Judy's Journey - India part 1
Judy recently travelled to India with 6 friends (all female)...... they loved it.
Over the next few weeks we'll share excerpts from her diary and some of her beautiful images too.
Judy's Incredible journey - India
New Delhi- The " group" arrive at airport - surprisingly meek & mild, not much bustle at midnight!
Gorgeous brekkie @ Imperial Hotel as the 6 adventurers meet up. We establish a "kitty" - a communal slush fund, mainly used for tipping, which proves to be a never-ending-story. B elects to be keeper-of-the-purse, unknowingly letting herself in for a mammoth job! We walk the Dehli streets, reject the tuk-tuk offers, picking up a freelance companion wanting to take us here, there & everywhere. As we proceed, we are subject to "the switch"- a smooth move of one escort, magically morphing at a corner, into his mate, who continues with us. We meander from one emporium of carpets, jewellery, scarves etc to another, shepherded in by our "trusty" new friend! Eventually we cab to the southern Indian restaurant, Saravana Bhavan, to eat Masala Dosa, a crispy pancake made from rice batter and black lentils, stuffed with spices spiced potato. L, in Delhi on business, joins us, and takes us shopping to Khan market where we spend an hour or so, ODing on flip flops, garments and jewellery, before relaxing over a cuppa, back at the hotel. Delicious dinner at the atmospheric Spice Market of the Imperial Hotel, celebrates our first day of this exciting holiday in India.
We visit south of Delhi, Qutub Minar, an ancient site, a complex of mosques, towers, tombs and gardens, visited by millions each year. Many monuments reflect centuries of Moslem destruction of Hindi civilization, seen in the defacing of decorative art work, and rebuilding over sites in order to ethnically cleanse Hindi populations. An impressive space, with families now enjoying their Sunday outings, children scampering up the steps, posing for photos with friends - Hindu, Muslims, tourists, all enjoying the grassed areas and gardens together From here to old Dehli
We take a rickshaw ride around Old Delhi- an extraordinary experience to see the narrow streets, dripping with haphazard spaghetti-like electricity wires, people jostling for space to sell, scavenge, drive, walk! Truly throbbing with life in the street! Our rickshaw driver is lean, red hair matching his scattered red-stained teeth, straining his old muscles, pedalling furiously, skilfully manoeuvring thru the miasma of carts, tuk-tuks, goats, rickshaws, donkeys, pedestrians, wending in all directions! The clamorous incessant honking of horns sets the musical background. Bicycles & carts top-heavy with bulging bales squeeze past, scraping the side walls, and missing our tucked-in arms by millimeters.
On the pavements and spilling out on to the roadway, are vendors, squatting over their ware, from sacks of marigolds, to pots & pans, spices, pomegranates, limes. Barbers, snip and shave clients on the street; sari-clad women & turban-swathed bearded men, colour the scene, with their vibrant assortment of fabrics. Round-eyed urchins, with gleaming white grins, pursue us.
Our senses are all pounded with the vibrancy of life in this old city. Smells are mostly pleasant, ranging from familiar cooking odours, to exotic Indian spices. Now on foot, we enter a narrow alley-way where masked women squat, sifting trays of garam masala, shrouding the air with the aromatic fumes. We are about to enter a spice shop, when B's bum appears too spicy for a cheeky male passer-by, who leaves her with a surprising pinch, as he stealthily slips past! We sample the spices, unable to resist a purchase or two, and continue through the maze of movement and merchandise.
Back in our rickshaw, we wind through themed lanes with rows of stalls of coloured gleaming bangles, stationery and wedding invitations, caged chooks, plastic wares, coloured fabrics, mattresses, eggs, meats, etc etc Incomparable to anything, even the middle-eastern souks, this is an unparalleled experience, ending too quickly!
We welcome a vegetarian lunch, pass India Gate, a symbol of New Delhi, and visit one of Delhi's main tourist sites, Humayun's Tomb, an impressive Persian designed, monument and garden. We learn that what appears to us as a swastika, represents the wheel of life to the Hindus. Interestingly the children and family groups in India display no fear of us or our cameras. They are happy for us to take pictures, engage with the children and chat to them.... Truly open, unlike many societies, who shun any connection with "the other"
Back at the Imperial, L & I indulge in a divine spa and massage, feeling as tho we have flown from the ridiculous to the sublime, landing in heaven!
We finish our day with dinner at Bukhara restaurant, famous for its traditional clay oven tandoor and kebab cuisine, which is eaten with the right hand. We are aproned in bibs, and enjoy the breads and spicy combinations of flavours of lamb, chicken, dahls, cooked cheese and vegetables.
to be continued.....
THE BENELUX BONANZA
The journey I was about to undertake would not only in geographical terms span vast distances over land and sea......it was an odyssey which would cover a period of over four hundred years and one in which I would try to establish a "connection" with my ancestors.
I had attempted to obtain tickets for the Palace on Wheels (POW) from a specialist rail tour company in the United States, only to be informed that the ticket allocation has been exhausted on the date we wanted to travel. I incidentally mentioned this to Andre as part of a broaderPeter Bermingham