I went to Varanasi with Dave recently – do you know the place?
Its where many Indians go to cremate their dead. The city is choked with teams of people running through town with beautifully draped corpses. You can hear them coming because there are always at least 2 drummers with the team. Just imagine: drummers with JOBS! Plus an audience that cant throw things at you.
Anyway we spent a lot of time walking around the ghats – and there is grey dust everywhere, and grey mud – and the city itself is swathed in a grey mist, and grey dust. You’re walking around – and you know whats in that grey dust. Now its a week later and my feet are still black. I cant get the dead people out of my feet. And you thought cracked heels were bad. Its freaking me out. I need a spiritual podiatrist. Or maybe a spiritualist with a foot fetish. I’m not sure.
Love the Singapore Zoo. The zoo is branching out and we chose the River Safari this time. Fun – Not sure that Pandas are at all located in riparian landscapes – however they’re ridiculously cute and an extra reason to visit.
The New Year garden decorations were very pretty.
Walking in a monkey enclosure is not that exciting after actively avoiding monkies in India. Though these ones were cute.
monkies are not as cute as my kids sitting on giant pandas.
and well in the cuteness competition… they winner does go to the panda.
The oft overlooked and forgotten Red Panda.
PS After visiting the otters at the zoo, Audrey has become obsessed and only wants an otter for her birthday next week. Nothing else!
Welcome to Singapore and the Year of the Horse. We stopped a couple of days en route back to Australia and stayed with my cousin and her kids. A chance to be in a modern Asian city, which helped to mitigate the culture shock of leaving India. Funny moment: Visiting Chinatown just before New Year – Kirsty explained it would be crowded “but nothing like what you’ve come from”. Kids freaked – it was the most crowded place they’d been all holidays.
Year of the Wooden Horse. (horses are good, take my word for it)
Farewell India and thanks for the ride. We hope to get back on it one day. While our leaving won’t be noticed by 1.2 billion of you (with the exception of Nick who we leave as our emissary for a little while), we keenly feel our departure.
We may be leaving India, but the pics will come for a while yet :)
Pune is the eighth largest city in India with a population of 6 million people. Our neighbourhood, Koregaon Park, is upmarket, leafy and hosts expats working in IT and education along with visitors to the Osho Ashram. In the centre of town there is old Pune, It survived massive floods in 1961 and it’s here that you find rows of traditional shops selling saris, jewellery, hardware, sandals, musical instruments… Lucinda, Audrey and I came here to shop for saris.
The tall wooden buildings that house these shops and living quarters are on the verge of collapse. They were once beautifully ornate with carvings, wooden fretwork and coloured glass. It seems very unlikely that they will be restored. I expect they’ll be replaced with monotonous, utilitarian concrete. So here’s a little homage to the craftsmanship that went before. (Pics taken in Lakshmi Road)
It was so nice to stay in Bangalore for a few days and catch up with Australian friends; Bruce, Gail and their daughters Arabella and Jasmine. Lucinda and Audrey shout out a huge “thanks”. They had the best time playing. It was a real treat to hang out with Sandhya again too. This friendship is now in it’s 30th year and has spanned 3 continents.
Shopping for veggies with Gail
Up on top of the Nandi hills. There used to be more hills around Bangalore, but they’ve been successively mined to the ground and converted into high rise towers.
Had to be photographed.
Burgers in Bangers mate.
Having lunch with Sandhya
Sandhya and the girls. I swear Sandhya hasn’t changed in 30 years!
As a post script: On the first day back at school, Audrey’s teacher asked the class to think of everything they did on their holidays and choose two things to draw about. Audrey ran out of fingers counting what she had done (riding elephants, camels, rickshaws, tiger safaris, snorkelling…) – yet she chose to draw “Mum meeting up with her friend Sandhya”.
Fe and Alan joined us in Allepey Kerala and with the assistance of a rickshaw driver Fe, Ethan and I rode down to the docks and chose a houseboat to take us around the Keralan backwaters for a day and a night. Our main requirement was a nice airy deck to lounge around on, drink beer, read and play guitar. (Thanks Alan for some of these pics *)
I LOVE that the houseboat arrived in the morning at the front lawn of our resort to pick us up.
Reading, eating, playing
Pilgrims on a boat
Punt to take you to the other side.
There are a lot of churches on the backwaters.
Stopped at a small store, where Ethan and Lucinda got to hold the pet.