OK, we drank the Kool Aid…
Soma…. Turns out to be relaxing and rejuvenating, turns out you can swim in the ocean, the food is good and the treatments wonderful. Turns out we would like to stay longer.
But we can’t, so we leave Sunday morning for airport and Bangalore, our final stop before heading home. We are met at the airport by a business friend of my brother-in-law’s, Abi and his driver, who he turns over to us for the duration of our stay. We can go and do whatever we desire. Truth is we are tired of sightseeing, so we check in at the Leela Palace – a very big splurge before the final reckoning. We share a room with a bathtub of all things. Mallory promises I can take the first one. Since we haven’t eaten all morning, we are starved and choose the hotel restaurant (one of them) sure that it will be overpriced (it is) sub-quality food ( it isn’t) – it is a truly great meal, after which we tell Naveen to take us to Cinnamon, a wonderful shop we discovered in Ft. Kochi. This should be bigger and better and it is. Lucky are the people who get presents from this shop. We spend 2 hours at Cinnamon, looking, touching, deciding – agonizing – me over expensive pashmina shawl shot through with gold and on sale for heavens sake! – Mallory over not being able to live at the store. I don’t buy shawl and Mallory doesn’t move in, but does decide she would like to live in Bangalore!!
We are looking for specific gift items at this point, and spend more time in the down and dirty market shops lining the streets, not finding what we are looking for when we see another Fabindia. Fabindia is a combination Crate and Barrel and moderate/better priced fashion clothing chain found in every city in India, this one packed on a Sunday afternoon. By the time we return to the hotel, we only have an hour and a half before meeting Abi for dinner. I take my bath….Mallory heads to attached shopping mall, to a store I had seen earlier and mentioned I thought was trouble. It was for her. So many beautiful things in India.
We have an interesting dinner at Abi’s snooker and billiards club. Snooker is a game of putting balls in the pockets with a cue stick like pool and billiards, only different. Each turn you must sink a red ball before any other color and then a different color ball. That’s all I know.
We have another good Indian meal of different kabobs with beer while learning about India from a native’s perspective. Abi is a successful business man in the travel business. He specializes in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos as well as India, so if anyone is planning a trip to one of these points, Abi’s your man, he will put you in contact with the right travel agents and guides for the kind of trip you are planning. At this point, Abi is frustrated with Indian government and the people of India, but that’s too long a subject to tackle here.
When we return to our hotel, we tell Naveen we won’t need him until Monday night at midnight when we head to the airport because we are going to sleep late, hang by the pool, have mani/pedis (our hands and feet are terrifying), pack, take a nap and not shop. We stop at the Library Bar for a nightcap and to review our adventures of the past month. Mallory is a little concerned/upset that she thinks I don’t like India and will never come back, so she dissolves into laughter when I tell her “I do like India, especially the places I haven’t been!”. It is impossible to not laugh when Mallory is having a laughing fit, so I join her.
A word of advise about traveling to India – pack less, in fact pack what you think you need and then take half out. Most important advise I can give you – travel with a friend who laughs easily,
you will need her.
I sit now on our balcony and watch the last sunset I will see in India. It is quiet in this city of 8 million, the air is soft, and I understand why people love it here.
In a little over 5 hours, our driver will pick us up for the hour drive to the airport, for the 3 hour wait until flight time, to begin the 22 hour journey home.
Bye India….for now.