Send in the clowns....

Trip Start Sep 09, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  ,
Thursday, October 25, 2007

The whirlwind tour of India continues! We left Sri Lanka soaked through as the pouring rain continued. Before flying back to India we managed to spark a mini security alert - we arrived nice and early for our 2am flight (us, early... unbelievable I know but we promise it's true!) and so decided to get a couple of hours' kip on the floor of the airport. With our past history of missing flights in mind, we'd set our little travel alarm to wake us up in time for boarding. Unfortunately we were both so fast asleep that its beeping didn't wake us up at first... but it did serve to alarm the cleaner nearby who called first the police and then military security to investigate which bag the beeping was coming from. We woke up, bleary-eyed to a sea of gawping faces all in uniform (and heavily armed!) laughing at our little alarm clock!
We boarded the plane OK and we were mighty pleased to find it almost completely empty = more sleep for us! The 'seatbelt on' sign obviously isn't as strict in India/Sri Lanka as it is back home, as Charlie was allowed to lay across three chairs sound asleep as the plane landed!
We arrived back in India and spent a few more days in Chennai (or 'Mutant Town' as we now call it - seriously, the amount of people with extra fingers or toes is amazing. They must do a roaring trade on rings and nail polish!). One day we took a trip to one of the big shopping centres near to us and they were running a painting promotion where people were invited to come up and paint whatever they liked. Charlie managed to twist my arm to go up and paint and a pretty big crowd gathered to watch 'Tom from England' (as the woman on the microphone kept announcing to the whole dam place!) paint a lovely lion! They were obviously impressed as I won a prize - Mum and Dad, you must be so proud!!
After a few days in Mutant Town we booked a flight up to Calcutta and have been here for the past 5/6 days. When we first arrived we decided to use our first cycle-rickshaw... the poor bloke must've wondered what he'd done to deserve pedaling me, Charlie and all our bags along the busy roads and was knackered by the end of it! We checked into 'Bedrock Hotel' (where the duvet and the pillows are so hard they feel like Fred Flintstone should be sleeping on them) and the next morning we were awoken nice and early by what sounded like a clown college as a chorus of squeaky horns from the cycle-rickshaws tooted, parped and honked in the street outside - we half expected to look out and see a load of them driving up and down the road in those little comedy cars that fall apart when they stop, and for the first couple of days I couldn't get 'Send in the Clowns' out of my head!
We were staying in the North of Calcutta in a place called Dum Dum (just to add to the clown theme!) which was nice as it was busy without being too crazy. We took a couple of trips up into the city and it's bedlam - stupid amounts of people, animals and all forms of transport from human rickshaws to honking great trucks all battling it out on the paths and the roads as the sound of rats squeaking can be heard above the traffic! The smell and the pollution was terrible and everywhere you looked a heavy grey cloud of smog hung over the city.
On one of our trips into the city we did find a pretty cool bar though - retro dance/house music, board games and funky décor tempted us in and we sat and drank Honeybee brandy and cocktails in the middle of a shopping centre at 3 in the afternoon as our plans to explore the city were put on hold!
Finding a taxi home was also an experience as one guy approached us and we started negotiating a price before we realized he was crushing up weed in his hand to roll himself a fat one as he drove. We decided to go with his mate instead!
The highlight of our stay in Calcutta had to be the Puja which was being held to celebrate the goddess Durga. Everywhere bright lights and colourful displays filled the streets and at night the sound of fireworks and music was all you could hear for miles around. One community club we walked past invited us into their temple and asked us to join them on their procession. They were so super happy when we agreed, and they told us that, in the 54 years they had been running the Durga procession we were the first foreigners to join them (hence why everybody spent the whole night grabbing us and wanting to dance with us!). Installed as 'guests of honour' and treated to gifts, we set off along the roads covered in purple powder paint and glitter, dancing to the music as all around us people threw bangers and lit roman candles by their feet! Charlie was presented with a garland and I was invited to join the drummers (very badly I might add!) having been given the nickname 'Dewana' which apparently is a Bengali term for a crazy person! The night ended with a cycle-rickshaw escort home by our hosts Gourav and Kuntal, who are hopefully reading this - thanks again for everything guys.
Our last night in Calcutta we went out for a 'rice and mice' dinner - a cracking curry was had as mice and rats scurried around our feet! Charlie was freaking out and sat cross-legged on her chair the whole time but to her credit stayed for the whole meal - Fiona, you'd have loved this place!!
So tonight we leave Calcutta and head for Varanasi. I'm afraid we can't upload any photos to go with this entry just yet (the internet here is very limited - even Mother Theresa herself wouldn't have the patience to wait for some of these PCs to load up!) but we will try to add these soon.

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loulou1 on

Hi my lovely
Hi guys,
wow the adventures just keep on flowing, i do enjoy your stories!! you seem to make a adventure out of anything!
Well you have made me a happy girlie today.
Callum is 5 today that just means that we're OLD!!!
Well watch out where n when you set that alarm....bloody plums!!ha ha.
Cant wait to see the pictures of the party etc, did the miltary pose for one? lol

miss you loads
Lou xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

missnutterr. on

Haha! Me & Mum Laughed So Much over This!

We Miss U Loads & We Dont Doubt 4 One Second That Ur Enjoyin Yurselves!!!

Love U Both__x
Jodie & Mother xx

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