HOGMANAY IN DELHI – dancing to Abba with Delhi’s "trendy" then ending up in hash-filled doss house; 1977 begins.

[The New Year, 1977, was seen in rushing around in a Buik between posh parties in Delhi and dancing to Abba.  But Nikki was ill and all we really wanted to do was go back to Ma Calaco’s doss house and our hash-smoking room-mate – an eccentric but kind Dutchman who caught mice and made us coffee!]

FRIDAY 31ST DECEMBER, 1976  – Part Three

This party was full of the trendy young of Delhi – all in Western clothes.  Abba was playing.  Small room for dancing – Nikki and I both dancing with JB Singh.  Although it was the house of best friend Chris, he kept saying they only went to such a small party so others wouldn’t say they were too grand to come – some friends!  Nobody seemed particularly ecstatic to see them!

Nikki not at all well and nearly asleep.  Kept asking them to take us home but wouldn’t listen; said we had to go to another party first.  Nikki pleading with them by this time.  Stopped at really posh place – big party of about 100 people – but we sat in car while JB went into say hello.  Already Pixie telling him to look out for other girls – kept boasting that all the “trendy” people of Delhi were there – all properly invited etc.  Imagine if we’d walked into such a place with our jeans on!

Finally agree to take us home to Mrs Calaco’s.  JB insisted we’d meet next day at open air garden.  Dutchman and weird Yank who’d moved out for us, were in the room – stoned on hashDutchman quite amusing and cheerful though strange.  Long fair hair and long beard – made us some coffee. Fell into our dirty sleeping bags and slept.”

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HOGMANAY IN DELHI – a ticket hunt that leads to mice at Ma Calaco’s, 1976

[It’s Hogmanay but Delhi is a long way from the Isle of Skye.  Nikki and I are on a search for tickets home, existing on coffee and toast and running out of money.  It’s going to be a long last day of 1976 …]

Nikki on the bus

FRIDAY 31ST DECEMBER, 1976 – Part One

“Both woke early and checked out.  Wandered around Place, nowhere open.  Found hotel so had toast and coffee there.  Then got rickshaw to Post Restante (one of million that we got that day!) 

At P.R. bombshell hit us – no chit saying we had registered mail.  (Got letters for Di and Rob).  I asked if could check reg mail – sent to a different building.  Asked again at big school where to go – nice priestly looking men; boys playing cricket.  Found place eventually.  Asked to see reg. mail – bloke wouldn’t listen because we had no chit from the post office.  Both broke down and cried!  So he relented and took us up to nice middle-aged man in charge of the mail.  Let us look through the book.  Nothing come the whole of December for either of us (although Asian Greyhound had telexed Kathmandu that Nikki’s had arrived and mine on its way 2 weeks ago).

Told to come back at 4.  Decided to check p. restante under name Asian Greyhound – wouldn’t let us when got there.  Decided to go to British Airways and see if booked with them.  Nice [Sikh] man very helpful, sent telex to A.G. asking for details of tickets – we don’t even know the company flying with, let alone the date!  Told to come back later.

Went to Ariana [Afghan Airways] – but they’d moved.  So trailed over to new building – asked if booked with them – had no record of it.  Went to Iraqui Airways – sent upstairs (like following clues to a riddle!)  Nice man but no record of our tickets, said would telex on Monday if not arrived.

Exhausted, fell into restaurant and had coffee and omelette.  Hardly spoke felt so miserable – both on verge of tears all day.  Set off again – tried Indian Airways and Syria-Arab Airways but no luck – tickets don’t seem to exist!

Decided to find accommodation.  Shirley had given us address of Mrs Calaco’s, Janpath Lane.  Booked in – she turfed 2 weird blokes out [of room] and gave us their beds.  Filthy bare room, dark, with 4 beds in and nothing else.  Beds made of huge frames and canvas strapping for mattress.  Given 2 grotty sleeping bags because had nothing.  Both lay down – Nikki had sore throat and headache.

Watched mouse running over opposite bed and onto window ledge by bloke’s food etc.  Both burst into tears!  Never known such despair – and on Hogmanay too!  Funny Dutchman came in and brewed up some tea – said there were loads of mice and proudly showed us a trap he had made!”