We have a lovely verandah at the Kesar Bhawan Palace Hotel, looking across the valley, filled with date palms. So we’re having our last breakfast here before we pack and check out. Chole Bhatura for me and tomato toast for Michael.
Michael’s voice dissapeared just before dinner, poor thing. We ate in the hotel Indian Restaurant—rich black dhal, and apricot-stuffed dumplings in a coconut or almond sauce. Came with lovely chapati and rice. Wandered round the third floor shopping gallery which still had three guys with shops open. I have no idea how they make money open at 9.30 on a Sunday night. We dissapointed them anyway, and then had a wander around the hotel’s small art gallery.
Enjoyed lounging in the BA Club World lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5, drinking some good pinot noir and nibbling on crisps and sandwiches. The drinking continued on the flight, with some ‘flinty’ sauvignon blanc to match the pretty good and plentiful food. The film selection was dreadful though: Michael ended up watching a few tv comedies and I watched an hour of the cartoon network and then crashed out. I slept well until breakfast arrived, but Michael woke up with a cold—husky voice to match. Within a minute attendants were giving out immigration and H1N1 screening forms. Not auspicious timing. We landed at a about 6am and sailed through immigration, customs and the swine-flu screening cameras. Changed our £s into rupees and then experienced the first of Delhi’s Dodgy Dealers when we booked our taxi into town. 1000 INR at the first place 250 at the official place. Leaving the airport at about 6.30, with only hand luggage, there was hardly and hassle and by 7 we were checking into The LaLit hotel at Connaught Place. Lovely hotel—typical 5* business hotel. Did just the job for a shower and long relax and for Michael to make a start on battling his cold.
Had a rest until midday and then an exploratory walk to Connaught Place. We had about three DDDs chatting to us on the way, and finally managed to shake them off. In some ways, it’s quite hard to tell them from genuine helpful people. We had a good chat with two nice guys in a coffee shop in the dilapitated period buildings on Rajiv Chowk, and as far as I could tell they were asking pretty much the same things as the pests outside! It rained a bit, no-one seemed to care, and we wandered on.
In the afternoon went to Janta Mantar, an amazing celestial observatory constructed in 1725. Red washed buildings, with huge marble surfaces covered with scientific scales for measuring celestial observations. It was a perfect place to spend an hour wandering though the various intricate shapes. Then a short stroll back to the hotel. Sunday lunch in the LaLit is “campagne brunch”, so we went a lá carte. Lovely rajmah (kidney beans in a spicy tomato sauce) and paneer lavang latta (rolls of cottage cheese in creamy clove-flavoured gravy) with breads and a couple of Kinfisher. Yum!
More resting (and blogging) in the afternoon. We might try dinner tonight at Saravana Bhavan vegetarian restaurant in P Block in Connaught Place; or the Indian restaurant in the hotel (pricey) depends on how gruff Michael is.
Mobile Blogging from here.
We’re off to New Delhi today, very excited. Last time I looked at the weather it was 36–38°C, that’s all changed for thundery rain…
Slept until 3, then dozed until 5, then up and cleared some e-mail and had a chat with Michael online , he was staying up late. Met Alejandra and Ray for breakfast at 8. We were aiming to get a taxi at 9, to visit Avra Laboratories about 9.30. We didn’t get into the taxi until 9.10 because of the complications of booking it in the hotel. Then, to make things even slower, the taxi driver got lost four times despite two phone calls to Avra’s. The route there was quite difficult though.
We had a very interesting hour at Avra’s, then Ray and I left at 11 to go over to IICT for a lecture and tour of the lab. Our taxi driver managed the journey okay that time (we had passed the site the way to Avras).
We had a great welcome at the IICT. Dr Kunwar was a very warm and friendly host, as was the Director, Dr Yadav. We gave our RSC lecture to about 25 staff and had a very good discussion led by Dr Yadav, who was a strong facilitator for the group. We had a good lunch and then a tour of the labs which were excellent. I forgot to take any photographs of this lab tour, which is unlike me. The library is good and we met the staff there.
A department car took us back to the hotel where we met up with Alejandra who had been visiting a different company on the North of the City. Started writing our trip reports over a beer and then dinner in the hotel is a different restaurant specialising in Dashkin, Southern Indian cuisine. The meal was good, but not as good as last night.
Uralai Kelangu Podimas (Aubergine in a tamarind sauce-quite bitter)
Kothimiri Vankai Koora (Potatoes I think)
Cauliflower Melagu Perratti (spicy cauliflower)
all with appam, puri and porotta breads. The puri were very good and the appam freshly made in the restaurant. After two nights of almost no sleep I’m now pretty shattered!
Alejandra and I were picked up at 9.30 in the morning to go to Heathrow, flying BA to Bangalore and then Kingfisher onto Hyderabad. The whole journey went very smoothly. We met Ray Jones on the plane and had good seats that meant we had a good, straightforward journey. Watched The Darjeeling Ltd., which was enjoyable but a dark comedy that played with my head on a flight, and also the much more straightforward Run Fat Boy Run. Yet more Simon Pegg, being, Simon Pegg. Tried some cryptic crossword from the Guardian… not a success (yet!). We had five hours to kill in Bangalore Airport, an hour of which was spent waiting for the baggage to arrive. It was as if one person was unloading the whole plane. We holed up for 4 more hours in the restaurant and had some dosa, idly, vada and uttapum: the dosa was particularly nice! Also had breakfast on the Kingfisher flight to Hyderabad, that wasn’t so nice. I struggled to stay awake on this flight and it was only a Cartoon Network show of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends that kept my eyes open.
We’re staying at the Kakatiyain Hyderabad, which is very nice. We checked in on the 16th floor, where we have a little desk. I haven’t worked out what the deal is with that yet. Hyderabad was lovely and sunny, clean and bright. I’ve had a couple of hours dozing to help get over the worst of the travel, and meeting up with Ale and Ray in three hours. So some time to get John a few things that he wanted for a paper he’s writing and to get sorted out for tomorrow. A couple of shots from the hotel.