Saturday, 19 March 2011

Mysore, India

19th March 2011

India returns

It has been hard these past few days. Not real hardship like so many millions of people face here every day, just hard for five very lucky people who’ve had the time of their lives, waiting to go home.
Stuck in their hotel room, it’s air-conditioned, it has a TV, it even has a huge supermarket around the corner. A teenager with his head in Facebook, a 10 year old on crutches, a 6 year old wanting toys or someone his own age to play with. A middle aged father with his head in the future and a mother trying to hold it all together. Frayed nerves kind of hard.

Apart from a family of monkeys on the ledge outside our window who later ran up and down the stairs of the hotel, old India hasn’t really intervened.

We went to Mysore palace today in an attempt to pass the time. We stopped at a restaurant famous for it’s Veg Thali. Delicious food and fantastically grumpy waiters. The kids ate nothing. The trip for them is over, no more Indian food.
They are on strike.

At the Palace, it was hard for Edie. It took ages to borrow a wheelchair and in the end there were just too many stairs for it to be much fun. We came back to the hotel to read, to go online, to pass the time.

Then the drums started. Distant at first, then louder and LOUDER, building and building. Firecrackers and chanting, we could see them through the monkey bars from our window. We went downstairs to look. Just Rach , Edie and me at first but when Rach saw all the kids dancing, she went to get Will.

Teenage boys in orange scarves were going crazy, banging drums. A man was balancing a huge 20 foot colourful decoration on his head and dancing his own strange, slow prance down the street.

Then the Trumpton band reappeared. Old-style station master red hats and
short-trousered uniforms with tubas, cymbals, trumpets and big bass drum.

Then the float, driven by a bored-looking man with twenty children aboard and a  massive flashing neon flower as a backdrop. Following the jeep were 8 men holding fluorescent tube lamps, all connected by electrical wire . In front of them , 2 girls with huge marigold garlands on their head being led through the procession by a man who kept unrolling a carpet for the girls to step onto.

The bands were all beating out their own tunes at the same time. As loud as they could. “They are going like the clappers” Will shouts out to me. I can hardly hear him above the din.. Chaos, confusion and delirious dancers all hammering away.

I filmed this madness with Will holding my other hand. At the top of the hotel steps
I saw Edie with her crutches, not really able to join in but still here, still taking part. I was very moved. India had come back I felt, one last time, for us. For me.

Will and I stepped out, holding hands, I was worried he might get swept away by it all. We moved through the crowd, dodging the fluorescent tube men and their cables, the cow shit, the random boulders, paving slabs, trenches with open sewage.

The delirium seemed to go up a notch. Now there were more elaborate fireworks, rockets. We found ourselves outside a temple, seething with people inside and the girls with marigolds being escorted out. Thali trays with candles came out, blessings were made. Fervour and intensity over so many faces. The beautiful women were somehow sidelined, distant and apart.

“Which country” I was asked for the umpteenth time. The man tried to explain what this was in aid of. Not the festival of Holi, he said but the Matas or was it Martyrs?? Does it matter??

Finally Will and I pulled away..
We walked past a musical instrument shop, went in, had a look around. It was just me excited, trying to hold onto the moment again.

Outside again, I gave a beggar the 5 rupees I had in my pocket, it seemed pathetic and miserly. He turned it over in his hand.

It was not India that had come back but we who had left India too soon.
I will miss her…………….

………………Meanwhile Louis is busy online, organising an ASDA home delivery.
Chicken Pad Thai is on the menu.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Mysore, India

17th March 2011

Mysore Foot!


On Saturday, we came out of the restaurant that we had just eaten in and got into a rickshaw. We drove around a roundabout  in the centre of Mysore and another Rickshaw cut across us. Our driver accidently crashed into him and our whole rickshaw tipped over onto its side. I was sitting on mum’s lap and my foot got caught and I think it was crushed by the rickshaw. Apart from a couple of bumps and bruises, the rest of us the family were fine.
After two visits to the hospital, Mysore foot’s in a cast!! It is a sprain not a break and I walk around with crutches now.  It sometimes hurts but I’m on the mend. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Mysore, India

9th March


We went to the Train Museum in Mysore today . There were steam trains there. The fire and coal mixed together to drive the engines.  In the cabin part of the train it was very black and dusty because of all the coal passing from the engine. We could go into the train cabin, in the front of the carriage.  We went in every single one of the train’s cabins. One of them belonged to the Maharani. She was the wife of the local King. They don’t have the Kings like him here anymore so it’s kind of like the Queen’s carriage.

They made a car ,into a car that can go along the train track! It carries inspectors who check if the track is good or not. We went inside the back where the inspectors get out when they need to inspect the railways.

And in the garden we found really big butterflies and they were really colourful with spots and mixed colours. Then we went over to the little train but we didn’t ride on the little train because the driver had gone for lunch.We will do it later or tomorrow

Gokarna, India

Monday 28th February  to 6th March 2011

This is a holy town called Gokarna. We are staying for the festival of Shivaratri. We are staying in a flat above a shop which backs onto the temple, it is comfy but very hot. We go to the beach every day by rickshaw.

All the guesthouses around here are pretty cheap because pilgrims come from all over India to watch the Shivaratri going on. Pilgrims are people that give their lives or part of their lives to religion.

On the last day of  Shivaratri the pilgrims, and some tourists, threw bananas at the chariot while there were people inside. A man in a balcony of a house above us was spitting out paan (chewing tobacco) and it landed on Mum. Our friend went up to complain and we ended up sitting with him in his house watching everyone throwing bananas at the chariots. It was so busy in the small town, there must have been thousands of people.

150 men pulled the enormous chariots up the street by ropes.  It was so hot and the chariots were so heavy that the wheels made dents in the tarmac road!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Gokarna, Karnataka, Southern india.

One day to go before the massive Shivaratri festival!!! 100,00 people are expected, we have watched all the preparations this past week. It's been amazing!

It IS 7.30 and the sun has come over this beautiful little seaside town one of the holiest places in India, the heart of Shiva,as a shopkeeper called Anita described it to us .

We are staying in a very large room overlooking the main temple...Monkeys have just been scampering over the rooves in front of me, one just jumped a very easy 20 feet and scared some the drums have started!!!!! AND that incredibly loud oboe horn Indian thing...the main temple entrance is 40 FT below us...Will has just climbed out of bed to hear what all the commotion is, the kids are getting pretty used to it by now....They are all praying in the temple below, we are shaded by the rooves and palm fronds so we can see them but they can't see us!!......L and E haven't stirred (teenagers!) Will has come to join me on the balcony and R has gone off to run on the town beach and get breakfast (fab warm, brown bread and Indian style pain au chocolat!! See, I told you it was Amazing!)

All kinds of worshippers pass by below us in all kinds of dress...Brahmin in dhotis(sheets) and little else, sometimes they prostrate themselves on the floor of the temple and kiss the ground or posh women in saris who touch and then walk round the lingam staue(phallic symbol) sadhus holy men in white paint with orange turbans..tall, skinny, rich, poor.all shapes and sizes..AND COLOURS

We are in an amazing place in an extraordinary apartment which we got by pure chance, 3 of us sleep on the floor but it is pretty comfy and only £3.50 per is in spite of the occasional bell or chant or oboey thing  an incredibly calm place away from the throng....I can hear the women in the house next door chat as they prepare for the day.....they are often sitting in a pile of washing up, those metal cups and plates surrounding them.

Definitely my favourite place on the whole trip..and that's saying something it has something for us all...the beach is only a 15 min rickshaw ride away.

We either have to walk through the temple to get out in  to the town or walk through the shop..through bags of grain and something out of Dickens' time, dark and musty and fabulously atmospheric, lit like a film set.

If we walk through the temple We take our shoes offf and pass  by the incredible elaborate preparations they are making for this massive festival, huge oak doors with beautiful colourful paintings of Ganesha, Hanuman, Krishna etcr...some of these painting are to go on the 60 foot high chariots that they are going to race thought the town!! Theyareexpecting over a hundred thousand pligrims to turn yup over the 5 days form all over India!!
W are expecting the cornish calvary to turn up...Jo Crow and her three boys from cornwall are on their way by train and arrive tomorrow to enjoy the festival with us...R has met her a couple of times with Lou I have never met them before..but her boys are 12, 10 and 8 and even more amazingly in this packed expectant town there is small room free, right below us!!! It should be fun.

Our days consist of chilling/hoem schooling in appartemtn with  E and W till 2 then heading off to beach in the afternoon....

W and E are loving it, Edie's favourite country so far could you not be capitvated?....  India is even beggining to work its charms on Louis...last night we had another amazing meal, the food all over India has been superb. Then Louis and i went to a shop to watch a very exciting world cup cricket game india vs England

R has just returned with provisions so better go.....breakfast is due..W is colouring in his hanuman(monkey god) colouring book

As the pilgrims file silently by below, crows and mynah birds squawk all around us

Friday, 18 February 2011

Palolem Beach, Goa

February 17th 2011

We took our first auto-rickshaw in India yesterday to an animal sanctuary for dogs and cats. They were all really cute but it was quite sad, some of them had been attacked by crows and some flies had laid their eggs on the dogs and maggots had burrowed into their ears and backs.
A sweet kitten had a bent paw and she couldn’t walk properly.
There was an adorable little white kitten that they thought was going to die soon, she was not eating or drinking.
My favourite dog was called Mootsie. She had brain damage probably from being thrown into the river by her ears. There was also a cow called Bella, she had been run over. She thought she was a dog because she been brought up with dogs! She was very friendly, you cou;d stroke her.
I donated 700  rupees ( about ten pounds) to the sanctuary to help all the animals.

In the evening we went by rickshaw to an outdoor dance club by the sea called Neptune’s point . They were showing a film in the open air about King George, called The Kings speech. The evening was organised to raise money for the sanctuary. The film was about King George VIth. He had a stammer and he had knock-knees when he was little. His parents made him put metal down his legs to straighten them up. His first nanny that he ever had, pinched him and didn‘t feed him.
We all loved it, even Will
Louis sat in the front of the rickshaw on the way home.

Yesterday we saw some men cutting down coconuts from the palm trees.  I wrote a postcard to school telling them about the coconuts.
The men climbed slowly up the trees. They used their feet and their hands to get up the trees. When they were at the top, they put a rope around the tree that held them up.
Then they had a big knife in their pockets and they cut off the coconuts and they fell down to the path.
The ladies came by and picked up the coconuts and they put them in boxes and bags. It looked like they were going to fall down but they are very good at staying up. I didn’t know that rope could hold men up trees. It was around their feet, it kept their feet together and stopped them from falling down.

Monday, 14 February 2011

that train

Will: We went from Mumbai to Goa by train. It was very, very filthy and the train looked very, very old. The end.

Edie: The train from Mumbai to Goa was absolutely filthy. I was lucky because I didn’t have another person sleeping on the end of my bed like Louis had. He slept with his knees bent all night and got cramp-knee cramp, if you can get knee cramp! He had someone spread out all over his bed!
 The train itself must have been thirty or forty years old.

 So far, I like India but I can’t tell because I’ve only been to 2 places. The train journey felt like a week when actually it was a night and a couple of hours.

Now I’m in Goa, the second place we’ve been to,  in a nice tourist town by the beach called Palolem. Luckily it’s not a dirty beach.

 Tonight, I saw a huge black lobster, it looked like it was fake and had been painted but actually it  was  dead  and  for sale outside a restaurant on the beach . It had big, long tentacles and looked quite fierce but in a way quite beautiful. It was about a foot long and beside that was a crab that was a tiny bit shorter, but still huge for a crab