We left SRA on Saturday, which was rather sad, and are now staying in Delhi in the very nice Grand Godwin.. though we're pretty sure none of the staff understand a word we're saying most of the time!
The trip to Mussourie was good fun - It was nice to get to speak to the older kids properly and it was great for them to get out and be independent. The journey to Mussourie was not so fun, however. Our driver (who looked about the same age as us, though said he had 10 years of experience.. not sure how that one works out..) rather enjoyed swinging into corners, and seeing as we were climbing from just above sea level to 2000m there were plenty. We think it might have been because the bus didn't have enough horsepower to get moving again if it stopped on a slope - he certainly seemed to have trouble getting started again when we stopped in traffic - we thought we were going to have to get out and push! The torrential rain causing the road to look more like a waterfall and the fact that throughout this the windscreen wipers weren't functioning didn't really help to calm our nerves much either. I forgot to mention the 1.5 hour stop we endured, without air con, about 10 miles from the Ashram whilst a young boy changed not one but two tyres whilst the driver and his mate stood around watching. We weren't sure that the tyres were flat in the first place, but we were pretty certain that the completely bald tires should not just get new tubes fitted.. the company were certainly living up to their name - 'Akshit'. (Perhaps they were missing a J).
When we eventually arrived in Mussourie 3 hours later than expected we enjoyed a dash through the torrential rain to our hotel before a rather late but delicious lunch. We ventured out shopping but were rather unsuccessful - they're used to lots of visiting rich Indian tourists.. so the prices were pretty high and they weren't budging. In the end all we bought was some Lynx deodorant for Billy (who'd managed to leave his at the Ashram), which turned out to be fake and smelt disgustingly cheap and alcoholic - though the other boys snapped it up! In the evening we went out for a nice dinner. Billy made the faux pas of ordering chicken (the instructions to order whatever you wanted weren't meant to be taken that far..), which arrived after about 1 hour (we think they may have been trying to catch the poor bird..) and wasn't the tastiest beast Billy had ever consumed (the sour lemon sauce didn't help).
After a very comfortable and cool night we set off on what was to be an equally eventful journey back. After about 12 hours of near continuous rain it had finally stopped. Unfortunately the driver took this to mean he could now drive as fast as he wished. Requests from Om Prakash for him to slow down had the reverse effect. By this stage we were pretty sure of his immaturity. The roadside strop clinched it for us. After a few minutes of cooling down and a few translated placating words from Seema and Om Prakash, whilst we all waited in the bus perched right between two sharp bends, we continued at a more sensible pace. 1 hour later we hit a traffic jam. After 3 hours of edging forwards by 100m at a time with the only entertainment being monkeys throwing logs at the stationary cars below (and the hilariously incompetent drivers in the opposite lane who couldn't change a flat.. even our driver got out to share some expertise..) we were very glad to return to the Ashram and another very late lunch. In the evening we had the end of summer camp celebrations which involved a glow stick lit ceremony and much disappointment at returning to school the following day.
On Friday we went into Haridwar with Soma and enjoyed shopping at Indian prices. We returned to have lunch with the kids after they finished school, and spent the afternoon playing games.
Since we've been In Delhi we've mostly been shopping, which is thrilling. We spent Sunday around Conaught place, mostly in the Levi's store (Billy is thrilled you can get 2 pairs of real levi's for under the price of 1 pair at home). On Monday we took a day trip to Agra which was good. The Taj was suitably majestic, and as we arrived at 9am, not too busy. We took several amusing posed photos which we'll try to share at some point and then went to visit the fort which was also really interesting. After that we spent quite a while wandering around in search of decent shops, without much success, before giving in and going to wait at the station for the next 3 hours (it really was that bad). We attempted to get into the waiting rooms but were denied access on two separate occasions by unenthusiastic employees of Indian Rail- despite the fact the men's waiting room was full and there were already men in the woman's waiting room it was unthinkable to let two harmless looking tourists do the same. We ended up spending most of the 3 hours sitting on the platform whilst Billy taught me to play bridge. During this time my previous impressive record of having visited both India and Thailand without ever having seen an alive rat or mouse (despite Billy sighting many and even kicking one.) was thoroughly broken.
Yesterday we went shopping (again!) in a megamall on the outskirts of town. Billy bought some new converses which he's very pleased with and we stocked up on toothpaste, pencils and deodorant for uni next year (we're fast getting into the student mindset!). We also went to see the new transformers in 3D which was very good, though I personally think the romance aspect of the story was vastly underplayed..! Today the plan is for more present shopping, fingers crossed we'll get it all done so we can be lazy tomorrow!
Lots of love,
See you soon (poor things)
Rosie and Billy