Pure Daft

India Visit 2009

26 Aug 2009

Our first trip to India.

20 August 2009

0 km: Southampton

It all started in Southampton around 21.00. We loaded the U-Drive van with our luggage which included a 42” TV which we would take to my fiancée, H’s, family in Mumbai. R, our suffering house-mate and landlord, had been roped into giving us a lift to Heathrow in the van which we had picked up before going to work in the morning.

70 km: Heathrow

23.00: Arrived at Heathrow. We wondered around the area around arrivals at Terminal 3, then realised we should be departing, not arriving, so eventually found the desk we would check in at seven hours hence. We set up camp in the corridors of the shops upstairs as all the comfortable seats had been taken and awaited check-in which would be at 06.00.

21 August

06.10: After a quick check-in at Air India, whose staff seemed to be used to dealing with 42” TVs, we went to Customs to see if we could get our VAT back on a TV which would be leaving the country. However, after an hour waiting in the queue of people seemingly filling out a year’s worth of tax returns at the desk, we found that as we were not leaving the country permanently we had no entitlement to VAT back. Oh well.

7,280 km: Mumbai Sahar

22 August

7,310 km: Navi Mumbai

7,320 km

23 August

7,410 km

24 August

7,480 km

25 August

26 August

27 August

Mumbai darshan (glance)

We returned via highways through many slums.

28 August

Lonavala

Drove to Lonavala and visited Great Eastern Maritime Academy. Ate in the mess,
where I had my first taste of Indian murga (chicken) curry (4/5).
+72 km = 7,670 km.

29 August

Drove around Lonavala and returned to Navi Mumbai. Went paddling in the streams coming from Bushy Dam and went to Lion’s Point, a viewpoint up in the mountains of Lonavala which would normally show a view for miles around. However, we got up there and was in the middle of a cloud.
+135 km = 7,805 km

Navi Mumbai

30 August

Went to P’s house in the evening. Ate take-away food including veg crispy (4/5) and veg manchurian (4/5). +~5 km.

1 September

Drove around to get some shopping and to look at prospective houses
for H’s family home. +50 km = 7,860 km.

2 Sepetmber

Walked to a cafe in Seawoods called, Rab’z Café. +5 km.

3 September

Took a rik to Vashni, where I bought some spices to cook either jerked vegetables (allspice, thyme), creamy pasta (nutmeg, parsley) or something mexican (paprika, chili) depending on the available spices. Thyme, parsley, paprika and chili were easily found. I’ll have to remember to bring my own allspice next time. +15 km.

H went to the travel agent to book a coach to Ratnagiri to stay at a hotel managed by her former manager, R. We travelled later that evening on the overnight sleeper which wound its way around the mountains between Navi Mumbai and Ratnagiri. We stopped several times for toilet and refreshment breaks, but after using the toilet at the first stop, I didn’t dare get down again: the toilet was Indian-style (stand-on-top) but also brimming with previous usage.

We didn’t get any sleep that night, as we got tossed from side to side winding along highway NH17. +~320 km.

4 September

Ratanagiri

At 07.00, we arrived at the resort near Ratnagiri and took great pleasure in having a shower as soon as we arrived. At 15.20, R showed us around, taking us to several waterfalls and other features prominent in the Ratnagiri area.
+55 km.

5 September

We took a couple of tours around the Ratnagiri area, at 09.05 we were taken to Ganpatipule where we paddled in the dirty ocean water and had a snack in a hotel’s restaurant. We drove back along the coast. +84 km.

In the afternoon we were taken to a museum which was King Thibaw of Burma’s palace whilst the British kept him under their control, a fort to aid the fight against the British, walked near to the Ratnagiri lighthouse, then went to a freedom fighter’s (against the British) birthplace. +26 km

6 September

In the afternoon we were shown Paramhans Temple near Pawas and strolled along a beautiful beach called Gavkhadi. +50 km.

7 September

In the morning we packed for Navi, and strolled around the site of our hotel, taking in the beautiful scenery near Ratnagiri. At 13.30, we waited for our train to arrive at Ratnagiri station. The track was filled with litter and smelt like manure. A kid was picking bottles off the track and filling them with water, for later resale. A street dog sat infront of us, laid down for a sleep, later getting up, scratching itself and moving on.

At 14.45, the train arrived at Ratnagiri. Due to arrive at 20.00 but is 1h45 late. We had booked a 2-AC carriage, which means there are two beds vertically, rather than three, which means you get more space to sit if you wish. There were two others in our carriage: one guy who after I gestured whether or not he wanted any table space (as we were there first and had settled in) retreated with his bag to the corner of his seat somehow newly scared of me; and a lady who also kept to herself, occasionally talking on the phone or eating snacks offered by train staff. These staff would walk up and down the train calling “चाय, चाय, चाय” (cāy/tea) or whatever their wares were. The journey was very smoothe for the first half of the journey, however the second half involved an irritating wobble.

Navi Mumbai

21.00: Our rickshaw arrived back at home in Navi Mumbai. We are sceptical of the prices rickshaw drivers offer because, when they see a Westener, they are likely to increase their prices. Occasionally I’ve hidden until a price has been agreed, then reveal that meh gora hoon. This particular rickshaw driver was asking for ₹270, when my fiancée was expecting a fare of ₹210, after accidentally hitting him in the face whilst moving my big bag, we settled on his price as a compensation - though he didn’t mention that I hit him. +310 km = 8,725 km.

In the evening we went for a walk with the family. We walked along the slow lane of the three-lane carriage way: nobody in Mumbai seems to walk on the pavement, probably because it is not continuous, is often either slippery or filled with litter or parked motorcycles. A, P’s two-year-old son, was running through the puddles on the outside of the slow lane.

8 September

In the evening we went shopping in Croma, an electronics store which, like most companies in India, is owned or branded by the TATA Group. We also went for a dental check-up. +11 km.

9 September

In the evening we went for a stroll to get some bread and get some fresh evening air.

10 September

In the afternoon, we drove to the mountains to the east of Mumbai to later visit temples WNW of Mumbai. +186 km.

11 September

Visited the local templete near where we had slept overnight, Shri Trimbakeshwar Temple in Trimbakeshwar, near Nasik.

By midday, we had reached Shirdi Sai Baba, Shirdi. +124 km.

Shani Shingnapur Temple, Shingnapur. three temples in the mountains of Maharashtra.

By late evening, we returned home to Navi Mumbai. +354 km = 9,400 km.

12 September

Drove to Greater Mumbai to do some administration before leaving India. After the first stop, our car started overheating and we had to wait at the roadside for three-and-a-half hours. +79 km.

In the evening, we went to the dentists and a friend visited for dinner. +16 km.

13 September

Drove to H’s home of 14 years in Ulhasnagar. +82 km.

In the evening packed.

14 September

Drove to the airport. Was first in line at the Air India counter and so the first to get seat reservations. +39km = 9,616 km.

Waited in Delhi for a connecting flight which was delayed by four hours. +1,140 km.

Arrived at Heathrow. +6,740 km = 17,496 km.

15 September

02.05: Arrived back in Southampton +120 km = 17,616 km or 10,946 miles.