DELHI – samosas with postmen, Tamla Motown and Indian whisky to drown bad news, 1977

[Thanks to the help of the B.A staff, word was finally filtering back home that we were stranded in Delhi.  But they feared that the reason I hadn’t heard from my granny was that she had died.  Worse still, they couldn’t confirm if this was true.  My grandmother, Sydney Easterbrook, had gone out to India from Scotland in 1923 to marry forester Bob Gorrie, and they had lived there until the Second World War.  Granny was one of the inspirations behind my trip east.  Now like the elderly enigmatic Mrs Moore in Passage to India (another inspiration for going to India), it was possible she was dead.

So we ‘attacked’ the whisky to drown our sorrows …]

WEDNESDAY 5TH JANUARY, 1977

“Happy Birthday Ank! [youngest brother Angus]  At breakfast a Sikh came to our table and asked us to model his clothes, so could guarantee right size – he sells to boutiques in Germany – we certainly meet all sorts in this place!!!

Went to B.A – nothing.  Went to GPO – they’re so used to us, today we were given sweet tea and chapatis wrapped round potato samosas (potato in batter)!  Cheerful fella warmed chapatis over small electric fire!  Must be the only tourists to have done this – probably the only ones to penetrate so far!  Nice middle-aged man gave us address of Foreign P.O and told us to try there in case mail had been insured. 

Off we went in a rickshaw for miles, racing with traffic far beyond the confines of Connaught Place!  Hassled away with Indian and weren’t understood very well – 2 blokes helping – said had no access unless we had registered number etc.  Discovered this wasn’t foreign mail!  Went to building behind – same story.

Back to centre – cheered ourselves in record shop by listening to Tamla Motown L.P!!  Then found really good Penguin bookshop and browsed in there for a while.

Back to B.A – telex for Nikki telling her to go and check GPO!  Several for me – no reply from Granny.  They in touch finally with parents.  Dad sent cheque for ticket – then horrible news that Granny may be dead.  No confirmation – felt very upset.  Can’t stop thinking of it – what can be happening at home?  To be stuck in this place because of Asian Greyhound inefficiency and to have no news from home!  Very anxious and miserable.

We attacked the bottle of whisky bought for New Year – drank half of it before supper – took mind off worries.  Went down to dining room giggling and wearing new tops.  Waiter in good mood tonight.”

CHRISTMAS IN KATHMANDU – porridge, parties, pipes! 1976

[Christmas in Kathmandu: at the start of the trip I hadn’t expected to still be there for the 25th – a return plane ticket should have been waiting from Asian Greyhound.  But it was a very happy day with all the right ingredients: good food, drink and lots of friends with which to share it – and a dusk walk with a magical moment when musicians came out of the dark like a group of Biblical shepherds playing their pipes.]

SATURDAY 25TH DECEMBER, 1976

Christmas!
When woke, Di gave me and Heidi a little Xmas stocking filled with nuts, sweets, bics and tangerines!  Got up leisurely and had breakfast with Sally and Anders, Heidi and Di at about 11.30!  Sally and Fran gave me a little bead choker and card.  Had porridge at KC’s – all a bit chaotic from the night before – some suffering!

Nipped down to corner shop and bought vodka, spicy nuts and sweets for Di and Heidi and peanut butter for Sally and Fran.  Back to hotel for cocktails in Chris and Nikki’s room again!  Went on till about 3.30!  Great atmosphere – chatted with guy off Contikee – trip where bus rolled – didn’t get on together etc – not like Swaggies!

Went for lunch with Di and Heidi – had gorgeous mushroom and chicken roll at Shangri la served by sweet grinning waiter!  Went for evening stroll with Di round streets – lovely dusk with moon and evening star and mist settling on hills around.  Passed a little band playing drums and pipes and bells – lovely rhythmic beating in the half dark.  Streets busy still (passed shop stacked with coloured glass bangles).  Di still not better.

Met Sally and Heidi in KC’s cake shop and Heidi treated us to piece of pie and coffee. 

Had a drinks party in our room with selection of spirits and nuts – Bill, Shirley, Sally, Fran, Adrian, Anders all came.  They all went off to KC’s and I went down to ‘Cafe de Star’ where Rob and Maree prepared a fabulous dinner – we stood around having “Crispin’s aperitif” ie country liquor, water and orange, until meal served.  All sat in far room at long table – Rob, Maree, Geoff, Jan (Fred ill) me, Diane, Mike, Hans, Ian, Chris, Nikki, Mark and Pam.  Really super evening – all stuffed ourselves with turkey, chicken, carrots in butter, peas, cauliflower, stuffing and roast pots, follwed by Xmas pud and white sauce, presented with flaming Cleopatra whisky on top!

By the time it came to KC’s cake we were all so painfully ill that we sat there just looking at it!  No one moved for hours because couldn’t face going up steps – Geoff and Jan had to stagger back with Fred’s grub.  All gave Geoff his Xmas pressy – woolly waistcoat, pen, biro.  Had my bottle of Muscadet wine from Channel crossing!  (And hotel made us a punch).  Everyone in good mood, cracking jokes etc. 

Mike said farewell because off early – so I said, “Ceylon Mike!”  Eventually all lights in other part went off and waiters went to sleep on floor – so we finally broke up and crept upstairs to bed with pieces of cake!”