Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: New Year in India (2016/17)


It's safe to say that this trip was a long time in the making. India has always been portrayed as one of those colourful, vibrant and thoroughly in-your-face destinations, and as such, it was guaranteed to capture the imagination of a budding globetrotter at a tender age. At the same time, the world's largest democracy has traditionally also had something of an image problem. Visions of coming face-to-face with examples of abject poverty, doubts about chaotic and perhaps dirty streets, a challenging climate and a general dislike of what I usually call 'hassle factor' all provided an effective counterbalance to the appeal of the exotic. Furthermore, unlike most of  my contemporaries in the UK, I was a late convert to Indian cuisine, the delights of which largely eluded me until well into adulthood. This, coupled with a fear of getting sick (whether this arose from real or imaginary concerns), provided another powerful disincentive to visit the country for many years. Add all the perceived negatives together and you can perhaps see why I convinced myself to give it a miss for so long. I even turned down an opportunity to work in Mumbai in 2000.

My friend and travelling companion Bruce had been to India previously, although not for some time, and I almost began to feel that perhaps he had a long-term plan to rid me of my trepidations. We made a trip to Sri Lanka in the spring of 2012, and Bruce said at the time that I should think of this experience as a kind of 'India Lite'. The trip was a huge success and caused the first breaches to appear in my defensive wall. Next, he introduced me to images of the famous houseboats of Kerala, something that I had never previously encountered and which duly embedded themselves in my imagination. Finally, it was time to go for full-scale demolition of the mental block that I had put in place.

He proposed a three-centre trip beginning in Goa, with its Portuguese-influenced culture, and progressing to Bengaluru, known as the Garden City. Finally, nurturing the seed that had been planted in my imagination a few years previously, we would visit 'God's Own Country', Kerala. The trip would be taken over New Year, when the climate ought to be at its most agreeable. Finally, I was ready and willing to cast aside my previous apprehensions and give my enthusiastic agreement! It was my turn to redeem an American Express two-for-one voucher, so the trip was based on Avios redemption flights in British Airways' Club World cabin.

How did it go? Read on and find out!

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