2012 has been a fabulous year both for us and my city. The year started with us moving into our new home and slowly renovating it. The renovations still continue but it now feels like home. We spent the early part of the year glamping with friends in the Peak district. Unfortunately for all of us after an unusually warm April we arrived at Knotlow farm during a freak change in weather and were surrounded by snow. Lets just say that despite having a wood fire oven in our yurt, I required three layers of clothes to sleep in. Glamping in bad weather does not suit us ! Thankfully friends stayed close by and we spent the last few days in their beautifully renovated new home warming our bones.We then moved into jubilee celebration mode that took over the entire country.
Elizabeth II birthday celebrations were done in style all over the country, we had a little street party which was a nice way of meeting other residents on our street. I realised we have a street mailing list with some very enthusiastic people organising events along the street. Soon after that my parents came visiting in separate lots. My dad first and mum followed. Mum was lucky, we got to see Wimbledon finals and Olympic semifinal football match.
The Olympics took over our summer. What can I say, London rocked! As a country and as a city this event got everyone absorbed. We spent agonising hours between patients catching news about Wiggo and Pendletons achievements. Wishing the gold medal tally to increase with each passing day. We were lucky we got to watch several events, hockey, football, boxing , archery and wheelchair fencing. I enjoyed every minute of it. The Olympics was in my city and I felt every bit a part of it. The volunteers made the game, every event I went to had rows of smiling helpful volunteers engaging us in banter. These people were normal Londoners who felt strongly enough to take time out of their lives in order to help organise the biggest show in the world and welcome the world to their city. What can I say, as a Londoner they did us all proud.
PS ( I wrote this a year ago and sat on it for a while, better late than never, Ha! )
Thursday, 22 November 2012
Our first destination was Lima, we reached early evening after a short detour via Amsterdam. Our excellent travel agents, JLA had sorted out a guide and car to take us to our hotel in Miraflores. Language is an issue, I could not survive on " hablo un poco de espanol" so our guide Janet helped us communicate although some bits were lost in translation. I got my first view of the Pacific and I was surprised at how much this bit of the city reminded me of Marine drive in Bombay. It was packed with hip kids and bunches of tourist. The marina in Miraflores is swanky and urban and the typical tourist in me was a bit disappointed, I wanted ancient ruins and the exotic of south america.
|The snow capped Andes peeping through the clouds|
|Children's day festivity in Cusco|
The next morning we flew to Cusco situated at a height of 11, 200 feet. We had read up on altitude sickness and obviously pooh poohed it.This city was everything I imagined it to be, old, decaying, full of history and warm people who looked just like me. We reached our hotel and were raring to have a nose around the city. As luck would have it, we had arrived during Cusco's children's day festivity. We saw children dressed in beautiful colours dancing to a glorious beat in the city centre, while S and I slowly struggled to catch our breath. We still thought nothing of our laboured breaths and headed off to Chicha the brainchild of Peru's Gaston Acurio and his German wife Astrid. We tried all forms of exotic food, washed them down with some of the best pisco sours in town and generally made merry. As the meal came to an end and we started our slow walk home, altitude sickness hit both of us. To cut a long story short, it was an uncomfortable walk to the hotel, we spent the entire afternoon and the next morning downing coca tea and sleeping. By the second day our bodies were gradually getting acclimatised to the high altitude and I didn't feel like I had a permanent hangover with smokers lungs. I did spend the rest of my trip with mildly cyanosed lips but everything else seemed to function well.
Cuy Pequinés - guinea pig on a beetroot pancake
We then headed off by road to the sacred valley, spent the night at the exquisite Pakiramtapu nestled between the mountains with the ruins of Ollantaytambo overlooking us. The next morning we got onto the Vista Dome to head towards Aguas Calientes the closest town to Macchu Picchu. Most people on the Inca trail skip our rail journey and start a four day journey towards Macchu Picchu. We however decided that our ripe age warranted a bit of comfort. Macchu Picchu was a half an hour journey via bus from Aguas Calientes. The road was narrow and the route was packed with large buses navigating tight spaces at 7,970 feet. Its safe to say if you are an adrenaline junky sit by the window seat and watch yourself climb precariously along the edge. If like me you are petrified of heights, hold on to someone and look away from the window. In spite of the alarming increase in perspiration I could not peel my eyes away from the stunning views that followed. I now understand why the Incas worshipped nature, because in all its glory Macchu Picchu is truly spiritual. Many things have been written and will continue to be written about this wonder of the world, words though will never do it justice. At the end all I wanted to do was bottle the day up and bring it home with me.
|Pakiratampu, a little oasis|
|Macchu Picchu with Huayna Picchu ( Little Mountain ) behind it.|
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
This festival of lights was spent scrubbing the house and dotting it with my ever growing collection of tea-lights and diyas. Diwali, the festival of lights holds a soft spot in my heart. In bombay we spent the week buying noisy crackers that my father probably enjoyed as much as my brother and I. Packaging sweets in several boxes and running to the different apartments in our building exchanging sweets. I always knew which apartments kept the choicest goodies and which aunty would give me my favorite jalebis.
This was my first Diwali in our not so new home anymore. I spent the actual day running into the city to meet friends for dinner at twenty four. The views from the twenty fourth floor of the city with everything alight was london's version of Diwali for me. To complete my week of diwali celebrations we met over the weekend, all the usual suspects and more, played teen patti, ate excessively and ate even more the next morning. It was as Diwali should be, filled with the lights of london, food, friends and family.
I hope your Diwali was filled with light.