Sunday, 7 October 2007


India was exhausting. I had firmly decided to just go with the flow, but nothing particularly disturbing happened. Things just took a long time. One morning it took 1 and 1/4 hours to drive to work because the traffic was so awful: the same journey took 20 minutes the previous day. I had to leave work at 13:00 one day because 30,000 people were coming to the lake next to my hotel to throw statues in it that evening, and I would have had trouble getting to the hotel at the normal time.

The hotel was beautiful: five star Marriott with several restaurants, a pool I didn't get around to swimming in and a beautiful garden.

Avenue of torches Hyderabad Marriott Outdoor seating Hyderabad Marriott Avenue of Elephants Hyderabad Marriott

I found the line of people saying 'Good morning madam' and 'Good evening madam' out the front a little daunting, and the fact that they checked every car that came in the gates for bombs was a little disturbing. I don't cope well with servility - it doesn't sit well with my world view. The food was lovely, and I have picked up a new habit: hot chocolate with hot milk in a jug, demerara sugar and chopped dark chocolate. Put your chocolate in your tea-cup, add a little sugar, pour hot milk over it, wait a little and stir... My excuse is that the room was airconditioned to 20 degrees as a fixed temperature, which when you are not very well can seem rather cold. In general, the food was very good, and I got to eat dishes I miss, like Malai Kofta and Paneer, and discovered Dosa, which will probably be my undoing. I have to learn how to make them. Have to.

I may be the only western person from my company to go to India and, instead of getting an upset stomach, come down with a cold and a sinus infection. I felt pretty awful most evenings. Work was OK: the class were very polite and hard-working, so I was pretty happy with that, and Sudafed Max (bless the British for still stocking pseudoephedrine in pharmacies) got me through most days.

I did have some trouble sleeping, and the last day was bad. I woke up at 04:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. I then worked a little, went to the office for a full day, came back to the hotel to finish packing and have a client teleconference, then slept from around 22:00 to 00:30. Got up, went to the airport, slept around 1 hour on the plane to Dubai and then 3 or 4 hours on the plane to London. I then had to go to a doctor, pick up some antibiotics, and pack my bags for Norway... after which I got about 40 minutes sleep before the taxi to the airport arrived...

Emirates was lovely, and on the Dubai - London leg I got a new plane with almost-flatbed seats. I asked them not to disturb me and slept like the dead for a few hours, after which I picked up a swatch I started about 5 times before getting it right. All I was trying to do was get the correct number of stitches in the correct configuration to have a pretty edge on seed stitch on both edges. The end result is below, but too little sleep made this difficult for me to figure out, clearly. Two of the crew came to talk to me about the knitting and told me how clever I was. Given my inability to achieve a pretty basic task, I felt like a fraudulent 5-year-old.

To have a nice bobbly edge on seed stitch:
Cast on an odd (divisible by 2 +1) number of stitches:
R1 *K P* ...K
R2 Sl P *K P* ...K
Repeat Row 2

One of my colleagues who has been seconded over to the company in which I was training has all her family in Hyderabad, which was why she took the opportunity when it came up. She took me fabric shopping with her mother and mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law was from a weaving family, and was able to tell me not to buy a couple of fabrics because of flaws. There were so many beautiful silks and cottons. I wish I had more time and more energy, but I got a good haul, much of which will be for presents in the future, some of which will be for me and for me alone...

India is so brightly coloured, and a large proportion of the colour comes from its women. The saris and salwar kameez come in colours I'd never consider wearing, but which look so normal in India. The way women ride side-saddle on the back of motorcyles, holding onto the shoulder of the driver, saris floating in the breeze: this still amazes me.

The tiny little yellow taxis and flatbed trucks amused me. I'm not sure what the taxis are, but the trucks seem to be Piaggio Ape. They are crammed with people and goods, and do seem like strange little bees, buzzing around a slightly altered universe.

Piaggio Ape Hyderabad

India was hot, dusty, noisy, humid, tasty and very polite.

I got a very little bit of knitting done: two swatches, one in RYC Cotton Jeans for a Baby Yoda and another in Jaeger Aqua, for either another Baby Yoda or a Baby Kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting. Babies are afoot.

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