It is a month since we left a cold and rainy Rome.  We saw all the relatives there, also a cousin of my fathers who I hadn’t seen for 40years since I went the first time with my dad.  I just hope that I am as sharp and knowledgable as he is when I’m 83!

Our arrival to Dubai via Doha was delayed by over two hours because of  a rescheduling of a flight ex Doha which got us in at about 11pm and our friend Alan who had been given the wrong flight number {by someone who shall remain anonymous} was there waiting for us.  What a friend!

We were  impressed the service offered by the filipino staff in cafes, shops and restaurants.  There is also a huge number of Indian and Pakistani workers and business owners in Dubai but the filipinos always have a smile for you and they all greet you on entering an establishment which is very refreshing. We also saw a sign on a shop window which stated “Only Filipino workers wanted”. I don’t think that would go down well in a lot of countries.  The Italians also greet everyone on entering a shop as do the Germans but it seems more perfunctionary when most of them greet you.

The attention to detail in a lot of cafes and restaurants with little extras  or suggestions is much appreciated and it is nice to receive such service. It does make a difference when you know that this is the person’s permanent job and it isn’t just a fill in job while they attend university or school and actually show an interest in what they are doing.

The back/white and green flags were up for the UAE’s 42nd anniversary. It is hard to believe it is two years since I went up with Salim from Hangzhou to Shanghai for their 40year party celebration. Some flags were enormous which matched the size of some of the houses there.
When we booked our flight from Dubai to Calicut we didn’t realize that it was a four day holiday in Dubai for their National Day so the airport (the largest one for floor size in the world Alan told us) was chock a block with people and it took us an age to get through security and immigration.
The flight was smooth and Maurice made a couple of small friends who were well behaved and very sweet.

The contrasts between some countries appear more acute especially when arriving from an extremely clean and crisp Dubai to a not so clean city like Calicut. It was an hour and a half wait for our baggage and our transport which we booked was there to take us to the Park Residency near the airport.
In the morning we luckily phoned the Ayurveda villa who informed us that their car had broken down and would be arriving late.
As we were meeting Marianne and Franz (who had just spent 3weeks at the Ayurveda villa) we took a taxi to the “Metro Manor” restaurant where we had a nice catch up lunch together. We said our goodbyes and the driver picked us up there and we were taken to the Ayurveda villa at Udayagiri.
Much had changed at Udayagiri with new retaining walls, a new carved entrance and new paths. Some trees had been lopped to allow for a better view of the plain below.
The temperature was pleasant and it was quite cool and windy early in the morning and at night. There was a mix of people – Russian, Norwegian, Finish, French Canadians, Austrian and German there but only six other people which was pleasant.
Reading the Indian newspapers in English is very different from an English newspaper in Australia or the UK. The terminology used is quite different and sometimes quite direct.
A crime is described as “heinous” and a missing person at home would be described as having a “solid build” – here it is just “fat”. At home someone dies but here they “expire” and have a “sad demise”.
The staff made us a special delicious rice cake for our 22nd wedding anniversary on the 7th December and they had blown up many balloons and adorned us with leis made out of a medicinal plant called Tulsi. It was lovely of them.
The 11th was Jithin (the manager’s) birthday so we clubbed together and bought him a nice shirt. The nearest medium sized town is about 45minutes away if one needs the ATM or bank so Maurice and Lena went off to get the shirt and use the ATM.
The weeding women (a group of about ten local women who come on there day off from the coffee plantation )were here every Tuesday to take the weeds out of the cooch grass. The temperature wasn’t that high but they do work at a very leisurely pace.   The coffee trees were full of their red and black beans ready for picking in January.

Vincent the night watchman came every night to fog our room with coals sprinkiled with a  special powder  against insects but we had two little skinks who were very interested in us and who kept wanting to come into our room. We kept having to shoo them away. Maurice and I have had a variety of treatments – some nice some not so nice and some awful but we know they will all do us good in the end as we have experienced the last couple of times here.

There is not a lot of wildlife up on the mountain because of all the coffee plantations where the ground around the trees has been cleared but the birds are wonderful to listen to early in the morning and the cute squirrels rush up and down the trees.  One day I saw the goat herder out with his flock of goats urging them along lightly with his stick. His wife was doing the hard work carrying a large log on her head.
The monkeys have been active in a wild fig tree down the road. They seem to take a bite and then drop the figs on the ground. You have to watch when you walk underneath as the figs come down like stones. On a drive through the nature park the other day (when I didn’t have my camera of course) we saw a group of four elephants, a huge wild buffalo that they call a bison here and several langur monkeys with their faces surrounded by white fur.
The treatments for us have been rather taxing but they will have the desired effect on Maurice’s arthritis and me with my weight management (loss!). I have lost 5kilos in the two and a half weeks and the massage treatments together with poundings have had the desired effect. Our yoga master Sunil was excellent and explained everything very well and was a mine of knowledge. He gave some wonderful meditation sessions too. We really felt revived.
We made friends with Guido,Ksenia, Lena, Janatte and Katy and we were sad to leave Udayagiri on the 22nd December. Sunil our yoga master became a good friend and we will miss him. The head doctor there Dr Vipin was very thorough and gave Maurice a lot of tips about caring for his arthritis
We had a long day on the 22nd December when we had the 3 1/2 hour trip to Calicut down and around the mountains and then a 1 1/2 hour plane trip to Chennai arriving at 5pm. Our driver was there to meet us and we then had another 3hour’s drive to Pondicherry.

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