Thursday, May 19, 2005

Rupee Madness
After 11 days of altitude sickness, 6 of which involved long days bouncing about in the jeep, we were ready to spread out and unwind for a few days and Kathmandu proved to be the perfect place.

Our hotel's chef proved a master of French toast and these daily feasts set us up for lazy days of shopping and minor sightseeing. The shops of Thamel overflow with beautiful handmade photo albums and paper products, t-shirts custom embroidered by sewingmachine wizards, sarongs and wraps of all colours and materials as well as the usual chess sets and North Fake jackets. The prices were reasonable and our haggling skills well-honed so we feel like we got a couple of bargains. The Nepalese people have a great attitude and if you want it, they can make it, and it was this - and the great food - which made our stay in Kathmandu a great one.

We flew to Delhi on the 14th after the most exhaustive security checks ever encountered. My backpack has been x-rayed so many times that I'm scared to dump it down heavily in case it gets angry, turns green and fills me in. Delhi was a bit of a culture shock but not the overwhelming one we expected. The people speak English, drive (primarily) on the left, like cricket and love curry. It's like South Harrow really except, with temperatures in the 40c area, a bit warmer.

Our friend Lisa arrived on Sunday to find us in UEFA cup spot (Boro) and relegation (WBA for our mate Spence) fever. Incredibly 5 results went the right way thanks to Mark Schwarzer and my home-made West Brom shirt (which has bailed them out twice now).

We are now in Jaipur on the third day of our 16-day tour of Rajahstan, and will be here until Sunday. On Tuesday we saw the Taj Mahal which, despite its familiarity, is amazing. The power of the bulding lies in its ability to inspire from a distance with its elegant dome and towers as well as close up as you marvel at the almost endless ornamentation. Semi-precious stones, inlaid flush to the surface of the marble cover every surface, forming flowers, patterns and writing. Yesterday's highlight was Fathepur-Sikri, the former capital abandoned for lack of water. Grand courtyards and red sandstone buildings stand empty next to puzzlingly green lawns.

(Our search for an internet cafe with the means to upload pictures is sadly ongoing.)