TRAVEL – Hyderabad – India

Culture clashes cannot be more extreme than an Indian-English marriage. It was a privilege to be present during the actual night (most of it) and the dress rehearsal and some of the traditions that take place before a marriage. There was an interesting compromise of traditions on both sides, making a fascinating selection of photos taken in Hyderabad, India and put the icing on the cake of yet another truly epic adventure to the great nation of India.

The love of firework and bangers were, as suspected, present in the proceedings and due to tradition and culture there was no ‘And now you can kiss the bride’.












The stadium setting must have been on the speakers and words were echoed through the speakers making it very hard to hear with strong accents included in that mix. The rich display of flowers, lights and lavish seats was something to behold.

Meanwhile as the outside ceremony continued, cameramen moved around cables snaked across the ground in all directions in a way that would have horrified UK’s health and safety officials! There was so much activity, people moving around and so on, during the actual marriage ceremony; it was so very different to the silence of the ‘special moment’ in most English marriages. As this went on the biggest bats I have ever seen were performing a fly past over the celebration. Dinner was served to the special guests and family at 1.30am after everyone else had feasted. We were even entertained with a slightly intoxicated policeman, who told me that he was a policeman and pointed to his badge, and said ‘I’mm apooliccemannn’.!

At around 3am in the morning we returned
home, I was able to stay in the bride’s house, which provided an interesting point of view of the traditional proceedings. The following day was spent taking some guests to the famous fort Golconda and exploring the famous, busy city.We returned to a slightly colder and much damper England, along with its peaceful driving conditions. 


TRAVEL – Coimbatore – India

It was good to catch up with the orphaned children again; last time I was here was a year ago.

They were all very proud of their new, nearly finished, orphanage and were keen to help in any way they could, moving sand, brick and also singing to help the builders along.

They all seem to be doing well, some have left to either go back to a parent (some are semi orphans) and others have moved out to their own rented house after getting a job.

As always, happiness and joy fills the air and makes you realise what really matters and what you really need to make you happy. Here are a few photos of the children, staging and posing as usual.

As I write, in 2014, they are now in the new orphanage and life will be slightly more comfortable with running water, working toilets and beds!

Images below
Left –   Last time I was at the orphanage I produced a card with Prakash here he proudly holds a copy. Cards are available on the main site under shop.
2nd image down –   One of three brothers Cuberdy helps transport some cement he is the middle man, both his mother and father have died.
3rd image down –   Two of the youngest girls at the orphanage, with major bed-head! At around 7am, Cogle on the right and Diva on the left.
4th image down-   Vodiville, walks back with some of the other children from school, with his TIN TIN bag! Every day is an adventure, he suffers from heart problems, he also cannot write due to his thumbs not being connected with the rest of his hand apart from a thin bit of flesh.
5th image down-   Vodiville, its morning shower time!
6th image down-   A parting gift, some photos for the walls of the new orphanage, kindly sponsored by donations.
7th image down and below-   These last scenes are taken down town in the heart of the city, the BAZZAR

TRAVEL – Jaipur – India

We arrived in the thick of night, the train was a slow stopping train and, as we left Agraover an hour and thirty min’s late, we arrived into Jaipur very late. We were again asked when we alighted at Jaipur if we needed a taxi, but fortunately our friendly driver was waiting for us. We piled into the old Ambassador, one of India’s famous legends of a car. With the bang of the doors we were off, and with the throaty sound of the engine warming up, we flew down the dark lanes of Jaipur.

The hotel was a real Indian gem, perfectly themed, fit for the Royal Raj. Its claim to fame is, it’s going to be used for the filming of the next ‘Best exotic marigold hotel’. The following morning we took a auto for the day exploring the Pink City which was a little bit of an anti-climax.  However, the Palace with its lavish doorways and decorative building style was well worth a visit; the image used on Lonely Planet guides front cover is taken here at Jaipur’s city palace.



The city struggles to cope with the large volumes of traffic trying to squeeze through its ancient archways and streets. On the way to the tombs our auto nearly took the head off of a camel as we raced in front of the camel and its rider. The area is well known for its camel fairs. Fortification lines the surrounding hills;

I would imagine it’s similar to the Great Wall of China – just not the same length. When we arrived at the tombs we were the only ones there, making it very strange from the busy street of the city below. It’s a beautiful complex of tomb memorials but is obviously off the beaten track for most tourists.


The climb up though the pass through the mountains and gateway to Amber is most impressive; the view of Amber Fort is something to behold with the lake below.  There is a second fort above the main fort with the small tower nestling in the valley, surrounded on every side with an extensive wall. After the steep hill climb the palace is full of amazing photographic opportunities from its impressive arches, gateways and rooms, which fill this heavily defended and luxurious palace. A secret passage way leads to the second fort.  This is a mile or so uphill, and if you’re on your feet all day and in the Indian sun, this maybe just a little too much!

t you get an auto for the day this is the point they may wish to take you to buy gifts, it may be interesting but they will push for a sale. Be a hard barterer, they may say it’s their only sale but it’s not! The right price is around 75% less than what they first quote you; the more of a tourist you look the higher the price!

We returned back for a great meal at the hotel’s sister hotel. I cannot rate it more highly and it is a definite must to stay there if you are in Jaipur.






TRAVEL – Agra – India

From the minute you alight from the train to the moment you leave Agra there are many waiting to greet you and they all say the same thing: ‘I have got a good price and remember it’s especially for you’.

The very persistent old man, once we finally bartered him down from his initial high price, bundled us into his car; the luggage bumping around on the roof which, despite the size of the speed bump and the violent breaking, never seems to fall off.  Once we left the car park, or it may have been the moment he turned the ignition key, the sales pitch started. Over the whole 30min journey there would be a never ending stream of things he could offer at a special price just for us. Then he would start all over again and the sites would be listed once more and a better deal would be offered. Finally we arrived at our destination and enjoyed the peace and quiet of …. Nothing; no bartering, no sales, no traffic. Later, even walking to the restaurant 15min down the road, the rickshaw man peddling beside us all the way; his price getting cheaper by the footstep!

Agra is often swamped in smog and it was when we were there, the taste in your mouth every time you take a breath. At sunrise, on the other side of the river, it loomed out of the mystical fog or smog around it. Dimly the white was shining though, breathtaking, magical as the birds moved around only to be disturbed by the persistent gardener asking for money. Later, to see it in its full splendour in full light, we entered through the South gate, which is the least busy.

Then through the main gate you can see the tomb looming through the gateway. It like an ever brightening jewel the closes you get, majestic, pure, shining white, a wonder!  It’s certainly worth 750 rupees although if you think you can get away with it, say your Indian: it’s only 20 rupees then!  There was no queue the day we were where there but there isn’t much inside compared to the stunning exterior. The actual tombs in there are replicas of the actual tombs below but they are placed over the exact spot. The Taj was never designed to be for the King’s final resting place just, for his dearly loved wife, but it was his son who decided to place him there. His tomb is the only thing not completely symmetrical as it was all built around her tomb. From the South there are many shops and many of the ancestors of those who build the Taj Mahal  still live and work here producing marble products and gifts. You have to be a hard barterer to get a good price here and if you go into one shop you are asked why you won’t go in every other shop down that lane.

The lavish Agra Fort is not far up river. Only 20% of the fort is open but that is large enough. It has many optical illusions, a room with precious stones and a rosewater fountain. There is also a secret passageway.

‘You see baby Taj?’ the next auto rickshaw driver says after he guesses you haven’t been there yet. Actually we were after a late lunch and we agree on the guides suggestion of a certain non-veg restaurant. ‘You want veg or non-veg?’ he asks half way; ‘non-veg’ we say; he says ‘this one is veg only’; we agree veg is fine then only to arrive at a non-veg restaurant. Agra is one of the places to ignore local knowledge or advice as it will probably mislead you!

That evening we arrive at the train station for our onward journey west to Punjab, Jaipur. Four orphaned children, aged between 3 and 6, who live on the station came and asked for money. An Indian man explains this is their home, it is all they know, and they are happy here.  Our train arrived over 1 ½ hours late and it turned out to be the slow, bumpy, stopping train. Luckily our cheerful, larger-than-life driver was waiting at the other end and we sat back in the old Ambassador as it pulled away from the station with a deep rumble from its engine.




TRAVEL – Delhi – India.

We arrived in the capital at 7am on The Golden Temple Mail from Amritsar. The metro was very efficient and safety-concious with security checks before boarding the train. First visit in the city was to Qutro Minar the old 11th century site situated to the south of the city and full of old doorways and buildings.


The Gate of India built by the British to honour those who lost their lives in World War Two has impressive flower arrangements in front of it.



Parades occur regularly along here and for some reason many Indians try and sell you a toy that whizzes into the air seemingly with the belief that you will never have seen such a thing before and that it would be a most prized addition to the tourists home. Nearby are the Parliament buildings.


If it’s hussle and bussle that you want there is nowhere in the world quite like Chandi Chowk Bazzar.

As you ascend the staircase from the metro all sorts of smells, noise and voices meet you. Then you’re in it. Just walk out. If you wait you won’t get anywhere but you just have to watch and wonder, as everything moves in all directions, how does anyone get to their destination?

If there wasn’t enough already going on in this over crowded pot, drums and flags fill one of the roads as a BGP political march walks through, postering everything and handing out flyers. We found a spot to wait and watch and just behind us one man was taking a rest with his feet visible from the darkened room. Next to us is a small shop with a smiling gentleman and sitting below the counter is an old chap selling fruit discussing the flyer. In the wake of the march, life gradually returns to a normality of chaos – a cart stacked high, with a 5 year old boy sat on the top, passes by into the middle of a muddle of other cart’s, trucks, rickshaws, autos, pedestrians and sellers.

This is one of the oldest bazars in the world. It was established in the 16th century and has grown from strength to strength and busier and busier ever since. We then went onto Chandi Chowk itself for a meal.

The rickshaw man said it was too far to walk to our desired eating place, even though it was just round the corner. He also said it would be closed until later; when we still insisted on going it was…open!

The Red Fort was walking distance away with more sellers of postcards of India’s scenes at: ‘very good price sir’. Most will barter themselves down if you’re not interested – the starting price was 600 rupees; we left him when he got to 80 ruppes.

Agra is only 2½ hours by train from Delhi. So long as you book the trains in advance they are by far the best way to travel being very cheap, comfortable and the stations central. There were many tourists on this train to go and see one of the wonders of the world and India’s most famous building – the Taj Mahal.

TRAVEL – Amritsar – India

A few selected images from a recent trip to India the first State is Punjab.

We arrived into Amritsar military airport; first on the list was the Pakistan border.

Every evening at around 5pm (this was about the only thing that was early during our trip!) the gates between the two countries close, to the sound of either uproar or cheering from a few thousand spectators. Most guidebooks relate it more to comic entertainment than anything else.


You won’t escape without being harassed by everyone selling the same souvenir DVD, postcards and a plastic looking toy which I think is a souvenir to put on the mantelpiece when you get home…

Rather than violent actions, the slightly more peaceful approach of chanting and cheering or booing can be observed.

One of the most stunning sights to see is the Golden Temple of Amritsar.

I think at night it has a certain magical influence as you turn the corner and see an expensive jewel of India reflected in the lake that surrounds it – and you don’t have to barter: it’s free! If you don’t mind the smell of stinking feet, and you don’t mind people seeing you toes it’s a truly magnificent sight.

I The sikhs actually drink the water you wash your feet in! A free meal is also offered to anyone, which is probably one of India’s biggest eat-outs.


Just down the road is the site of the famous Amritsar massacre which most will say was one of the main turning points toward India’s independence. Here, hundreds of Indians were killed by the British.

RIGHT: This is the alley thousands of Indians tried to escape the shooting.

The side streets are full of hustle and bustle as anywhere in India, with regular hold ups. They are full of colour and a maze so we just had to keep a good track of where we had gone.


Our trip was made easier but using a very fantastic, reliable firm Le Passage To India, they were able to get us great rates and we helpful all the way I cannot rate them more highly please click here for their website

The gallery below shows a range of photos from the side streets to the night Indian wedding viewed from our hotel window at night. Please click on the photos to make them larger.






Goodbye – (Elo-Star, – In Telegu language) India

After a rocky train ride which felt more like travelling on a boat we arrived at Secunderabad Junction at the end of the line, our final Indian destination. The last days in India have been spent in the city and we have celebrated with birthday of Pricilla, it’s her first birthday and they live in the downstairs room of the house we are staying in.

 The birthday girl sleep next to her older brother ‘Mani’.

Mani being fed by his dad

Both grandmothers

After 3 months we have visited 5 states, spoken some of the 4 languages, are now a pros at: using squat toilets, showering out of a bucket, washing clothes – (sometimes unintentionally with rice), sleeping on a tile floor, having no electricity, understanding the Indian voice, broken English and wobble of the head, bartering, crossing an Indian road, eating with your hands, saying ‘no problem’ to every question, driving a motorbike helmetless, driving with no indicators, handbrake or functional gear-stick, and most importantly trimming a moustache.

One of the last cups of tea (chia) being made, indian style.

It is now time to return and catch up with our homelands and enjoy the lovely, January British weather. This has certainly been a home away from home and we have made some lifelong friends, it has changed each one of us, definitely for the better.

 – In a month or so’s time the four of us hope to wrtie something about the whole trip with pictures which sets out clearly what we did I will try to upload this to the website but if this fails if you are intrested I can send you an email with it attached or by post please email me if you are intrested and once it is complete I will send it.

My email is:

A sad goodbye.

There is much to catch up on…

We took all the children out for a meal on Christmas eve – all the children were very excited about this adventure. 2 busses were due to come but one had a puncture so we ended up using one and did 2 round trips. The restaurant was awoken when the food was served by all the children giving thanks to God for their food in their normal fashion of one child standing to say the prayer and the rest of the orphans repeating bit by pit. Once the meal was finished we crammed all 70 children onto the one bus designed for 30 and returned back for them to get changed out of their smart dress and then off for the park.

Christmas day, well, it will be the only Christmas day I will be awoken at 6.30am by someone dropping off a family of 4 goats in an old ambassador car! Christmas dinner was chicken biryani, eaten in true Indian style with my hands sitting cross-legged on the floor with all the children! We were able to give some Christmas gifts to the children which included footwear for all the children, a head torch and bible for the older boys, a new school bag for the younger boys, goodie bags for the girls and we got a few gifts in return from the children, it was the last day for us and it was full of mixed emotions we each had to give a goodbye speech and Joseph who does the day to day running was very effected from us being there and living exactly like they do.

On the full bus! 

We had to leave Early morning on 26th and it was all a bit of a rush after 2 months it was good bye to the children we had been fathers, mothers and friends to and now it was time to leave. The little and big children had tears in their eyes as they hugged goodbye. Each one of us had far from dry eyes too. We zoomed off to the busy railway station and only just got there in time as we had to walk miles to get to our coach – each train is about 25 coaches long. Two of the orphans came with us on our visit to Mumbai and one came to wave us goodbye at the station, it was a final goodbye to Joseph and the orphan ‘SMS’ as I jumped on the moving train you could just see two arms waving above the crowds of people at the station before the train was on it’s way to Mumbai.

A photo from before on the dogem cars 

One child packs away his new gifts into his suitcase.

Christmas day, christmas and leaving gifts and christmas hats!

Goodbye from the christmas day goat. 

A final goodbye.

Typed on 26.12.12


2 Days till Christmas!

They were all sat outside the main building illuminated only by a few Christmas stars, their faces shining with happiness as they saw some visitors, it was a long way from the main road and overlooked by some local mountains. This leprousy centre cares for 40 families affected by the disease here and they have been provided houses by the government but now receive little help…only 1,000 rupees a month which is around £13. It is a good set up though as the families are able to look after their family member affected by this illness. Over half of the people were Christians and we talked about the meaning of Christmas and sang a few songs beneath a tin roof and illuminated coloured stars. We asked if there was anything they needed and they asked if it was okay if we bought them some food toward their Christmas meal which we did along with soap and oil.

It is now drawing near to Christmas and there has been much excitement in the orphanage as a kind sponsor bought clothes and presents for all the children. We have also attended a few functions, one was at a five star hotel in Coimbatore, the children took it in turns to dance, sing and be entertained by the hotel and we treated to a luxurious meal of chicken biryiani and ice-cream. Tomorrow all the children have leave and we are hiring a bus to take them all out to a famous place in the city for a nice meal, this is to be followed to a trip the park or swimming pool, yet to be decided. It will be a typically Indian last minute decision!

The children’s faces were in great fear as the stairs moved towards the sky in the shopping Centre, they had never seen moving stairs and it was one great leap for an Indian child to board this magic staircase. We had to give some of the 7 orphans we took on this trip a friendly nudge onto the escalator, it took a little while before they realized that the steps appeared too as they walked into the steps to start with by the fifth floor they were pros! It was very funny to witness their first escalator experience! KFC was the next stop and lastly dodgems which proved hilarious so with shining faces they returned sleepy and satisfied. We also went to bed happy after a successful mini trip with 7 of the orphans.

Day in the life of an orphan

Everyday between 5.30 and 6am everyone is woken up, either of their own accord or by an elder boy. Following the awakening is morning prayer which is done a little away from the orphanage under the tree on the road. There is a short bible reading by one of the older children, next is some study time in the main hall where the boys all sleep. Before breakfast all the jobs need to be completed. This includes sweeping, washing the dishes, and washing the floors, then a quick body wash and all clean and dressed for a nice breakfast. A speedy cleaning of the plate follows and they get ready for school. The youngest children have to walk across a main road and then across the main railway line and after 30mins they arrive at school. They sing the national anthem and a prayer before they commence school. Once they return from school they wash, change, play, study and then at 7.30 is a prayer meeting or reading followed by a meal, powercut, then more studying and finally at around 10pm sleep. Some of the older orphans however persist with studying until the early hours of the morning; such is the life of an Indian orphan. For most education is their only ticket to a new life.