In 2011 I spent a month in India with my friend Lucy, travelling around several cities in Rajasthan, and to Delhi, Varanasi, Khajuraho and Amritsar. It was an incredible trip, and I am sure I could write many many blog posts on my love of India (it was my second month-long stay), but for today I will give you a snapshot of my travels via the Facebook Status updates I wrote whilst I was there, and a few of my favourite photographs.
Curries eaten: 7, Snakes kissed: 2, Cities visited: 5 (Delhi, Jaipur, Amber, Ajmer, Pushkar), Friends made: lots, especially Pushpendra and his family who we stayed with in Amber, Temples seen: 9, Forts visited: 2, Local bus accident near misses: 1, Glowing Lake Palaces seen by night: 1, Instances of Delhi Belly: 0 (phew!), Wonderful evenings spent on roof terrace with beautiful family during a blackout listening to haunting music and gazing at 400 year old temples and a mountaintop fort: 1, Times we turned up at 8.30pm for our train which left at 8.30am the following day: 1 (Oops, turned out to be a great mistake though!), Times I’ve said ‘I love India’ already: countless.
Curries eaten: 9, Forts visited: 4, Cities visited: 8, Camels ridden across the sand dunes at sunset: 1, Times Lucy has fallen asleep in a shop: 1, Friendly black-faced monkeys seen: 87, Evil red-faced monkeys who tried to kill me: 1, Monkeys I hit in the face with my water bottle: 1, Train rides: 5, Sunsets in the desert: 3, Late-night rooftop Bollywood dance sessions: 1, Things bought: lots, Middle-class Inuit accents heard: 1 (bit of an in-joke that one!), famous motorbikes ridden: 1.
Curries eaten: 13, Beautifully-painted ceremonial elephants ridden: 1, Miles elephant had to walk to wedding (and then home again): 40, Wonders of the World seen: 1 (and wondrous the Taj Mahal indeed was!), Cities visited: 10, Train rides: 7, Car accidents: 1 (but the milk churns were luckily unhurt), Sunsets over beautiful lake Palaces in Udaipur seen: 1, Indian weddings: 1, Saris worn: 1, Authentic Bollywood-style dancing done: far too much considering my entire stomach was on display!, Henna tattoos: 4, Jingly little anklets which I can’t seem to take off:1, Power-cuts in posh 5 star hotel at wedding: 4, Cities left to visit: 4, 25 hour train rides left to endure: 1, Indian grandfathers danced with: lots!
Hours spent tearing around the villages and lanes of Madhya Pradesh on motorbikes with Vijay and Anjul: 4, Stunning rivers in the middle of nowhere (which we are assured are crocodile free, despite the big signs everywhere with pics of crocs on) we’ve swum in:1, Lovely village families stayed with: 1, Number of rooms in house: 4, Number of people in family: 18, number of rooms they gave to Lucy and I:1, Number of proper-shaped parathas I managed to cook with auntie over a cow-dung fire: 0 (despite excellent tuition!), Train rides: 8, Curries eaten: 14, Number of public cremations which have taken place on Manikarnika Ghat on the River Ganges in Varanasi just below the roof terrace from which I am writing this, whilst I have been sat here: 3, Excitement at my first time riding a motorbike all by myself: way too much, Erotic temples visited which made me blush: 16 (all in one day in Khajuraho!), cricket games participated in: 1 (finally!), near-death autorickshaw rides: 1 where I was absolutely terrified, but most of them were pretty scary!, Days left in India: Just not enough!
The Final Countdown
Curries eaten: 21, Marwari horses patted on the farm near Amritsar where we’re staying: lots, Number of these horses I intend to ride tomorrow: as many as possible!, 25 hour train rides survived admirably well by sleeping almost the entire way: 1, Holiest shrines of the Sikh religion visited: 1 – the Golden Temple is unbelievable, Number of rupees I managed to bargain the pashmina guy down this morning: 1,500 (and I think he was still ripping me off!), Number of pills bought at the pharmacy because they are a 20th of the price of home: 48, Number of monkeys seen: well over a hundred by now, Punjabi dancing extravaganzas unexpectedly taking place on the peaceful farm we’re staying on: 4, IPL cricket games observed: impossible to count (it’s on every single television here, but tickets to games hard to get!) Time I got up this morning to milk the cows and wake up the camels (by poking them with a stick (yes, really): 7am, Swimming pools at the farm: 2, village families visited to take chai: 3, Border ceremonies between India and Pakistan observed: 1, Days left in India after today: 1, Amazing Experiences I’ve had this holiday with the lovely Lucy: Priceless (sorry Mastercard!).