08/01/2015 - 05/03/2015 Left Paris 21:30hrs 08/01/15. Arrived Delhi on Friday morning. Just enough time to take a cab from the airport to have a quick snack and a chai with Ravi before heading back to the airport for my flight south that was delayed 3 and a half hours Arrived eventually in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 2am 10 Jan. 2015 Enfin arrivé à Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala à 02 hr janvier 10 2015 Later that morning, a day in Trivandrum with Sue and Monique, then back to Varkala where they were staying (40 min train ride, standing room only).
Popcorn - the Universal Snack
First night in deluxe hotel, then moved to budget accommodation.
After a healthy fruit salad, muesli and yogurt breakfast, I went to the quieter north end of the beach to reserve a bungalow-style hut for 12th & 13th.
On the north beach away from the crowds.
A good village atmosphere with the local fishermen.
It takes a dozen men 30 minutes to pull in the nets........
.......when you see what they caught, you wonder why they bother...
This guy threw a hook and line into the sea from the beach and caught a decent size fish in 5 minutes
Started my "collection" of Ambassadors immediately on arrival in Varkala. Just found out they stopped manufacturing these cars in 2014...... the end of an era. It was based on the 1956 Morris Oxford Series 3
Pleased to rediscover the delicious South Indian food.
Varkala to Kollam, for a short canoe trip on the backwaters.
Pause for fresh coconut milk
Another Ambassador for the collection.
Kollam to Amritapuri Ashram by backwaters ferry boat
The Ashram is on the other side of a backwater from a traditional, small Indian village, and is anything but traditional, with its high-rise accommodation packed with visitors and residents from around the world.
The high-rise ashram
Bridge built to evacuate the Ashram in case of emergency
Amma, the hugging guru was not due to return from Chennai till the following week, so the Ashram was relatively quiet.
Amritapuri to Alappuzha (Alleppey). Sunset on the beach.
Mosque on Alappuzha Canal
Another Ambassador in fine condition
Staying cool in Alappuzha
Alleppey to Fort Kochi for the Asian Biennale Art Festival.
Some what disappointing compared with 2 years ago, but one or two pieces that caught my eye, or at least look interesting when photographed.
Poem by Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller turned into a piece of art
Giant crab made from waste plastic
35° C in Fort Kochi, and feeling chilli
Happy to see Shahir once again, and listen to his renditions of Charles Aznavour songs
Shahir and his 2 sons
More simple and good local cuisine, often in colonial settings
The daily fish auction by the Chinese fishing nets at Vasco da Gama square
Another simple South Indian breakfast - paratha, potato sabji and chai
Making paratha, or parotha, or porotha
Cochin has high population of Christians and one of the best levels of literacy in India
You're never far from fishing boats, coconuts and the backwaters...
Fort Kochi to Alleppey for one night on houseboat.
First night un-scheduled at Riverside Cottage as the houseboat trip was delayed by one day.
The lower deck is a large living area with a kitchen, staffed by two excellent chefs.
The upper deck has a large bedroom, bathroom and small terrace.
Omelette, paratha, toast, pineapple and chai for breakfast.
And a copious lunch...
From Fort Kochi, via Ernakulam railway station to Goa, arriving at 5am at Canacona in South Goa, then to Talpona beach. Would have been idyllic, but I had picked up a viral asthmatic bronchitis in the train, and was not at my best for the 10 days in Goa.
Talpona beach - NOT the most crowded beach in Goa...!!!
Lucky escape !! A bunch of 15 coconuts falls just beside Magali.
At the north end of Palolem beach you can take a boat ride on the river. Very peaceful, and well worth doing
Goa to Hampi by night bus - extremely uncomfortable !!
Hampi is the land of temples, palm trees and boulders
Egg curry and naan bread, difficult to beat !
Paneer masala and naan bread, Puri sabji with coconut chutney
Crossing my legs, crossing my fingers...
"Ruby" impersonating Hanuman
Gray Langur or Hanuman Langur. Friendly but very cheeky monkey !
Preparing the batter for idlis
Idli with Samba and Chutney
Only in India could you find toilet paper called "Supreme" and "Passion"
Rickshaw driver Jilan
3m high Shiva Lingam
Elephant Stables in the Royal Enclosure
Stepped Tank (for drinking water)
The Queen's Bath
Invited by complete strangers to join in their roadside picnic. The generosity of these people is very touching.
Hampi to Aurangabad by train
Reservations printed and pasted to corresponding carriages.
Then Bibi-ka-Maqbara, Ellora Caves, and Ajanta Caves by local buses
Bibi-ka-Maqbara : The poor man's Taj
.....and back to Aurangabad by bus
Aurangabad to Omkareshwar (whatever you do, don't go there) & Maheshwar (wonderful !!) 3 nights by the Narmada River In the filthy dirty town of Omkareshwar, Magali still managed to take a beautiful photo !!
We were invited to join evening Puja with a group who meet every evening at sun-down
There is a wonderful "old-world" feeling in Maheshwar. Perhaps like Varanasi 100 years ago, but quieter.
Traditional weaving factory
Hanuman temple in old colonial house
Maheshwar to Dhamnod, then Indore by bus, then to Bhopal by train, and finally a night train to Varanasi
A rare sight in India, seen on Indore Station Platform
Varanasi is where I first met my godson in 2006
He hasn't changed !!
The ghats on the highly polluted Ganges are the centre of Varanasi's activity. Laundry : clothes are washed in brown water...
......then dried on the banks and the ghats among mud and cow shit !!
Bollywood : the cinema regularly comes to the ghats to film
Dog's Ohm: the ghats are home to numerous stray dogs
Breaking the cycle of death and rebirth : Having your ashes sprinkled in the Ganges at Varanasi ensures going straight to Paramathma, avoiding potentially thousands of reincarnations
Ablutions : Daily washing away of your sins
Pilgrimage : The Ganges attracts many holy men. Not all of these Babas are genuine, but most are friendly....
.....and most are very photogenic
Meeting up : I finally met up on the ghats with Sais who has been a Facebook friend for 3 years.
Contemplation : Or just spending time with your best friend
Puja : The nightly Aarti Puja, performed on several ghats by trainee priests draws large crowds every evening
Ceremonies : Crowds pour down to the Ganges continuously, to perform all kinds of celebrations that usually include throwing flowers into the river.
About 20 minutes rickshaw ride away from the river Ganges is BHU (Benares Hindu University), with its grand Shiva Temple
When in India, try to get yourself invited to a marriage ceremony. You will be looked after like VIPs......
......but if the ceremony finishes late, you may have difficulty getting back to your hotel
Varanasi to Kanpur. Aman and Sheeti with their 18 month old baby Aashi. I wouldn't go to Kanpur except to see them.
A beautiful gift from Sheeti to Magali - a perfect fit
Kanpur to Amarpurkashi, known as APK, (between Chandausi and Moradabad). The train due to leave Kanpur at 21:17 left at 03:20. We arrived in Chandausi at 16:30 instead of 05:30, so we lost one whole day of the 2 days visit to APK.
What's wrong with this picture ? Not all the sockets are in use !! Well it was 2 o'clock in the morning...
This train has just been repainted inside and out. The garlands of flowers commemorate such a rare occasion
The bus from Chandausi to APK
Happy to meet Deepu's new baby. I was at her marriage on 2 Feb 2014
Yes, they have an Ambassador at APK too
The campus is a bit of a mess this year, with lots of building work going on
The new multi-purpose block
New classroom block
Magali learns how to make Roti (Chapatti)
There are hundreds of monkeys at APK. They are very cute when they are young, but get quite vicious when adult