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Published: January 14th 2013
11 January 2013
Apparently I have an amazing knack for falling asleep almost anywhere! I slept for most of the ten hour flight from Heathrow to Bangalore, I got a good hour or so at the airport with my head in my lap, I catch 40 winks after lunchtime most days when we are travelling from place to place and today I have managed to curl up like a cat on the bus and have a couple of hours sleep on our long and bumpy (Indian roads are amazing!) journey from Mangalore to Kushalnagar.
I had a few tears again while saying goodbye to the Banker family in Mangalore. I managed to join Punit’s mum and dad for breakfast and they gave me a beautiful gift to send me on my way. Everybody is just so kind and I have really enjoyed my time with Punit, Rupal and their family. Hopefully we will get a chance to meet up with them again before we leave India. The hospitality I received from them was amazing and it was so kind of them to share their home and their life with me for the past four days.
On the road
to Kushalnagar (once I wake up!) I see my first wild monkey at the side of the road. Apparently they are as common as rabbits or pheasants to us at home. Wild Boar are also a problem here and they are protected by the government. Still a bit sleepy, we arrive in Kushalnagar, a much smaller town than the two places we have been already, and are welcomed with sandalwood garlands which smell amazing! We visit the play centre which is supported by Rotary and then meet our hosts for the next two days.
We are understandably nervous each time we are introduced to our hosts and head off alone with them to meet their families. So far, so good though! I am living with Shibu Thomas and his wife Swapna, their children Jeny, 11, Jefy, 5 and grandparents Abraham and Alice, as well as some dogs and a random cow strolling around outside the front gate. They live in a beautiful home at the end of a quiet track which sits just beside the river (which apparently has crocs so I’m staying away!). Shibu is a civil engineer and designed this house himself nine years ago.
is Shibu’s cousin and she will also be staying for the next couple of days. Preeth recently married a British Indian man and he has left India today to return to work in the UK. He had been visiting for Christmas and New Year and Preeth, a doctor, will join him once her visa is approved. It is taking a while, considering she applied at the start of September! Preeth goes through her wedding photos with me and explains that she wore a wedding dress for the service but more traditional Indian dress for the evening reception.
The Thomas family are Christians and their house reflects this, including the nativity scene in the garden. Shibu is shocked when I tell him that I am not religious and that none of my circle of friends attends church regularly. I think that Indian people have a perception that the UK is a very religious country and are surprised to hear different. When I show them my photos from home, they find it hard to believe that people get married in hotels or on beaches and ask who is responsible for the marriage if it’s not the Church. Jeny, who is very
fashion conscious and had four outfits on before we left for dinner, has her first Holy Communion soon and she must also start to learn about confession.
We all meet up at a lovely modern hotel to enjoy some dinner. Each member of the team is here with their host families and we are also joined by other Rotarians. The food is nice and we get to spend time getting to know the families. One of the daughters, who is 22, is explaining that she will soon need to start thinking about marriage and she wants her parents to arrange one for her. 75% of marriages in India are still arranged.
Even though I’m Scottish, I’m not a whiskey drinker as so many people here seem to be. But tonight, Preeth has me converted and I manage to enjoy a whiskey and apple juice. I’ll certainly be trying some of these at home too! Bed time for now, if I can sleep!
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