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October 18, 2008

Near Destitute in India

I landed in Mumbai just after midnight to discover that my bank had placed a security block on my card and I was unable to get any cash out. I'd been meaning to use the ATM when I was in Heathrow but had instead hung around the Apple store waiting to see if their new Macbooks would get delivered before my flight boarded. They hadn't, and here I was now in a different world, in the middle of the night, fearfully digging into my pockets for leftover cash.

After changing those meagre funds I caught a wrecked old taxi with a wrecked old driver and we rattled off slowly to the hotel I'd booked. On the way I tried to call my bank to sort things out but was frustratingly put on hold until the credit on my phone ran out.

It was 02:30 when I finally arrived at the hotel, knowing I was about to find out whether or not I'd be spending my first night back in India sleeping on the pavement. I explained the problems I'd been having to the receptionist when he asked for my card and thankfully he handed me the room key and told me just to sort it out in the morning.

From the room I called my bank again and within five minutes my card was working. It's hard to explain the excitement you feel when an ATM whirrs, counting out your cash, and your fears of being destitute in India vanish like a bad dream.

October 23, 2008

Off to Jaisalamer

I'm just about to head to the station to catch the midnight train to Jaisalamer, a 13 hour trip to the most western point of the railway line in Rajasthan.

Jaipur has been interesting, although bigger and more hectic than I expected; maybe I should have expected that with a population of over 2 million. Things are particularly busy in all Indian towns these days with the approach of Diwali, the biggest festival of the year. Celebrating the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, it's a time of giving gifts and giving thanks - a bit like Christmas but without the reindeer and bad music.

November 27, 2008

Not in Mumbai...

For anyone having seen the news about the killings in Mumbai and wondering if I'm there... I'm chilling out on an idyllic beach in Goa called Palolem. The pictures from here won't be quite so exciting though...

Troops confront Mumbai attackers

December 12, 2008

Palolem

I've spent most of the last weeks in Palolem, a beautiful, long sandy bay in the south of Goa that's lined with bamboo huts but lacks the big hotels and package tourists that fill other parts of the coast.

Strangely, I happen to be reading the Bourne Supremacy at the moment and I've just discovered that this is where part of it, including his run along the beach, was filmed, which makes my morning runs a bit more atmospheric.

Cafe Inn, just back from the beach has free wi-fi and a chilled garden to sit in - but watch out for the mosquitoes at sunset!