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.”

BOXING DAY IN KATHMANDU – bicyles, buffalo steak and the blues! 1976

[Word came through that return tickets for Nikki and I were waiting at Post Restante in Delhi – this was the pre-electronic quaint old days of handwritten letters and cryptic telegrams where mail was sent to post offices in large cities to await collection.  So the next step in finding the elusive tickets was to arrange to back-track to Delhi …]

SUNDAY 26TH DECEMBER, 1976

Slept in!  Got up and went with Nikki to book tickets for Delhi.  Yeti Travels confirmed flight to Patna but not Delhi – our usual luck.  Back to hotel – Di still sleeping; Heidi got touch of flu but wandering up and down corridor!  Went and joined Sally and Adrian in Shangri la for pancake.

Then went into Yeti Travels again to check mail – got letter that should have received on 23rd – from family in Malvern – various rude messages tacked on end of Mum’s letter! [from brother Torquil]  Met Rob there – he gave me lift back to hotel on back of bicycle – hair-raising experience!  Dodging cows, rickshaws, roundabouts – nearly thrown into gutter but didn’t come off once!

Met Sally on roof (superb view over Kathmandu and surrounding hills, could see Swayambuth easily).  Went and gave jackets to little man to put dragon on.

Had drinks in Anders’s room with Heidi, Bill, Shirley, an American couple en passant (French interjection!)  Then Di, me and Sally went and ate at Shangri la – buff steak and chips, then coffee at KC’s – met Hans and Chris.  Then went for drinks in Gary and Beryl’s room (Canadian couple that met us all over Xmas and live near Bill and Shirl in Vancouver). 

Great evening – packed at first – Chris and Nikki (went early because Chris got dizzy spell), Rob, Maree, Diane, Mark and Pam, Hans, Chris, Di, Sally, me, Anders, Heidi (left then came back!).  Had great chat with Little Chris about Skye – he climbs in Cullins – very keen – made me feel close to home.  Listened to tapes, then Gary and Rob started playing guitar – Rob played blues and Gary played bongo drum; then Gary played folk songs and lovely Philipino song.  Shirley came in because couldn’t sleep.  Then got complaint about foot stomping from bloke below!  Beryl broke party up at 2.30 because of noise.  Said goodbye to Di, Rob and Maree.”

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!”

XMAS EVE IN KATHMANDU – PARTY TIME! 1976

FRIDAY 24TH DECEMBER, 1976

Xmas Eve!  Di not well.  Went into town early and sent telegram home, “Happy Christmas – love you all. Alcoholica”!
Met up with Mark and Pam – wandered back – Mark bargained for our postcards – any excuse for an argument!  Walked through backstreets – cows, dark shops, rickshaws, kids with pockmarks – Pam worried in case gets chickenpox.  Met Rob and Maree eating rock hard gooey things – Mark said looked like cow pats!

Went in later to collect suits – Di went back because sick.  Yeti Travels, then expensive tea at Ra Ra Restaurant – not good.

Had bread and cheese and curd in room – Di in bed; Heidi egg nogging!  Then went to rum punch party in Chris and Nikki’s room.  Really good fun – lots of people there, great drink.  Rude comments about my green suit – “come in your pyjamas” etc.  Sang Christmas carols then decided to sing outside KC’s – so we all grouped at the door and sang away – difficulty in remembering words, but appreciated by diners at KC’s Xmas Eve party.  Sally knocked down some of new kitchen wall!  KC very tolerant with us.  Some of us sneaked in and listened to guitarists and drank Night Lifes, while others went on to sing elsewhere.

Tried to organise going to midnight mass but didn’t know where place was – Mike had already set off walking, had said I’d go too.  Joined others in cake shop – KC lit cake with brandy on – all had some – kept pouring rum into my coffee – no one paid for anything!  All very merry.  Went round kissing everyone merry Xmas.  Back to restaurant – funny little urchins grabbing onto us out of the dark.  Locked us into restaurant, so Nikki rushed back for Chris and others!  Pushed back tables and had a disco – really great bop.  Finished about 3 o’clock!  Got Xmas kiss from KC!”