Random thoughts, comments, observations and general fluff from a random bint who left London at the end of September 2004 to embark on a new life and new adventures in Tokyo, land of the cute.... and is leaving mid-June 2010 - and counting!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And relax (ed)

Colva. Goa. Colva. Goa. *sigh*.

Came face to face with some wild boars a few minutes after leaving the internet cafe day before yesterday. They were pretty un-wild. Saw lots more yesterday and today in Colva and the cutest ever baby wild boars. Boarlets?

So. Yesterday was interesting. Am still utterly blissed out but things took a strange turn yesterday. The whole of Colva went on strike. Everything was shut. Every shop. Every restaurant. Only food places in hotels and those along the beach were open. Barricades were put up. Tyres were burned. Nothing with four wheels was allowed in or out. The tension in the air was frightening.



Freedom of speech isn't alive or kicking in Goa and neither will musician dude be if the locals get to him before the police do.

In a nutshell - for people who can't be arsed to open the link - and the 'facts' of the article aren't exactly the same as the facts I've heard around the village:

Musician dude released a cd singing about a local priest being indiscrete and also bad-mouthing the local head of police and a local politician. Musician dude is, apparantly, protected by some other politicians so, one version says, he CANNOT be arrested. Another version says the police don't know where he is.

The priest got angry and declared the church shut. The village got angry. They burned down the dude's house and put an effigy of him on a lamp post. The tension in the evening yesterday was incredible. Really strong. People were almost totally silent. If you've been to India, you know how loudly Indian people generally talk. Imagine a silent mob. It sent shivers up my spine.

The streets were eery. Normally they are busy with taxis and buses coming and going. Shopkeepers calling people into their shops. Instead it was ghost town like.

Imagine the witch hunts you see in movies where the locals want to hand out their own brand of justice and set off with their pitch-forks / rifles. It felt like that.

This morning the strike was over. Musician guy is still at large. Apparantly he's still definitely in the village. How that is known I have no idea. The police are being given two days to arrest the guy or people go on strike again / go looking for him themselves.



So yesterday was certainly different. I walked. I read. I ate. I drank. I enjoyed. Not really so different for me. The sun isn't so bright. It's a little overcast but I've got a tan and if it was hotter I'd probably not be so content. It's warm enough. Dipping my toes into the warm sea and feeling the warm sand between my toes - how could I not be content?

I started chatting to an English couple yesterday along the beach. Nattered for quite a while before they invited me to join them and some friends they were meeting for lunch. It was nice but I was happy to get away and settle back down with my book again.

Since I left India last year I've not read a book for pleasure. It's all been diploma related stuff. Am blissed out now. Have been here 2.5 weeks (I think!) and am half way through my 7th book. AM BLOODY LOVING IT!

Today I walked my socks off! Went strolling along the endless coast and didn't stop for ages, apart from a brief coffee break. Loved it! Perfect peacefulness. Not many people were along the way. The main sound was the ocean. I practiced breathing and focusing on the sea. Nothing else. Happiness.

I feel so relaxed. It took me a while to figure out but the tension I've felt ALL YEAR is gone. Quite a feeling.

Thing is, I don't know how long I would be able to stay here without getting bored, but right now these few days are absolutely perfect, and I get to leave BEFORE I get the chance to get bored.

There's a LOT of middle-aged European couples around which is strange for me. I haven't really seen any middle-aged European couples in a LONG time. There seems to be a lot from the north of England too. They talk about bringing ketchup and branston pickle with them. I don't think they leave the beaches but I hear them talking about how adventurous they are being by not going to costa del (insert your own spanish costa here). I guess they are. But then most of the food you could find in restaurants in England, you can find here. Just cheaper. But each to their own. As long as they are happy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Goa - Colva

I recovered from yesterdays garlic fest, in case you were wondering!

Today am utterly blissed out. Sleepy from lots of sun and more relaxed than I've felt in ages.

I've moved down to the south of Goa - to Colva - which is, basically, beach resort, and the kind of place I would ordinarily have chosen to avoid like the plague. But I like it. It's... something.

Got a couple of buses this morning from Panaji to here after I actually found the Colva bus stop in Margao, and found a rather nice (rather expensive - oops!) hotel that's nice and central and near the beach.

After dumping down my things, I made for the beach, kicking off my shoes as soon as I hit the sand and sluffing through the powdery sand down to the sea where I managed to soak my trousers to thigh level kicking the waves that were toe depth where I was mooching through for about 300 or so metres until I found a nice clear area (ie almost no people) and settled down for some serious reading and relaxing!

Had another lovely meal and then walked about a kilometre up the beach - enjoying the sun and the peace and watching a mad random guy with a golf club, hitting a ball up and down the beach. He seemed happy anyway. And then I sat and read some more and kicked my way through more warm powdery sound.

Am in heaven!

Goa continued.

Today was a lovely day.

Got up quite early, had a lovely breakfast at a local heritage hotel and got the bus to Ponda, which is just another Goan town (in the centre of Goa). Wandered around briefly before reaching that conclusion and then got a taxi (the main reason for the trip to Ponda) to go to a Spice Farm. It was quite a ride (nice of course) and when I got there I went on a tour of the plantation which was pretty interesting and set in beautiful grounds.

The group was quite big but it didn't really matter and the guide was good and quite funny. We got a demonstration from one of the workers of how they pick betel nuts. He shimmied up a tree and then swung from tree to tree. Really was something to watch! That was followed by a really nice buffet lunch overlooking a river and then I went back to Ponda.

Got the bus back to Panaji but it was still quite early so decided to go and chill out at a nearby beach.

Went to Miramar beach because it's very close to Panaji. I knew it wouldn't be great but all I wanted was to be near the sea and to read, read, read. And I achieved that! There were lots of families and a fair amount of litter (see previous post about Indian families and litter) but it was lovely just chilling out on the sand until the sunset turned things a bit chilly and I returned to Panaji feeling very refreshed, happy and slightly grubby!

Went back to the same restaurant as yesterday after I'd cleaned up a bit, and had delicious pomfret cooked in tooooo much garlic. Am VERY garlicy now! Also had a pint of wine so got a little bit pissed.

It's all rather good though!

Tomorrow I'm leaving Panaji and heading down south for a couple of days to stay in Colva and visit a couple of beaches down there.

Of litter and Of cows

Litter. Litter. Litter. Everywhere, litter. On beaches. On national heritage sites, in pretty streets. In busy cities. Everywhere. Litter. And it's Indians, not foreigners that I see throwing it around. Why? Don't you have any respect for your own country? Heartbreaking.


Cows. Whilst I've probably managed to offend a few people with what I've written above, I'm now going for the kill. Cows. If you're going to have a holy animal in your religion, can you not have chosen one slightly less stupid than a cow? I mean, the Egyptians got it right when they started worshiping the cat. The cat is a sensible animal to worship. It's a clever animal. But a cow? You let them sit around in the streets, blocking the traffic, chewing on cardboard boxes, unafraid of people or traffic and too docile to actually do anything else. Why not eat them? Why not solve the hunger problem here?

Okay. I've gone to far now, haven't I? Should I now go into anonymity for insulting an entire religion in one paragraph?

But you get my point, don't you?!

Goa - Panaji and Old Goa.

We arrived in Panaji and I was tired and dying for a shower! So much so that i decided to give in to what I knew was a scam (although it sometimes does pay off) and accept a lift in a taxi to look at hotels. I knew hotels would be more expensive in Panaji at this time but some of the prices were ridiculous.

Anyway, I accepted one place and then decided to go and look for somewhere for subsequent nights. The place I stayed in was overpriced and out of the centre - and I walked between the two a few times! - but what the hey.

Went for a wander around Panaji. It's a Portugues colonial town and very pretty in places. Kind of similar to Pondicherry but not so many places to chill out. I think it's awesome anyway. Had a bit of a wander, mainly to find a new hotel and lunch and decided I was so knackered I should just go back and have a nap and a rest.

Got my energy back and went on a major wander through Panaji, taking lots of random photos and soaking it all in. This is yet another side of India (how many sides does this country have?) and the quiet colourful streets were lovely. Peaceful and calm and very interesting to explore.

Found a nice restaurant attached to a hotel and had a lovely meal and a double vodka with fresh pineapple juice (well, it was xmas day!) and followed that by treating myself to a foot massage. They steamed my feet first. I have NEVER had my feet steamed. Odd! Headed back to my room (trekked back to my room) and crashed after that.

Next day, got up early and headed with my bag to the new hotel which is very central and the couple who run it are lovely. The price is okay but the bed isn't that comfortable. Still, it's the convenience I like. And the owners!

Found breakfast at a local Indian place and then got a bus to Old Goa, less than 30 minutes away and spent a few hours exploring churches, cathedrals, monasteries and ruins. Bliss...

Discovered a couple of nice places to chill out and managed to gatecrash a wedding in the cathedral (along with a few other Indians I chatted to afterwards). The couple (or their families) must have been very rich as this was the oldest cathedral in Goa (or in India maybe? need to check facts). It was cool anyway, and I didn't try to gatecrash the reception, so no harm done!

Returned to Panaji, cleaned up and then went to a really nice chilled out restaurant and sat in the courtyard eating. (There are chill out places, just only at meal times here!)

In the courtyard, surrounded by Europeans, I felt I could have been anywhere in the world (not Tokyo, natch) - it was a nice, but weird feeling.

Talked to a retired Scottish couple (what IS it with Scots this trip?) who were utterly insane about how they spent six months of every year in Goa and had done so for the last 20 years, or something. She was hilarious, he was merely trying to keep up I think!

Mysore to Goa

Yes, I really am a nutter who choses to do 16 hour bus rides by normal buses. Although that being said, the so called 'ultra deluxe' buses don't really amount to much more and the more I save on travel, the more I have to spend on other things, no?! And the only difference between a normal bus and an ultra deluxe is the reclinability of the seats, so no biggy.

We left Mysore early - around 3.30pm - with a full bus. Every time we stopped people clamoured outside to see if there were free seats and threw newspapers or handkerchiefs onto them to 'save' them, so they wouldn't have to stand. It was pretty amusing.

Some of the pick-ups were at 3am and people were just waiting around in deserted streets for the bus to pass by.

Actually, there were lots of odd random people hanging around in the streets, by themselves, in the middle of nowhere, when the bus wasn't stopping. Kind of weird to me!

After an hour or two, the bus suddenly stopped and it all went dark. The electrics had gone. Comforting so early into such a long journey. It took the two drivers and ticket guy about 45 minutes to get it going again and meanwhile we didn't really know what was going on.

During this time I struck up conversation with some of the middle aged Indians around me. (I'm not a totally anti-social bitch. I do like chatting with people sometimes. Just on my time and my terms!!!). We chatted about pure randomness all the time the bus was stopped. It was very entertaining - especially as we only mostly understood each other and there was a lot of cross-translations going on!

With the bumpy roads and the lights going on every hour or so I didn't get a huge amount of sleep but the time passed quickly enough and my iPod kept me amused for the rest.

At one point I was SOOOO desperate for a pee that I got the bus to stop so that I could get off and pee behind it. Such a lady, no?

Actually (confession time), I've got into a habit now of not only taking advantage of toilets when I see them (sometimes this is quite a feat) but of taking advantage of deserted alleyways for - ahem - quick toilet breaks. Well, an empty bladder is a happy bladder I've always said!

Ooty 'n' on

After being woken for the second morning at 5am by chanty/drummy/stringy thing i couldn't identify (temply thing?) I had an earlyish breakfast and headed to the bus station where I waited nearly two hours for the bus and headed to Mudumalai - a national park nearish to Ooty (ie a couple of hours maybe. I'm on Indian time, can't figure out how long things take any more!)

On the way to the park, saw lots of wild elephants on the road. One stopped in the middle of the road, and held up a lot of traffic for a long time. It was pretty amusing. The bus ticket man got me to come and sit at the very front of the bus so I could see all the action. Bless him!

The drive, of course, was absolutely lovely. Lots of fields, hills and trees as far as the eye could see.

Got to the park and saw lots of monkeys and monkey babies just hanging out all over the visitors area. I was staying for the night, but hadn't realised I'd booked an entire dorm of four beds for myself! - actually, it reminded me of the hospital ward I stayed in in Bylakuppe last year. Least said about that the better!

There was another guy in the other dorm in the same building. A hilarious retired Indian guy who'd lived in the States for the last 30 odd years. We enjoyed complaining to each other about the traffic noises in India!

After throwing my bag into my dorm room, I went and booked myself onto a safari around the park. The safari was in a minibus/jeep of 24 people, but it went off road into the jungle / forest (donno the difference. should probably find out.) unlike the private jeeps that only hit the main roads.

I saw a tiger! How fucking cool! I saw a tiger! It was just chilling out in the trees, lazily staring at us. Didn't manage to get a photo as everyone else was going so crazy but I saw a tiger!!!

Also, lots of wild elephants, various types of monkeys, deer, birds. It was VERY exciting! Later outside the only restaurant in the park, I saw a wild boar wandering around.

In the restaurant the non-veg option was chicken, but I was told I would have to have a whole one! I declined. It didn't register why until I later saw them (I had veg) carrying through a squawking bird!...

It was very peaceful in the park. Once the safaris had finished it was mainly just the sounds of the insects in the trees and the occasional animal cry. There weren't many other people staying in the park, so that was lovely.

The next day I got up early to go on another safari. Didn't see as many animals as the evening before but there were lots of deer, bison, birds, etc around so it was cool!

Headed off to Mysore on the exact same day I was there last year. With no intention of sticking around there! Luckily managed to get a ticket for a bus to Goa that left four hours after I got to Mysore. Had lunch, pissed around on the net for a while and then got on an ordinary bus for the 16 hour trip to Goa!

On the trip to Mysore, I realised that I actually like travelling between places as much as actually being there. Sometimes more, as it allows me to soak in the landscape and see village people going about their everyday lives. I can just observe everything without having to be a part of anything. Actually, that's kind of how I like to live me life generally, but that's something else. Best thing about the travelling is I don't have to interact with other people if I don't want to.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pondicherry to Ooty

In Pondicherry, in the French district, there is a distinct lack of traffic thanfully. This means a lack of annoying beeping of horns which is constant here. Constant, loud and very very irritating. People speak very loudly here too. They do. Really. Peace is hard to come by - which is why I liked Pondy so much.


In this age where everything is computerised, it's most odd seeing ledgers everywhere. Do you remember ledgers? I haven't seen any since the 1970's!


So, on Sunday night I left Pondicherry on an "ultra deluxe" bus. Ultra deluxe in name only. Actually, I took a 'normal' bus to Goa (more of that later) and the only difference was the seats reclined a little bit on the "ultra deluxe". Do not be fooled by labels. I knew it would be un-lux but it was amusing to see what it was like when it did turn up. The journey took nine hours, but I didn't sleep much. Yay, for iPods!

Got to Coimbatore and the Scotsman and I (mentioned him before - not drinking Scot, bus Scot) hunted for the Ooty bus which took another three or so hours to get to Ooty. The trip to Coimbatore had been mainly in darkness, but the Ooty leg was in day light and I hadn't realised how big a hill could be. I mean seriously big. And we spent most of the three hours climbing up and up through twisty turny roads surrounded by beautiful landscape as far as you could see. (Okay, I was actually spending much of the journey thinking about how much I wanted to shower and nap rather than drinking in the beauty of the hillside, but you know what I mean!)

Ooty, Ooty, Ooty. Lonely Planet and people I met last year described Ooty as lovely, charming, quaint, relaxing, amazing.... but by no stretch of my imagination could I find myself able to echo those words.

I'd expected Heidi countryside and found small Delhi on a cold hill. With rain. If I'd wanted to go on a group trek or take a two hour bus ride I could have perhaps found Heidiland but it was too cold! I did see a lot of goats though in the streets, and it is pretty green in places. It's just not so different from other Indian cities.

Don't get me wrong: I didn't hate it, I just didn't love it and the main reason for that was the rain (people kept telling me it was due to snow soon. great.)

I spent time wandering around the town and walked around a lake (for the hell of it). Donno exactly how big the lake was but I reckon about 10km around. It was a nice peaceful walk though, although I did detour off the path at one part onto a little path on the water's edge. Nobody else was there, which made it more tempting. I clamboured down to it and enjoyed toddling along. When the paving ran out I carried on along the grass and when the grass ran out - well, the bank above me was pretty steep and the cow on the path wasn't much help. She just continued eating grass and stopped to have a very long pee. Seriously. How much water can a cow hold? I eventually found a place that looked okay and to go through the garden of a very amused old lady to get back from the wilderness.

Ooty has a botanical garden. It's very different to Pondicherry's. It's organised and laid out neatly, although still a little more of a park than a botanical garden, but semantics. I enjoyed relaxing there and wandering there anyway.

The weather was bearable in the daytime for the most. It started off cold but did get better.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pondi continued...

So, I went to a meditation session at the ashram.

Now, meditation and me -

I know meditation is meant to be good for you. I know it's something that would probably be very good for me but it's something I never quite get around to doing. Lame, no?

I mean in Cambodia (or was it Laos?) I went to a 'learn to meditate' session run by monks and I 'got it'. I learned what to do and the whole thing was de-mystified. So, of course after Cambodia (Laos?) I meditated every day. Sometimes 5 times a day. Okay, did I fuck! I never quite got around to it.

In Hampi last year, I learned how to do breathing exercises for health and meditation. Did I practice those? Of COURSE not!

So, I have all the theory but never quite got around to doing it.

At the ashram there were dozens of people seated in a coolish courtyard. The smell of incense was wafting around and there was complete darkness and silence and a gentle breeze. I called on everything I'd learned and - when I wasn't painfully aware of how sore by arse was getting on the hard ground - I did my best to concentrate.

At the end of the session, I floated out. I felt amazing. And of course, I've not quite got around to doing it since, but the intention is still here!


Floated my way into a nice restaurant and had a beer and some food and talk about bad luck...

At lunchtime and in the evening I'd gone to two different restaurants and had the bad luck, both times to be seated near Anya ('Unya') from Denver. Both times she was with different groups of people and both times she was talking their ears (and the ears of everyone within a 500m radius) off. Loudly. For someone I didn't talk to, I sure managed to learn a lot about her life, her husband, her first date with him, why he has his name and - I've managed to blot out the rest thankfully. But seriously people!


Pondicherry reminded me of Luang Prabang.

It took a while to dawn on me that was because they're both French colonial towns.

I really liked Luang Prabang too.


I've been doing pretty well with last minute bus bookings. So far I've had no problems. Like booking my Coimbatore bus (for Ooty). There were no seats left, but the bus guy agreed to get his friend to move to the day after so I could have his seat...

... the next day, I was talking to a Scotsman who was travelling on the same bus, and who had been given the same story.

You gotta laugh. Wonder how much the guy is making from this scam? (40 rupees from each person)


The last full day in Pondy was HOT. Nice but bucket sweaty! After sorting out the Coimbatore ticket, I went to the 'Botanical Gardens'. It deserves inverted commas. Think wild park with lots of overgrowth. Not really what springs to mind when I think of botanical gardens. Still, it was a nice place to chill for a bit and hassle free and calm.

Walking to the bus station and around to the botanical gardens I'd walked through the non-French side of Pondicherry which was pretty hectic. What is it with Indians and beeping horns and shouting? It's a veritable noise fest! And not in a good way. I still found Pondy had it's charm and the manicness was manageable.

Back in the gardens, I met a Scottish guy (plague of them, no?!) and we started chatting. Bumped into him later and we spent a couple of hours drinking coffee and then beered it up in the evening together - until I had to go to my hotel and hit the curfew time! It was fun hanging out and felt a bit of a connection with him (no, not like that, he was gay. Hot. But gay!)

But, later that night I woke up feeling shit. Burned up a right fever and threw up. A lot. Felt vaguely human the next day but took lots of anti-nausea tablets. Don't know what it was. Maybe mild food poisoning (although ironically, I've been eating mainly in 'nice' places so far - cheating, I know!) - but no poo problems. Maybe mild heat stroke? Donno. It's over anyway.


Spent some time listening to the waves lapping against the rocks in Pondi before leaving which was nice and relaxing, but it always gets me how of a long stretch of free coastline, people manage to come and sit right. next. to. me.

Oh well!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Loved it.

Hopped on a flight from Delhi to Chennai, jumped into a tuk-tuk and got (almost literally) thrown onto a bus for Pondy - ie driver suddenly stopped, said - that's the Pondicherry bus and dashed out of tuk-tuk to stop bus and grab my bag. Slightly insane, very amusing.

I settled into a big seat and managed to keep it to myself for the whole 4+ hour journey. The trip took an hour less than I'd been told so I don't know if the driver was racing like a madman or whether the ticket guy gave me the wrong time but the journey was lovely. The Tamil Nadu scenery was beautiful. Spectacular and calming. And soundtracked by my iPod on random shuffle mode throwing all manner of tunes at me.

I arrived nice and relaxed at realised at that point that perhaps I liked cities a lot more before than I do now.

Pondicherry can be split into two. A very Indian side and a not so Indian side. The Indian side is a little bit like a very very watered down version of Delhi - complete with normal temples, shops, etc and a botanical gardens that may have seen better days. Or maybe not!

The non-Indian side is French colonial. Lots of bright old crumbling mansions. I can imagine how amazing they must have once been. A sea front promenade, with no beach to speak of. Lots of small quiet streets. Character. Real character. I loved it instantly and had the best time just wandering around, snapping random pictures and observing.

I stayed in a cheap guesthouse run by the local ashram. Very basic. No TV, no hot water, a curfew, hard mattresses, but clean and very very convenient.

Went to a meditation session at the local ashram... but more later. Need to see if my credit card is working again yet and book a flight...

Delhi (backtrack)

The last post was just a little rambly, wasn't it? Sorry about that. Hope it kind of made sense, but risking repeating a tad, here's the bits I missed out (plus I have time to kill thanks to banks being twats, etc!) -

In Narita (airport in Tokyo) I succeeded in getting first in line to claim my bulkhead ticket - which I did in advance last year but couldn't do this year as they had changed their policy. Got told Air India only gave MALE passengers emergency exit seats. Like, WTF??? Anyhoo, got a whole row of bulkhead to myself which was lovely - and they had backseat televisions (unlike last year) showing movies in English (again, unlike last year). No problems at all - apart from the little shits who kept running in front of my seat continually at around the 7 hour of confinement stage. After their 30s rotation, I told them it was bothering me and please stop. After their 35th rotation I got a little angrier and they finally pissed off.

Getting to Delhi Airport I was very surprised to find it so different from Mumbai last year. Mumbai airport last winter consisted of a terminal building that was half reconstructed and hundreds of people waiting for their friends, taxi drivers, hawkers, etc. Chaos. Except I was met by Sanchia and her father, so it didn't really matter then.

I expected that level of chaos this year and found it to be an oasis of calmness. Seriously. It was all very very civilized and ordered. I'd arranged for the airport to meet me (did I post this below already? Can't remember, didn't check) and the airport guy said his tuk-tuk had broken down so we were taking a pre-paid cab. The streets around the airport were dead. As always happens when I leave Japan, I go into a state of wowness over seeing signs everywhere written in English. Either you know what I mean, or you don't. But it gets me every time. I'm just so NOT used to seeing English signs.

I stayed in a nice enough hotel in Parhar Ganj. Enough said if you know the area. A good choice of area for me to stay in anyway. Slightly mad, rather tatty and extremely convenient. As we got nearer the taxi driver suddenly got into a fight with a bloke on the streets. Voices got louder and louder and angrier and angrier. My taxi driver got out of his cab and stood face to face with this bloke shouting. And then got back into his cab and they continued shouting. Meanwhile, we were blocking the traffic and pissing off drivers behind who were bashing on the back of the cab. A crowd gathered around the front of the cab. The hotel bloke said nothing. I sat frozen in fear. Were they going to kill my driver? Beat him senseless (read Shantaram last year). Beat ME senseless? Like what the fuck was going on? After what seemed an age, we carried onto the hotel and the hotel guy told me the taxi driver had hit the foot of the guy and that one of them (not sure which) was a crazy man.

Welcome to Delhi.

Delhi didn't surprise me. It had it's moments and I stayed four nights doing as much exploring in that time as was humanly possible, all things considered - namely adjusting my body clock and coping with the Delhi weather - first day, lovely, subsequent days, cold and scattered wetness!

I found the tourist sites were well worth going to. From the sheer size of the Red Fort to the green parrots I spotted in Lodi Gardens (yes, I'm sad to say I got very excited by seeing wild green parrots!), and the insane structures jutting into the sky at Jantar Mantar, I found endless things to captivate, astonish and amuse me.

I loved the crumbling buildings and the statues everywhere, the mad noisy squirrel things, the chai sellers...

One afternoon I decided to go to Tibet House to learn a bit of history from the museum. It was closed because the museum person was off sick, but the guard agreed to try and find someone else to open it. I was so happy... until I got into the museum and saw a few old rocks and bits, lots of tapestries and NO information about Tibet! - and it was the only Delhi museum I'd chosen to go to see. I'd seen a couple of smaller ones that were part of other sites but didn't go out of my way to visit any.

So, what didn't I like? The noise. The intensity. The constant beeping of traffic horns and shouting of people. The constant demands of people wanting me to buy from them, give them money, see their shop, go in their tuk-tuk, etc and what felt like a constant stream of people who chose to walk alongside me and wanted to talk ('where you from?' 'when you come india?' 'where you go now?' ad nauseum) when ALL I wanted to do was observe, notice, soak in, contemplate...

And the constant auto-rickshaw drivers attempts to charge me way over the odds.

The dirt, the trash, the piss smells.... that I can put up with. Just play fair and leave me alone!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Delhi. Delhi. Delhi. Kind of like Mumbai on bad drugs. Not helped by catching a cold on my first day. From the flight? From the fact that everyone in Delhi had a cold? Who knows. The weather on the first day was nice. Then went kind of downhill. The constant hassle of people really got to me this time - much more than ever before (if you don't know - this is my second trip to India and I've been to other Asian countries where this is par for the course) - I'm not sure why. Maybe the introspection I normally save for later in the trip hit me at the beginning this time. This is not good. I came to a lot of realisations that whilst not exactly marring the trip, will have an effect on my mood whilst here. It could just be that I've actually got time to concern myself with something other than the diploma, my multitude of 2009 health problems, house problems, japan problems and so on and that NOW I can consider other things.

IF this blog were passport protected I'd elaborate more, but there's some things I don't want out there so I'll maybe leave it at this and talk about India instead.

Delhi. I got to the airport and expected it to be as insanely manic and confusing as Mumbai airport was last year and was most surprised that it wasn't. Got met by a guy from the hostel - who told me his tuk-tuk had broken down so we were taking a pre-paid cab. We set off through relatively quiet streets, all seeming ordered, calm and nice. And then it got busier and busier. We got near to the hostel and suddenly some random guy started shouting at the driver of the taxi. Next thing there was a full-on shouting match going between them and lots of people gathering around. Have you read Shantaram? There's a scene in it where an angry mob pulls a cab driver from his cab and beat him to death. This was going through my mind and I was more than a little bit uncomfortable with it.

Found out from the hotel guy later that, apparantly, the taxi driver had run over this guys foot or something and he was a crazy guy. I'm not sure which guy the hotel guy was referring to though.

So, my problem with Delhi. I found it a little hard to put my finger on initially but I think the full weight of it dawned on me earlier today whilst on a bus soaking in the Tamil Nadu landscape. I just don't like big cities anymore. There. Said it. Shocked me to realise this but I think this is it!

If you don't know Delhi, it's constant. Constant noise. Constant horns beeping. Constant dogs barking. Constant hawkers hawking, autorickshaw drivers hassling, taxi drivers hassling, cyclo drivers hassling, kids hassling, shop owners..... the number of people asking for money isn't actually that great - but it adds to all the rest that won't leave you alone.

And then there are the people who 'don't want anythng' who walk alongside you trying to talk to you. ALL. THE. TIME. I don't know if people travelling together get this so much but NEWSFLASH - there IS a reason I chose to travel alone - actually there are a few - but one of the main ones I like to be alone. I'm not a sociable person (whatever you might think) and constantly having to think of things to say when I just want to ... well, you get the idea, so it's not so enjoyable when all I want to do is wander alone, soaking in the atmosphere, trying to not smell the smells (!), notice the small details, take strange photographs. And it's hard to do that when you're being constantly hassled.

The dirt. The smell of piss. The litter everywhere. Not a problem. I just want to be left to be though. And perhaps strangely, the most peaceful places are the tourist sites - if you can get through the hords of postcard vendors and other vendors who are selling the strangest things that you didn't even realise that you didn't need!

In three days I saw: Purana Qila, India Gate, Rajpath, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, Lal Qila (the Red Fort), Chandni Chowk (mental road!), Jama Masjid, Jantar Mantar (mental shapes), Connaught Place (bits of - several times), the Lotus (Baha'i Temple), Humayun's Tomb, Nizam-Ud-din's Shrine (hmmm - too many sidey roads with people begging), Tibet House (expected to get some history, but didn't - although I did persuade them to open the museum just for me) and Lodi Gardens.

Phew! Many breathtaking sites. Photos to follow. The beauty about many of them was the scale -meaning the ease to wander around in your own little bubble, imagining, soaking in, snapping pictures...

Anyway, more tomorow!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

This is not an indication of things to come...

Started off this year on antibiotics.

Am I going to finish it on antibiotics too? Hopefully not but...

I've not had the healthiest year (refer back to previous posts) and I've had a lot of tooth and gum problems that several trips to the dentist didn't exactly sort out. Anyway, I opened my throbbing mouth at work this morning and saw something that looked like a hair across my tooth. Further investigation (ie I stuck my finger in my mouth and touched it) confirmed the worst: the tooth was SPLIT. Split from side to side across the top. Great. And on a Saturday to boot. And when I was at work. AND when I'm flying to India tomorrow.

Thankfully someone found me a dentist and got me an appointment after work and the tooth - and an abscess - were taken out. I now have a big hole in my mouth and am back on antibiotics. And hoping, hoping, hoping that I don't get it infected while I'm in India.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009


after four more sleeps and three more days work.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

On the home stretch

Brrrrr. It's cold in Tokyo. Is it cold where you are?

Yesterday I had the diploma practical exam and interview. The time flew by and the examiner was really nice - and didn't throw me any questions I couldn't answer. I walked out feeling rather happy. Or maybe it was just relieved because the diploma pressure is now OVER. Whatever happens (ie even if I failed any of the portfolio or failed any yesterday - which, obviously, I'm hoping ISN'T the case) nothing can be done until next year. I still have a written paper to do - but that's end of May. I can come back from holiday and work slowly and steadily on it all.

So, I left the exam yesterday, smiling, and went and picked up a few bits and bobs for India (actually, almost nothing. I have everything I need to take. I think.) and reserved a seat on the bus to the airport. And just walked along the street like a mad smiling woman. I don't smile enough generally. Well, not like I mean it anyway! Got home, and realised nothing was urgent anymore. Confirmed my Delhi hotel and relaxed. Ignoring the mess around me that really needs sorting now the Dip. pressure is over.

Five more working days. Five more sleeps. Then India...

It's ALL good :D

Except it isn't. After the fun and games with being sick in and after India last year - which I'm still convinced was started in Japan and just exacerbated by being out there - my skin has been pretty much 100% clear all year. ALL YEAR. Despite stress, despite everything. Until a few days ago. The skin around one of my ankles is sore. In a strange way. Am slathering on steroid cream, trying to relax and am hoping for the best. But inside am freaking out a little bit. I go to India on Sunday. I have a long flight with aircon that may freak out my skin. If I go to a doctor before - well, it doesn't look serious - but I know the potential implications that lie with what is going on. I'm freaking out. But if I go to a doctor, it's unlikely it'll be taken seriously unless I go back to where I was earlier this year and..... OH! Anyway, I have every intention to take a couple of sleeping pills for the flight and hope that rendering myself unconscious will immobilize me sufficiently to not end up clawing at the skin like I did last year.

I do not want a repeat performance of what I went through. I do not want to start 2010 with doctors and hospital stays like I did 2009.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Nearly There.

Tomorrow is nearly here. I am nearly there...
Yesterday the school xmas party was successful, I think. As senior teacher for the school, I'd have felt pretty crap if it hadn't, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
I was too busy during the party talking to students and doing games to eat or drink much but went out for a couple of large drinks afterwards.
And woke up this morning with a hangover and a million and one things to do for tomorrow.

Tomorrow I have a teaching practice exam and, until I sat down with a blank lesson plan in front of me this morning wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do. It's all figured out now though and hopefully will work. I'm taking a bit of a risk but, the way I see it, we get marked on the lesson plan and the analysis we do after the lesson as well as the lesson itself so, if it doesn't work, that gives me a lot more to discuss afterwards.
I also have to give a presentation. I've kind of worked out what I'm going to talk about, so fingers crossed on that. I haven't had much time to review phonology and phonetics (another part of the exam) but should be okay!
And then, by lunchtime tomorrow, it's over. No more diploma pressure. I have to do a written exam at the end of May but I have a long time to read and prepare (I could have taken it a couple of weeks ago but elected not to because I wanted to spend more time reading and studying).
Tomorrow afternoon I have to prepare for India as I go next Sunday. This time next week I'll be in India.
How fucking awesome is that?!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Surfing on the waves of exhaustion

Am all wiped out.

Diploma portfolio is all done, but woke up this morning with major muscle pain in my neck. Guess from all the typing, clicking and scrolling.

Got five days now to prepare for the external examiner. The heat is still on.