Busy, busy, busy

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End Feb 24, 2013

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Where I stayed
Silverine Hotel, Shimla

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It's all getting a bit hectic now so I need to resort to some abbreviations to record this trip fully (one of the main reasons for this blog is to give us a record of this trip to look back on).

So, amazing time in Udaipur, love it, will go back. Last day with Diana had the most wonderful lunch at a restaurant called Ambrai with spectacular views over the lake (see picture of Terry chilling in the sun).

3rd Jan – off to Bundi.  Ruck with driver who turned up with one totally bald and flat tyre!    Five hours on the road to Bundi, some of it on the new Expressway but the locals have not received training in motorway etiquette so we met camels, cows, goat Herds, groups of women carry sticks on their heads, lorries, trackers and much more coming towards us at various stages.   Apparently this is road safety awareness week!

Bundi – nice but a bit smelly.    Highlight was staying in a great Haveli called Dev Niwas and enjoying superb chai from Krishna who made up a special mix to soothe my sore throat.   Saw Palace and Fort, all rather run down which is sad.

4th Jan – off to Jaipur.   Two nights at the Vimal Heritage, another old Haveli with lots and lots of "bling".   Jaipur supposed to be the pink city, actually more orange.    A really busy city, nice feel to it, spent quite a lot of our time trying to resolve future rail bookings which were wait listed.   We abandoned plans to get to Delhi by train and booked a flight.   Great food here, but HOT!.

6th Jan – back to Delhi.   Some serious purchasing of warm clothes as north India is experiencing the coldest spell for 43 years.   

7th Jan – met up with our Intrepid Group who we will spend next 2 weeks with travelling up to the northern hilly areas of India.   Great walking tour around old Delhi including spice market and some of the back streets.   Loved Delhi’s metro, makes London underground look very tame though.    Amazing visit to a Sikh Temple in Delhi. 

8th Jan – early start (0630 aaahhhhh) for train to meet the famous toy train up to Shimla which was the summer home of the Viceroys of India before independence.   We have seen romantic programmes about this train journey and the scenery was breath taking, however, we did not fully appreciate that it would take over 5 hours.   

9th Jan – day in Shimla.   Started with a VERY steep climb up to the monkey temple overlooking Shimla.   One of our group had his glasses grabbed by a monkey and we then had to spent 20 rupees to buy some treats as a trade off to get the glasses back.   The monkeys have worked out this system very well!

Important lessons :  Do not get stressed in India, there is no point!    Just accept everything as an adventure.

What is in the news :  The papers are still full of reaction to the fatal gang rape of the medical student in Delhi which has rocked this country about their attitude to women and the frequency of assaults and rapes.  The police will often not even file complaints made about rapes.  More information is coming out about what happened on the night of the attack and it appears the victim and her friend were lying naked and bleeding for 30 minutes before police arrived to offer any help.  During those 30 minutes people drove past, some stopped and some even discussed what might have happened, but none offered any help.  This reluctance to help appears to be partly due to reports of police harassment of “good Samaritans” in previous cases.  

Great conversation :   Spent two hours talking to a lady on the train and got a real insight in to the dilemmas for the young middle classes in India.   Sayantani is in her mid twenties and lived in Birmingham for 3 years while she studied for her Masters and worked.   She returned because her parents are getting older and as the eldest child her sense of duty to look after her parents is still fairly strong.  She is breaking the mould in many ways :  she lives with her boyfriend in Delhi and is confident they will marry, this will be a “love marriage” unlike most of her friends who still have arranged marriages.    Her boyfriend’s parents do not consider her ideal because, although they are proud that she has a Masters and studied in England, she is working which they do not approve of and they say her skin is too dark.   She explained that, although many of her friends have studied for degrees she explained that this was really only so they would getter a better groom – there would be no intention of them marrying.  Other interesting revelations about the working world here.   The normal working week is six days with only Sunday off.  If you start work at 0900 and arrive at 0905 then this will be taken as a half day holiday.  Holiday is 12 days per year but if you are off sick this will be taken off your holiday allowance, or you will not be paid.    If your working hours are until 1800 but your boss is still in the office, you will be expected to stay until he leaves even if you don’t have work to do.  Most young people in India are pushed by their parents in to studying what they want them to and then end up in jobs they don’t really want to do.  Sayantani was saying she was fortunate as her parent allowed her to study design which is her passion. 
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