From Kanyakumari, the astounding southernmost tip of the sub-continent, to the apple orchards of Shimla in the Himalayas. From the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur: the toxic air of the beautiful city of Delhi; the haunting Taj Mahal to the strong and beautiful Agra Fort of Uttar Pradesh. The artistically fascinating Textile Museum of Hand Printing in Jaipur, Rajasthan, to the magical, illuminated Mysore Palace in Karntaka. Ooty and the temples of Tamil Nadu, Hampi’s miles of temples in Karnataka, the very special Kerala Folklore Museum near Cochin, Kerala. And, last but not least, Mumbai several times for a few exciting days of museums, galleries, sightseeing and shopping on our way home.
India is a huge country of many and varied parts. You could explore it for the rest of your life, gleaning inspiration from every nook and cranny.
Our transport varied from trains (“Do not travel 1st class, you will never meet India,” said a Keralan friend) in many classes, with antique and slightly younger engines, and for what often felt like endless time. We have been driven in lovely, comfy, air-conditioned cars with excellent drivers; horrible scary cars at night with mad drivers who believed in an afterlife and seemed to be in a great hurry to get there! Friends’ cars, minibuses, canoes, woven houseboats and motorised rickshaws, which we love for short journeys. And, finally, aeroplanes for longer stretches when we could no longer stand the trains.
Over the years, we have been asked by friends who work in tourism in India if we would start a travel agency and also set up retreats.
Although we have discussed these possibilities, we couldn’t visualise how it would fit into our current lives. Brett wants to set up her glass teaching courses but couldn’t see any way of doing so without hassle beyond her time and abilities. Then, last year, she thought about organising painting courses, bringing in inspirational artists to teach them. The location we have in northern Kerala is perfect.
This year, our friends in tourism in Kerala really suffered, as 40% of their bookings were cancelled, mainly because of the international media completely misleading the public about the extent of the flooding in the south of Kerala.
So, we started to discuss this in great depth in our favourite private meeting spot: the sea. We bobbed around watching nature: fishing boats, eagles hunting, dolphins milling about, etc., while building what became a more and more possible venture which just seemed as though it would work for us and our friends. And as more of the plans fitted, it became increasingly exciting. All our talents seemed to slip happily into the slots.
We are so pleased with what we can offer that Brett longs to come on the courses. As she can’t, we will just have to make sure that we all have the best experience possible.