Monday, 1 August 2011

The last one and a Big Bloody Thank You!

The day before I was due to leave for India, I was recommended by a handful of my close friends that I should write a blog to keep them informed. I have always written this for them, but I am so happy it has been enjoyed by so many.  The blog has had over 1,000 hits in 10 different countries. I have received comments from family and friends that have lifted me, surprised me and really shown me how special they are.  This blog has been a fantastic way for me to document what I have been doing and a good reminder for years to come. The fact that others have chosen to take the time to read and in many cases comment, has made my experience in India extraordinary. I would like to thank them for just taking an interest.

I would sincerely like to thank my parents for making the trip a real possibility, to thank David Crossweller and everyone at Wherever the Need. Antonysammy and his family at Bless for having me, feeding me and making me feel so welcome. To Laura Milner for making sure that the Indian telecom industry wouldn’t go bankrupt and to all my friends who have always supported me in this trip.

I am a little sad this is up now as I have really enjoyed doing it, but, as the title suggests, this is my last India post. The fact that I am no longer in India makes it difficult to continue. My thanks once again for the support in reading this and letting me know what you have thought. I hope that you too can find an adventure like this of your own, it is worth it, I promise.

The End. 

The Trip that ended the Trip

The hours in the evening seemed to take an eternity to pass. I was planned to leave at 12.30am, but once you are packed and ready, you feel that it is time to go, but left helplessly waiting. I showered late so I would be as fresh as I could be for the trip, it would be a long one. I was, to my surprise, emotional and sad to be leaving. Although home was certainly calling me and I wanted more than anything to be back, I had and still have so many memories that will always stay with me.

As I waited for 12.30am to come, I was presented with some gifts by Antony, and it was one of those real moments when you are completely taken aback and left a little bit speechless. I was really touched; as they have been so hospitable throughout my entire stay. They will be treasured. One present, which was wrapped and then opened in front of everyone, was a little glass statue/trophy expressing that I would be missed. It was cheap and tacky and at the same time such a lovely thing to receive. They actually meant what it said. Kevin, Antony’s son, also presented me with a metal bracelet, which was too small, but because of the growing crowd I forced it on. It is now past the point of being able to get off. I am, however, in no hurry to remove it.

The journey was easy despite me not being able to keep my 100% record of being in charge of an emergency exit. I did, in spite of previous failed attempts, try a little at the upgrade chitchat at check-in but as always this ended in disappointment. In my attempts to strive for a seat where I had responsibility I believe the check-in lady caught on to this and therefore allocated me a seat with one. I was not in charge of a spacious emergency exit but I was seated in baby world and surrounded my mothers who saw me as a good young helper.

Touch down couldn’t have come quicker, the baggage defiantly could have. In my impatience I started to question whether I really needed my mud covered clothes in my bag anyway. A girlfriend who I had not seen in 6 weeks was 100 yards away and with in touching distance and the bag suddenly became unimportant. Before I was taken over completely by impatience it did arrive. It was swept onto the trolley and I darted through customs as fast as the uncontrollable trolley would allow.

As the support of my family had been so strong over the course of my stay in India, they saw no need for it to stop here. Laura took me to Mayfair where I showered and changed into clothes that had been provided for me, and then taken for a oversized steak with my parents at Browns. I ate so much that I am yet to have even thought about a snack this evening.

I am back now, on my Mac, which feels weird to write my blog on. I almost need the occasional power cut or dodgey keyboard to be able to write this all down as I have been doing. I have technology in my hands, food in the fridge and comfort when I sleep. Sometimes you don’t realise you are homesick until you are actually home. I am looking forward to tomorrow, the next day and the day after that, where I can spend time with my friends that have been sorely missed (or maybe its just the fact I haven't had anyone to play a good game of football with). 

I am back now, and I don’t plan to be leaving anytime soon.

I tried to put on a brave face but I was exhusted.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Let the games begin

Last day in India. I leave at midnight to go to Chennia for a 5.00am flight. Trying to deprive myself of rest and sleep now so that I can sleep through the whole journey.

Today was a great way to finish off my experience at Redichavady. A whole sports day was organised for the children, which was a mix between apple bobbing, three legged races and cricket and football. I got allocated my own team, which was by far the smallest of all the teams, no one managing to exceed the 5 foot mark. (I think fully grown Indians often border on this mark anyway.) The events were fun although extremly hot. The children were both interested and perplexed into the sweat my body produced throughout the course of the day.

I am really looking forward to home now, despite really having a fantastic time here. There are so many comforts of home that I just cant go out, not to mention the people that are there. I leave in a couple of hours now and only have my last supper left. I will post when I am home. But for now, this was India.

This is Allwin, the boy who I have been teaching English

Team Win!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Drink it, I dare you.

Well I am back for the last time and tonight will be my last night in Pondicherry. Goa was a fantastic experience but I feel I have served my time now and home is waiting for me.

The trip back from Goa was easy but could have so easily been a drama. I did not calculate how long the journey to the airport would be in my mind, despite having made the trip when I arrived. When I arrived, everything was new and exciting and time always travels quickly in situations like that. It was due to this that I assumed the one hour journey was only about 25 minutes. The time on the way to the airport seemed to travel even quicker, but this time not in my favor. I did not want to sit around in Goa airport for hours with nothing to do, I wanted to arrive with little time to spare. As I recognised landmarks on the journey I quickly started to realise how far away we still were. 20 minuets to check-in closed came and went, as did 10 minuets, 5 minuets and then 5 minuets past closing. It was just one of those days where everything was taking an age and the drivers refusal to exceed 50km an hour started to infuriate me. I gave him his money and ran to the check in, 10 minutes after closing and with only 35 minutes until the plane was due to take off. I asked the lady behind the counter if I was too late, trying desperately not to use any charm or eager smiles that gave me no favors at Heathrow. She didn't say a word, looked confused at the hurry, took my booking form and asked me to put the bag on the scales. I had made it and was on the plane so quickly I saw my baggage being loaded after me.

Security is not quite the same as we have it at airports in the UK, although I was under the assumption there was some king of international code we had to follow. In my hurry I had forgotten about the bottles of water in my hand luggage that I had snatched from the hotel. My bag was kindly set aside when I made it through the metal detector. I pointed to it, accepting my fate. He pulled out the bottle and told me to have a sip, I did, and he ushered me on. Here the check is, if you can stomach it, you can have it. I hope the same doesn't apply to sword swallowers.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Inside luxury travel with Oliver Riley

Still raining here, so still spending most of my time in the hotel. I have ventured out on quite a few occasions but its always seems to disapoint me. I wanted to get some gifts and a brochure pointed out that there was a shopping centre near to the hotel. It was within walking distance and it was a good excuse to get out, explore and possibly come back with some goodies. As I approched it I did a walk by to make sure it was the right one. There were about 5 shops in this "shopping centre", that frankly made the Harpur Centre look like Westfields, and 4 of the shops had shut down, leaving the one solitary shop. As I entered I was greeted by around 6/7 shop assistants, probably all from the shops which had shut down all congregating into the one remaining shop. It also looked like they had very few customers, hence their excitement when I entered. It was clear to me in the first few seconds that I would not be needing anything from the shop, but I couldn't just walk in and then straight out. I wandered through the ground floor and then the second before looking like I couldnt find what I was looking for. I left relieved that I was out, but not satisfied.

I am yet to enjoy the pool, but for a number of valid factors. 1. it does rain a lot. 2. I dont have any swimming trucks and 3. when the sun is out I cant seem to get sun cream on my back. It is a real dilemia for people travelling on their own and there must be a Dragons Den invention that can fix this. I understand that as long as I am not wearing "budgie smugglers" that I can ask another man to apply it for me, but does this apply for strangers? The advert is incomplete. I wander the hotel, trying out the different resutrants and facilities and still feel a little bit like I am there for some purpose or reason, inspecting the hotel. I imagine this is what it would be like being James Fulcher, traveling and staying in the luxury hotels on offer all over the world.

I did, however, get 90 minuets of real entertainment. ESPN had the Chelsea Kitchee game, and I can assure you, you wont see a better display of football all season. The 4-0 win was a Frank Lampard masterclass of distribution, although I am slightly worried that in the last 4 games our opposition have scored 3 own goal. I don't think we can rely on this all season.

The unused pool

Nothing better than chilling out with a fosters (water) at the game (on tv)

Monday, 25 July 2011

The One in Goa

It was an early 4.30 wake up for a 5.00 pick up to Chennai airport. I probably should have pack the night before but I honestly didn't see the driver turning up 25 minutes early. I scrambled my belongings into my bag, had a quick wash and half sleepwalked into the car. I tried to continue sleep in the car but the sun was rising and there was little I could do to get myself back to sleep. I was excited for my trip, I actually enjoyed the feeling of being completely on my own, do it by myself and hadn't really had this with out the help of parents or Tom Turner. I felt in many ways, completely free. The journey was surprisingly pleasant. I flew with "Jet Airways" and I was impressed. I could check-in online and the planes were comfortable. I have become a master of checking in online and guarantee myself the emergency exit. 3 out of 3 now, little do they know that if there is an emergency I will be off like a shot. After plane 2 landed in Goa I got talking to some English girls on the bus to the terminal. It was nice to hear English voices and I was thrilled that I had made some friends. I was a little bit worried I would be a loner on the trip, so to have already met people before I got across to Goa's terminal was a dream. At baggage I was kindly introduced to their group which I struggled to work out quite how big it was. I was bombarded with names, some I don't remember and exchanged my phone number. I got into my taxi happy and full of energy for the day, despite having little sleep. On the 25 minuet taxi to the hotel I had my first sights of Goa. Due to my lack of research I wasn't aware that Goa is a state and not a city. It is a small state but there isn't an actual place called "Goa". The countryside was incredibly green, I'm sure due to the vast amounts of rain they have here, but it felt like I was in a jungle. Very different to the surrounding I have back in Pondicherry.

The hotel is fantastic, huge king size bed (don't know if you can actually have a "huge" king size bed, as "king size" is a standard measurement), air con, good food, swimming pool (haven't got any trunks but I can still look at it), and a TV that has had the cricket on non-stop. There is however one problem. I do feel that I am in the Friends episode where they go to Barbados and cant leave the hotel because it wont stop raining. They only difference is, they actually have some friends.

The first few days have been pretty relaxing, room service and cricket mostly. I have however, at the request of fitness coach Josh Lawson, gone to the gym a few times. Yesterday (my second day here), I had yet to have word of the group I gave my number to. I don't want to sound needy but the only friends I had made, hadn't text. As I looked at the phone number I had given them, and with no thought to get theirs or give my English number, I realised that it was a Pondicherry number and there was a possibility that without the area code the number would be unrecognisable. My heart sunk. I tried it in my hotel phone and after a lengthy talk of Hindi, an English voice said the dreaded words, "the number you have dialed is unrecognisable, please..." I was so angry at myself, I lost the only friends I had and, as my worries tried to tell me, spend the rest of the holiday on my lonesome. I went to the gym, still with a mixed emotion of anger and real disappointment. As I was doing my "35kg" bicep curls my phone went off. To my utter surprise it was them. I have no idea how the number worked but I really didn't care, I was delighted and we have all arranged to meet up tomorrow.

I didn't make it to breakfast the first morning, due to my body going into a mini coma from the comfy bed and black out curtains. I did however make it down today at 9.30. Now  I didn't understand at first but I think I have come up with a conclusion for why this is happening to me. I can see only 2 reasons why a white man would come to a hotel like this on his own.1 He is like me and just taking a holiday (with no friends) or 2 he is a hotel inspector. Now I think, that they think, that I am 2. At breakfast I was met by person 1 who took me to me to person 2 who took my name and handed me over to person 3 to take me to my seat. Person 4 then asked me if I would like some fresh juice, despite it being a buffet and 3 yards away from me. I went up to get some fruit where person 5  helped me plate it up, its still a buffet remember. After fruit I went to put my bread in the standard hotel toast conveyor belt, and person 6 insisted that he would do it for me and bring it to me. I got back to the table where person 7 (OK it might have been someone from before but there were a lot of them) was pouring tea and person 8 was asking how I would like my eggs. I felt swamped, especially as this didn't seem to be happening to the other guests who were left to fend for themselves. I did have a pencil and pad with me as I was going to plan out my day from the map, but for them this was just a tool for hotel criticism.

To bring you up to date. It is 11.30. I asked where the nearest Internet cafe was but they have assured me that I can use theirs and given access to their office. Again I'm not sure if this is normal hotel policy. This blog just adds to their concern that I am noting things down about the hotel.

Now this, as I am sure you can work out, is my bed.

 Not a great photo, but they only ones I have so far. Its raining btw.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

I'm Goaing away

Firstly, just a little apology for the title...

Things have been quite round here recently, and I don't want to spend my last week sitting in my room wondering if I am going to get an infection. I have booked myself a little holiday, 5 nights in Goa. (Hence the ridiculous title). I got an amazing deal and I am really looking forward to it. Its swings and roundabouts really. I will be away from the infection epidemic but they have malaria out there and I don't have the medication. I think I am working on the principle of, If Cheryl can do it then so can I, and the great Didier of course. (Mum, Dad, its only a couple of days, I will be fine, If I can get some tablets I'll buy them). Mummy told me I am not even allowed to use other peoples mobile phones; "because you can get infection through using other people's phones. When I was in Brazil...." (and so on). Despite only being a couple hundred miles away I couldn't get a direct flight and have to change at Bengaluru, I was however informed of this after I booked the flight. 45 minutes to Bengaluru, wait for an hour, then another hour to Goa. The change of scenery, food and overall luxury is going to give my body a bit of a shock, but I am going to go all out. I think food is the one thing I am really craving at the moment. I come back on Friday morning so I can finish off the work I have been doing out here. It will be a nice way to finish off the trip.

This is just a rough picture where I am going. I would recommend Googling Goa though. It looks beautiful and is on the coast. Lots of things to do.

P.S. Nice one KP, don't know why they keep going on about this Sachin chap either.