One of the most regular refrains I have heard in India is by auto rickshaw drivers asking unsuspecting tourists “ first time India?” It loosely means that you will be offered a good rate by them which, of course, is well over the odds. I can now proudly say “thirty two times India” and they still do their level best to embezzle far too much money from me…
I started off in Calcutta but had had to make plans to go off immediately the next morning after the World Cup match between India and England which I had hoped to see had been moved to Bangalore so I chose a lesser known hill station near Siliguri called Mirik and it was an inspired choice. Goats hold up play at a cricket match in front of Calcutta's iconic Eden Gardens
Mountain view from Mirik in West Bengal
Mirik town and lake
Set on a hill with breathtaking views towards the world’s third highest mountain, Kanchenjunga, it is also set around a lake and is extremely attractive. There are a few places to stay and my choice of the Ratnagiri was splendid: huge room, welcoming staff and a TV where I watched the match end in a tie and was supremely glad that I wasn’t there as my nerves would have been frazzled if my behaviour in the sanctuary of my room was anything to go by… Keralan sunset from Vembanad Lake Villas in Vaikom
Friends Thomas and Reksmi Phillip and Mary Magee
Mary Magee and me painted for the World Cup match between India and Ireland After a couple of days I flew down to Bangalore and met a friend from Ireland. Well, she’s a friend but we hadn’t actually met before this trip but got on extremely well. Mary Magee is an experienced scorer and we had tried every way to charm ourselves into the B.B.C Test Match Special box as scorers/statisticians but, alas, no-one pulled out and we watched from the stands.
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