Sunday, October 25, 2009

The girls’ trip to India continues, itchy feet, more Lis Salander and dinner with friends

<"The girls" in the Punjab in local dress. Sumit had bought them the outfits (kameez I think they are called) as part of their Diwali presents.

We are well into October and last night the clocks went back which, for me at least, is always difficult to adjust to. Autumn has made its entry and I wore winter clothes for the first time this week. However this weekend the sun has been radiant and we even had Sunday lunch outside today.

The girls’ trip to India is coming to an end and they have had a fantastic time. Last week when I wrote, they were in Simla and then headed back to Chandigarh to spend one more night and day with their friends Sumit and Sophie. Oli told me later they had been treated like princesses by these wonderful Indian friends and their families. Sophie and her mother, who cried when the girls left, even gave them a foot and head massage.

From the Punjab they took the night train to Jaipur, known as “the pink city” and the capital of Rajasthan where they stayed at the Madhuban hotel recommended by their guide book. The journey must have been quite an experience as the train was not luxurious. They complained about people burping, the smell and the noise. As Oli described in Facebook, “India moves with the sound of the claxon” and she felt “in between silk and cow flap”.
Great picture from Olivia and illustrates India's contrasts very well.
Well that’s what India is all about, contrasts. They love the people, the colour, the culture and are enjoying every moment. From Jaipur they went to Jodhpur, “the blue city” with their driver. Yes, with a driver, what luxury. Well actually it’s only costing them some 20 euros a day! Jodhpur seems to be their favourite place, in the heart of Rajasthan as this is where they have been able to walk along its crowded and colourful streets and feel India as it really is, rather than through a window. Here they stayed at a lovely little guest house for 10 euros a night, called the Haveli guest house which has fantastic views of the magnificent fort from its rooftop.

The blue city of Jodhpur as seen from the fort (taken by us in December).
Yesterday they were in Pushkar, that holy city with the famous lake and Brahma temple where hippies used to flock and still do. It is where I fell ill so my memories of the place are not so good. They will also be visiting Varanasi, the most important holy city in India which sits by the even more holy Ganges River. They will be back on Thursday and we will welcome them with open arms. This will be one of the most important trips of their lives. They are looking forward to eating western food again. They have enjoyed the local food but after nearly 3 weeks it can get tiring. You can see the full set of photos, well the ones they have posted from India, here on Facebook.
The temple in Pushkar which attracts so many people, it's so crowded.
I have been enjoying the girls’ trip vicariously so to speak and have been also thinking about my next trip. I was actually inspired by 2 ladies in the street last Monday who were complaining about their offsprings always travelling and that got me thinking that life was short and it was time to plan our next trip. So where to, I asked myself?

New York has always been at the top of my list of most desired places to visit and somehow I have never managed to go there except in transit at JFK airport and that doesn’t count. My itchy feet, an expression my Father used to use to describe my brother – it definitely runs in the family, wanted to go during the December bank holiday. However I had to contend with Eladio’s sort of procrastination: he has lectures on Mondays, it would be too cold in January and February so how about May? Well I didn’t want to wait till May so got out the calendar to see which Monday he would be free and lo and behold, he would be free at the end of March. And there and then I booked our flight and hotel. We are going for 8 days and will enjoy the experience enormously. It’s lovely to have something to look forward to and visiting perhaps the most famous city in the world will be a great experience for us both. I am already working on the programme as I do with all our trips.
The world famous New York sky line. We'll finally get to see it next year in March.
On a more humble level, we have another little trip to look forward to and that’s with the girls and my Father to the Parador in Almagro in the middle of November. More than anything it’s a family trip as we don’t often go away with the girls.
The 16th century Franciscan Convent which is now the Parador in Almagro, Ciudad Real and where we'll be going with the girls and my Father in November..
There we will be visiting the Tablas de Daimiel national park which has been in the news a lot recently because believe it or not, it is burning underneath. Apparently it is the peat that is burning from lack of water even though it is supposed to be a wetland; well that’s dry Spain for you. We will also have some good quality family time, walking, reading and enjoying good food at the lovely 16th century Parador which was once a convent, in the pretty town of Almagro in the province of Ciudad Real.
The Tablas de Daimiel, the smallest of Spain's national park which we will be visiting when we go to Almagro in November for a family weekend.
Meanwhile at home, life is quiet without the girls. I went into the office 3 times last week which is a lot for me and, this week, envisage going even more. Now the work is creeping up and will crescendo around Christmas time. I have 4 events plus a whole load of other stuff on my plate. But I don’t mind being busy as what I hate is long term inactivity and I need constant new challenges.

The weekend has been fun as we had more social activity than usual. On Friday we had a date for dinner with the González-Gálvez family at Gerardo and Vicky’s house and Irene and Thomas were also coming along. We haven’t seen each other for years and years and now we see each other regularly. It’s great to have found them again. Gerardo and Irene were the kids I gave English lessons to when I lived with them from 1978 to 1979. They were in their early teens and I was just 21 yet we struck a friendship for life. Today Gerardo is the proud father of 5 (adorable Vicky, Lucía, Ana, Gerardo and Irene) and Irene the proud mother of 4 (Paula, Thomas, Celia and Nacho). For me they are still my fun loving kids with the same sparkle in their eyes.
The dinner table at Gerardo and Vicky's house on Friday night.
We were offered champagne and Georgian caviar in Viky and Gerardo’s elegant and big yet cosy home while the kids were shooed away. Irene, the smallest couldn’t resist being near us and promptly fell asleep on the sofa. Lucía, aged 12, was the perfect Mother’s help and kept the dishes moving, bless her.
Little Irene's experience of Friday night's dinner party.
Dear Lucía who helped her Mother so well at the dinner party on Friday.
You can see these photos and more here on Facebook.

And last night I had a date with Lis Salander, that wonderful crime fiction heroine in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, Millennium. As you probably know I finished all three and was missing the unconventional, fearless, brilliant hacker so when I heard that the second film was coming out this weekend in Spain I grabbed 2 seats at our favourite Cinema, Equinoccio in Majadahonda for last night’s evening session.

It was good, yes, quite faithful to the book but maybe had less impact on us than the first film. I am wondering now when the last film of the trilogy will come out but then Lis Salander will only remain in my memory. Oh well, maybe I will reread books 2 and 3 which I skimmed through so fast I must have missed out on a lot of detail.

Afterwards we had dinner at La Alpargatería with our friends Roberto and Maricarmen. We hadn't been there for ages and it was nice to be back and to sit at our favourite table, number 5.
La Alpargatería in the Equinoccio leisure centre, one of our all time favourites.
I have come to the end of this week’s post and Eladio is urging me to go for our daily walk, an hour earlier as dusk will come earlier after the clocks have gone back. So I will leave you now and post the photos later.

Hope we all have a good week. Mine will start well as tomorrow, Monday, I will be having lunch with my best friends, Julio and Fátima whom I haven’t seen since the Santander telecoms conference at the beginning of September.

Cheers for now / Masha.

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