FLOWERS OF GOD

We often take nature for granted – but this post shows how something as simple and beautiful as flowers on a wall in Delhi can restore the spirit …

Enchanted Forests

All of us are touched by the Divine but are often unaware of the same.

March in Delhi  is the season for Flowers and the entire vista is magically  draped in blooms. Recovering from a series of surgeries the flowers drew me to  the magic of the Divine Artist providing the much required healing touch.

I return to the world of Blogging and the Enchanted Forests beckon again after a very long gap thanks to the “FLOWERS OF GOD”. They are the first flowers which brushed my senses as they draped over a brick wall as I stepped out of the house after weeks.

This Gorgeous and Voluminous Bouquet of hues of Purple is called the Queens’s Wreath, Purple Vine or Flower of God ( English).

queens wreath SANDPAPER VINE

Also called The Purple Vine, Sandpaper Vine or The Blue Bird Vine (English),  Petrea volubilis (Scientific name)  is…

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BRITISH EMBASSY WASHES ITS MANICURED HANDS OF DIRTY TRAVELLERS, 1977

[Having been euphoric the day before with promises of tickets home, it turned out to be false in my case and complicated in Nikki’s.  The British Embassy were as helpful as a chocolate fire-guard.  We spent precious money travelling out to the luxurious area of New Delhi where our diplomats lived to be told by a brusque officer that he would be out of sight and out of mind over the weekend, so not to bother him.  It was a day of hassle – and my last one as an eighteen year old!]

FRIDAY 7TH JANUARY, 1977

“New telegram for Nikki – she must go to Ariana [Afghan Airways] for ticket!  Went and saw a very unhelpful young bloke – ticket has to be blacklisted in Kabul before a new one issued!  My ticket not here.  Nikki decided to ring home that evening – felt better for it.

Also went to British Embassy to collect Nikki’s money that father had arranged – very unhelpful – would give nothing, no money for travellers.  They would only fly people home if destitute – if there was no one at home to pay; they would disown then repatriate! [This meant having your passport revoked]  Any money leant had to be repaid before left the country!

Taxi took us to the wrong post office, so nearly had stand up fight with driver because we refused to pay full fair.  No tickets again.”

DELHI DESIGNERS – we are models of Indian hippy clothes for a day! 1977

[For a day we became models and advisors for a small Delhi clothing business that was selling to the hippy market in Germany.  The best part was being invited into an ordinary family home with a view over the rooftops and given a delicious Indian lunch.  And there was good news to follow …]

THURSDAY 16TH JANUARY, 1977

Had breakfast [in the YMCA] with Bali, the Sikh.  Went to his room and Nikki tried on different fashions – very attractive and original designs.  Took us to his “factory” – his own family house in side streets of Delhi.  Lots of family help in the business.  Went to room at top with nice patio – great view over street below and roof tops of Delhi.  Nice white-washed walls.

Nikki tried on loads of clothes and I gave advice!  Lots had to be altered slightly – brother, cousin and designer all there too!  (I tried on nice maxi cheese-cloth dress for fun).

Afterwards we had tea on patio, then lunch below – sister-in-law made lovely meal of curd, curried cauliflower, curried tiny beans, chapatis and salad.  Then Bali directed us to B.A from his house.

No news.  Back to hotel – reading when phone went – B.A said tickets should be here tomorrow!  Nikki has money at High Commission if necessary!  Celebrated with sundaes at “Kwalitys”!

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.”

DELHI YMCA – witches, hair washing and Whisky Galore, 1977

[The YMCA continues to be our home as it becomes increasingly obvious that Asian Greyhound have never sent tickets for our return home – paid for the previous September.  But eccentric ballerina’s, a clothes sale and Whisky Galore keep up our spirits.]

TUESDAY 4TH JANUARY, 1977

We were joined at breakfast by one of the “witches”!! (Two bony women with scraped back black hair, pencilled eyebrows and tight-skinned, gaunt faces, who sit in garden too – Nikki calls them the witches).  She was Aussie with cultivated English accent; loved London and the Arts (!) – a ballerina also feeling “the call of India”.  Runs her own company and has a theatre room in the Sydney Opera House!  Very easy to talk to but we can imagine a Prima Dona.

Into B.A – Nikki got telegram – her parents in touch with Asian Greyhound – said sent ticket on 20th Dec! (Supposed to be in Kathmandu by 14th!)  She sent another saying to buy ticket as desperate.  Went to GPO – no tickets.

Read!  Bored silly again.  Went into B.A in evening. Nothing.  (No shops open but had found chemist, so washed hair in afternoon for something to do!)  Sale still on – succumbed to temptation and tried on half of garments!  Had great time tossing clothes all over the place! (Bought 2 tops again).

Waiters in a bad mood tonight – ours was rude and refused to change a note for us, as well as ignoring us and serving us last!  Bed early – reading “Whisky Galore” now!”

STILL IN DELHI WITH NO TICKET HOME … 1977

[Another day of fruitless searching through post office mail and waiting for telexed replies to our messages home via British Airways.  I escaped to the world of Cathy and Heathcliff …]

MONDAY 3RD JANUARY, 1977

“Into B.A in morning – no messages.  Went to Delivery GPO – man at desk asked for intimation again but let us up this time.  Nothing came – checked American Express mail too. 

Read [Wuthering Heights] in garden most of day.  Sale on in hall [at YMCA] – had pleasant half an hour going through tops and dresses – we bought 2 small tops!

Bed early – nothing else to do.”

DELHI YMCA – reading, sleeping, eating and being preyed on by the CHILDREN OF GOD, 1977

[In the sanctuary of the YMCA we slept and read and ate, waiting for news of tickets or contact with family.  Temptation came in a strange form – young wide-eyed converts to the Children of God (a cult that believed Jesus was coming within the next 20 years) who wanted us to go and stay with them.  We’d never have to worry about the next meal or running out of money again – they would look after us.  We’d heard rumours about free love and that they’d been kicked out of Kathmandu for proselytising, so politely declined.] 

SUNDAY 2ND JANUARY, 1977

Big breakfast – cornflakes, poached eggs, toast and coffee.  Phoned B.A to see if any telex – but no reply yet.  Sat on veranda and wrote diary!  Feel better staying in nicer place and not wandering the streets of Delhi.

Sat in small garden below and had coffee.  Read all afternoon.

“Children of God” came and talked to us in lobby.  Strange but cheerful.  I still reserved opinion – don’t like the St Paul approach having it [religion] rammed at me.  Theirs is a new order they say – will have nothing to do with the old – I don’t agree there because rejecting too many people out of hand.  They don’t believe they’ll have a problem of age because Jesus is coming within the next 20 years.  Their group was thrown out of Kathmandu for open preaching; in India they are taking over Mission Schools etc.
(Subsequently had 2 more of them pushing pamphlets at us in the streets).

Supper – Indian food again, then went to bed before 9.0!”