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Life on the streets of Mumbai

1 Jul

So much has happened over the last few days that it’s difficult to chronicle it… and it doesn’t come with many pictures either!

I have a slight problem in that my emergency travel documentation expects me to leave India on the 10th of July…. I will be leaving almost two weeks early. So, first off, a trip to the UK embassy in Kathmandu to find out what to do. They suggest a new ETD at a cost of £100. £100 I do not have, yet. I am now very fed up with buying passports and ETDs, so after an afternoon drinking mint tea, I come up with a new plan. I will go to the Indian Embassy and get a transit visa, which will enable me to travel across India… and then I will pray hard that India will let me out, and the UK will let me in. Simples. Or… perhaps not.

So, Tuesday morning finds me at the Indian Embassy, nice and early, to get my visa. No problem – until I tell them I need it by 1pm. They need to see my ticket so they can expedite it (a refreshing change from everyone else, who seem to need to see my wallet before they will do it). I have no ticket. I have a broken laptop and an e-ticket. So I have to rush down the street, convince a copy shop to allow me to plug into one of their monitors so I can print the e-ticket off. Then dash back to the embassy. All is well, and I pick my visa up on the way to the airport.

A flight to Delhi and then the wheels fall off again. My luggage doesn’t turn up on the conveyor – but, on checking my baggage tag – it’s cleared to Mumbai, so it must be being put on the next flight. I check this with the departure staff. “Oh no, you must collect it here”. There follows a complicated retracing of my steps through the airport, accompanied by a member of BA staff who is accompanied by another member of BA staff, whose sole function seems to be to watch the first member of BA staff. At every lift, every door, every escalator we have to present ID or passports to what looks like a series of identically moustachioed Indian soldiers.

My bag is definitely missing (a fact I had advised them of around half an hour earlier). A check reveals that it is, indeed, on the way to Mumbai.

Then, my UK travel agent have screwed up my flight date and although they have corrected it, the printout I have shows the original date. Without a valid piece of paper, I am not allowed on the bus between Delhi domestic and international airports. I need to take a taxi. One minor problem – I do not have the cash for the taxi. A further complication is that my bank seem to have stopped my bank card.  After a somewhat humorous exchange with the staff, who do not have the facilities to allow me to print off the correct piece of paper, one of them gives me the necessary 20 rupees to cover the cab fare. Off to the International airport…. 

Where, unlike any airport I have ever been to (and I have been to a good few over the last 25+ years) – I am not allowed in until three hours before the flight. So I join a huge throng of Indians in spending the night on the streets of Mumbai. I strike up conversation with a motorickshaw driver on his way to Gujurati, and have a phone conversation with his girlfriend who is, apparently, “very fine”. IN a further show of empathy with my Indian companions, I am hungry and thirsty, an effect of not having any money due to using my last rupees on the cab.

Eventually, I am allowed into the airport, and put on my flight to the UK (which is delayed by a couple of hours following a medical emergency. Time to kick back, enjoy several bottles of champagne, a nice meal, and a couple of movies. I watch the scenery unfold beneath me and think back over the last 12 months.


We land at Heathrow to an incredible rainbow, which seems to me to be a promise for the future – and a sky lit up in a beautiful sunset. I can only watch in awe of the beauty and allow the feeling of opportunity to sink deep into my heart.


We’re late arriving – too late to get home, and too late to book a hotel. I spend the night on a bench at Terminal 5, before setting off bright and early in search of breakfast – and the bus to Northampton.

I’m just grateful to be back before the strike by the UK Border Agency starts….

Northampton has the worst bus station I have been to on my entire journey.. but finally I arrive in Kettering, where 6’ 3” of youngest son sticks my bag in the back of his van, and my journey is over.

So, what’s next?

Well, apart from the washing, I am staying with my two sons (and their mother) while David and I get our plans for Edinburgh under way (and while I do my washing). I need to catch up on all the post that my brother has been keeping at bay, and get reunited with clothes that I haven’t seen in a long, long time. I need a bath, as do Tigger and Snuff. And a sleep.


Travelling Companions

27 Jun

I thought I should say a huge ‘Thank You’ to the travelling companions that have kept me on the straight and narrow over the last few months.



So – from left.. a very battered hat from Bangkok that has kept my head from roasting – trusty walking boots – silk sleep sheet for keeping the bugs out – mobile phone – MP3 players full of music and teaching audios for those long bus journeys – a Kindle full of great books (see later) – a laptop complete with the clothes peg that is STILL holding the screen together – a somewhat battered rucksack with (deep joy) a ventilated back to keep the sweat down (and with emergency whistle (thanks, Heather) still attached but unused)– my new Muji journal at half the size of the last one (yay!) (and a bag to keep it in) – a pair of North Rock sandals that despite an early fastening failure are still with me – and, last but not least, Tigger and Snuff.

On the subject of Tigger and Snuff, I took a photo of them in the cabin on board the junk in Halong Bay – and forgot to put them away. So exactly WHAT the other occupant of my cabin thought, I dread to think.

Not pictured – a belt picked up in Fiji that held my trousers up (following my weight loss) until the buckle finally snapped in Pokhara and my camera (of course)

Apart from my music, without which the bus trips might have been interminable, I’ve also had some great reading and audio material with me. It seems that I have been looking a lot at getting your dreams, at prosperity, at wealth: and somewhere in there a chord has struck – and that’s going to be such a huge part of what I am going to be teaching, training and writing about when I get back. I have a real empathy with those people whose dreams seem to have faltered – and so I am looking forward to getting back to let some of the secrets I have learned loose!

In no particular order, then, I’ve been listening to audio from Joel Osteen and Randy Gage, as well as brushing up my NLP with an NLP course refresher. I’ve read very little fiction apart from Jasper Fforde’s ‘One of our Thursdays is Missing’ and Mark Billingham’s ‘From The Dead’ – apart from some illadvised choices from the discard pile in some Australian hostels. Interestingly, the English books stopped appearing by the time I got to Asia, and all the books were either French or German (or Chinese).

I’ve read Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” and “Become a Better You” over and over – when I have not been reading Randy Gage’s abundance series, Catherine Ponder’s ‘”The Millionaire Moses” (was THAT an eye opener about wealth and prosperous living).. and also books from classic authors – like Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”, Wallace Wattles’ “The Science of Getting Rich” and then “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen. My God, there’s a lot of stuff gone in that should make the next few months very interesting indeed….


(screenshot from my PC Kindle)

apart from the fact that my Kindle is very poorly, I’m loving being able to carry all my books and the things I write on it too. And while I am thinking about it – there’s a great version of the Bible, which is Open Source and absolutely free – and it’s a pretty good translation too.

I never thought I would say this….

23 Feb

But I love my Amazon Kindle. I really like the feel of a book, the ability to underline and make notes in the margin… and yet, this techno toy is fabulous.


I’m actually able to take books with me without carrying huge weight (I had around 2kg of books on the last leg of the trip). I can download guidebooks as I go, without finding a shop. I don’t have to pay airport bookshop prices (AUD 60 for the NZ Lonely Planet). I don’t have to worry about posting the book home.

There are even some books that have been made available for free (I have a great modern version of the Bible that I downloaded for free). And I can write my own stuff and send it to the Kindle too so I can read that anywhere (lots of motivational quotes and my own learning documents have been done already!).

And although not every book is available for Kindle (I can’t find a Laos travel guide yet) I can find loads that I really want to read. At reasonable prices.

And I can take notes and highlight stuff, and even share it with others. And it puts all those notes together so I can skim through.

Amazing. And it actually is a crisp, easy to read screen, too.

Downside? Well, with Kindle, Amazon control the publishing price – so heavy discounting isn’t possible – and neither is the possibility of second hand purchases… so perhaps if it really takes off, book prices will actually increase.

Oh, yes, and perhaps it’s actually TOO easy to buy a book now. I can find something on Amazon, buy it and be reading it in around 2 minutes wherever I am…. and that might be just a little too easy for the book junkie that I am…

Technology time

28 Nov

Did you know, I was once offered the job of ‘Head of Toys’ for Unilever – playing with all the latest gadgets.  Yes, of course I took the job.


Well, I am packing quite a bit of technology on this trip, and I’ve just added to it by buying an ereader so I don’t have to

  1. Buy the Lonely Planet guides for each country (at vastly inflated prices)
  2. Worry about where to GET the guide as I travel
  3. Carry it around
  4. Send it home when I have finished


So I am downloading the guides as I travel… only problem is that the encryption used by Lonely Planet stops it being used on my ereader – so I had to spend a few hours working out how to crack that (a technology problem is a bit like a red rag to a bull to me)


So, also, I am carrying . .


A laptop (would have been an ipad, possibly, but I need the local storage as it’s got a load of TV shows on it).  It’s a bit heavy, but if I’d brought a NetBook I would never have been able to see the screen!


A mobile phone (not sophisticated, just for texting) (currently survived one attempt to lose it)


A TENS unit for pain relief (my shoulder’s a bit crook)


Two MP3 players, one for music, the other for teaching programmes.  The music one has quite an embarrassing collection of music and must not fall into the wrong hands. Ever.


A broken MP3 player for backup


A USB memory stick for backup and for transferring stuff in internet cafes


An extensible cord attached to the memory stick to stop me leaving it in internet cafes


A camera – now slightly wonky after I dropped it but it mostly works if I love it a lot.. (thought I’d lost this but it subsequently turned out to be in my pocket ) (I have lots of pockets)


A battery charger


Far too many cables to connect all the above items together.


Just thought you might be interested.  And it was a quiet night in the hostel.

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