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Another restless night. It felt like didn’t get to sleep properly until about 2.30am. After breakfast we checked out and got a car to the airport for 1400 R. Last views of crazy, dirty Indian streets. My stomach feels a bit restless after a very greasy curry last night.

An hour and a half wait at the airport. A very friendly guard let us in the building; we laughed about our passport photos (when Carol gave him a big smile when he checked her photo he said “nice”). Easy flight on IndiGo to Bengaluru (Bangalore), and a short walk to the fancy Taj Hotel nearby, which on the surface had all the trappings of an international hotel but poor service and … yes, only one type of beer available despite the list in the drinks menu!

We had a drink in the lobby bar then relaxed in our room. I feel a bit queasy and Carol’s nose is blocked. India really does break your health! We ordered sandwiches which took an hour to arrive and were really pretty bad when they finally did. We’re both at the limit of our patience with expensive, disappointing hotels.

I must admit I’m feeling a bit fed up and ready to go home. Which, coincidentally, is exactly how I felt at the end of the last trip I made to India, twenty-five years ago.

9th March

IndiGo flight from Madurai to Bengaluru, which was fine, then a standard Singapore Airlines flight from Bengaluru to Singapore, after sitting for an hour on the tarmac (I must have been in a daze, I thought we were up and flying and was surprised when we finally took off).

At Singapore the machine buzzed when our boarding passes were scanned, and we thought for a moment we were going to lose the premium economy status we’d bought, but then to our huge surprise we got a business class upgrade. Woo-hoo! It was incredibly enjoyable and a great end to the trip. During the flight I had champagne, a Singapore Sling, two railings with dinner, a 16 year old Glen Deveron before sleep, and a Bloody Mary before breakfast. The food was excellent, of multiple courses, and with proper plates and utensils. I sat back and watched the Scorese film Killers of the Flower Moon which ate up three and a half hours of the flight.

Well, for me that was quite a rough trip at times, and I rarely felt in good health. Carol was much luckier and so enjoyed herself more. There are so many exciting and wonderful things about India but, as it did all those years ago when I went to the north, travelling there feels like a battle, and it is so difficult to be patient and open to new things when you’re feeling ill all the time. India throws so much at you that you need to be in the right mindset. When you’re feeling well, it is absolutely magical, incredibly exciting, and endlessly fascinating. When you’re feeling sick, everything seems designed to frustrate and annoy you.

Carol is keen to visit some areas in the north, but we will probably mix it up with a trip to Nepal, because after spending a total of ten weeks in India now, I’m not sure I’m ready for another long visit to this thrilling, frustrating, colourful, crazy, confusing, maddening, troubled, beautiful, and, above all, challenging country.

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