One of the nice things about visiting the state of Maharashtra in India in January is that when planning outings and activities you don’t have to think “we’ll see what the weather is like”. Likewise, if you want to see a beautiful sunset you’ve only got to choose the location. The sun will be there, for sure. We (Estrid and Andrew, Paul’s parents) have just returned from three glorious weeks in India. It was a very special family reunion as Jenny was able to join us from Germany for the first two weeks.
Paul was in great form and able to spend a lot of time travelling and exploring with us. In Pune we visited both new and familiar places and introduced Jenny to the wonders of the city, especially of course Deep Griha Society. The sunset from the hill above the Ranade Institute was beautiful and the noise from below barely audible.
The Hilltop station of Matheran can only be reached by train, taxi and – to get to the top – on horseback. It is well worth the effort and we spent a couple of days walking in the fresh air and enjoying the spectacular views. The sunset was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen and only slightly marred by a monkey doing its best to nick my bag. I won the battle!
We had all wanted to visit the Konkan coast and were thrilled to find beautiful stretches of empty beaches, banana and coconut plantations (our huts were built right in the middle of one) and to observe a rural way of life. One day we found ourselves on a boat sailing to and from the spectacular Janjira Fort, together with around 20 children singing to us – magic. As expected later that day the sun set in spectacular fashion and painted the sky, the sea and the sand a dark orange.
Our final two days were spent being tourists in Mumbai. Paul knew his way around and guided us with great style and confidence (cocktails in the stylish open-air roof bar of the Intercontinental Hotel? Hmmm – make that three beers, please…). Not only did we get the by now almost taken for granted spectacular sunset but were also treated to an air display watched by thousands of people. They had probably waited for ages. We knew nothing about this but the show began just as we set foot on the beach. When in India, always expect the unexpected.
The most enduring memories, however, are of the people we met, both old friends from our last visit and new ones, easily made in the relaxed atmosphere of the Grand Hotel, Roopali’s restaurant, or even in welcoming Indian homes. Thank you Anjali, Pratik and Rujuta, Meeta and Navin, Neela and Bhaskar, and not least Mira who made us the loveliest cup of chai and told us about her life in the Tadiwala Road community. The hospitality and friendly welcome we had everywhere was so generous and wonderful. But the biggest thank you goes to Paul for sharing your life in India with us for three wonderful weeks. We look forward to our next family get-together!
Estrid and Andrew