30.11.2012 33 °C
It has been a while since the last entry so I thought I better get something on even if it is a tad uninteresting. We have barely used the laptop in India as it is hard to find decent wi-fi and it's not much fun spending time in sweltering internet cafes.
For anyone still reading, there is an option to subscribe to the blog which means you will automatically get an email telling you when a new entry has been added - I'm not sure how you do it, though.
We've been in India for just over a month now and, apart from the cricket, we haven't been up to much. We've covered 1000's of kilometres so a lot of our time has been spent on buses and trains.
When we finally got here after our difficulties with Sri Lankan Airlines, we went straight to Mahabalipuram for a couple of weeks. We generally didn't do much and the first week was pretty much washed-out by Cyclone Nilam. It made landfall very close to Mahabalipuram. There was a day of torrential rain followed by a day of strong, squally winds. The wind caused some damage to trees and to the more poorly maintained buildings but it never got too serious.
We went down to the beach a couple of times to see the sea and where the winds were at their strongest. The occassional gust was powerful enough to blow us off our feet and the sea seemed to tower over us. Local news stations arrived to do outside broadcasts at the bottom of the road which leads to the beach and a crowd of locals had gathered to watch.
Around this time, an auto-rickshaw with loudspeakers went by and was instructing women and children to remain inside!
Below is a short video taken at the beach when the cyclone was at its peak (sound recommended).
Apart from the storm, there's not much to write about during our time in Mahabalipuram. We did take the bus down to Pondicherry one day where we stocked up on cheap booze (Pondy is tax-free) for our upcoming trip to Ahmedabad in Gujurat state where alcohol is illegal. We also went to Chennai for the day but both trips were probably more hassle than they were worth due to the terrible traffic and long journey times. It took us two and half hours to get back from Chennai; a journey of only 50km!
We were still on the waitlist for our upcoming train journey to Mumbai so we went to Chennai Central Station and spoke to someone about getting a seat on the emergency quota. Most trains in India are waitlisted as people book multiple trains in the hope that they will get a confirmed seat on one of them. This means that even if you have a waitlisted ticket you find that, as people cancel unwanted reservations, you move up the waitlist quite quickly. It's always a bit of a worry though that we may not get a confirmed seat.
We have a train booked to Kolkata tomorrow and we are currently waitlist 17 & 18 so will need at least this many people to cancel tickets to ensure we get a seat. If it doesn't look like we'll get on it, we'll have to go to the station and try and get our seats confirmed using the tourist or emergency quota. It's a 30 hour journey to Kolkata - the train leaves at 6am Sunday morning and arrives Monday lunchtime!
We spent a few days in Mumbai before heading up to Ahmedabad for the first test match. It was time well spent as we sorted out a good, cheap hotel to stay in for the second test back in Mumbai.
Ahmedabad - pronounced Armdabad - was a dive. It's a large, sprawling, polluted and congested city roughly the size of London. We guessed it doesn't see many foreigners based on the number of people that wanted to say hi, shake our hands or take a picture!
The streets resembled rubbish tips and it wasn't unusual to see a herd of goats living in the road. There were quite a lot of camels as well. The only thing we got from our visit were colds and sore throats! It did have some great restaurants, though, where we ate some delicious curries and food from the tandoor.
It must have more going for it than that, but we didn't really have the time or inclination to delve any deeper.
England were trounced by India largely due to their diffculties playing spin or adapting to the turning wickets which they like to produce in this part of the world.
After the match, we went straight back to Mumbai by train and headed for the hotel we found on our first visit. For 990 rupees (about £12) per night, it's a good deal for Central Mumbai and we have an amazing view of Mumbai Harbour and the Gateway of India from our window.
England fared much better in the second test. They recalled Monty Panesar and the track really suited his style of bowling and he took a hatful of wickets. Backed up by centuries from Alistair Cook and KP, we won the game easily in a little over three days.
So, the series is nicely poised going into the third test in Kolkata which starts next Wednesday.
A couple of days ago we went for breakfast at Leopold Cafe in Colaba (the area we are staying) which the terrorists targeted during the 2008 attacks. We were quite shocked to see that many bullet holes remain in the walls and internal windows. A waiter told us that two men carrying AK-47's stood at each entrance and fired 120 bullets in two minutes into the crowded cafe. The place itself is very popular with travellers and Indians alike and subsequently it is overpriced but always busy. It features a lot in the book Shantaram which seems to have a bit of a cult following so many travellers head there. A beer will set you back 300 rupees or about £3.50 which is expensive for India.
Oh, and strangely, after my rant about mosquitoes last time, we've hardly seen any since we've been in North-West India.
Until next time....bye for now.