Oh India!

Realising that UK is about to go on another cycle of lockdown I’m reminded that leaving the country for a holiday is looking more and more like a pipe-dream. Living in London I miss the sea. I miss exploring the magical mystical world where I feel like i’m flying above an alien landscape made up of strange creatures. I miss leaving the country to explore anywhere I haven’t been, but since I’m reminiscing I’m going to delve into India.

The North and South of India have such different cultures, topography and weather. My trip to India started in the North, flying into Indira Gandhi International Airport . Like many we started off with the “Golden Triangle” in the north visiting the main Rajasthan cities of New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and then to Jodhpur.

It was a culture shock arriving in Delhi, our hotel taxi that had been arranged to pick us up didn’t show and so we made our way, using busses and walking to it’s location. What we hadn’t quite prepared for was the air pollution as the dust filled our lungs making us wish we’d brought masks with us. The poverty, traffic and sheer amount of the people walking through New Delhi was expected, so was the deliciousness of the food. We were lucky that throughout our stay we didn’t get food poisoning- something that I’d actually counted on for weight loss reasons! Silly me!

Nothing could have prepared me for seeing the splendour of the Taj Mahal with it’s white marble that on closer inspection is enriched with intricate carvings, patterns, precious and semi-precious gemstones that adorn the mausoleum. I’d never noticed how drab western clothes could be in contrast to the brightly patterned & bejewelled saris the women wore as everyday clothes. In the many bazaars I was fascinated yet again by the colours, but this time it included jewellery, flowers, the spices and food, always the food!

Where the north was set in desert with its dry heat, beautiful brick red architecture and population overflow, the south was a complete contrast, wet, green with a much slower pace. In the south we went to Goa, Kerala, Chennai before spending the last week in the paradise of the Andaman Islands.

Goa had torrential rain for the most part, so it was a good time to catch up reading, meditating and of course eating. I learnt to cook traditional South Indian food in Kerala as well as go on backwater trips. Of all the places in India that I went, my favourite had to be the Andaman Islands, to the east.

I hadn’t heard of them prior to going. They are an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal formed of some 300 islands. These tropical islands have near deserted beaches with fewer tourist than other paradise destinations, mangroves and crystal clear waters with pristine corals perfect for diving. I hired a moped to go round Havelock’s various beaches so I could dive or snorkel and, where I was bitten by a fish, making me realise that I was a terrible predator! One of the best experience was going canoeing at night where the clear starry sky reflected in the waters and the phosphorescent sparkled with each paddle stroke- it felt that you were one with the universe in its vastness- truly magical!

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