We went to the Vidira Tours & Travels to book a car and driver to take us through Rajasthan. The next morning at 7 a car was waiting for us. We set off through the chaos of Delhi, heading west towards Pushkar. Ravi, our driver, was a dream. He was calm and courteous, played great music, and always stopped at places where we felt comfortable.
Pushkar is a holy Brahma city. It’s quite small and easy to walk around. There are many small shops selling tourist trinkets.
Well, we finally fell for the blessing scam. It was near sunset as we walked through the streets. A couple of fellows came over to say – it’s sunset, you should be down at the ghats, as they pressed rose petals into our hands. These guys didn’t seem like the usual touts, so we thought, well perhaps we shouldn’t miss the sunset. As we walked down the stone steps towards the lake, I was herded off to the furthest point. It was then I realized I was in for the blessing scam. I had already been cursed by a holy man in Varanasi for not giving him enough money, so I knew what the deal was. As he took hold of my palm I looked him in the eye and stated firmly “I’m not giving you any money”. On and on he went: “Name of mother, name of father” I kept repeating there was no money coming from me. He finished off by tying a red string around my wrist and I handed him 100 Rupees. He was enraged! I strode back to see Peggy and Barbara, both with red string around their wrists. They had each given 500 Rupees! The “holy man” said I should pay what my friends had – I said no way, and off we trudged up the steps. Cursed again by a holy man. So far it hasn’t affected my luck in India!
March 15th is my Grandmother Rosamond Adelaide Alice Wake Norbury’s birthday. We all called her Gar.
She was a true Canadian pioneer. The daughter of a sea captain, she was born in Esquimalt on Vancouver Island in 1881. She talked of seeing Haida war canoes paddling up the coast in her youth. The family moved to England in the early 1900’s. On that trip to England, my grandfather – Tommy – proposed to her in the conservatory at Sherridge and there she lived for most of her life. She returned to Canada to live with us in her latter years. She was more British than the British!
A born-again Catholic, she would trudge down the street to take the bus to the Vancouver Eastside to make sandwiches with the Sisters of the Atonement to hand out to the poor. She loved her cigarettes – they came in gold cans from England.
I am Rosamond Norbury the 4th – I love coming upon that name in old books from before my time!
We arrived in Delhi from London in the wee hours of the morning. The car and driver from the Omega Hotel Residency was waiting for us with a sign
The hotel is at the end of a quiet residential street just around the corner from the area that makes statues of Indian Gods.
Our room was great – I’d forgotten about the Indian shower – fill up the bucket with warm water – if there is any – soap up, then rinse off using the small bucket.
After a short nap we set out to for the chaos of Old Delhi and dinner at Karim’s. It’s a famous eatery that dates from 1913. It’s popular with locals and tourists alike for for heavenly mutton burra kebabs and butter-cooked chicken (makhani murgh).
The mosque had just let out and we shuffled through the crowd, checking out the marvels of electrical wires and open shops.
India smells great! A mixture of smouldering fires and wafts of incense.
I was born in India. My Dad was the British-born director of a carpet manufacturing company in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. He had met my Mum while he was on leave in Vancouver and she went out to India to marry him. That’s a whole other story I’ll share in later blogs.
My sister Judy and I were born in Mussoorie, in the foothills of the Himalayas. We were both born in the summer so that is where the Anglos went when it was too hot to be on the plains in Mirzapur on the banks of the Ganges River.
I went back to visit India for the first time since I was a baby about seven years ago with my dear friend Keith. It was a wonderful experience and I couldn’t wait to return.
Last December I travelled there again with my two best friends, Barbara and Peggy. I’ll share some of those experiences in my upcoming blogs.