2006 – VU
(2006) I attended the 8th International YL Meeting, held this time
At the 4-day Conference we had 46 YLs (including a few VU-YLs) and 14 OMs (plus a few Indian officials) from 11 countries. Each country had been asked to prepare a short PowerPoint presentation or talk of some sort – I had to try and cover the 30-year history of ALARA in 10 minutes. Hard work!!!! On two evenings after dinner at the hotel we were entertained by 2 troupes of fabulous Indian dancers.
arriving in Mumbai I joined my Norwegian YL friends, Unni
& Ingrid, on the back seat (actually only meant for 2 people) of a tuk-tuk to go shopping. Everyone should have the experience at
least once in their lifetime of riding in a tuk-tuk,
best described as a 3-wheeled vehicle with a loud (and I mean loud) horn driven
by a madman who thinks he owns the road.
There must be thousands of tuk-tuks in
Beggars – very persistent in trying to sell you things you don’t want. Some even employed monkeys to cling to a car window in the hope passengers would open it so the monkeys could reach inside and help themselves to cameras or purses.
selling everything from fruit and vegetables to blocks of marble. Pharmacies and doctors operating from
“hole in the wall” shops. Slum areas worse than I’d
Sarla also took us to see Mahatma Gandhi’s house (with a wonderful diorama of his life – and later I was to see the beautiful garden where his ashes are buried); a meal in a revolving restaurant (with a view of the cricket ground!). Sarla dressed up all the YLs in saris; and provided evening entertainment of two first-class dance troupes. A radio room was provided, plus a special QSL card, but I didn’t get time to operate. And a special postage stamp was printed to commemorate our visit.
Lots of temples
and ruins of once-great palaces.
All with many steps to climb in the heat! The first sight of the Taj Mahal, described as the most
extravagant monument ever built for love and which has become India’s de
facto tourist emblem, was all I wanted it to be – well, except for those
innumerable steps and the fact that I had decided, in advance, to see it at
sunset when the inside was so dark that one couldn’t see all the
beautiful intricate marble carving!
However, next day I was taken to a marble workshop where I saw how the
marble was quarried, cut and inlaid with precious stones from all round the
world. How I would have loved to
buy one of those tabletops but, having bought a carpet in
Varanasi – I had seen many pictures of people bathing in the Ganges and wanted to see it for myself, so early one morning a YL guide collected me and we travelled by boat up and down the river past the Ghats where literally hundreds of people were already congregating to bathe in the river. I only saw one dead body being prepared for cremation – that was enough for me so I lit a little candle and floated it in the river with many others for good luck, then back up those numerous steps, past the numerous beggars and back to my hotel for breakfast. Then off to buy my carpet!
I used various means of transport during the trip, including planes, cars, buses, a train, a tuk-tuk, bicycle-rickshaw and wheelchair (I’d twisted my knee before leaving home!), the latter involving a forklift truck to get me up into a plane! I refused rides
on camels and elephants, having “been there, done that” in other countries.
My most memorable
trip was when Sarla arranged for us to visit
Oh dear! I resisted the impulse to give a Queenly wave as I by-passed people toiling their way up/down the steps. Coming down backwards was a trifle frightening and I wondered how many passengers had been dropped!
Weatherwise it did not rain, was hot and muggy but bearable with lots of air-conditioned buildings. Good to reasonable hotels; too much spicy food for my stomach; lots of kindness shown me by local guides who had to help me up those steps, and not one harsh word to me on the day Aussie beat India at the one-day cricket match while I was there (grin!).
My thanks go to Sarla for inviting us to