing jaunt being led round the lake on a yak, at our destination we deyaked and threw some snowballs at each other and then were pelted by the yak herders! They then ushered us back on the yaks and took us back to our van, whereupon the guide took us to shop, they sell only rubbish in places like that so it was with some amusement that I watched Sandall pruchase a tacky windchime jobby...I wanted to get a giant pencil but something stopped me... it still bothers me that some part of me is beyond a giant pencil, even more so that that part of me is powerful enough to overide the rest of me... I wish i'd bought that giant pencil..

hmmmm right.. ok so thats about it.. i've been feleing a bit grim recently but nothing too bad.. we're on our way to a place called Pelling tomorrow for a few days and then we're heading back to the Darj for another day before hitting Varanasi and The Taj Mahal..talk about extremes of tempretures! My camera is going to meet me in Malaysia which is good thanks to some serious netowrking through Ali and his mates.. legends one and all! And that good people is that!

...STOP...

Posted by andyabroad 07:43 Comments (1)

Kolkatta

I bought an elephant and lost my camera

Ok I just deleted my entire entry so here I am to start again.. grrrr! Apologies for my grumpy entre and may I say greetings from Calcutta!

As many of you sports fans will know Tottenham is about to lose 2-1 to Man utd so apologies if I am a little sombre during this entry!
Ok so to business let me start where I left off, Pondicherry was French.. too French! So we left on an express bus bound for the village of Marmallapuram.. ahh yes Maramallapuram such a pleasant little place, unfortunately filled with French people.. however too its credit they did not pander to them and once again English was the preffered foreign language! Mais Oui.. MAIS NON! Ahhhhhh... anyway I digress, Maramallapuram is famous for its shore temple and the many carvings and other temples that litter the landscape around.. and it is very lovely indeed as well as being hot as a Vindaloo when it wants to be! Highlights of this place for me revolve mainly around me driving a motorcycle around.. hoh yes I drove a motorbike alright.. ok it was actually a moped but as its a type of motorbike it still counts! That mighty motor steed and myself formed quite the team and twas not long before I was wafting the missus on the back of the bike from sight to sight. As some of you who are privvy to read her own little travle diary will know she found the bike to be rather unstable at times.. as she is inexperienced in such matters as motor bikes I shall forgive her this oversight.. she was suffice to say an appalling passenger. But then again as a former vice roy of India once said.. 'women like fine wine are best kept in a cool dry place and certianly should not be shaken vigourously'... relevant perhaps not and I admit almost certainly fictious but in the case of riding pillion I feel it apt and therefore it stands!

Right so 'pon my motor chariot the good woman and I visited several places.. most notable being the Crocodile Bank.. I should warn you now that if you are exp[ecting a tale of a bank run by Pin-stripe suited Crocs, advising on morgages and the like you shall be certainly dissapointed.. alas the croc bank was not an experiment in civilising the crocodile kind, but in fact a sort of mass production facility run in an amusingly laid back manner! The place is chock full of poisonous snappy things (snakes be there also!) watched over by wardens keen for you to feel at one with the croc kind.. "perhaps you feed croc, only 40 rupees!" Ah maybe not thank you very much but feel free to go ahead without me.
The true jewel in the crown of this park of death would have to be however the venom milking station where venom is extracted to make antivenom.. a noble cause true, except on the day we arrived clearly the proffesional extractors were on holiday as instead we were treated to 'snake show yes' which involved two lunatics with sticks and a red rag removing the snakes from there milking jugs (wierd isnt it) and then proceedind to piss them off by poking them untill they bit the red rag(hopefully). It was to say the least a little uncomfortable watching these two guys poking a way at king cobras and vipers for our personal satisfaction. Somehow noone got bitten which is a miracle as they kept on forgetting where they were and wandering too close to the beasts who to be honest would have been well within their rights to give em a quick nip! Anyway we left them too it, they did seem to enjoy so why not.. hmmmmm.

The saddest part of the whole experience was reading the visitors book where Indians took the oppotunity to complain about the water and the fact the beasts were in captivity.. it seems that all the signs around the place explaining that the crocs are in a breeding program (thats why they're here kids) and the water was kept muddy to best mimmic they're natural habitat was lost on those pleasure seeking souls!

Anyway twas aboard the bike and off again down the motorway to Maramallapuram (Yes I included the motorway bit to scare the parents.. hahaha!). Anyway anyway, so then I bought an elephant!

Ok its made of stone so not that exciting however it is quite large weighing in at about 7 kilos and therefore a bit of a pain in the arse to carry but I think I shall sea freight it home at some point! It was carved by an odd fellow who on no prompting of my own said he remembered me from years before, although he couldnt remember Jen.. it was a bit freaky as I have been there before when I came in 2001 so whether it was just a clever bit of salesmanship or a remarkable memory I'm not sure.. either way it was impressive so I bought! Hmmm and thats about it from Marmallapuram.. it was alovely place ot saty for a few days right on the beach and jolly pleasant too. Actually before I move on from there I'd better tell you about my massage.. Jen persuaded me to have one as she was going to have one and being in the land of aurevedic massage and other hippie like goodies I thought I should at least give it a shot... well I can tell you this never again! Jen and I both had back massages mine given to me by a big fat Indian called Kumar nice guy, i just wished i hadnt accepted a massage from him! He made me strip to my boxers (never a good start) and then battered my back neck and head untill after half an hour he demanded payment. I wasnt relaxed.. hmmm apparently Jens was good.. I think next time the offer comes my way I'll check its a Swedish blonde chick instead.. right nuff said about that me thinks.. so onwards........

Ok its a new day today.. I had to leave off yesterday to go eat at this wicked place called Peter Cat.. it was like a 60s mafia throw back.. extremely cool! Anyway where was I, ah yes so we're heading for the bus in Marmallapuram to take usback to Chennai so we can get on our monster train ride to Calcutta (35 hrs people is a long time), but on the way I had to pay off a drinking debt I had (sounds worse than it was!) so we stopped in for a drink (counter-intuitive maybe) and met some Brit expats working for among others the High Commision, a call centre, and a waste management service.. they were all fairly hammered and one of them wanted my hat.. I cantr blame him it is amazin! So I told him no he cant have my hat and he then goes ok I'll buy you some beers instead.. sweet, I say he cant have my hat so he buys us beer.. but I see he may have a plan up his sleeve to get me drunk and then steal the hat.. but in fact he was drunk already so it was just good humour.. cheers to that! So anyway we're chatting about our big train ride and the fact we're taking the bus in to town in a minute, and they're taking the mickey cos a plane flight is only a little bit more but takes 2 hours in stead of 2 days (I tell you what I wasnt laughing, but never mind)! So then Ali one of the guys managing the Chennai waste management operation says we should come with him to his place on the way to Chennai for a few beers and then his driver will take us on. Now that people is a result.. so we went from a bus to having beers pool side with Ali, his wife and some of his friends.. it was outstanding and a true act of generosity and general lengendry behaviour on his part.. so I salute you Ali for being an absolute legend.. anyway we had a few beers and then it was time to go.. so off we go to the station, only when we get there I forget my camera and leave it in the car.. queue piss taking from Jennie and general bad humour from me! Jen still thinks I did it on purpose because I have a bit of an obsession about getting a sweet digital camera in Singapore so shes thinking I'm going to try and claim for it or something.. but I dont. So anyway (the writing style has changed a bit hasnt it.. abit more chatty less high brow, well read on and maybe it'll change again.. who knows) we go eat at this amusing fast food place called mamma browns at the station and have a chicken burger which is actually a chicken mcnugget between to buns but there you go.. it was tasty and cheap.. Jen still thinks it was ground up bone.. nice! Anyway we got on our train and we'd gone posh class 2AC which means only 6 people per compartment and only 2 tiers of bunks in an AC carridge.. quite nice but still I'd have rather flown. Anyway I wont bore you with details..35 hours later and one book finished we got to Calcutta which is it has to be said is one of the nicer cities of India.. very green and a lot like London in many ways (they even have a St Pauls Cathedral.. although its pretty rubbish compared to ours.. We built it so its still pretty good though!) Anyway theres loads of colonial architecture and plenty to amuse ourselves with which is good.. infact theres so much colonial influence here I was overwhelmed by it all and have bought a pipe.. for thinking only of course.. No tobacco required.. one merely places the pipe in ones mouth and immedietley ones thoughts clear and one can begin to think like an empire builder again.. could come in handy should I decide to claim a little more of India for the Queen. Anyway as you can imagine Jennie has had to put up with this sort of behaviour since we got here so shes quitye glad that we're leaving today to head for the cool of Darjeeling.. its another overnighter only this time we're going sleeper class on the train which is more crowded and open windows and stuff but in my opinion better than AC as the views are better. Ok Ok have I forgotten anything..err no. Ok so happy easter merry souls of England (and the few that recide beyond, well badluck), Ok so this is it from me once more.. apologies if the writing style is more irritating I'll soon snap out of it.. right thats it, ok.. yes.

Right

God save the Queen (stand up straight ye devils!)

Posted by andyabroad 06:09 Comments (0)

Pondicherry

Ze French are coming

Good morrow...

Well hello there my friends, I trust all is well with one and all. This will only be a quick update as its only been a couple of days since the last time... since then we have been to Madras (an industrial cr*p hole.. just as I remember it actually!) and now we are here in Pondicherry (its a Gallic enclave in the south of India.. very very wierd).. anyway lets begin,

We took a cramped train to Madras from Madurai..I tell you what I know see where the English train services take there cues from! They cram you in just like on a regular commuter service only with extra Dosa's and Chai salesman everywhere..hmmmm sweaty! My colonial pride swelled on noting that the Indians have been afflicted with the great British invention that is Broad Guage railways.. which for those of you who have repressed the memories of your GCSE (O Level for some.. you lucky souls may even have witnessed broad gauge in the mother land! haha) History of the Industrial Revolution is just wider tracks than usual (more Indians per railway car then). Anyway I digress, we arrived we found a hotel.. eventually, and I had about 10 different arguments with touts and rick shaw pirates! The normal course goes..

Auto Pirate: You want cheap room?
Me: No
Auto pirate: where you staying?
Me: bugger off
Auto pirate: this hotel (points at a van) very bad you come with me
Me: bugger off
Auto pirate: you come you come
Me: (laugh and carry on walking)
Auto pirate: ok ok you want rickshaw?
Me: no
Auto pirate: yes rickshaw? you come i give good price?
Me: no
Auto pirate: I take you sight seeing and the shop looking
Me: sod off
Auto pirate: 20 rs for hour sightseeing
Me: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
Auto pirate: OK OK .......... you want room?

I could carry on but you get the idea... then when we want a rickshaw to the station to book tickets, the basterds up there price from 20 rs for an hour to 50 rs claiming its a long way... queue my rage and start shouting at them and calling them pirates! They then lower to 40 or offer free ride for shop going... again I could go on but eventually some sort of compromise is reached and by then the ticket office is closed at the station and its time to go back to the hotel! I cant describe how irritating and unrewarding a city Madras is.. the only tourist sight to see is an old British fort which has now been turned into an army base and municipal offices so you cant even actually see it! Wicked! Surprisingly enough we left in less than 24 hrs to come here to Pondicherry!

Pondicherry is without doubt a very scary place... its very French, to the point where the French have airlifted in some home grown french whiteys to ride around on scooters and generally add to the confusion felt by all in the area... its so french infact that theres dog shit everywhere! just like in Paris... mais oui! Surfice to say I've donned my colonial uniform and done my best to take bits back for Queen and country.. what what! How did the French manage it though.. they held on to this little place after the British gave back the rest of India, its amazing.. perhaps it was just overlooked, I can imagine Pierre peeping round the corner to seen if the Indians had noticed his ongoing presence.. very odd place! Whats amusing is that this place is full of Ashrams, so fukll of hippies I would imagine and yet somehow its not, prehaps they're all meditating.. Jennies making me go to one this afternoon, so I'm taking a club just in case they start trying to put me under a spell or something! Amusingly the Ashrams have banned Onions among other things (haha anti French? mais non!).. a strange thing to ban. but a man must have his limits and draw the line even if it is at onions! Right enough.. ah but wait.. another amazing thing I have discovered is the presence of the ultimate hippie settlement not 10 ks from here.. it sounds a bit like a hippie zoo in fact except they dont like visitors and I dont think they have cages to protect normal people from them! its called auroville and its supposed to be an exercise in human unity so it doesnt belong to a country (ummm India might have something to say to that) and its inhabited by people from 35 different countries and they have a special meditation globe thing with a crystal that they worship... oooooookkk! Yeeeees hippies I would think... and best of all it was started by the french (who else) and was inspired by someone who was called 'the mother'... in fact its so wierd its not even funny its actually abit frightening (double lock your doors kids.. 'the mother' is coming!).

Anyway were leaving this afternoon.. phew! On a different note our plans to visit the charity I worked at have changed a little.. as in we're not going anymore, with the time we have in India and how far we've got, it just isnt going to be possible to spend more of a few days there.. which isnt really of anyuse to them in any practical sense and in my opinion is a little unfair on the children to just dart in and then dart out...its a shame but I think ultimately probably the wisest move from all sides.. however we have found a few places where they will allow us to to help with drop in work which is good and theres a charity in marmallapuram which I think we're going to visit and do what we can there... I had better stop before I turn into a hippie! Anyway people hope all is well I'm off to visit an Ashram.. you all have a good day.. I hear its been snowing there so I'm not even going to tell you how loevly and warm it is here.. ahhhhh.

So long (or as they say here.. bonjour.. you want rickshaw?)

Posted by andyabroad 00:46 Comments (1)

Tamil Nadu

You want handicraft.. maybe you look you buy?

Ahoy there,

Well dear friends we meet again, firstly let me apologise for the lack of pictures so far.. as some of you may well know I do not posess a digi-whatsit, prefering (due to stringent budget regulations) ye olde 35 mm film.. however the good woman with whom I chose to traverse the Indian subcontinent and beyond does possess (its a differentn spelling but whihc is right.. and no I dont care that there are no apostrophes or that my whichs come out whihc!!) one and at some unpecified point in the coming dialogue I shall drop in the web address at which one may find some select pictures for you to dribble over! Right first point of call cleared up... next would be the continuing lack of hippies, prehaps owing to a lack of whities... apparently due to the heat according to the locals who accordingly devote all their time and energies into getting you to buy "some lovely handicrafts.. you look maybe you like, maybe you buy.. no problem"! Well hehehexcuseme but no thank you...

Ah perhaps I should illuminate you as to our present area in which we in habit... it is the tamil nadu and more precisely Madurai!

  • *** Hang on heres the link for pics.. www.travellerspoint.com/member_profile.cfm?user=jenniewren

Cripes! Some link... even i wasnt prepared for that one! So there you have it... enjoy I have no idea whats on show but I'm sure it'll make you envious! Anyway where was I... ah yes Madurai.. so anyway we're here but before I say anymore let me tell you about whats happened since the last time.. so I think we were in Fort Cochin at the last update.. a delightfully eccentric part of India which has a strong Portugese flavour.. apparently they were there first and then the Dutch took it of them and then I think we took it of them.. How like life! It gives one a warm glow to think of thrashing three countries all in one go... if only i could say the same for the cricket which i am sorry to say I witnessed first hand at Cochin on thursday, but more of that later..

Soooo after arriving on monday and checking into a pleasant little place for the next three nights, we did our best to checking out the surroundings. Fort Cochin isnt big but it is full of tourists and rich Indians and therefore is a surprisingly pleasant place to stroll about it.. its not exactly India as we know it, no festering sewers or slums here, just broadband internet and expensive restaurants (yes I believe it cost all of 6 pounds for two and with a few beers thrown in)..good stuff though and a nice place to catch some breath! We took in the local sights...not that many.. notable exceptions being Jew Town, the ultimate in say it as you see it place names.. which was as you might expect one of the few few Jewish enclaves of India with an amazing synagogue and what not to go with it.. it also had the rather sad problem of being ruined by a large coach party who appeared to have the cultural appreciation of a sausage i.e. they took a picture of themselves and then left and the one other problem of the brash American tourist who declares at the top of his voice what a quaint little Jewish place this is.. charmed I'm sure Uncle Sam! Anyway we shall move on.. So the cricket then... thanks in the main to Jennie's Dad sending us the schedule of upcoming one day internationals between India and mighty England (from now on called Angleterre with reference to the cricket owing to a "limp" showing on the pitch!.. yes yes its a dig at the effeminate Frenchies..haha 1815 and all that what!).. so first point of call was the bank which had taken on the duty of ticket agent for this particular one day match.. random but fairly effiecent also. So we arrived and went to purchase tickets which ranged from a paltry 200 Rs for the gallery to 10000 Rs for an unspecified position somewhat closer to the pitch I would imagine! As it was we opted for the 600 Rs option.. we had a seat but would we have a view! As it turned out come match day we did indeed have a view and jolly good it was too, we also learnt that purchasing tickets up to the Rs 5000 mark basically entitled you to the same set of seats everyone else was entitled too, you were just allowed to turn up at 4am to claim then as opposed to 6 am for us (as it happened we turned up at 8.45 and had a perfect view!! its good to know that being tight has its rewards!)As for the 10000 rupee seats I imagine they were under this pavillion bit from where you could see the score board ( yes thats correct no one could see the scoreboard from the stands probably for tv purposes! it did result in one cyclical conversation with an Indian sitting to my right whereby he would ask me what the score was and I would respond with the same answer i gave him 3 minutes before which was... I'm teribly sorry friend I just cant see from here... this ultimately turned into me shaking my head and then after 6 hours playing dead in the hope he wouldnt ask the same inane question again) (big brackets eh) enough!!! Anyway we lost as usual and that was that.. however what was rather unexpected was the level of fanatism of the average Indian fan.. these boys love their cricketers ( I say boys as we counted only one woman in the entire place!), when they were fielding there was a fair bit of noise as one might expect.. but come the afternoon the whole thing went off like a bomb.. as soon as India went into bat the stand exploded with people banging whatever they could find together and dancing like nutcases... most amusing were the 4 middle aged dads in front of us who had clearly to much special brew at lunch time and proceeded to dance like lunatics in the stands... surfice to say most of our entertainment came from watching the crowd rather than the cricket.. lets hope Angleterre will sort it out next time..

Right next on the agenda! Well we left Kerala that night on yet another night bus.. so far so normal.. however we did have the oppotunity to dine in splendor at a rather up market hotel that evening (we felt that as we had survived on crisps for the day we could probably use some real food before setting off again). What was wonderful about the place we chose was that it sums up India in so many ways! We arrived and I ordered a small and a large beer for Jennie and myself, we were then ushered out of the restaurant and into the lobby on account that 'it' bothered family groups! On questioning why drinking a beverage listed on the restaurant menu might be prohibited from being imbibed on the premises of the restaurant I was informed that smoking was a filthy habit and bad for children! Something I happen to agree with so I asked if as neither of us smoked whether it might be possible to consume both meal and beer in the same room.. much apologising and head waggling later (the waggle of the head is the Indian form for... well anything really, it must be done in all situations!) we sat down at our table... again. By this time the restaurant was filled with the classical accompaniment to fine dining, an electric keyboad set to jazz organ and an Indian voice doing an out of tune version of John Denver's classic, country roads! Laugh? I nearly wet myself infatc it was so funny Jennie actually did have to go to the toilet! What was even better was that immedietly after an Indian family leaving located a big mouth Billy Bass electric fish jobby on the wall and set him off and what did the stupid electric rubber fish sing but country roads! Thats got to hurt if you're the musician.. espeacially as the fish was in tune although the batteries were flat... ahh good times! ( Billy big mouth Bass thing for those fortuante enough not to know what it is, is a stupide rubberised fish mounted on a plastic plaque and supposed to appear to be fishing trophy.. it has a little button you press and then it moves its head and mouth and sings a song.. annoying yes, but when found in a posh restaurant in India probably better seen as a triumph of marketing!) OK OK enough..

So we're in tamil Nadu now.. Madurai is pleasant enough hot but not humid.. a nice change! So we got here and first thing we do is book in to a hotel.. cheap close to the big famous temple complex for which the town is famous and generally good value! We were then harrased by staff as to breakfast and dinner and cool beer and laundry requirements for the next three hours! No doesnt work here you have to repeat alot and let your eyeballs roll up into your head before they actually leave you alone... and then of course they're back in 10 minutes anyway!

Ok i have 10 mins left so I must be quicker! Ok so we saw the temple.. very nice very big and and well yes its a nice, big temple! So we went to a museum and also a palace... both interesting without being too rivetting.. the museum was actually better than I let on as it was a Gandhi memorial and had his bloodied loin cloth from when he was assinated, had a very jingoistc history of India also under English oppression.. fair do's I suppose, but its not what I learnt in the olde history books!!! Anyway since then we've embarked ona round the houses cycle rickshaw tour of the place (my arse is still numb!) and best of all we've had a drink in Appollo 96 bar which is a ludicrous establishment by which you enter though air lock and the insides of which have been made to look like a space ship (clearly some star wars/trek fans in India) it was hilarious and even more amusingly it was packed!! Amazin.. I never thought i'd see a space themed pub in India! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh anyway Chenai tomorrow so must go..

Rule Brittania!

Posted by andyabroad 08:08 Comments (0)

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