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Published: December 15th 2009
before an update, including some missed from the last blog now that I've been here over a week I just want to make a few observations:
a) on the subject of boobs!
I've seen some really stunning cave art (both paintings and carving) at Ajanta and Ellora and there is a common theme on the ladies featured... they all have the most amazing breasts. I don't mean huge as in Pammy Anderson, but perfectly round like a half a coconut and always perfectly proportioned. Clearly these carvings were made by men who had little experience of real women and were just working to their idea of how a breast should be. I wonder if this was the start of the current obsession and indeed if it was where Victoria Beckham's plastic surgeon got his inspiration.... Also on the same subject, the roads here are so bad and the auto rickshaws feel every single bump that even little ol' me feels in need of a sports bra - anyone well-endowed you have been warned!
b) the weather - it's hot here and I mean 35 degrees, and sticky. So, why are people everywhere trying to sell me woolly hats and
ear-muffs? I thought that the ear muffs were about the noise, but apparently it's because it's winter and they really feel the cold!
c) men holding hands
Its common practice for men to show their friendship by holding hands in public. Now I like to think I'm as broadminded as the next person but I find it really odd to see grown men strolling around hand in hand or with their arms literally wrapped around one another - they look like a bunch of gaylords - no offence intended, it just looks peculiar...
Anyway, a quick update from my trip to Aurangabad, we spent our last day there visiting a place called Lonar, which was the site of a meteor crash 50,000 years ago. So there's this huge crater (2km across) with a lake in the middle - it was Hugh's idea to visit and I thought it would be interesting though I did remind him of Wolf Creek.... Anyway it was beautiful but very odd. We descended into the crater and there were a few little huts and temples and stuff and the locals use it as grazing land. We hadn't been wandering along for very long
before one of the locals came up to us and started ranting in Hindi - my rough translation based on the hand gestures, the tone and the look on his face was, 'Oi, get off of my land!' Then he escorted us away from the lake edge and back to the path out. We just waited until he'd gone and then went in the other direction - and we got away so clearly no serial killers lurking.
I've now made by first overnight train journey and it was surprising OK. It was an 11 hr trip from Aurangabad to Hyderabad and we were in 2nd class sleepers. We left quite late and the train had come in from somewhere else so lots of folk were already sleeping. We settled in and after a bunch of girls got on at a later stop (giggling amongst themselves in the way of teenage girls all over the world!) and settled down themselves it was pretty quiet. When I say quiet I mean relatively... there was a pretty constant symphony of snores and other bodily noises but once you got used to it it was quite soothing. There were moments when I woke
The cows here all know their green cross code and use the pedestrian crossings!
to feel the train hurtling along so fast that I was convinced it was going to derail and other times when it came to a stop waiting for other trains to come in the opposite direction. When this happens you hear a long blast of the horn and then the sound of the approaching train gets louder and louder until it thunders past at what feels like hundreds of miles an hour about a foot away from your head!
I'm getting pretty used to the stares from everyone now, and it's funny to see their different reactions when you smile at them - some get really shy, others laugh, some see it as an invitation to beg for money and others just don't know what to do so continue staring. It's really lovely travelling by trains and buses with the locals - and mostly they go out of their way to speak to you and to try to help you. On the bus the other day we took the last seats at the back which is where you feel every bump and often end up flying off your seat. As soon as some people got up to leave we
were ushered into these better seats - everyone is so nice!
Finally managed to upload some photographs, so there are a few from the last entry included here too.
We've now managed to travel further south and spend a few days in Mysore - which is lovely and relaxed compared to Hyderabad and Bangalore where we've just come from. I've met some really nice people along the way - a really interesting Amercian guy in Mysore who arrived on this trip around southwen India and like it so much he's now been there 6 weeks and is planning to stay until his visa is up.
I've noticed that occasionally the cultural differences are apparent in the way they use words - would you choose to buy your board shorts from a label called Bum Chums? Whereas other instances prove that you get just what is says on the tin - anyone needs their fistula's checking out? - you can just walk in off the street here and be cured of all sort of ills!\Moving on from Mysore we headed to a hill station called Ooty (actually its called Udhagamandalam, but known thankfully as Ooty. It's int he
middle of tea growing country in the Western Ghats and we did a really good trek out through the plantations and through some villages.
On the night we arrived in Ooty we went for a wander through the back streets of the town and randomly came across a procession involving dancing men, a float lit up with hundreds of lightbulbs from which someone was giving out blessings, lines of schoolchildren with candles and an elephant in headgear! it was pretty spectacular if a little over the top as a welcome procession for us.
We've now moved further south to Kerala and are in Fort Cochin - we travelled down with a couple of ladies from Liverpool who are a real hoot. We did part of the trip by car and had more than one near death experience on the roads. The way people drive is absolutely horrific, everyone goes at top speed, the roads are full of potholes, no-one pays any attention to lanes and overtaking on hairpin bends is the norm.....
Food is still amazing - and going veggie hasn't been the sacrifice I thought it would. I did imagine I might go India thin and
based on that spent the last couple of months eating up but i suspect it's going the other way and I may return more like a little Buddha!
Thanks to everyone for comments, e-mails and facebook messages - all gratefully received, please don't forget to share any gossip from any seasonal festivities, if you don't have any then just make it up!
Love to everyone, enjoy the Christmas crush!!
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