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Published: April 3rd 2013
Last days in India and going home
Breakfast as usual and then we collected towels, our two new friends Joan and Dave, and headed for the calm beach but no umbrellas there meant we couldn't stay. We headed off to Kovalam again and found a spot to sit whilst Steve went surfing, so wish I could have joined him but don't feel my arm is quite up for that yet. We walked along the edge of the waves and the breeze was so welcome.We were pestered quite a bit but didn't buy anything. We stopped for lunch, grilled fish and vegetables, nice to have a change from curry, then made our way back. Joan and Dave are a really down to earth fun couple.Once back at the hotel we both went for a swim and chilled out reading books.A meal at the hotel in the evening which never fails to please and the service is always so good. We chatted to Joan and Dave well Steve and Dave chatted quite a bit I think they were trying to see who could get the most words in, Joan is quieter like me!!! Our last day was spent on the beach at Travencore
Heritage and it was so hot we didn't bother with lunch. I went for a pedicure/manicure as its so inexpensive. We finished packing and had a final buffet meal where Steve felt he had to do justice to the excellent food provided. We were 'entertained' by a Kathakali dance by the pool so a great way to end the evening. We are both quite excited to be returning home despite the weather so I doubt we will sleep much tonight
We really can't believe its ending and in one way it's not. What a way to start retirement and it may have set the tune for the rest of our lives. We are going home and look forward to holding our children, grandchildren , family, friends six months is a long time but it has flown by. Now what is in store to explore? We planned this trip so we had times where we were on the go and times where we rested and Kerala has been a time of rest and reflection. Undoubtably what has made this trip so special is spending time with Steve more than I ever have. He is such a fun person to be with
and whilst he is forgetful, silly and clumsy at times none of that really matters when you are with someone that loves you and that you love, in fact it just adds to the fun. Would he still be in Heathrow if I wasn't there? no, but he might have got on the wrong plane! People have been so important, the contact with friends and family, so glad we took the iPad, and new people we have met on our various trips, and old friends we have seen again. Some of our guides and drivers have been real characters and we have felt genuine warmth towards them. Also the music, taking the iPod dock/speakers and the pictures of our family make each hotel room our home even if only for a night. We thought going away September to March would mean missing winter, well it seems we are going back to a prolonged winter, so we can't get it all right. We know we have missed a huge chunk of the grandchildren growing up but hopefully with more time on our hands we can catch up on that. What have we learned? where do we start ? Breaking my arm
and my earlier fall helped me to understand what's important in life for me, wish we didn't have to learn the hard way. Steve has had a few injuries also so I believe health will help you enjoy life better and no matter where you go there is no place like home. I will try never to complain about the UK we both feel so privileged that we were born there and its our home.
We awoke early and got ready to leave, breakfast and our taxi were waiting. When we got to the airport the plane was ready for take off so we were rushed through, the plane times had changed and when I turned my phone on I saw the message OH dear! still we got on the plane so no problems there. The flight was two hours and we were served breakfast, very roomy on board and the plane wasn't full. We arrived early at 10.35 and were met by Cox and Kings again on time. We enquired about getting an earlier flight but there wasn't one available so we took our luxury cab complete with water, air con and comfy seats and drove into
Mumbai. Being Good Friday and a holiday the traffic was light. The place looked scrubbed and was very modern except for the flavella type buildings to one side which our guide said were Slums, but not in the sense that we understand slum. Many professional people live there as they are modern on the inside with air con, fridge all mod cons (do I believe him?) Living in a high rise is very costly because of the maintenance charge. The local councils are gradually rehousing poor people into high rise for free, half the block for the poor and half for a property developer so the apartments can be flogged at a profit. India is a land of contrasts and we are pleasantly surprised with what we have come across in the 4 weeks we have been here. Most surprising is the legacy left by the Brits after only 100 years of occupation leaving behind a common language, democracy, laws, railways and a passion for drinking tea. The people are charming, very polite and willing to please and overall they seem happy with their lot. The caste system is still here although changing gradually so the more enterprising can make
their way up the ladder. Family and religion glue the country together, traditions are upheld and there is a tremendous respect for people's different beliefs. Life can appear chaotic, the power goes down regularly, armies of bureaucrats are employed to do what I don't know, driving is at times a white knuckle ride, and the food and service has been great. So we feel enriched by visiting India and this is a nation that deserves to and will be highly successful. The final part of our trip was around Mumbai and after watching Slum Dog Millionaire we were not expecting a great deal. The city was clean, quite westernised, seemingly affluent and blessed with beautiful old colonial buildings courtesy of the Brits. Our guide for the afternoon was Nutan a charming lady and our first port of call was the Gateway of India, built in 1911 to commemorate the visit to India by good 'ol King George the Fifth. The ferries run from here to Elephant island but a four hour round trip was not on the cards. several lads were jumping in to the sea here as dares for a few rupees. our guide said they did not know
about the pollution but also thought that was their way of life and they probably wouldn't catch anything especially not a live fish! Then on to Gandhi's residence in Mumbai and what a chap he was. Very much revered by today's Indians as the founder of the nation and persuading the Brits to leave peacefully in 1947 after 100 years of rule. Must read up about the great man's life. He was assassinated probably because next stop was to the Hanging Gardens, they are not hanging at all but we had a pleasant stroll around the gardens in 35degrees, bring on the English weather. The final stop was to the Prince of Wales Museum, plenty to see but our time was limited, still we soaked in some Indian culture. By 5.30 the tour was ending, we said farewell to Nutan and Gulam our driver took us to an hotel by the airport for an evening meal. Along the way we witnessed the depth of poverty in the city with people living under bin liners by the side of the main road. Never short of surprises India.So the adventure is complete but a new one in our lives starts with our
retirement. The trip has been incredible and beyond our expectations in many ways. We have seen amazing sites and met so many different warm, friendly people, some living in conditions that we just couldn't cope with. What made the trip special for me was Pauline, the time we spent sharing this adventure together and realising what an amazing, loving person she is, one of God's special creatures. I am blessed.
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