|Pict: steamy view of hotel pool and undergrowth|
|Pict:swimming in the downpour|
Arriving at the end of the late monsoon season meant I experienced not only the torrential down pores with high temperatures, but I also suffered with the heavy atmosphere which was thick and sticky. I became extremely appreciative of the efficient air conditioning in the bedroom. However, with the astounding temperatures and humidity in the bathroom, especially after having a shower, I was always anticipating a violent thunder storm in the hall, as two great air systems collided.
|Pict: exotic wooden door in the hotel surrounded by plants and stained glass|
Large hotels can often leave me feeling lost with their never ending corridors, open plan bars and self serving restaurants; I end up feeling more blind than I normally would. Quite often hoteliers choose a room far away from the main hub, (us blind people like "quiet" you know and, and it can take me a fortnight just to learn the route to the bar. Heathers’ hotel was such a blessing, with the swimming pool, Bar and bedroom being in close proximity. Consequently, if I wished to do my own thing around the grounds, I could, without having to be guided from one part of the hotel to another.
Our friends' hotel (Mollys Retreat)was perfect for getting around, and yet despite the compactness of the grounds I still had to be cautious when moving around. Between the perimeter wall and the pool was a narrow path lined with sun-beds. When using my white cane, if I didn’t concentrate, I could potentially catch one of the beds and pole volt myself into the deep end!
|Pict.view of the swimming pool from the balcony, detailed wrought iron bars|
|Pict: back of bamboo curved chair- neat crossings of bamboo|
|Pict: vines climbing up the tree with lots of lush leaves|
In the early evening I looked forward to sitting on the balcony and being surrounded by the sounds and smells of what was obviously an incredible country. The warm aroma of the vegetation and early evening wood fires mixed with the sounds of the frogs, Hindu Temple music and faraway voices. My western senses were being enveloped by the Easternexperience, as I quietly contemplated what would be happening the following day.
|Pict by Steve: pretty lemon flower with petals like tissue|
|Pict:lots of green long leaves together with light coming through the gaps|
Visually, I really knew I was missing out on something spectacular, with the Asian ladies in their vibrantly coloured saris’ and the landscape with its vivid fruit, flowers and luminous green vegetation. This was all described to me in detail by a captivated Christine, as we were driven through the countryside.
|Pict: Figs on a branch in the sunshine|
A car journey that normally takes an hour in Scotland, takes approximately three in India. This is mainly due to the busy and poor condition of the roads. The driving was mesmerising as we never ever came to a stop. We continually seemed to be curving back and forth to the beat of the car horn, like some Indian snake, moving along the road.
|Pict by Steve: busy Indian street view from the car|
On one particularly hot, sticky day we decided to head to one of the Indian hill stations where the air promised to be fresher and cooler. It was going to be a three hour car journey, short by Indian standards. My friend Mark, who is also blind, came prepared for the journey; talking books, head phones and lap top computer games. Our white knuckle ride came to an end when we beat a rickshaw filled with 8 children, to the top of the hill. When we were passing them for the second time, they shouted ”how are you? My name is?” Impeccable English.
|Pic: of a row of Risckshaws taken from life and change in an Indian village (Blog)|
At the top we stretched our legs and took great lungfuls of fresh air. But I was disappointed, it didn’t sound, smell or feel any different from the hill-tops in Scotland.
|Pict: steamy mountain top which looks like Scotland|
I could have been anywhere in the world and as I wandered around over the hill and in best Scottish traditions the topic of lunch was raised.
We made our way back to our driver and he drove us down to a Beer bar offering great food and a bottle of beer for the weary traveller.
|Pict:Indian Cobra beer top|
Going through the door I was hit with the strong aroma of urine. I really did hope it was an Ammonia based cleaning product.
With noses twitching we reluctantly took our seats. Someone whispered in my ear. “Ian it’s not the cleanest.” Eventually someone came out to take our orders. The choice was vegetable curry, or vegetable curry. We all agreed, “Well, we’ll have vegetable curry then.” from the kitchen we heard the most incredible sounds of someone clearing their throat. “Hack! Hack! Hack! Spit.”. We shuffled nervously in our chairs as our lunch was being prepared. I heard the sizzling of the vegetables and then another whisper in my ear, “we can’t see out the windows too well and my chair is stuck to the floor with grease! The hacking intensified, not only in regularity, but in volume too.
|Pict: bowl of vegetable curry|
We were waiting for about 30mins...our nerve broke, getting to our feet we made some pathetic excuse of running late for our driver, so had to go…NOW!. Apologising for wasting their time we offered way over the odds for the bill before heading for the door and to the safety of the car. But where was the driver? I was frantically shoved into the back seat and Christine ran off to find him.
We waited for what seemed like an eternity, until the driver finally returned looking bemused that we had all been so quick. “We didn’t want to be late going home” we muttered “lets go.” but wait, where was Christine now?., we still couldn’t go, and we had been spotted by the proprietor, who very graciously started to bring out the curry sauce and chapattis to our car! Where was Christine?, she returned five minutes later carrying crisps! Snacks encase we were hungry, but she was confused, why were we all passing soup plates full of curry sauce between us like an unexploded bomb? And why was no-one eating? She got into the car made me stuff a chapatti into my mouth, and passed the plates back to the waiter. We asked the driver to step on it, and so we left the Beer bar far behind.
It must have been the slowest getaway in history. Normally, criminals order the food, eat it, and scarper. Not, order it, pay in advance, pay more than they asked! and then do a bunk.
|Pict: Indian ornate metal padlock and bolt|
Masters of crime we aint.
Trip Advisor for Mollys' Retreat