So grateful...

Without my stoma I wouldn’t be here full stop...but I also wouldn’t be here...as in in India!! I’ve wanted to come to India since I was a child. I’ve never had the funds or the guts (well I’ve got less guts now which is how and why I felt bold enough to risk it). 

Like I have said many times in the past Have Bag - Will travel.

My dad came to India as a young man, back packing in 1966, I can’t imagine the India of his journey, it’s fairly rustic and unspoilt now. 

Now our experience of India is somewhat different to my dads, we’re staying in 5 star hotels, with a car, being chauffeured from place to place, my dad stayed for free in Sikh temples and hitched rides in the passing lorries and trucks.  

To each their own, both experiences are unique and equally wonderful. I have learnt since I’ve been here that the “real” India is the India of your budget, that you’re living and experiencing in that moment. India is no less real, or to be dictated by your budget, high or low, India is very very real. Truly seeing is believing. 

If you have ever pondered the question just how little material possessions does one need to survive the answer is here waiting for you. 

The extreme poverty hits you hard, you can’t escape it, it’s there to see. But you can have riches within that poverty that some of the wealthiest people on the planet haven’t got.  

On the drive out of Agra I saw such abject poverty it took my breath away, but then I few dwellings along I watched a whole family group sitting in a circle cooing and laughing, besotted by the latest addition to the family and it made my heart swell, I was shocked by the lack of comforts they had but reassured they had more riches than gold, I didn’t pity them, I shared their joy, because my family is all I need. I love “stuff” but family is everything. Focusing on what you have rather than what you haven’t is the key to life long happiness. I’ve always felt like this, even when Chris and I had nothing (not India poverty nothing, but you know what I mean) I was grateful for what we had. When ever good luck has come our way I have been grateful and happily surprised. I believe it’s why I have a positive outlook after cancer left it’s trail of destruction. I feel and have always felt that my ability to be whole, content and grateful is my greatest asset...that and my green eyes. :) 

This country takes you on more journeys than just your destination. 

India steals your heart as soon as you arrive. Far from being overwhelmed by the hussle, bustle and seemingly sheer chaos you are stimulated and full of joy. India isn’t just seeing or hearing it, it’s a feeling. The combination is inexplicable. I truly don’t have the words to relay our experience. 

I can say that I’ve shed so many tears. Tears of joy and disbelief that we’re actually here. It’s cliched to say it’s a trip of a lifetime but that’s exactly what it is.  

I have loved every second of this place, which is surprising as I’m a germaphobe with health anxiety. Even I have managed to cope with a few dubious toilet stops. But with some anti-bac, a Shewee and your own tissue supply you can get through anything. This place makes it worth it.  

Our story starts in New Delhi, a city of 23 million, who all choose to drive at the same time hahahahaha. Honestly seeing is believing. 

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The view from our room. The Oberoi Gurgaun is a tranquil oasis in a sprawling metropolis.  

 Our first adventure began with our guide and driver picking us up in the morning and taking us to all the incredible sights of Delhi. 

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Sight and site 1, was Jama Masjid, one of the largest Mosques in India, with a capacity of 25 thousand people. Commissioned in 1656 by Shah Jahan...you might subconsciously know another of his projects built in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. 

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Trying a new look, and my god it would make life so much easier with a colostomy to wear it.  

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It is startling beautiful and fascinating. 

That was followed by a rick shaw ride of the streets of old Delhi. Again, it has to be experienced rather than described. 

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A ‘quick’  (nothings a quick trip in a city of 23 million) to Humayun’s Tomb.  Then on to Raj Ghat, Gandhi’s final resting place. Followed by a visit to Qutb Complex. The whole of Delhi is nothing short of extraordinary and knackering. :)

Top from Monsoon, Culottes from Tommy Hifiger, Shoes from Michael Kors.  

Top from Monsoon, Culottes from Tommy Hifiger, Shoes from Michael Kors.  

Then it was back to the hotel for our wedding anniversary dinner. 

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Dress from Ted Baker, Shoes from Jimmy Choo.

And then onwards to Agra...the road is long. Trying to attempt a 5 hour drive without needing a wee is a challenge, one that I did not manage. This service station was Shewee country, but needs must. Hahahahaha. 

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Top from Gap, Skirt from LK Bennett. 

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We arrived at the Oberoi in Agra weary and worn but energised with the view from our bedroom window. You can just make out in the distance the incredible Taj Mahal. 

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T shirt with fringed sleeve from Oliver Bonas, Skirt from Reiss, Shoes from Ferragamo.

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I have to tell you I spent most of the time here a blubbing wreck. To think that a man adored his wife so much that he built this as her mausoleum, he kept his promise to her and never remarried after her death and commissioned such a wonder in her honour, remember this wasn’t a palace to be lived in, this was her grave to remember her by. 

I’m really not going to be happy when the time comes and Chris tries to palm me off with a mere headstone!!  hahahahaha 

I’d say Shah Jahan proved his love for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, sadly in his final years his son seized power by killing his own siblings and locking his father in prison, the only concession he made was imprisoning him in a fort tower that overlooked the Taj Mahal. Where he spent the remainder of his years looking at his beautiful monument to his beautiful wife. 

I would however advise taking a medical explanation card of what an ostomy is. Security at the Taj Mahal is incredibly strict. India has issues like most of the world and they are rightly protective of it.  

An American lady rather kindly assisted me with an explanation of my colostomy to the incredibly unworldly young lady that was trying to search me, As my efforts were not working, I was a tad harassed at this point as the girl was pulling at it telling me to take it off. But with a list of words that describe poo and toileting and the help of my American friend I got through. 

When my guide found out (we were in seperate queues, men and women) he was furious and said that I should have called for him to tell her straight. But although I was a bit embarrassed I do completely understand them wanting to protect something so special.  

Ironically I have a card explaining my colostomy- written in Hindi, but it was in my luggage back at the hotel. It hadn’t occurred to me to take it. But I will know for next time.  

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It’s truly mesmerising. I walked backwards as we were leaving as I couldn’t look away.  

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Then on to the other offerings of Agra. 

No trip to Agra would be complete without a visit to the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri, a city built and inhabited for only 14 years, how it was even finished in that time is incredible.  

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India boggles the mind and this was only day 2!!!

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Dress from Kate Spade, Shoes from Jimmy Choo

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Our hotel in Agra was amazing, we were on Kuoni’s Oberoi Golden triangle tour. We have been blown away by not just India but by the standard of this trip, our driver was amazing keeping us safe all week, he has the driving skills of any stunt driver you’ve ever witnessed on TV, our guides have been fantastic and really brought the history to life and the hotels have blown our minds, each one getting better and better were it possible. 

We love Indian food, hence coming to India, we were so enthusiastic when the chef came to visit our table at dinner, he gave us a guided tour of the kitchens. Amazing, amazing, amazing...a recurring word on this holiday. Hahahahaha  

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Although our drives between cities have been long, they were never dull. 

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It’s one way to transport the whole family I guess. You  

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We headed onwards on our journey to Jaipur. The Oberoi in Jaipur is literally like you’ve died and gone to heaven. The grounds are spectacular, peaceful, with peacocks and parrots everywhere. If it wasn’t for the spectacular sights to see I’d have been quite happy to just lay here all day.  

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But there are amazing things to see here. The Amber Fort was off the chart incredible! Seriously, you’re just going to have to come. These photos do India no justice!  

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can you see the shadow just behind Chris, that’s a man with a real live Cobra trying to entertain us with it dancing. I yelped. I mean! SNAKES real snakes!! Duck that!! Read that how you will!! 

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We didn’t ride the elephants as I’m not quite sure how I feel about it (after all is it that much different from any form of working animal?) but you know, these days elephant riding is a tad frowned upon. They are magnificent creatures. 

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Top from Topshop, Shirt from Gap, Skirt from LK Bennett.  

We headed back after a tour of the Amber Fort and Pink City (Jaipur itself) for a Hindu blessing in a 400 year old Temple in the grounds of the hotel. 

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It was beautiful actually. I would say I have a spiritulity rather than a set religion. I love to hear about different faiths, it’s especially lovely to experience them in the perfect setting.

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This is the Primark dress I bought as an emergency a few weeks back to eat at a restaurant while we were out and about in shopping. I knew it would come into its own in India. 

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The entrance to the most beautiful Indian restaurant I have ever had the good fortune to eat at. Open air, dining on curry, whilst listening to sita’s playing.  Heavennnnnnnn!!!....and the food? Oh my Lordy my mouth waters just thinking about it. 

And here I will conclude the first part of this epic journey or this will become a bedtime story rather than a blog, I’m sorry but there’s so much to fit in. Hahahahaha 

Anyone wondering how my belly is holding up can be reassured I’ve had nigh on constipation rather than any other issues.   There’s very simple things you can do to help prevent upsets. Drink bottled water (that said I did accidentally drink the tap water in the hotels when brushing my teeth but I’m assuming that’s been treated as I suffered no ill effects), be sensible with food choices (neither Chris or I are into street or road side food, we found it best to ask our hotels to make us up a packed lunch for the long journeys to avoid any need). (Some people love street food but we’re not them. I don’t eat streetfood at home, and the last time Chris did at Winter Wonderland in London he caught the H Pylori bug from it so he’s no fan either. Hahahahaha)   Bring hand sanitizer, although that said our hotels have provided it, as did our driver.   I brought tissues in case of emergency need, I did indeed need them on two occasions.    Wash your hands after touching money and just be aware of any potential risk of bugs. Again I say this but I have been incredibly relaxed about germs. India really does have a way of making you forget everything unnecessary. 

Anyone wondering how my belly is holding up can be reassured I’ve had nigh on constipation rather than any other issues. 

There’s very simple things you can do to help prevent upsets. Drink bottled water (that said I did accidentally drink the tap water in the hotels when brushing my teeth but I’m assuming that’s been treated as I suffered no ill effects), be sensible with food choices (neither Chris or I are into street or road side food, we found it best to ask our hotels to make us up a packed lunch for the long journeys to avoid any need). (Some people love street food but we’re not them. I don’t eat streetfood at home, and the last time Chris did at Winter Wonderland in London he caught the H Pylori bug from it so he’s no fan either. Hahahahaha) 

Bring hand sanitizer, although that said our hotels have provided it, as did our driver. 

I brought tissues in case of emergency need, I did indeed need them on two occasions.  

Wash your hands after touching money and just be aware of any potential risk of bugs. Again I say this but I have been incredibly relaxed about germs. India really does have a way of making you forget everything unnecessary. 

It’s goodnight from me for now, the adventure continues. From here we fly from New Delhi to Mumbai to stay at India’s most famous hotel. The Taj Mahal Palace hotel. 

Oh and if you’ve ever wanted to feel like a celebrity, get some green eyes, pale skin and dye your hair blonde and come to India, I think I’ve been more photographed on this trip than at any time in my life! You’ll find me in many and various Instagram of India posts!  Hahahahaha 

I’ve loved it, it’s been hilarious, and everyone that wanted a photo was just so sweet and so polite, who could say no. 

I gave up taking my own memento versions when there was literally too many to keep up with. 

I do know I wouldn’t ever want to be a celebrity though. That would be a gilded hell day after day. But we did laugh at the novelty of it. :)  

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