Last few days in India

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

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Where I stayed
Haripriya Residency

Flag of India  , Karnātaka,
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Having spent five blissful days on Mandrem Beach, Goa in a lovely beach cottage at Mollys Nest, we had dispelled thoughts of cold weather and were beginning to look healthy again.  We even managed a few morning runs along the beach. The stay was only marred by the meltdown of my new laptop with all the trip photos stored on it.   I remain hopeful that we can get it fixed when we get to Australia but the blog will be without photos until this is resolved.  

My hair had become straw-like from too much time in the sea so I decided to be brave and see if I could find a hairdressers.  Found a young lady who had a hairdressers shop in Mandrem and had lots of pictures of lovely styles. I asked if she was a qualified hairdresser and, with the usual head wobble, she said "Oh yes".  I became a bit suspicious when she said it would take 10 minutes and the cost would be 80 rupees (1 pound) and then watched in horror as she proceeded in a manner I can only describe as being like a small child attempting to style the hair of their favorite dolly.   The phrase "you get what you pay for" came to mind.  Hoping to rectify in Sydney!   We had a conversation with a young guy here about why Indians will not admit when they don't know something.  It is usually taxi drivers who will tell you they know where you want to go and then proceed to stop at every junction to ask directions.  The young guy looked at us as if we were mad when we asked this question, "Well they're not going to turn business away, are they?"   

We left on 30th Jan to head down to Gokana in Karnataka, the state below Goa. On the two hour train journey we got chatting to a lovely guy from Udupi who had recently retired but had previously worked for hotels around the world including the Hilton in Dubai.  Terry and he realised they knew many of the same people so spent some time recalling mutual acquaintances from the hotels and racecourse in Dubai.   This is nothing unusual when travelling with my husband, we often bump in to people he knows in airports or foreign hotels.   

The first night in Gokarna was a bit of a shock.  The town is also a major Hindu religious centre so tourists mingle with pilgrims in a rather chaotic manner.  The town itself is what we would describe as 'raw India' with lots of cows (and associated mess), lots of dogs, litter and some rather smelly areas of stagnant water.   Kudle Beach in the evening looked like a scene from a movie about the 60's with dreadlocks, beards and loincloths a plenty.   We were not convinced this was the right place for us but headed back to our very comfortable rooms at the Haripriya and decided to see what things looked like the following morning.   We were pleasantly surprised that the streets had been cleaned overnight and after a lovely breakfast headed off to Om Beach.   After two days chilling on the beaches we were really warming to Gokana and was so cheap, we could happily live on less than 15 pounds a day here!    The cows have really worked out how to play the tourists on the beaches.  A black male rooted through my bag and found nothing, then attempted to nibble my book and finally plonked himself down at the end of my towel where he stayed for hours.  Reminded me so much of Lola. 

As much as I love this country there are always reminders of it's dark underbelly.   In Gokarna we passed a disabled child at the side of the road who was propped up on a cushion with a begging bowl - heartbreaking.  Arriving back in Mumbai we drove from the airport to the Residence Hotel passing the many families living rough on the pavements and under flyovers.   

Today is the last day in India.  We are meeting up with Rianna's Fund partners Pastor Raju Ram and Shilpa to discuss the final plans for moving children in to the new home in Kalyan, Maharastra.   

I have to admit to feeling rather emotional about our departure.  The past two months here have been simply AMAZING.  I had some idea that it might get India out of my system but I fear it has done the opposite.   I LOVE YOU INDIA.  

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