24 Hours in India

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Heathrow – my biggest plane ever!

I arrived at the airport slightly ahead of time at 4.40am after a pleasant flight. Sellappan was waiting in arrivals and we jumped in a taxi back to his place. It was still dark, so I didn’t really have the chance to form an impression of the city until the sun started to rise as we neared Sellappan’s flat. We were both tired and got some much-needed rest. It took me a while to drift off, mainly because I was listening to the sounds of the city and its birds waking up, but we had a good nap until about eleven.

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My first daylight view

Sellappan’s flat is on the top of his building, so I can see over the other rooftops towards the city and towards a park (I think) with lots of trees. There is some construction work going on on a building opposite too. While I was waiting for Sellappan to finish up washing his bike, I heard a call to prayer from the mosque, which for some reason I hadn’t really expected to hear! I knew that there was a significant population of Muslims here but I hadn’t thought about the call to prayer until I heard it. It went on for a lot longer than I imagined as well…

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After Sellappan washed his bike we headed out to run some quick errands.
We picked up a new bolt for the bathroom as the old one was rusting, and stopped at a pressing shop which was a man with an iron and an open shop front. He pressed one shirt while we waited and we planned to come back for the rest.

Next on the list was lunch. We went to a North Indian fast food place and had a “power combo”, which was a pile of roti with three different sauces to dip. It cost a pound. We also dropped in in on Sellappan’s friend Mohan very briefly just to say hi.

After dropping by the flat again for Sellappan to change into his freshly-pressed shirt, we picked up a bike helmet for me and then headed to the department store to pick up some clothes. I got two pairs of leggings and a long tunic top. The choice of colours and patterns in the ladies department was stunning. I suppose I’m used to seeing shop displays with one or two colours in shades from pastel through to deep. Not here! I think people would laugh at you if you were to talk about the idea of pastel colours. You can get your leggings in any colour, as long as it’s a deep, rich colour, preferably very bright. The tunics were mostly multicoloured and patterned,  with plenty of gold and silver trim splashed about as well. There seemed to be no end to the colour combinations on offer.

We got to the apartment block just as the concert was due to start. We went up to the roof where there was a communal room. The concert was being put on by a few groups of performers who all lived in the block. Almost everyone was dressed in bright sarees and tunics, and lots of the little girls had garlands of flowers in their hair. I felt extremely bland beside them all. Before the singing started two lamps were lit and there was lots of applause. Two groups of kids sang first. Though the concert was presented in English, the songs were all sung in Kannada. The songs were long and quite complicated, but the kids did a great job remembering everything. Then it was Pratibha’s group’s turn. Her group was made up from all ages and they sang really well too. Throughout the whole performance everyone was taking pictures and videos of their friends and family performing.

After Pratibha’s group were finished we were ready to go, but we were offered food by the organisers. The food had been prepared as a Puja, which Sellappan explained was first offered to the gods and then was eaten by the group. The lighting of the lamps was also called a Puja. Sellappan said that the only thing with Puja food was that the cooks aren’t supposed to taste it during the cooking process as it must be offered to the gods first. If it’s too salty or not spiced correctly, then too bad! I bet there aren’t many people who are trusted with that job, especially of fifty people are going to be sharing it! Luckily everything was very tasty and I had everything except my micro banana.

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Microbanana

Darkness had already fallen by the time we headed to meet Naveen and Ashwini. We had to wait for Naveen to come back from temple before we left, but Ashwini and I had a chat about the climate of different places. The company she works for has a project in the UK and apparently the people the company sent had a terrible time due to the cold and couldn’t make it out to do any sightseeing. She was interested in how I was finding the climate in India and how people coped in the cold in the UK. When Naveen arrived there was much discussion about where to go for dinner.

We went off to a restaurant together and had some more roti and sauces –  one had paneer and another was chickpeas – and chatted about the plans for today. By this time Sellappan ands I were fairly exhausted, but Naveen and Ashwini were very keen to go for ice cream, so we went to a shop called Cornerhouse which was still jam packed at 10pm! There was a large range of flavours and some cakes and milkshakes as well, but by this time all I could think about was my bed!

When we got home we went to sleep almost immediately, with no plans to get up early in the morning. Sellappan is still sleeping just now, and the call to prayer woke us up at half five. I’m pretty sure that we were both asleep again by the time it finished!

Time to head out again…

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3 thoughts on “24 Hours in India

  1. I’m all excited at the idea of being able to discover India by proxy ^^
    Look forwards to seeing your travels in photos.

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