Firstly, I’d like to apologise to my three readers for the lack of recent updates. I’ve been away on holiday in India, more of which below.
Secondly, this Saturday is the Convention on Modern Liberties. Tickets are sold out but I am led to believe you can follow live web streaming at www.modernliberty.net.
There has been plenty that has interested me in the news recently and that I would have like to have waxed lyrical on: Geert Wilders, the Qatada case and the recent report by the Eminent Jurists Panel. However, it appears I have missed the boat and these subjects have been covered better than I ever could by my most learned of friends, Charon QC (see blog roll for link). So, I have decided that I should give you a brief run down on my travels in the sub-continent…enjoy, you lucky things!
My escapades started with a kind invitation to attend a wedding in Bangalore on a night out. Unfortunately on that same night out I decided that drinking and not eating was the way forward, made a fool of myself and ended up buying tickets the next day by way of apology to Mrs OL.
I apologise if you are a native of Bangalore. You probably aren’t as only my mother and two friends read this blog, but, the city is a dump. It literally has nothing going for it. It used to be known as the Garden City but following the IT boom in the 90s half the country swarmed there hoping to make their fortunes. As a result the infrastructure collapsed. Due to wedding commitments I had to spend a week in the place and even a trip to the cricket ground did nothing to cheer me up.
The wedding itself was fantastic, it was interesting to see how those with money in India live compared to those without. We, due to dodgy internet marketing and poor hotel selection, were staying in the less than salubrious end of town. During the day we were surrounded by real poverty but then at night went hob-knobbing in what was probably the equivalent of Mayfair.
Once free of wedding commitments we escaped as fast as the over night train would carry us. Travelling on Indian trains is great fun, especially the sleepers. Our only issue was finding where we were supposed to be on the platform and ultimately the train, I found myself standing in the unreserved seating area. This is not a good place to be because as the train pulled in people started leaping onto doorways and literally fighting each other. I tried to bring some order but even a stern ‘now look here’ did nothing to stop the scrum. We finally managed to get our spot in the sleeper carriage and found ourselves with a lovely Indian family who were very interested in us, particularly Mrs OL’s sari.
Our destination was Hampi. An area of some 2000 ruined Hindu temples. It was my first brush with the western hippies who would plague me for the rest of the trip, the place was stunning though. We toured around the area on a moped, which I managed to nearly crash into the shop we’d just hired it from. The next day Mrs OL decided that we should hire pedal bikes. As is my luck, it wasn’t until a mile or so in that I realised my saddle had dropped to very low. One of my pedals also broke. By this time it was hot, very hot. As I was considering how hot is was we looked up and saw a temple thingy on the top of a mountain. Given that it was midday and we are Brits, we decided that the only logical thing to do would be to climb it.
We left Hampi and took an overnight bus to Gokarna which is a little and very holy place on the coast, about an hour south of Goa. Naturally our bus was 7 hours late.
We stayed in a place called Om beach which, although dotted with more of those pesky hippies, was wonderfully chilled. The beach huts we stayed in cost less than £2 a night and I really think I could have stayed there for a few weeks. By the end of our time there I was unable to walk faster than 1 mph.
Sadly our time there was short and we had to catch another overnight bus back to Bangalore. To compensate we stayed in an amazing hotel on our last night, the 5 star Taj. It was genuine colonial splendour but boy did I pay for it!
Despite everything, I had an amazing time. I intend to go back in the next couple of years and spend a couple of months there. I am now also a hippy. Ommmmmmmmmmmmm.