01.08.2014 33 °C
Natalie and I are absolutely full of cold, with terrible hacking coughs. This hasn't really been helped the last couple of days by the suggestions given to us by every Indian person we meet, to either drink tea or have their special rice, all with promises to cure us, all to no avail. It isn't too bad for me as I have lost my sense of taste, but Natalie has to taste them!
Yesterday morning, we just had an hours journey to Rajkot. Our hotel, is said to be a heritage hotel (an old property, converted into a hotel), we have failed to find any of the original palace and are faced with a very 'modern' complex, a bit Butlins meets Centre Parcs. Bill and Natalie did find pictures of the original palace, but that has been flattened to make way for this hotel. We are again the only guests, so we seem to have our own security guard outside our rooms and at one stage last night we had four staff members in our room, 'doing' various things. Everybody seems to be walking backwards and forwards in front of our room (possibly to get a glimpse of a paying hotel guest). We do have a positive, there is Cadbury's chocolate in the fridge.
We set off yesterday afternoon for the government wine store, which was in another hotel. It wasn't as crowded as the last one, but it was very busy and the staff were rather officious, but we did get drink. In fact, I suspect we have too much drink; Bill and I are heading for Rajistan tomorrow (which isn't a dry state) and we will still have a box of clinking bottles. Our driver, who is a tea drinking Christian always seems to disapprove of our stash of drink, he told us this 'terrible' story of a friend of his, who has a glass of wine everyday (we just sat quietly tutting in the 'appropriate' places.
After we were stocked up with alcohol, we set off for the markets, I really didn't feel too well, but I can always find the energy for shopping. We were stopped a lot yesterday by people who mimed putting food to their mouths; Natalie said they were asking for food for their children and I wa grabbed several times, by people wanting money, and I was even pinched by a young boy. So we set off in this procession to look around the market, it was very very hot and we were struggling (but you couldn't have failed to find us, Natalie and I were coughing away and Bill was complaining about the heat), but we did find a shop selling cases (we are swapping Bill's backpack with a large case). Natalie kept asking the price of the case and the man kept telling her how strong the case was, this went on for several minutes, until Natalie told him, we now understood it was very strong, but just wanted a price! Making our way back to the car, Bill managed to stand in cow muck (in his flip flops) and even managed to get some on our new, extremely strong case!
Natalie had told the driver that we wanted to go to Prem Mandir, which was a Catholic Church, we didn't have an address for the church and kept going around and around. At one point Vinay, pointed to a Catholic Church and suggested we went there as it was a church and was catholic. We did eventually find it and it was worth the hassle of finding it. Prem Mandir is a modern church (finished in 2000) and had the most amazing stained glass in there depicting the stations of the cross (ok, I didn't know that, Bill had to tell me). The church was just a large round shaped room (no chairs) and the architecture was Hindi, Sikh and Christian, the mural of Jesus at the alter, depicted him sat on a lotus leaf (Buddhist) and he had a bindi on his forehead (Hindu). The church is said to be a place of worship, incorporating many religions and it was a beautiful place to stand and reflect; unfortunately this wasn't to be. There was a pair of young school girls in there, who were very keen to speak to us (especially Natalie in Hindi), they were there at our every turn, 'helping' us. Natalie had a terrible coughing fit and swore whilst trying to get tissues out of her bag and Bill was followed around by our helpers. We decided to light some candles and this became like a Monty Python sketch; our helpers couldn't understand why we were happy to give fifty rupees when they were just thirty rupees and then we struggled putting the candles in front of the alter. Usually you put candles in sand, but there was no sand, so we had to melt the bottom of the candles. Bill managed to break both of his candles and Natalie broke one of hers (they were left at a jaunty angle) I gave up trying to stand mine up and just tried to lean them against the side, but our helpers were not having that and kept taking them off me. What we hoped would be a spiritual moment turned into a farce (punctuated by Natalie and I laughing and subsequently coughing). It was a beautiful church and we would have loved to have seen a service there, but it was not to be, but I will always remember the laughter we had there!
Today is our last full day together. We have a two hour journey, which will be filled with Natalie and I coughing (I feel so much better today), car cookies and Hindi lessons for Bill, we have had so much fun.