Vivaah Sanskar

On Sunday 2 November 2014 I attended my friend’s wedding. I wasn’t the official photographer but just had to take my new little el-cheapo lens along for a tryout.

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“A Hindu wedding is called vivaha (Sanskrit: विवाह[1]) and the wedding ceremony is called vivaah sanskar.[2][3] The Hindus attach a lot of importance to marriages, the ceremonies are very colourful, and celebrations may extend for several days. The bride’s and groom’s home – entrance, doors, wall, floor, roof – are sometimes decorated with colors, balloons and other decorations.[4]

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The rituals and process in a Hindu wedding vary widely. Nevertheless, there are a few key rituals common in Hindu weddings – Kanyadaan, Panigrahana, and Saptapadi, which are respectively, giving away of daughter by the father, voluntarily holding hand near the fire to signify union, and taking seven steps with each step includes a vow/promise to each other before fire.[5] The Hindu wedding ceremony at its core is essentially a Vedic yajna ritual. The primary witness of a Hindu marriage is the fire-deity (or the Sacred Fire) Agni, in the presence of family and friends.[6] The ceremony is traditionally conducted entirely, or at least partially in Sanskrit, considered by Hindus as the language of holy ceremonies. The local language of the bride and groom is also used.

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The pre-wedding and post-wedding rituals and celebrations vary by region, preferences or the resources of the groom, bride and their families. They can range from one day to multi-day events. Pre-wedding ceremonies includeengagement (involving vagdana or betrothal and lagna-patra written declaration),[3] and arrival of the groom’s party at the bride’s residence, often in the form of a formal procession with dancing and music. The post-wedding ceremonies may include Abhishek, Anna Prashashan, Aashirvadah, and Grihapravesa – the welcoming of the bride to her new home.

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In India, where most Hindus live, by law and tradition, no Hindu marriage is binding and complete unless the ritual of seven steps and vows in presence of fire (Saptapadi) is completed by the bride and the groom together.[7] This requirement is under debate.[8] ” ~ Wikipadia

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A scooter, a bridge and a maiden 2

It is likely that most of you did not view one of my first posts in July 2012, which is shown again hereunder with added extras: Club Fresh, Rococco, Relax with Beautiful People and Urchins.

“Early morning 17 January 2012, somewhere on the road between Shantadurga Temple and Morgim Beach in Goa (India), buzzing along on a 125 cc Honda scooter.

Wind racing over my semi-bald head, eyes stinging, mouth watering for that first beer on Morgim Beach and mind gloating over the possibilities (food): chicken tikka, prawn curry, roti, rice, chips…

It was then that I saw the bridge, an upcoming sandy village and a maiden (walking) in a yellow sari.

To be honest, she was just passing by at the time I got captivated by the old bridge and dirty muddy river underneath.

The route from my temporary abode in Candolim, dotted with holy cows, chickens, more scooters, taxis, tantalizing smells, sleepy villages and bustling junction points, is shown below.

I was “experimenting” once again this evening with single photos, my limited knowledge and some software.

The two photos (original then edited), shown below, advertise “Club Fresh” and other joys for some (the well-off) but not the unfortunate urchins, who emerged from a tent alongside the signboard.

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The final photo is an edit of the maiden and the bridge.

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Once again, I am not ecstatic with the results but this is how we learn: by never giving up and trying once more.

The Buddhist Retreat Centre & Pathways in Life

In or around 2005 I first encountered the teachings of Buddha and attended regular teachings for the next two years.

I left that particular path or tradition and it was during May 2007, over a certain weekend, that I “somehow” found myself  “involved” at another tradition: Buddhist Retreat Centre (BRC) in Ixopo, South Africa.

On the Saturday evening of that weekend, sitting alone next to a glowing fireplace, I read a short biography of Mother Theresa and it really touched my heart.

The photos below were taken that weekend using a Canon Ixus.

A few years later I sat in silence a few metres from Mother Teresa’s tomb in Kolkata, India and visited her home for the sick and dying.

There are no “some-hows” – only pathways; cause and effect (Karma) in action.

None of the happenings above were “random”. They all came about through paths I had taken and numerous causes that had arisen.

Buddha gave advice on the The Noble Eight-fold Path listed below:

1. Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

There seem to be lots of paths in and around the BRC now that I study the photos nearly six years later

Below there are approximately Eight Paths and some other views of interest.

BRC Ixopo 047 (Large) BRC Ixopo 001 (Large) BRC Ixopo 002 (Large) BRC Ixopo 019 (Large) BRC Ixopo 021 (Large) BRC Ixopo 009 (Large) BRC Ixopo 006 (Large) BRC Ixopo 013 (Large) BRC Ixopo 015 (Large) (Medium) BRC Ixopo 022 (Large) BRC Ixopo 023 (Large) BRC Ixopo 024 (Large) BRC Ixopo 025 (Large) BRC Ixopo 033 (Large) BRC Ixopo 034 (Large) BRC Ixopo 037 (Large) BRC Ixopo 038 (Large) BRC Ixopo 040 (Large) BRC Ixopo 041 (Large) BRC Ixopo 044 (Large) BRC Ixopo 048 (Large) BRC Ixopo 049 (Large) BRC Ixopo 056 (Large) (Medium) BRC Ixopo 051 (Large)

Delhi India – December 2011

Jama Masjid Mosque
Jama Masjid Mosque
Our arrival
Our arrival
Busy in a side alley
Busy in a side alley
Bicycle taxis
Bicycle taxis
Learning the ropes
Learning the ropes
Prayer inside Jama Masjid
Prayer inside Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid water source
Jama Masjid water source
Relaxing and cool
Relaxing and cool
Wash drink contemplate
Wash, drink, contemplate
Finishing the job while the customer waits
Finishing the job while the customer waits
Squirrel gather scraps in between the benches
Squirrel gather scraps in between the benches
Maybe taking dad out for the day
Taking dad out for the day
Old Delhi gathering
Old Delhi gathering
Mobile phones for all
Mobile phones for all
Old Delhi
Old Delhi times 2
Traffic suspiciously mild
Traffic suspiciously mild
Cast nets on the side
Cast nets on the side and who are you
Men are from Mars!
Men are from Mars!
Ground level
Ground level
A visit to Karim's is a must when in Delhi
A visit to Karim’s is a must when in Delhi
Sikh family
Sikh family feeding their mouths and the squirrels 
http://www.karimhoteldelhi.com
http://www.karimhoteldelhi.com 
Destitute waiting for food
Destitute waiting for food
No fare power-nap
No fare = power-nap
All and sundry use the road
All and sundry use the road
Delhi at night 1
Delhi at night 1
Careful where you eat or you will meet "Delhi Belly"
Careful where you eat or you will meet “Delhi Belly”
Delhi at night 2
Delhi at night 2
The band that patrons started throwing cash notes at
The band that patrons started throwing cash notes at – seriously
The party really got going
The party really got going big time
We only find out later that dancing was banned in this bar
We only found out later that dancing was banned in this bar, but were not sorry for getting it going
Tasty treats at Karim's in Old Delhi
Tasty treats at Karim’s in Old Delhi – fresh and original 
After playing the tunes he needed a stiff Scotch
After playing the tunes he needed a stiff Scotch
Bamboo scaffolding
Bamboo scaffolding
Lord Hanuman
Lord Hanuman
Entrance 1
Entrance 1
Entrance 2
Entrance 2
On the road
On the road
On the road 2
On the road 2
Our party animal friends we met that night
Our party animal friends we met that night
Use your "dipper"
Use your “dipper”
I was a little amused to see that a goat was also catching a ride
I was a little amused to see that a goat was also catching a ride

This post about my visit to Delhi was inspired by another blog “Shankar Market, Old Delhi and the Weekend” – click, visit and see some more lovely photos with great colours.

Also see “Where the guys gives roses” by the same author.

Varanasi

Whilst  reading THE CULTUREUR this afternoon, I came across the post SPIRITUAL CHAOS ON THE HARIDWAR GHATS ALONG THE GANGES RIVER.

I immediately thought of Varansi (calm and chaos) and this inspired me to pull out some photos I recorded there during my last trip to India in 2011/2012.

I first went to India in 2009/10: see related blog here and some other photos here.

I have inserted my photos above, below and in between the comment by Wikipedia that enlightens us as follows “Varanasi (Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈraːɳəsi] (listen)), also commonly known as BenaresBanaras (Banāras [bəˈnaːrəs] (listen)) or Kashi (Kāśī [ˈkaːʃi] (listen)), is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (200 mi) southeast of the state capital Lucknow.

It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus and Jains, and holiest of the seven most sacred Hindu cities (Sapta Puri), of its ancient historic, cultural and religious heritage. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi can bring salvation.

Body being transported to a ghat for cremation

It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.

Unfortunately many of its temples were subject to plundering and destruction by Mohammad Ghauri in the 12th century. The temples and religious institutions seen now in the city are mostly of the 18th century vintage.

The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations.

The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river’s religious importance.

The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years and is one of the world’s most important religious centres with a history which transcends and unites most of the major world religions.

The Benares Gharanaform of the Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi.

Varanasi is today considered to be the spiritual capital of India.Here scholarly books have been written.

Ramcharitmanas was composed by Tulsidas here while there is the temple Tulsi Manas Mandir that is famous here.

In addition to this, the largest residential University of Asia, Benares Hindu University is located here.

People often refer to Varanasi as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on earth.”

Ghats in Varanasi are an integral complimentary to the concept of divinity represented in physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements.

All the ghats are locations on “the divine cosmic road,” indicative of “its manifest transcendental dimension.” Varanasi has at least 84 ghats.

Steps in the ghats (ghats are embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions) lead to the banks of River Ganges, including the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat (where Hindus cremate their dead).

Many ghats are associated with legends and several are now privately owned.Many of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control.

Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwas stand out as patrons of present-day Varanasi.

Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitors attraction. The miles and miles of ghats makes for the lovely river front with multitude of shrines, temples and palaces built “tier on tier above the water’s edge”.

The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main and probably the oldest ghat of Varansi located on the Ganges, close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

It is believed that the god Brahma created it to welcome Shiva and he also sacrificed ten horses during Dasa -Ashwamedha yajna performed here.

Above the ghat and close to it, there are also temples dedicated to Sulatankesvara, Brahmesvara, Varahesvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, Ganga (the Ganges), and Bandi Devi which are part of important pilgrimage journeys.

A group of priests perform “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) daily in the evening at this ghat as a dedication to Shiva, Ganga, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the whole universe.

Special aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals. The Manikarnika Ghat is the Mahasmasana (meaning: “great cremation ground”) and is the primary site for Hindu cremation in the city. Adjoining the ghat, there are raised platforms that are used for death anniversary rituals.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

It is said that an ear-ring (Manikarnika) of Shiva or his wife Sati fell here. According to a myth related to the Tarakesvara Temple, a Shiva temple at the ghat, Shiva whispers the Taraka mantra (“Prayer of the crossing”) in the ear of the dead.

Fourth-century Gupta period inscriptions mention this ghat. However, the current ghat as a permanent river side embankment was built in the 1302 and has been renovated at least thrice.”

I also found out that kite flying (or fighting) was important in Varanasi ; but even more so in Jaipur where the youngsters and adults ran around madly after fallen kites.

Emergency repairs

Fun in the afternoon

Rooftops were a hive of activity 

She “shared” her puppies with me (rooftop of Suraj Guest House; the owner’s daughter)

Suraj Guest House is a good bet when looking for somewhere to stay

The owner was very helpful and accommodating – visit Suraj website here

No post about Varanasi would be complete if Ganga Fuji Restaurant was not mentioned. The owner Kailash asks that you design a “country of origin” poster for his wall

Lovely non-oily food and great entertainment 

Some uninformed person called the food bland. The owner cooks exactly what you ask for i.e. freaking hot spicy or mild like a cucumber

Free entertainment 

Bhai on drums!

Ganga Fuji was recommended by the owner of Suraj: good contacts usually recommend good contacts

Impromptu hair appointment 

Roadside food stall

Outskirts of Varanasi – Chinese Buddhist temple at Sarnath

Sarnath is where Buddha gave his first sermon.

It was a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Varanasi, but we will leave all of that for another day & post.

Some related posts you may be interested in:

Durga Puja, the Worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, Returns to Calcutta, India (part 1) 

A World of Prayer

A must watch documentary filmed at Varanasi:

Beyond

Kara Nichha’s – A Taste of India in Westcliff Chatsworth

Now to start this post off properly; let’s understand that I am not friends with the owner. He did not offer me shares in the business or a free sandwich.

I love Indian food, food cooked with care and attention, value for money, deep tastes, tinges or splurges of chilli, bright colours, semi fat free, creamy but with no cream and did I forget to mention: value for money!

Outlets motivated solely by greed, who care less about what they are serving up (as long as the cash register rings) and who just don’t deserve a break; they seriously don’t deserve a break or support.

Yes, I am a little vocal about this subject because I am a fair cook (I can fry more than an egg) and don’t like wasting money.

So when I get served up a lump of sh!%$#*! or a few crumbs for many pennies, then I would rather go to the market, buy my own goodies at “cost” and cook a hearty tasty value for money real deal meal myself.

Now having heard the BIG rumours around town about  Kara Nichha’s value for money, I just had to go an investigate (three times now).

Could low cost + no meat = very good taste?

Without further delay, let’s zoom in with a Canon camera to all see what’s going on at a vegerterian palace.

Parking right outside

Don’t fall over – tea R2-00 and a quarter vegetable bunny (curry in quarter loaf of bread that has been scooped hollow) for R6-50 (PS – some idiot in Durban actually charges R30-00 for the same thing and it tastes terrible)

Big turnover of customers = fresh fresh food

Service is quick and ruthless – know what you want before getting served and leave with it in a minute or less

Choose your colour – choose your meal

Fresh bean & potato wrapped in a roti for R6-50! That is 0.78 US Dollar and lunch is done – creamy and tasty

Sweet meats deluxe

Some more treats and snacks

And more…

Breyani and dhall – yummy!

It’s so tasty you could drink it

Stop licking your lips and immediately head over to:

Kara Nichha’s – Westcliff
171 Florence Nightingale Drive
Durban 4092
South Africa
Phone number
031 401 2874

The road to Dakshineswar

December 2009

I and one other departed on Emirates flight EK776 out of Durban at 18:40 on 23 December 2009, with a “forced” and inconvenient stopover in Dubai.

Described by some as “the mirage in the desert”, it was reported by the Times Online UK that this enchanting country enjoyed a debt of 80 billion USD during around June 2009.

I personally find mirages and owing money a little frightening, so it was with much excitement that we eventually departed and later landed in Kolkata, India. This was on the morning of Christmas Eve, but there was nothing merry about going through a swine flu questionnaire and scan.

We stayed at Bodhi Tree, a small bed & breakfast establishment tastefully decorated with various Buddhist décor. Each morning we enjoyed breakfast in a Sakya Zen garden under the watchful eye of Shakyamuni Buddha.

Dakshineswar (the subject of this article) is a temple situated on the Eastern bank of the Ganges (Hooghly) river.

The main temple is over one hundred feet high and houses a statue of goddess Kali. As the myth goes, it is said that she became drunk on the blood of her victims on the battlefield, thereafter dancing destructively and in a crazy frenzy! Some recent devotional movements view her as a benevolent mother goddess.

During our stay in Kolkata we hired taxis (Tata’s or Hindustan Ambassadors) at ZAR250.00 for 7 hours and/or 80km – the latter being the same shape since 1958.

Kolkata was very busy – think of the worst JHB traffic multiplied by ten, non-stop hooting, smog and general mayhem caused by the opening of a new Makro store nearby where items are being sold at less 50%, the residing population (which exceeds fifteen million) making this all really exciting.

Our first “traumatic” outing was to Kalighat Temple where we were picked up by “scouts” about two hundred metres short of the temple. We were immediately ushered to their waiting room where we were instructed to leave our shoes and wash our hands before being marched off with a supplied offering. An eager “receiver” was only too obliged to hastily usher us around the temple, thereafter spending a lengthy period of time explaining that our impending financial offering would greatly benefit our own spiritual welfare. At this stage I involved myself, negotiated a fair payment for his services, and then us out leaving the “receiver” with a wry, painful smile on his face.

We returned to Kalighat Temple two days later and at our own leisure, walked around the perimeter. We briefly met one of the nuns at Mother Teresa’s Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes situated alongside.

The photograph below taken at the aforesaid location shows an elderly lady in an orange sari, thin and grey, sitting in front of a number of pigeons. The lady in the white sari, lying curled up on the ground, was previously seen walking hunchbacked, slowly and in much pain toward Mother Teresa’s home.

It is quite possible that the lady in white had been doing what we saw for the past few years, although I had a strong suspicion that she was desperately trying to reach Mother Teresa’s Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes.

I do not recall having ever seen poverty of this magnitude when walking the main and side roads of South Africa, or the various other countries I have visited.

On Christmas Eve we visited Saint Paul’s Cathedral and it was at that stage that I confirmed something that I had noticed and initially found unusual – Hindu devotees, amongst the Christian usual’s, were flocking to Saint Paul’s that evening to attend Mass. I have seen very few practicing Christians visiting Hindu Temples, although my experience is limited.

On Christmas morning we visited Mother Teresa’s tomb (or Mother House) where we could hear (but not see) abandoned, yet gleeful children in class. We also observed nuns scurrying around receiving visitors and preparing for the all-important day.

We remained inside the tomb for some time and witnessed persons of various religions entering to pay their respects, to pray, to light candles and offer incense.

The serene and calm of Mother House was replaced later that same morning by blocked off roads and the hustle & bustle of thousands of people thronging towards Dakshineswar Temple and the Ganges (Hooghly) river.

It was that same day that we took our last few steps along the road to finally reach Dakshineswar, a journey which started spiritually, emotionally and in earnest some six months previously with many toils and snares to overcome.

The massive temple illustrated in the photograph below contains a large courtyard with rooms along the boundary walls. There are also twelve shrines situated side by side and a few metres from the Ganges (Hooghly) river.

This is of significant religious importance to millions of people who, amongst other things, scatter the ashes of their loved ones therein.

The excitement and keen spiritual sense of the thousands flocking into and around the temple and river was once again something I have not previously witnessed.

Within at least a one kilometre radius of the temple there are numerous stalls selling food, prayer goods and other items. The energy of individuals and complete families (young and old) who were buzzing around or simply relaxing on or near the grounds (but together) with the many beggars, dogs, cows and crows was unbelievable. There was a hive of activity – clearly a photographer’s paradise!

After accompanying my friend to make an offering at Dakshineswar we headed diagonally across the river to nearby Belur Math, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math. The main temple there is notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions.

Belur Math, which is forty acres in size, was a little more relaxed than Dakshineswar and once again it was heartening to see Ramakrishna followers and others offering their respects to a Nativity display set up in the main temple approximately ten metres away from the residing Guru.

Before leaving the banks of the Ganges (Hooghly) River we of course had to follow suit and (ever so slightly) wet ourselves, but avoiding the prospect of joining the thousands who were already swimming and doing washing.

It was probably on the same day that we caught a bicycle rickshaw to a main road in Kolkata. Here, we attempted to draw twenty thousand rupees from an antique ATM, but received no cash.

I did, however, manage to arrange a full “Gillette” beard shave for fifteen rupees (ZAR2.50).

I also took the photograph below on this main road. This photograph, I believe, gives a fair indication of just how the desperate lives of some seem to continue in Kolkata.

There are two crows perched on the old parked and overloaded rubbish truck (no doubt a Tata).

The driver is to its side using a shovel to load refuse and other junk onto the truck – at the same time under the watchful eye of the crows who are no doubt eagerly awaiting morsels of food.

A lady and her son are seen inside and on the outskirts on the pile of refuse. The lady was looking for food and other valuables whilst her son was seated with their personal belongings. A dog sits in the foreground, relaxed and eyeing the ever busy traffic where the drivers constantly hoot and manoeuvre around one other. Doing all of this and amazingly with minimal fuss, no road rage or the time consuming jams most of us have witnessed.

Our experience of Kolkata was very brief although it was obvious that there is a very keen sense of spirituality here. Small shrines are erected on the sides of most roads – sometimes seen every fifty metres or so. Every person we saw (other than the beggars at the temple), but including the crows, dogs and cows appeared to be busy doing something meaningful to survive.

Boys of approximately ten years of age were seen plastering a wall on a freeway whilst very old men were seen scurrying along the main road carrying machinery and moving heavy articles with the aid of improvised bicycle trolleys.

I shudder to think what the one young gentleman seen shaving a person on a tin can on the pavement would have charged me for a full shave if his “up-market” competition at a nearby shop only charged me ZAR2.50.

Thereafter, we travelled to Hyderabad in South central India, a major hub of the information technology industry. Muslims constitute about forty percent of the population and have substantial presence across the city, although we were very excited to discover a statue of the Buddha 17.5 metres high weighing approximately 350 tons watching over Hussain Sagar Lake.

The photograph above was taken at the super-peaceful Ramakrishna Math.

The statue of Lord Buddha was sculptured out of white granite rock and by approximately two hundred sculptors over a period of two years.

As with Kolkata, the food from vendors on the side of the road and in shops was very tasty, inexpensive and not drenched in oil like most curries back home.

The traffic and hooting was on a par with Kolkata and it was at this stage that we started getting headaches whilst dashing around town in a dodgy yellow tuc-tuc. One way signs, traffic lights and other rules usually obeyed in South Africa do not seem to apply in India. Strangely though, we witnessed no accidents! Once again it is a case of everybody just somehow getting on because it is the only and right thing to do.

Our next stop was Goa where we spent New Year’s Eve and approximately an additional week thereafter lazing around the beaches, eating cheap curries, drinking beers and watching cows (yes the real dairy type) suntan. They would later sneak up on unsuspecting persons asleep on the beach and dig through their bags for bananas, watermelons and other tasty food.

We also hired a scooter for a number of days and “helmet free” we drove up and down the coast seeking out different beaches and beach shacks before once again heading back to our temporary place of abode at sun set.

My friend sadly did not enjoy the backpacker accommodation I organized in Goa, although I did somehow convince her to spend one night in the accommodation after we had enjoyed a good meal and a few local beverages.

It is no doubt for this reason that “we” agreed to cancel the accommodation I arranged in Mumbai and very quickly booked an up-market hotel. Here, we received a bath robe, free slippers, a pen, writing pad, a supply of daily fruit, bottled water and a variety of other luxuries.

In hindsight, my friend made a good decision because by the time we arrived in Mumbai I was suffering from food poisoning, was totally exhausted and even drove past the “hotel” which I had booked (no comment required).

The hotel in Mumbai had three in-house restaurants and our first evening was spent on the roof overlooking Mumbai. Our second and last night was spent in a busy downstairs seafood restaurant where I “forced” my friend to eat an expensive lobster whilst the Bollywood patrons (who were very keenly dressed) probably wondered why on earth we were wearing shorts and tracksuit pants.

Little did I know at the time that we also had lunch at the “infamous” Leopold Cafe’ mentioned in Shantaram.

We flew out of Mumbai and once again were “forced” to stop over in Dubai, spend money at Duty Free and sleep inside the airport. I guess it would have been far worse had my friend not arranged for us to get inside the Diners Club lounge.

We found most of the locals in India to be friendly, humble, appreciative, hardworking and spiritual.

I have no doubt that I may once again return to India to mingle with the lovely people and their interesting culture.

Andrew Harvard

7 March 2010

PS – I did in fact return to India in December 2011 – January 2012