Thursday, March 8, 2012


Jan 14th 

Vivek lives and works in government establishments. He travels a great deal all over the world to conferences and is brother to Dev who lives in Delhi.

His wife Sammi works in university teaching economics.  Their daughter, Chavri, who is in Delhi university after refusing to have anything to do with economics and was not interested in much else suddenly found she had a flare for it, with what I would call extremely high marks for her work. No room for just decent marks here. The pass mark to get into one university is 95.5%. Chavri failed as she only got 95.25% in the exams. Wish I was as bad. She one day hopes to spend time at the London school of Economics.  With luck she might have a boat holiday if it can be fitted in.

The view across from the balcony.

Jan 15th

Morning at the colony then off into Mumbai to visit the Gate of India.

Bugger. A flat tyre.

Right outside a little roadside shop that changes tyres.  What a coincidence. I don't think. It seems that these shops have a habit of losing loads of nails or screws during day to day business. Shades of bird crap on my shoe deposited by cleaners accomplice who points to bird (non-existent)above.

On the way in we pass this absolutely huge field on which there seem to be hundreds of games of cricket going on.

Umpteen superb Victorian buildings.  On the way in some of them are very run down but the class can be seen underneath the dirt.


 The square in front of the Gate is thronged with people.  Some are of course tourists but the majority as I found at all the heritage sites were Indians.

It is from here that the trip boats leave to go to Elephanta Island.  Its not worth going now as the statue of the elephant is now at Mumbai zoo. J

The gate was built to welcome King George V and Queen Mary to India in 1905 they must have been very impressed.

This is where they landed and is now the jetty for the trip boats.


More security here but understandable as one of the places attacked by the terrorists from Pakistan was this hotel.

Down to the market and almost bought a Victorian telephone for Vivek.  Much discussion went on here and I could see an Indian version of Sid and Heidi.

“We went up the street”

No it was down”

“first thing in the morning”

at 2 in the afternoon”

“with a friend”

“on our own”

And so on, needless to say the Boss had the final word.

Thank goodness Abz is not here.  I (could have) bought her about a dozen Indian outfits by the time I was half way down one side.  The costs are very low even if they are a lot dearer to Lees previous visit. Millions of bangles, ear-rings, dresses, ornaments and too many things to mention. Street sellers in Delhi will get a few sales when we get back.  We are not buying now as we would have to carry the things with us to Goa and beyond..

Stalls selling compasses, ships bells and sextants.  The compasses are in tins which have engraving on them that have been pinched from somewhere.  One I spotted was “Made for the Royal Navy” around a picture of the Eiffel Tower. I can understand the naval link but why Paris.

Wonderful clothes, cloths, statuary and carvings.  What I noticed was that there is no one painting scenes here.  As the outlay is minimal I would have thought the Indians with their talents would be painting scenes of heritage places and portraits of tourists.  The number of tourists, both Indian and foreign, at places like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort are enormous and I am sure that there would be money to be made with it. There is a definite gap in the market here.

 Ended the day with a promenade to see the sun go down over the bay.

 Plenty of people out doing the same thing.

  Some down clambering over the break water.

At last the lights come on and this is called the Queens Necklace.

The main railway station.  Something almost on par with St Pancras or Euston.

Stopped for iced coffee and ice-cream in one glass and on the outside of the café the bullet holes are still visible.

Jan 16th

Mooched around the apartment today and enjoyed to relative quiet.  Caught up with the writing and sat on the balcony with the temperature on perfection.  It is spot on, not too cool nor warm, with slight breeze. Sitting on the balcony watching the eagles searching for a thermal.

Washing and ironing (a very small bit of ironing) done. More tea.  Read the papers and some more of Sanjeev Bhaskars India. I am trying to read the book as we visit each place and I must say that he has the feel of it spot on.

Jan 17th

Sabu Dahanna for breakfast.  Makes a bit of a change from cornflakes.  Its spiced tapioca with nuts, dried fruit, chaat masala, boiled potato and mini red kidney beans all mixed together. Warmer today

Haven't seen an empty road since we arrived in India.

Took a walk down to the Post Office to get stamps for Abz and Izzys postcards. Thought they had better be posted now to get back before I do.  The chap behind the counter rarely sees a foreigner or a postcard - this being a government housing complex.

Called a colony as a way of a defining these areas of which there are a number in Delhi - it’s a job to get him to sell more stamps than we have postcards but eventually we have the required number of 12 rupees for each made up of 10, 5, 2 and 1s. It is with great humility I own up to making a right mess of sticking the stamps on the cards. I managed to put an extra 2 rupees on one of them. Lee is taking out of my pocket money.

Had to take a pic of this tree. If Abz was here it would be christened the climbing tree and she would be half way up it. :-)

and back to the block.

Rail  tickets need some thinking about.  There is a foreigner quota on the train or you can turn up and buy them at the station or you can book them the day before with a 25% premium charge. Vivek has booked our tickets for Goa leaving at 0700 tomorrow morning giving us all day looking out the window. The cost 2700 rupees for a 12hr journey in air conditions carriages.  The exchange rate when we left Delhi was 80 rupees to the pound while in UK it was 72 to the pound.
Vivek returns with the tickets and also a printout of the route we will be taking.

From Mumbai Central - Dadar - Thanev - Panvel - Mangaon - Khed - Chiplun - Sangmeshwar - Ratnagiri -Advali - Rajapur Road - Vaibhavwadi Road - Kankavali - Sindhudurg - Kudal - Sawantwadi Road - Pernem - Thivim in Goa. A total of 765 km for 2700 rupees lasting 12 hours for £36 for the two of us. Value for money. Not one of these places do I recognise in the slightest.

Tonight is an Office get-together at the apartment. Its not really Viveks birthday even though he was born on Jan 17th nor a house-warming even though they have only lived here for a fortnight or so.

A very enjoyable evening.  Conversation rather one sided with umpteen PhD, Professorships and lord knows what in the room. Makes a BSc rather small change.

The kitchen shrine.

Lee ended up at the sink while I was the waiter with the Punch avec extra bite. :-)

We had a wonderful few days that managed to disappear faster than is possible and I met even more lovely people.

Jan 18

Early journey to the station.  This early and the streets are empty. Vivek hasn’t made the journey is a faster time.

The windows on this train and darkened so inside it is cooler even without the A/C freezing us up. The darkened windows also make it difficult to take photos.

Just look at the pic - middle left. Yep. Children playing in the four foot.

We haven't seen the people covering trains by hanging on outside the carriages but the commuter traffic does have all the doors open and even when they are not totally full people do stand hanging from the door.

 It is the total lack of rules when it comes to where you are allowed to be. The railway is used just like a footpath.  In fact in many occasions the track is a damn sight better than the road. But they just sit and chat while express trains go whizzing past.  It would take just one extra train and it would be Oops nasty.

Everywhere you go there are the shacks leaning up against a wall. These are likely to be for railway workers as there is a large job on near here.

There is a very different countryside to that we saw on the way down to Mumbai.

Plenty of views like this.  Is the cone volcanic or what.

Hills are in the background most of the journey.

Well covered in forest and plenty of water about.

Even the occasional quarry to look at.

Some of it is a bit parched though and looks like it is rice fields.

Tata Institute

Wherever we are we see TATA vehicles or the name on buildings.  The owner has a really good name out here as far as we have heard.

He builds buses,

Lorries that are on the back trains

Running on rails that he has likely made

 And his latest idea is the Nano car.  Low powered to keep it inexpensive so that all can by it.

This was where he once lived but I have been told that it was too swish for him.  Bit different to another Indian mogul that build a 26 storied home with helipad on the roof that was run by 600 servants for a family of 6 that didn’t live there as it was not facing the right way.

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