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Wonderful people and terrifying insects in our second week on India
I'm going to die when I'm 89, have a household full of children and be careful with my money; these are the predictions of an old Indian fortune teller who we meet mediating in the shady ruins of an ancient temple. He had long finger nails, young eyes and a mobile phone in his shirt pocket. We have moved on now from the sandy yellow beaches of Goa to the rocky landscape of Hampi.
To make the trip we bought tickets for another sleeper bus. This one had its front doors open the whole way, so a gale down the aisle blew any chance of sleep away.
In Hampi we have found lots of stereotypical Indian characters and loved every one of them. From snake charmers using the power of the mind to coax Cobras into dancing out of baskets, to a painted elephant who, if you give it 10 rupees (10p), will bless you by putting her trunk over your head for a few seconds - just long enough for a quick photograph. I did feel sorry for the elephant. Although she was well fed she was kept in an enclosed part of the temple with no room to turn. Hopefully this was just during opening times.
Hampi could be used for the set of a Flintstone film. It looks just like the prehistoric cartoon, with big boulders piled around a beautiful long green river. We are staying on the opposite side of the river to Hampi and have to get a one-minute boat across the crocodile-infested water. On our second night we missed the boat, literally, and had to take an hour-long rickshaw ride back to our accommodation as there are no bridges for 50km.
Being my second week in India I have grown to love the country even more. Pretty much everyone is so friendly, so happy, it's hard not to form strong friendships with everyone we meet. They all have interesting stories, are so open and want to share everything with anyone who shows a bit of interest. Each night in Hampi there are jam sessions around bonfires, films being shown in bars and a very relaxed atmosphere - with hardly any alcohol but lots of lassis and unusual teas.
The only thing I have been struggling with is the insects; there are bees as big as small birds, millions of frogs and lizards but worst of all spiders bigger than my hands. The biggest of the big spiders found its way into our 'bathroom' which is really a wall partition near our bed with a toilet. I, not being able to share a room with the eight-legged intruder, went to get help despite Sam's Paris Hilton jibes at me for being girly. I found a smiley Indian woman who was a good foot smaller than me (4ft), who doesn't want to be married and who had a cheeky grin. She came in and in one crush of the flip flop killed the beast. At home I wouldn't normally kill insects, but here, where they are as big as my hand and bite, I didn’t feel too bad.
I have also had the most intense yoga lesson of my life. The man running it could do anything with his body and at one point he had his arms and legs in a mirror image of each other both making L shapes. At another time his whole body was balancing on his hands.
There are so many mysteries and new experiences to this country. But alas but love for curry has still not returned.