India, days 17-18: Agra & Delhi

“The south is so much cheaper, and the people are nicer”, the Driver said. “Mumbai is a better city, much nicer than Delhi. More expensive but nicer”, he continued as we were flying down the deserted Yamuna highway to Agra. It was early morning, and the sun was rising over the seemingly endless green plain, dotted with chimneys from brick factories. In Agra, I met … Continue reading India, days 17-18: Agra & Delhi

India, days 14-16: Delhi

In my mind, the word “Delhi” is irrevocably tied to the term “Delhi belly”, aka food poisoning aka several days of praying at the porcelain altar. As I was flying there, I expected a messy, chaotic, dirty place, dotted with beautiful monuments of gone-by millennia. The arrival however surprised me: the airport was spacious, clean, modern and efficient, with serval recognisable Western brands on offer. … Continue reading India, days 14-16: Delhi

India, days 11-14: The Ashram

Day 1 After a long trip involving two buses and a packed train, we’ve arrived to the Ashram, which was uphill overlooking Neyyar lake, come 30km from Trivandrum. Although it was nice to be back in the woods, this time it was with slight trepidation. Although I’ve always been a closeted aficionado of spiritual practices, and have even fantasised about pursuing them, I’ve never done … Continue reading India, days 11-14: The Ashram

India, days 9/10: Varkala

I was told that travelling on Indian trains was an experience in itself. M highly recommended it: she told us there they were full of chai-wallahs, who were selling tea and snacks, as well as all sorts of colourful people, from itinerant holy men to hijras. William Darlymple’ interviewees for “Nine lives” (a great book which revolves around non-standard spiritual folks in India) all escaped … Continue reading India, days 9/10: Varkala

India, days 7/8: Alleppey

Weary from nature and animals, during the bus ride I mentally prepared myself for the noise and smell of a city. Our few days in the Ghats, made India seem very peaceful and clean. I had low expectations from Alleppey, which in the guidebooks is simply listed as a place to take boats to see the famous Keralan backwaters. The road to the city was … Continue reading India, days 7/8: Alleppey

India, days 5/6: Thekaddy

When planning out trip we never planned to go to Thekaddy (aka Kumily) and F didn’t believe me the place existed until we booked a room there. Thekaddy was a recommendation from Vijay, our Munnar guide, and despite the tepid reviews on TripAdvisor, the place holds many charms. Perched in the lower Ghatts on the border with Tamil Nadu, it provides the entrance to Periyar … Continue reading India, days 5/6: Thekaddy

India, day 3/4: Munnar 

In Munnar, Kerala finally started getting under my skin a little bit, both metaphorically and literally, thanks to three lovely people we came across, and a few jungle critters that decided to nibble on us. After tuk-tuk dropped us off at the Kochin bus station, there was some mild disapointment as the much praised A/C bus that we set our sights on was not to … Continue reading India, day 3/4: Munnar 

India, days 1/2: Kochin

The initial shock of India, despite being much described in Shantaram and similar lit and films (Best Marigold Hotel, beloved by pensioners world-over), was mild. After the descent from the clouds, there was a shock of the green, lush growth, then touchdown. That was followed by a relatively clean and orderly course though the airport building teeming with returning pilgrims, some of whom had green … Continue reading India, days 1/2: Kochin

India, day 0

My trip to India started with the usual sort of awkward sense of anticipation like all ventures into the unexpected. As normal for someone who spent the better part of the year reading and watching “Wild” and similar books about transformational journeys, everything got far more significance than warranted: a sweaty smelly taxi driver in Belgrade was a portent of sweaty smelly days to come, … Continue reading India, day 0