(When I took the above photo, a man appeared from nowhere, and tried to make me pay him. I’m not sure he was even connected to the lorry! I walked away, and let Husband deal with him.)
Still so much that’s new in India. Today I tried ‘Dragon Fruit’ or ‘pitaya’. I’ve seen them in supermarkets in the UK, but never known how to eat them. I asked the man delivering them, and he said to cut it lengthways into quarters, and then gently pull back the peel. I washed it first, just to eliminate chance of eating germs. It looks really amazing. It tastes really disappointing! Is okay, but nowhere near as exciting as it looks. Apparently, they are very good for you, and full of cancer-fighting nutrients. They grow on cacti.
On Monday, Husband had to work. I arranged to meet a friend in the lobby for tea. I asked her if Mumbai was safe for a woman to walk around alone. She assured me that she walks everywhere, and has never had any trouble. The main danger is scams and pick-pockets, so I should be alert, but was unlikely to be attacked, even after dark, and even in poorer areas. Sometimes, being somewhere very different to home can seem scary, but usually it’s safe.
I had previously asked my friend to read through CLARA, to check it was acceptable from an Indian’s point of view. It is very difficult to write about another culture, and I was keen that I shouldn’t write something that seemed offensive to people living in India. There were a few changes she suggested, mainly to names, but mostly it was okay. When we met, I was able to show her the cover photograph. I am just waiting for the cover to arrive for approval, and then the printer can print it. All getting very exciting now. It is, I think, the best book I have written, so I hope you will read a copy.
In the evening we went to the hotel bar. There was also a rooftop bar, but it was shut due to a horrific fire at another hotel, where several people had been killed. I’m not sure whether the government had shut all rooftop bars as a precaution, perhaps to check their safety procedures. This bar was okay, but had the most uncomfortable seats ever. Women over 50 like comfy seats. I also got a lot of feedback from Husband about my cardigan. I ignored him, I’m sure it will start a new trend.
Last breakfast. The breakfast is nice, but the table-setting is a bit random. There should be cutlery, a bottle of water, glass, side-plate and napkin for each place. But there often isn’t. Sometimes things are delivered as you eat. It’s a little odd to be presented with a side-plate and napkin when you’ve nearly finished eating! There are a LOT of staff waiting the tables. I’m guessing each one has a specific role, and they don’t always keep up when new guests arrive to eat. They also have a tendency to come and chat while you’re eating. They hover near the table, and ask if everything is okay (which happens in UK restaurants) but then stay to ask what plans you have for the day, and if you’re enjoying the hotel. I’m not sure whether to pause my eating while they’re there, or carry on chewing whilst they chat.
Arriving home after a holiday is always nice. When you first arrive, there’s a certain novelty to cleaning your teeth in tap water, and being able to eat a bowl of cereal when you’re hungry. You have all your memories and photographs, and it doesn’t matter that you haven’t yet unpacked because you’ve only just arrived home. Then, two weeks later, you feel like you’ve never been away, you’re tired again, and feeling stressed because you still haven’t managed to put away the suitcases! Or perhaps you’re more organised than me.
I do enjoy being in India, even though it’s exhausting. I have visited several times over the last few months, talking to people who live in the poorer areas, learning about their lives, visiting their homes. It has been fascinating. I wonder when I’ll come again.
Thank you for reading.
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Don’t forget to look out for my new book: CLARA – A Good Psychopath?
An exciting story that shows what it’s like to be poor in India. It’s nearly ready…