The title of this post, as you may have guessed, is not a town, but a state of being. We have both had Delhi Belly, me not so bad, Tall Girl…bad. One can never tell if it is food or a bug or what, but she isn’t well and can’t even keep an antibiotic or anti-vomit tablet down. Of course there is always a silver lining, and I now have time to catch up with travel tales while she sleeps.

Our plan was always to get to Jaipur, but it wasn’t until after we had booked flights (don’t get me started on Air Asia…grrrr…) that we discovered we would be in India for Holi, which according to wikipedia is

…known as the Festival of Colours, Festival of Spring, and Festival of Love. One of the most popular and significant festivals in Hinduism. It celebrates the eternal and divine love of the god Radha and Krishna.

and Jaipur would be a great place to be. So we had to make a bit of haste across country to be here in time for March 6th and as usual, it was worth it.

First mission was to head out with Balu (Ajeet’s brother and partner in Chillout Hotel, Jaipur) to buy some coloured powder. You may have seen bags of this stuff at colour runs and things like that, but being in a shop that has bales of 10Kg bags is something else. We only bought 10kg each of 5 colours. I rode shotgun in a tuk-tuk hired just for the delivery back to the hotel.

In the evening of the full moon the festival gets under way. We had seen piles of wood stacked like bonfires all over the place and you’ll never guess what they were…yes, bonfires.

In parks, in village squares or just in the street.

The men (of course) put some wheat or other grain on the end of a long pole, then into the fire while the women pour some water on the ground. Some ashes are then collected (by the men, of course) and are taken home to be used to mark the forehead during Puja. There were fires like that every hundred metres or so along every road.

Later that evening we went with Ajeet to the family farm at Barala, about 2 hours drive from Jaipur. We arrived late, everyone was asleep, but beds were prepared and we woke to rural India

They grow mainly wheat with some mustard seed and green leafies such as coriander. It wasn’t long before we were out in the fields picking for the hotel restaurant

and doing women’s work…

I knew the family from previous visits so there wasn’t any of the usual shyness which was wonderful. Needless to say, Tall Girl was right at home, finally getting some henna art on her hand.

We hadn’t even left the village before we looked like this

This doesn’t all happen in a context of “I’m going to ‘get’ you” and to be avoided. Quite the opposite. People walk up to each other with a handful of colour and smear it on their faces and wish Happy Holi. It is joyous and fun and everyone is into it * ^

* this is a Hindu festival, so not everyone

^ in the case of older people, you would colour their feet if requested

Back to Chillout where the fun was certainly under way


Of course, eventually it gets out of hand…and then the fun really begins

I am not sure if our clothes will ever be back to the original colours.

Ajeet has another project in mind so we head off with him to Mandwara, Rajasthan to have a look at a haveli, an old huge family home. One of many in Mandwara

Arriving at night it was astounding. In the daylight it was still incredible, but the problems became more obvious i.e. the amount of money needed to get it up to deluxe level and keep it there would be enormous.

And in other havelis…a deluxe room

a super deluxe room…as usual, in a photo you just don’t get how spectacular this was.

On the way back Ajeet had a surprise for me…another stepwell. Not very big or deep, but they are restoring it which is fantastic. Finally the Indian government is recognising the importance of these and declaring them heritage sites.

Hmmm…around the back…I wonder what that group of people is doing there, let’s go and have a look. Tall Girl was a little reluctant and thought they were waving us away. Hah! I know better…I love the outcome and her willingness to say “yes”.

Enough for now… stand by for the fully sick Bollywood movie adventure.

Can’t complain about Indian railways

Day 4 of our isolated un-trip to India and things are going much more smoothly than I could have imagined.

Indian Railway system is possibly the only lasting benefit left by the British during their occupation of the place. The network is extensive, trains are frequent and mostly run on time.* Also, at least outside of cattle class, they are quite clean and sleeper beds include linen. Did I mention fares are also pretty cheap?

So our trip from Amritsar to Haridwar (near Rishikesh) would have been fun and a new experience for Petronella, had we taken it. But I think even had our flight not been cancelled, all Indian trains have been.

Right now we would have been on the banks of the upper Ganges River, wondering why it seems compulsory for Western women to wear yoga pants 24/7 in this city. Well, I would have been, she would like have been wearing yoga pants.

Ganges River at Rishikesh

Tonight we won’t be travelling by train to Khajuraho, site of the Karma Sutra Temple. In a day or 3 I’ll share some rather racy photos and update you on the incredible things we don’t do.

* this is based on experience, not any collection of data across the whole network. For all I know hardly any of the trains run on time – and it wouldn’t be surprising – but apart from 1 that was cancelled, 1 that was 5 hours late, 1 that was estimated 12 hours late and a few other delays…OK, so they sometimes are on time.

Navigating India railways

India gives the impression of being a tech savvy country, but you wouldn’t know it if you used the India Rail web site. Given that it represents a huge government organisation it is definitely one of the most difficult sites to use; it has too many ads (since when does a government business site have google ads?), parts of it don’t work, parts of it are confusing, parts of it are pointless…it sucks.

I spent about 8 hours trying to book some train tickets, constantly hitting a wall “foreign cards not accepted” with any card I tried. Doing some research I found 12go who will book for you, but R500 ($10) worth of tickets cost an additional R800 ($16) booking fee.

India’s railways carry 23 million people per day

Then I remembered cleartrip who I have used successfully in the past but they took money without delivering a ticket. I have previously had refunds from them so am not worried, but it was frustrating trying to get it to work.

There had to be a way around this and a few sites had mentioned that IRCTC now takes Atom payments which work with foreign cards.

This is what the payment screen looks like – errr…well, I would show you a screenshot but…

which proves my point.

So if you do manage to connect and choose your India train trip and want to pay with a foreign card, there is a way to do it. I am posting this as a test blog post and also so that people wanting to buy India rail tickets with foreign international cards don’t have as hard a time figuring it out.

Once you get to the review trip page, instead of choosing Debit Card with PIN – which seems the most obvious, choose Multiple Payment Service – here’s a screenshot I prepared earlier.

India Rail payment page

No, I have no idea what they would hide it in there except T.I.I. (This Is India). Once in there the International Cards using Atom payment thingy is obvious

IRCTS Atom payment for foreign cards

Obviously your results may vary, but the first ticket literally took me most of a day – but it is best to not get too frustrated or you won’t survive being in India. Once I discovered the Multiple Payment Service, 4 more tickets took about 30 minutes.

I have downloaded the tickets to show the officious conductors, all I need now is for them to show up in my list of purchased tickets on the IRCTC site…sigh…

Taj Mahal, so many rights, so many wrongs

Date: 4th November 2017

Location: Agra

Hotel: Sai Palace

The Taj Mahal is located in Agra which is mostly a bit of a shithole and if not for a couple of things, wouldn’t be worth visiting…well, that might not be entirely true, but I haven’t found anything else yet *.  For that reason after planning to go to the Taj Mahal, then deciding not to go because it is a bit out of the way, then changing our minds because an alternative was even harder, we went to Agra.  The idea was always to take a train from Ajmer (Pushkar) to Agra, arrive in the evening, do the Taj in the morning, head to Sheroes for a while and then leave for Delhi that day.

In fact, that is how it turned out, but as you are about to discover, there is so much fun to be had within the plan.

Once again we had booked general seating on the train.  This means you have a reserved seat, but it is a step above cattle class which doesn’t have reservations.  We were the only westerners in our carriage of about 100 people and apart from a Japanese guy we pointed to his carriage, might have been the only westerners on the train.

As usual, it wasn’t long before we made friends with people around us and decided they needed a taste of western music.  It wasn’t the first time we had done this, so we had a bit of a routine where the bluetooth speaker was fired up, a phone connected, a song played and a sing along commenced.  Generally we started with Country Road by John Denver because we all knew the words, it is middle of the road and it is John Denver.

Indians have never heard this song, or most popular western songs.  The do know Justin Beiber very well and a bunch of doof doof dance music, but the classic pop songs seem to have never hit the subcontinent.  They have now…

This is a bad and great photo at the same time.  Everything is wrong with it, but I think it gives the feeling of everyone wanting to be in the photo and the crowded conditions and the fun being had.  People crowded the carriage as we sang a bunch of songs and then had a guy hook his phone up to play some popular Indian music to see if we could get them to sing along.  Another complete failure.

A few people were quietly mouthing the words but there was no rousing chorus from the punters despite us trying to make it happen.  This is not at all unusual, there appears to be a cultural taboo about publicly expressing emotion whether it be fun, love, excitement or whatever.  I’ve mentioned the built up energy at music concerts where everyone is sitting on their bums, dying to dance, but just can’t do it.  Same sort of thing, they kind of wanted to, but just couldn’t take the leap.

We danced, I did stupid (and real) magic, we sang, they loved watching and laughing and being part of what is likely an unforgettable train journey. It was so much fun that we didn’t even think to take photos.  But many, many people were videoing the whole thing so we may end up on YouTube some day.

Agra was awful.  The pollution was horrific.  Have a read of this article about the pollution in Delhi at the same time, in fact, Delhi didn’t seem as bad as Agra, though it may have been.

This is actually how it looked on the day as the sun rose.  So much for the beautiful Taj Mahal glowing in the sunshine.

Compare it to 2015 and 2016




It was disappointing, but at least I had seen it previously, for Dawne and Tiff it was their first visit.  But it is best we go back an hour or so.

As you can see there are big crowds at the Taj Mahal, the photo would have been taken at about 0800hrs at the latest and there were already heaps of people.  We had decided, on the advice of our hotel manager, to leave at 0545hrs, we had already planned to be there for sunrise.  This wasn’t a bad plan, not withstanding that we hadn’t arrived at the hotel until 2330hrs the previous night.

It was dark lining up for tickets, there was no lighting in the area despite a couple of hundred people standing in line.  I tried to jump the line by getting to the front of an Indian only line and pleading ignorance, that didn’t work.  Dawne was in the women’s line.  Tiff was in the men’s line.  I was the runner deciding which line was moving faster and it was the women by a long shot, so Dawne bought 3 tickets – Jane didn’t join us.  Step one complete.

It is hard to take photos that are a bit different from the standard Taj Mahal money shot.

The next stage is to stand in line outside the gate.  It is starting to get light and on the left side of the entrance there are many hundreds of people waiting.  We take a guess at an hour to get in…not good enough.  On the right side of the entrance is a woman sitting in a wheel chair…and no one else.

Do we want to get in quickly?” I asked and after quick agreement developed a pretty awful limp as we made our way to the right.  We are ushered to a spot with wheelchair woman and pretty quickly another wheelchair appears and I am pushed into it.  What we didn’t realise at the time was that the wheelchair was privately owned by Viru, this had implications we weren’t aware of.  Sitting glumly (on the outside) I would adjust my position and whince in a way that I hoped was convincing.  Someone tried to get Tiff and Dawne to leave me and join the line up and of course they objected saying I obviously needed care.  I had a minor panic attack telling the cop that I obviously needed care.  He let my obvious carers stay.

There were others on the right hand side. The poor woman in the wheelchair was on an expensive tour and had fallen over the previous day.  The tour guide had pushed her to this spot and then gone off to deal with tickets without telling her anything.  She was quite stressed having been there about half an hour and had no idea what was going on.  Although we were scamming, we did do some good by reassuring her that it was all OK and calming her a bit ^.

There was also a blind woman who was told that she didn’t need a ticket (that they had already bought) and they were tossing up how to go and get a refund but not succumb to the chaos that is India.  Not sure how that turned out, but later we did see the blind woman taking a photo…could she have…was she really…it shall remain a mystery.

The gates open and we are in…first!

While Tiff and Dawne went to the toilet, I tried to explain to Viru that we would pay him his 500R and he could wait in this corner and have a sleep, we would be back later.  My leg was much better already.  He wouldn’t hear of it.  This job was given to him by god and he was going to do it.  So I resigned myself to a seated tour of the Taj Mahal, getting up now and then because “my leg improves as the day goes on”.

Truth be told, I got an appreciation for how shitty it is for someone in a wheelchair if the pusher is not attentive to context.  I was left facing the wrong way and felt excluded many times.  I missed out on quite a few things that happened behind me or that others talked about that I couldn’t see.  Though an hilarious adventure, it definitely changed my attitude to how wheelchairs should be handled.  Towards the end Viru insisted on a photo of Tiff and Dawne in some position that was behind me.  I was  left stranded.  A kind German woman asked me if I would like a push and I stood up and told her the story.  She laughed and wished she had thought of it.

Of course, the agreed fee wasn’t enough for Viru, he wanted a tip on top of his already expensive fee.  I kind of ran away…which might have had him wondering.

Disability is put into perspective when you visit Sheroes Hangout Cafe in Agra.  This is a project to create a safe space and a business for women who are the victims of acid attacks.

It is a lovely place that has expanded in Agra and also opened in Lucknow.  It made an impression on me the last times I was here and I think that Jane, Dawne and Tiff had the same experience.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any calendars left this year.

The artwork is quite haunting, not sure I would want one on my wall.

One more day before we fly home.  Off to Delhi by bus.

* This disclaimer included to appease anyone who objected to my not be worth visiting statement.

^ You can justify anything

Final post of the tour, but not of the tour

Date: it might have been October 25th

Location: Bundi to Udaipur

Hotel: Dream Heaven

This is a warning to my future self.  On the 27th, in Jodhpur, you will grab your towel and flick your phone on to the floor cracking the screen.  The only good news is that it will match the screen on your tablet that you cracked in India in 2015.

I also implore you, dear reader, to ignore the date and time stamps.  They will be removed for the photo book.

Bundi had been so wonderful we were glad there had been a change of plans so we had Ajeet take us back for a second night there so we could continue to explore the town.

We had been coaching Ajeet about having a luxury tour as well as the backpacker tour.  They would both have the same daytime content, but different levels of meals and accommodation, so we went looking for luxury hotels.  We stumbled into the beautiful old Dev Niwas (god residences) which was not so much more expensive but certainly very exotic.

It even had a tunnel that connected to the fort so that the Maharaja and hopefully also the Maharani could make a quick and discreet escape.  Always handy if the tour group members are revolting.

Let’s pick up our walking tour, but in a different direction and including some photos that really should have been included yesterday, but you won’t notice unless I mention it… Oh, wait.

Some of the cooking implements you can hire when you are catering your own wedding.

Sometimes a simple attempt to hire some gear from a place playing dance music goes very right…


The Bundi backdrops are awesome


Great characters are everywhere.


When the weight of being a tour guide gets overwhelming, a 10 minute 50R head massage is just the thing

And what would a walk in Rajasthan be without discovering a new stepwell.  This one was behind a locked gate, fortunately the house where we asked who was the keeper of the key was the keeper of the key.

The water was quite grotty, but the entrance, with the gorgeous arch was one of the most beautiful I have seen.

We had heard about a peaceful lunch spot at a wildlife reserve outside town.  It was owned by the family of a bloke who had a run down backpacker hostel that had huge potential and a closed intimidating gate.

Not particularly expensive, this was the luxury lunch venue for sure.

As well as a lake full of lotus plants (not in flower unfortunately) it is also a working rice farm and harvest was under way.

I had a go at cutting the rice and threshing it.  You will have to take my word for it that this is bloody hard, hot, endless work for not a lot of money.  I am glad I only get to do it for fun, but feel a bit guilty that for these people it is their lives.

Then on to Udaipur passing way too many overloaded tractors.

but some of them are lovingly pimped, including a loud sound system.

As you will read, people in Udaipur won’t be as friendly as Bundi.  We all hope it doesn’t get spoilt by them hassling tourists and losing the welcoming spirit that is there now.


Part 2 of whatever the last post was called

Date: I forget

Location: Bundi and surrounds

Hotel: Shivam

A reminder that this is written a few days in the future of when it is dated, unless of course I have completely lost track of time.  And had a couple of Hayward 5000 beers – why do they even serve this Kingfisher shit?

Bundi, a couple of hours from Jaipur, may be my new favourite place in India.  The old town, with its beautiful fort perched above, is the quintessential “photo opportunity around every corner” place.

We started with chai (this is compulsory) and the best samosa I have ever eaten.  I can’t tell you what was so good about it and the seller likely won’t either.

The photo is a pretty typical street food setup, whether selling samosa or chai or whatever.  If you are freaked out by the thought of eating street food, I suggest you holiday at home, as sampling this stuff is one of the delights of travel.

It is coming up to wedding season in India, apparently it all starts on October 31st.  Weddings include a procession to the bride’s house with the groom sitting on a horse dressed like a Maharaja but looking like a terrified little boy.

You can see what a wonderful event an Indian wedding is. This is a photo of a pair of overjoyed newlyweds from 2016

When my posts eventually catch up to Udaipur and the cooking class, remind me to point out gorgeous daughter in law who met her husband only 30 minutes before they were married.  This is the norm with arranged marriages.

The good news is we have met a number of smart, powerful women who have rejected this and other traditional cultural “rules” e.g. that women shouldn’t run a business.  They all have a hard time with family and are working hard to succeed despite the disapproval. But the traditional wedding still rules.

You need a band to celebrate a wedding and in every city there are many to choose from.  They have little shops that I guess demonstrate whatever they are capable of.  From memory, this was the Azam band’s instrument selection.

Notice the hats in the cabinet on the back wall.  These bands are competitive and serious.  They aren’t that good though 😟

As we walked the back lanes people were friendly and invited us into their homes and businesses.  Bundi still has a lovely innocence about it, the shopkeepers don’t hassle you, it is very untouristy, hopefully it can stay that way.  Jasmine and Cam, you should visit Bundi.  You too Jodie.

Come walk with me…

Arms decorated with henna


They had just made a purchase from the motorcycle riding milk Walla. Buying like this, milk is unpasteurised, not homogenised.


Inside one house was this amazing well


View from access to the well


Too cute

There were bangle makers, people who hired BIG cooking utensils for parties, beautiful old houses, a hotel that had an old tunnel that connected from the fort and people who loved to meet us.

There was also a bit of effort put into having a more presentable tour group.

No, that is not hair on the cover sheet. Nor is it part of the pattern…well, it might be now 😛

On to Bhimlat Mahadev Falls. But not straight away.

We stopped in a couple of villages along the way, including one with the bhang shop.  Should I be a little embarrassed that bhang guy remembered me from last year?

This would just about kill you 😛 A typical lassi or whatever would be made with a piece the size of a marble and is a very adequate altitude adjustment.


A typical street side scene almost anywhere in India


Chaff storage


Proof that your donations do some good work

Last year the falls were peaceful and beautiful and calm and swimmable.  This year it was huge and raging and anything but inviting.  And still beautiful.

Even getting there was tricky.

These guys really wanted a photo with me, they took heaps of selfies.

It should be noted that men holding hands or with arms draped like this are simply good friends. It is not uncommon, and last night while walking us to a restaurant, the hotel owner’s son casually had his arm around my shoulder.  I think it is because he regards me as a friend.

The rest of the afternoon can best be summed up by What happens on tour stays on tour. I am more than happy to tell the story privately, but in fairness to a friend I won’t publish it.

Now that’s got you wondering, hasn’t it 😎

It was a slow drive back to Bundi and we made it safely.  Tomorrow, onward to Udaipur.

There is always one more stepwell

Post Diwali Day

Date: 20 October 2017

Location: Jaipur

Hotel: Hathroi Palace

I need help desperately.  This post covers the 20th October and I am writing it on the 24th.  Doesn’t sound like a problem, but we cram so much into a day that we all agree it feels like we have been here a month.  I am already so far behind I feel like declaring blog bankruptcy and doing a post of only photos.  But I know how this would break the heart of both the readers.

Perhaps I can employ someone to write my posts for me.  It would be cheap enough in India.  Though the truth is that I think wifi will be more accessible from here on which will make life easier.

Please suspend belief and assume that this was written and posted on the day I am talking about.  Ooh, there’s a novel idea, how about the date at the top of the post.

Last night was Diwali.  It was incredible.  There is a joyous atmosphere that is filled with the smoke and sound of uncountable fireworks.  In my last post I didn’t have time to include one of the great moments, when Puja was conducted at Hathroi Palace Hotel.  You are going to have to refer back to Diwali in Udaipur last year for more details on what this is.

There was quite a crowd of hotel guests at the ceremony.   Afterwards Ajeet said it wasn’t done particularly well by the priest.  I think I can say that without fearing priest will read this.

Back to today.  We decided on a half day tour of Jaipur with Ajeet.  This is a warm up to a 2 day tour starting tomorrow.

First stop was sunrise at the old fort and a new, unusual and beautiful stepwell.  Haven’t seen one that looks terraced before.

I may or may not have mentioned that a sunrise/set is sort of delayed by 15 minutes or so because of the haze.  You will never see the sun cross the horizon in India.

Then chai and a breakfast of paratha at the base of Amber Fort, where the elephants gather for tourists who have no conscience to ride them.  Did I really say that?  But it is how I feel.

I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  Although this photo is at a distance, it is only to fit them all in.  It was OK to be right there touching them and letting them smell my hand.  But there is no way I would ride one.

It is impossible for me to describe how awesome the experience was.  I keep wanting to add more here to try to share it, but I need to move on, I am on a deadline for dinner.

Chai and Parathas for breakfast is always a treat and still buzzing from the elephants we were in great spirits.

Next to another part of the fort where there were some very wild and very laid back monkeys.  The photo may make it look like they are tame, but they are quite nervous…unless you have food of course.

I am moving quickly here.  Knowing that Jane, Dawne and Tiff will read this I don’t mind saying that I don’t care if they don’t appreciate Stepwells as much as me.  They were about to visit another and you better get used to the idea that there are more coming…I have seen the future.

I am not 100% certain where we went next.  It is some sort of mausoleum and is beautiful for its symmetry.

There were so many ways…

…to photograph this place

Crap!  I just realised how much more happened that day and I am out of real world time.  Being the night after Diwali the streets were packed.  We walked and walked and had all sorts of encounters, including with the seller of fake moustaches.

And the sweets maker

Getting a tuk tuk back to the hotel was like new years eve, impossible, until we walked out of the party zone.  It was a remarkable night that I highly recommend to anyone.  Add your name in the comments to be considered for the 2018 Kaka Tour.

On and on I could go, but it is dinner time in the real world.

India’s remarkable railways

Location: Delhi, trying to leave

Hotel: Hathroi Palace, Jaipur…eventually

Before I start, despite my posts seemingly appearing by magic, I want it known that it takes at least 2 hours to make this happen.  If I was doing it on my home computer I think I could do it in 30 minutes.

The biggest hassle is uploading photos.  The bloody multiple photo chooser thingy doesn’t work.  So if I select a bunch of shots, only 1 is uploaded.  This means each image has to be uploaded individually, then maybe rotated or cropped.  All on a tablet.  It’s tough work.

But before I really get started, I remind you that when travelling, flexibility is possibly the most important skill.  It is right behind patience, which is possibly the most important skill.  Which is right behind keeping a sense of humour which is possibly the most important skill.  Have I preempted this post?

Straightforward plan – book train Delhi to Jaipur, 1145hrs departure, 1700hrs or so arrival.  Nice timing all around.

A walk in the morning for some paratha rather than the hotel food and we are on our way to Old Delhi railway station.  As it happens, mistakenly thinking the train was leaving from New Delhi station would have made no difference, but going to the right place is a good idea.

Except that the tuk tuk driver did the classic “seed of doubt” routine and thought we should check at a tourist office that we were going to the right place.  It was a set up to sell us something and I was out of there in less than 60 seconds.

Maybe it was because he wasn’t going to get a commission that had tuk tuk driver decide to drive through an insanely crowded market the day before Diwali.  It was insanely crowded.  There were people and carts and trucks and nowhere to turn.  Fortunately we had heaps of time, ironically we weren’t going to need it.

Finally at old Delhi station and the initial news is that the Be Bujh express (which wasn’t) is running 10 hours late.  Crap!  This is the first travel day and there is a massive fail.  Understanding how India works, the fact that the train is late is confirmed several times and it is turns out to be true.

We went into a huddle on what to do.  We already had our shadow who was trying to help.  He had some suggestions that all seemed to revolve around a different tourist office…his own, of course.

Our options came down to

  • Waiting 10 hours.  Had I been alone I might have gone for this
  • Not waiting 10 hours, but working out what to do.

As Dear Leader of our group I went off to do some research on buses to Jaipur and found out the following from different travel stands:

  • There are none today
  • They leave every 15 minutes
  • There is one at 1800hrs
  • They leave every 30 minutes

The other option was a car and driver, I had a quote of 6,000R, about $120, which between 4 people isn’t too bad.  The absolute lack of any solid bus info  made us decide to go for it.

Enter Mr Singh, the hovering helper’s boss.  He quotes us 10,000R for the same trip and I immediately walk off to book 6,000R car.  I don’t look back but I know he is coming after me.  After a couple of hundred metres he catches up and of course he can do a better price.

With lots of group discussion, mock upset, disappointment, heart failure and outrage we settle on 7,000R for the trip plus a 200R tip for the driver.

I am at a point in the tale where a decision must be made on how to explain how it plays out.  For brevity of reading, but more importantly, for brevity of screen typing, I will keep it brief.

The promises, and below each one, the outcome.

  • A large car, not a small one
    • We were then shown a medium car just like we would be in.  We ended up in a small Suzuki Swift
  • A proper licensed taxi
    • It wasn’t
  • An English speaking driver
    • He didn’t
  • Original helper would be the driver
    • He wasn’t
  • We will leave from Mr Singh’s office
    • We left from a petrol station beside a main road where, despite all the lies, we weren’t in a position to do anything but keep going.
  • Air conditioning
    • It actually was air conditioned.

Pretty soon we were on our way.

When we stopped for lunch and I wandered into the kitchen (as I always do) and ended up helping out, to the amusement of the staff.  The one thing I wasn’t game to do was put a naan bread onto the wall of the tandoori oven.


The drive through Jaipur and the pre Diwali market was a great scene setter.  Driver got a 500R trip for great skill at picking the gaps in traffic for 5 hours.  It is not a trip for someone who is nervous in a car.

Arriving to a warm welcome from the Hathroi Palace guys, and at a decent time made it all OK.

Brain dead after a long day, but we made it to the Chillout space where we did exactly that with beer.

Next, Diwali.


Out of India – fortunately not by train

Location: Indira Ghandi International Airport gate 17

You know that feeling when you aren’t feeling well and you are cranky and everything is annoying?  Now imagine that happening and you are in India where everything is over the top.  Now imagine you are in India but you are in New Delhi where it is even more over the top.

So I wasn’t in a good mood today.  I had many hours to kill so I thought a movie would be fun.  But getting there…normally the noise and traffic and smell of stale urine and everything else doesn’t bother me.  Today it was all super annoying and I couldn’t wait to get to the airport.

But I did go to a movie.  I thought I was seeing Tum Bin II, the fact that it averages 1.5/5 stars reviews added to the allure.  However all that was on was Force² an action movie dedicated to Indian spies languishing in foreign jails.

Despite it being 99℅ Hindi, even I could work out that the dedication was nothing more than a cynical marketing ploy.

But I did get to see a movie audience get excited every time the hero flexed his considerable muscles, but I was disappointed there was no singing and dancing.  I’ll make up for it with the really bad R40 DVD I bought in Pushkar.

It’s always comforting to have astute wait staff that anticipate your every need.  Despite not feeling well, last night I felt like something to eat but didn’t want to put much effort into it.  The hotel doesn’t have a restaurant so I went to one over the road. Just me.  Alone.  By myself.  Without anyone else.

I order a Paneer Butter Masala and 2 chapatti.  The waiter writes it down and stands there looking at me.  Eventually he says “just one?”. Reminder: I wasn’t feeling well.  I look around me, under the table and then say “yes,just me, one meal” and he looks disappointed before heading to the kitchen.

I had left my bag at the hotel for the day and while heading back to get it I had to cross the railway station over bridge.  I noticed a really crowded platform and quietly wished the train would arrive right then.

Bag retrieved I headed back and my wish had come true.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I never travel cattle class (general seating) on a train.

Note the fight toward the middle.  I have watched a couple of times and can’t pick why they all got stuck into one guy.

And in case the whole situation might have gotten out of hand, the police stepped in and in an even handed way restored order.  This is really worth watching a couple of times for him hitting people trying to get off and on, tossing luggage both on and off the train and why you should avoid a cop swinging a lathi.

There are no cops with lathis, just soldiers with submachine guns so I’m going to sit back, enjoy the ambiance of the airport before I arrive in KL at 0700 for a 16 hour layover before flying home.

I have pre-ordered pizza for Tuesday dinner