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India, 2013-10

by Harry R. Matthews

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In October 2013, Lorraine and I flew from Auckland to Delhi in India via Kuala Lumpur. Our trip there was in 3 parts. Part one was a train-based tour of Rajasthan; part two was a private tour in northern India and "down" to Mumbai (formerly Bombay); part three was a few days at the Samode Palace resort in Jaipur and a few days at the Taj beach resort in Goa. We flew home from Mumbai; our return stop-over in Kuala Lumpur was all day but we found a book-by-the-hour hotel airside in Kuala Lumpur airport which was an excellent facility for handling a stop-over which is too long for a normal lounge but too short for a worthwhile trip into the city.

We were enjoyed the Indian people who were friendly and honest. English was widely spoken but there were occasional misunderstandings which were sometimes exacerbated by the Indians' desire to tell us what we wanted to hear and which could be a little frustrating. The most memorable example was at the Samode Palace, an beautiful upscale hotel/resort, in the Jaipur countryside, where we were expecting a camel-ride through the nearby village to another part of the resort and ended up on a camel cart and were subjected to a hard sell and just dropped quite a walk from our destination. We did have people trying to sell us stuff and some beggars but not as obnoxious as in some other places we have been. The smog was a problem. However, the sights were magnificent and the cultural/religious activities were fascinating.

We were there just as people were gearing up for the next election of the federal government. It reinforced for us how valuable a place India is as an established and stable democracy in spite of the variety of religions practiced there and the old fortifications that attested to a turbulent past.

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