January can sometimes feel like a bit of a nonstarter. The build up to Christmas and New Year can be exhausting and the weeks after can be distinctly flat. In the UK January is typically cold and dark and spent wishing the summer would hurry up. But I’m not in the UK…well I am briefly but more on that later.
This year January has been anything but flat. In fact it’s been distinctly plump and pouffed up. The younger Sis came to visit for New Year. We had a few days of pottering around; she went to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned which might not be a typical holiday activity, but when it costs a fraction of the price it does in the UK you grab the opportunity. We stayed in a smart hotel in Mumbai for dinner and a party on New Years Eve which was great fun.
And we ate. We ate as though our lives depended on it…which of course they didn’t, which is why there were issues later on.
After NY we went to Delhi and Agra. In Delhi we got Delhi Belly. Only the Sis and I got sick, the H (being made of potatoes and so virtually indestructible) was fine. Oh and it was cold. So cold that the goats in the street had jumpers on. I’ve since read an article about elephants in a sanctuary in Agra that have cardies knitted for them because it’s so cold. Luckily the Sis had a jumper and a coat with her because she’d travelled from the UK. That coat and jumper make a lot of appearances in our holiday photos. Also there was fog. Dickensian fog. A mixture of real fog and the pollution that Delhi has become infamous for. It’s bizarre opening the curtains of your hotel room on the 13th floor and seeing nothing except murk. It makes your legs go funny. There was so much fog in fact that we couldn’t see the Taj Mahal. I was so determined to go and see it despite the digestive issues, I took a load of tablets, put on all my clothes, prayed everything would ‘hold’ and got in the car.
This is the famous view as you enter the Taj Mahah complex, through the arch of the gatehouse. Yep, nothing…well maybe a faint outline if you squint a bit. The Sis and I had our photo taken sitting on the famous Princess Diana bench; me, the Sis, the jumper and the coat…and a big bank of fog covering the Taj Mahal. It did clear a bit as we were leaving because the sun came out. It is a truly spectacular monument. The guides tell you it’s a monument to love. A monument built by the Shah Jahan for his favourite wife Mumtaz…who died giving birth to her 14th child…yeah…
I do like to be informed about the places I’m visiting so we had a guide, but I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with tourist guides. What annoys me is the made up nonsense. Our Taj Mahal guide was very good. Local guides have access to historical documents which aren’t always made available to foreigners. They have access to the accounts which tell you where the materials came from and how much they cost. He almost made it through the whole morning without any jackanory stories. But he couldn’t help himself. A perfectly reasonable explanation as to how the Taj Mahal came about descended into silliness about ‘a single tear falling from Mumtaz’s eye, sparkling like a diamond, which the Shah Jahan caught…’ NO! STOP IT! GAHHHH!
Anyway, that was the end to my sight seeing that day. Medication can only hold back the tide for so long.
What else has happened? Well, when we got back to Pune the lady that helps me with the housekeeping told us she’d caught a rat in the house. Well, she’d actually enlisted the help of the maintenance man and he’d caught the rat. The rat had gotten into the house and ended up trapped in my wardrobe. They finally found it in a vacuum pack bag which I use to store winter clothes. This was where it was disposed of but not before it had nibbled at 2 bags of flour; a strong white flour and a maicena for making tortillas (that I’d brought back from Mexico), a packet of bicarbonate of soda, several onions, the inside edges of the wardrobe doors and an evening gown. Tasty.
I am most disappointed at losing the flour.
Staying with an animal theme, the dogs have been revolting. According to the lady that runs the kennel where they stay, they have been protesting. I’m not sure what they were protesting against but a couple of weeks ago I got home on a Friday night, after a few drinks with friends, to a kitchen calamity. The kitchen bin had been pulled over and emptied onto the floor, with the contents extending out of the kitchen and into the living area. A few choice pieces had been hauled onto their bed amongst which I found the little one sitting like a queen. There had been several bladder evacuations and a poo, which I didn’t realise was a poo until I picked it up…with my bare hand. Of course anything remotely edible had been gobbled up and one of them had even had a go at the edge of the kitchen stool. Apparently theirs is an ongoing grievance, they did the same thing a few nights ago. Perhaps I should look into concilliary talks.
Still in January; I went to my first cricket match ever. A One Day International between India and England. It was excellent fun but no one told me how long the day would be! It took England about 4 hours to finish their 50 overs…that’s 300 bowled balls. (I learnt a lot about cricket that day! ) After England finished batting I realised ‘Shit! Now India have to bat…we’re going to be here foreverrrrrr’. Of course we weren’t there forever, we were there for 8 hours. We left home at midday and got back at 11 in the evening…
I’m not sure there’ll be a next time for a One Day International. Maybe if I can take some food and a flask of tea. Provisions at the stadium were woeful; popcorn, ice cream, Pepsi…tiny Dominos Pizzas ordered at the stadium booth but delivered from outside! The England team are sponsored by Waitrose. I missed several sixes because I was fantasising about cheese and pork pies with a chum and wishing Waitrose had provided a packed lunch.
So, any more for any more? Actually yes. I’ve started the pots again, a 10 day course on the wheel. Good fun with creative people in a beautiful location. Also, I’ve been able to attend several of the Sunday sketching sessions with the Urban Sketchers Pune chapter. Riding has been scaled down to 2 days a week but that’s ok for the moment. I’m enjoying it which is the main objective. I’ve also been doing Pilates (did I mention that in another post???) and I started Hindi lessons (again, have I mentioned that already??)
I said I was in the UK at the moment; I am. There’s been a family emergency. I’m thankful that there are so many travel options available between India and the UK. It’s not the best circumstances for a visit but it has given me time to reflect on the year so far and the year ahead. In theory our contract in India finishes in December. It’s never clear what will happen next. Will we stay longer in India? Will we come back to the UK? Will we go somewhere else? Who knows…..all I can do is make the most of my time and if January is anything to go by, it’ll be a BUSY 2017.