Monday, May 7, 2007


24th April - 5th May 2007

Very last minute Paud and I decided to take a trip to India for a bit of work, inspiration and much needed vacation all in one. I couldn't get there quick enough. We dropped off Kitty with my parents at Heathrow en route, then headed east towards Mumbai.

Great Fosters, Egham , Surrey. We stopped for lunch at this historic 16th Century English house, steeped in tradition, now a luxury hotel and near the airport.

My mum and dad with Kitty.

Arriving at Mumbai airport we made a bee-line for this!

Any cab ride in India is a total white-knuckle ride. I was a nervous wreck by the time we arrived.

India, well Mumbai in particular, is a beguiling mix of old and new.

Finally we made it.

Me and Paud at the Gateway to India.

Where we first stayed. Class.

But couldn't complian about the view of the Arabian Sea from our bedroom window.

Street style. I quite liked this little dress.

A camera shy Eunuch.

We met Javed ,one of the the embroiderer/ beaders that we work with there, who showed us around his premises and some of their handywork.

Mmm. Just couldn't get enough curry. Although I gave "Prawn Gassi" a miss (actually a South Indian curry).

The downside. Slumbai, as it's sometimes referred to, has some of the largest slums in Asia. (Although this one does have an a/c.)

After a couple of days we flew down south to Kerala. Although this was my second visit to India, I'd never been here before.It was a different world. Kerala's attractions include being the home of Ayurvedic massage, Kathakali dancing, it's lush backwaters and hippy beachlife.
First we headed to Fort Kochi. A wonderful old Portugese, then Dutch fishing town, famous for the Chinese fishing nets they use.

The Chinese nets.

Catch of the day. I was in fishy nibble heaven.

The market. The novelty of a good haggle soon wears off.

Tea for two. Actually it was beer...the only way you can drink in public, it's illegal.

Paud settles in. We stayed at Malabar House, a really cool hotel that was once a rice warehouse.

Cosmopolitan Kochin.

"Ferrari" autorickshaw. No way was I getting in that.

Local Kathakali grafitti.

The dancers in make-up ( always all men. They train for 6 years).

The Kathakali dance in full swing.

Our next stop was a 24 hour tour of the Kerala backwaters on a houseboat from Alleppy to near Kollam.

Bling! At the port we stopped at this jewellery store. All the gold 's sold by weight.

These are the typical charming old houseboats, usually converted rice boats, that cruise the waterways.Ours had one bedroom and bathroom and a staff of three.

Paud on board .

The view ahead of the backwaters, often known as "The Venice of Asia".

A view into life in Kerala.

Passing a temple.

Fishermen returning from sea.

Soon it was back on the road agin, down to our next stop, the beach town of Varkala.

The traffic was terrible.

I really loved all these handpainted trucks, some had Gods names on the front.

Finally a beach. Varkala from the cliffs, where all the small hotels, restaurants and market stalls are. It really was the hippy centre for ayurvedic massage and yoga.
We stayed in what we thought was a romantic circular hut on the cliffs overlooking the bay..until we were bitten alive by mosquitos in our first night, so we fled to the next beach town the following day.

A Brahmin on the beach at Varkala, a holy site.

This is Hawah beach at Kovalam.
Everyone had warned me that Kovalam had turned in to tourist hell, bit as we went so off season we were practically the last people there and it was just idyllic.

I was desperate to buy this sign!

They were having none of it in the shop and instead I somehow ended up with a very dodgy henna tatoo of my own.

Fiishermen on Lighthouse beach.

Outing from a local girls school.

Sunset over the Arabian sea at Kovalam.

By day 8 it was time to return to the chaos of Mumbai

This time we stayed at the majestic Victorian Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba.

The view of the Gateway to India from our room.

The dashing Doorman.

The colourful Mangaldas fabric market. One of the only places we saw women.

We met up with my old friend Ben Pundole's cousin Dadiba Pundole who was really fascinating. He runs the Pundole Gallery in Mumbai, near the Flora Fountain, one of the few contemporary art galleries there.

Baby Krishna.
It was goodbye to India and time to head back to England to pick up Kitty before returning home to New York.

Looking down river back in Burnham - on- Crouch, Essex, my hometown. All looked a bit bleak in comparison.

Outside The Anchor on the Quay.

The local seafood stall.


With my parents and Kitty.