Everyone said India would be a bit of a shock to the system, and they were right! After a very comfortable flight that Mum slept on (and sadly I did not) we arrived at the airport a little the worse for wear and a touch jet-lagged. Meeting Jane and Mandy by the money exchange (they recognised me from the WhatsApp group), we were greeted by Anup of Aahilya, loaded up our luggage and ventured into town. Mum has wanted to come to India since she was a wee girl, so it’s fair to say that this trip has been three quarters of century in the making.
The city is build like a cross between Paris and Milton Keynes – wonderful tree lined boulevards with enormous roundabouts providing huge opportunities for greenery. The traffic is amazing, with the horn used instead of the brakes except in all but the most extreme circumstances, and the road markings really being only there for decorative purposes. Many cars are dented and scraped, but we’ve only had a small graze with a moped in the first couple of days. How the mayhem doesn’t result in serious carnage I don’t know, especially with wandering pedestrians, tuk tuks and bikes carrying everything from half a laundry to 3m long poles!
Our room was on the 23rd floor of our hotel, the Lalit, and it was rather swanky though our view wasn’t the best. We looked over the roof which wasn’t the prettiest but afforded us amazing views of Kites gliding on the air currents and terrorising the pigeons. We also had a wonderful sunrises, with the pollution creating a beautiful haze. The air quality wasn’t as bad as I’d expected though goodness knows what it’s like when its nearly 50 degrees in summer.
We did come across a wedding in the hotel on our second night which gave us a glimpse of traditional Indian glamour in all it’s glittering finery. The hotel lobby itself was a wonder of modern Indian art and a stunning three story space in itself.
There will be lots more to follow, and Mum’s holiday of a lifetime will only continue to astound and amaze. A special thanks to Anup and Isha of Aahilya Holidays and Stewart Kelly who have been such wonderful hosts, making us all feel so welcome.
Images and text © Jonathan Dredge