Alan's "Plain Tales from the Raj"

Old Nov 29th, 2004, 03:34 PM
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Alan's "Plain Tales from the Raj"

Dear Alan,
Are you back? How was your trip to the sub continent? Have you posted a report somewhere? Hope you had a good time .

AndrewDavid

ps we've missed you
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Old Nov 29th, 2004, 05:20 PM
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Alan! ALAN! A L A N !!!

He must have a monster dose of jetlag - or his wife has sold his computer!
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 04:57 AM
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I have it on good authority that Alan and co are back....fortunately after several weeks in the wilderness, he has not forgotten how to use the pc (providing of course as Margo says he still has a pc..lol) The problem is likely to be just an abundance of words, we all know Alans answer to any question is immense and he stops at nothing to answer well. Now imagine Alans report from his trip to India it will be thirty five volumes long at least, so please be patient his little fingers are probably clattering away on the keyboard as we speak.
Providing of course he has answered the 800 e mails he has waiting

;-)


Muck
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 12:05 PM
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Well, Mucky, I'll have to read that one again to decide whether I should be flattered or insulted! But, yes, we are back, thank you, and yes, we could bore you for the rest of your lives with tales of how amazing India is as a tourist destination. AndrewDavid, I note that you were the first to ask about us (on the "chicest hotel" thread), and I have, just fifteen minutes ago, written a short report on that thread. I'm scared to begin a long one, because when would I stop.... as Mucky rightly points out, I am occasionally known to produce volumes on a simple hotel choice, so covering a whole continent -- and we went from the very western edge (the desert of Rajasthan, near the Pakistan border) to the very north (Leh, in the Himalayas) to the very south (Fort Cochin, among the coconut palms and sandy beaches) -- would be an undertaking that would fill the Fodor's editors with some dread. Anyway, if you want to read a bit more, look at "chicest hotel", and perhaps I will just put a few individual posts about specific places onto the Asia forum.
Best place in India? Jaisalmer! The desert people are wonderful, the environment terrifying but uplifting, and I felt like I was in an old movie. Least interesting sight in India? Well, I'd have to say the Taj Mahal (and, having said it, duck for cover, since I know it's one of the "great" buildings of the world). It's a nice place to look at before 7 a.m., but, after that time, all you're looking at is swarms of tourists spoiling the view of the building.

Will write more on the Asia forum later (have put one small item about Jaisalmer in there already). Thanks for asking!
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 01:22 PM
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Alan!! Welcome back. So glad you enjoyed Jaisalmer - isn't it fabulous? Guess you've caught the thread currently on the Asian Forum about "India - rent the Video instead". But I think we'll all be sorely disappointed if you don't tell us some of your travelling tales.
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 02:37 PM
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Yes, Daneille (by the way, thanks for the advice you gave me several weeks ago), I did read the "India -- rent the video instead" thread, and, you know, while I don't agree with it, I can understand what the poor woman is talking about, can't you? I mean, not only did she have really bad luck with sickness (and that can really turn you off any holiday!), she was just so unprepared for what she was about to experience, and she was unwilling -- maybe unable -- to step outside her "western comfort zone". In her case, she's right -- she SHOULD rent the video instead! But for myself.... putting aside the comfort zone was one of the steps I took to become, hopefully, the right type of person to do a trip like that. I can tell you now, we roughed it. Only one taxi in five weeks, and that was only to please a nice Indian guy who offered to arrange it for us. Every other time: autorickshaws, public buses, public trains.... right from the minute we left the airport on our first day (while everybody else lined up at the prepaid-taxi booth, we strode out the door and asked a local where we'd find a bus). We didn't just do that to save money (though that was nice, too); we did this to feel like we were really in India.
We learnt to do the Rajasthan Gavotte (on every third step, you SSSLLLIIIDDE, and then scrape your shoe) without worrying too much about what it was, exactly, that we might be scraping off! We learned to accept the row of bare bottoms beside the railway tracks every morning. And we ate what we liked -- and LIKED what we ate.

But, most of all, we learned to like the people. Sometimes we did that in spite of their own best efforts! But we made some real friends, and we have invitations to go back. And you know what? Already, we're starting to think about it.....

But first, it's payback time. There are some great children who deserve to have something nice done for them. Expect me to call in a few favours from people whose questions I've answered in the last few months.... I plan, in a few days, to give you all an address of a school in India where the kids are poorer than you could ever imagine, and where they could use a few books.... or pencils.... or equipment.... It would give me the thrill of my life if one day soon the "school contact" I've made could say to me that they received, in one week, twenty or thirty packages, from Queensland, the USA, Wales,Canberra, Canada..... I tell you, Fodor's is a real melting pot! This is an opportunity I can't pass up!
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Old Dec 1st, 2004, 04:58 PM
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Alan

Welcome back, and go for it....
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Old Dec 2nd, 2004, 01:19 AM
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Oh Alan, definately be flattered, We all live in Awe of your experiences and ability to share and advise to the finest detail. And this forum is a better place for it....

Oh and welcome back !!

;-)

Muck

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Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 05:30 AM
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Hi Alan - glad you had such an amazing time. And you travelled on public buses/trains etc - which, let's face it, is a bit unusual for posters on a Fodors board. Perhaps you will be less flamed than I for suggesting that such a thing is not only possible, but enjoyable.

Glad to hear Jaisalmer is still sufficiently wonderful to be your "pick" - not sure it would be mine and I have, like you, Kerala and the far north (Spiti though, not Ladakh) to choose from, and plenty of others too.

Real reason for posting - I love your idea of getting folk to support a school, for example, in a country which they have enjoyed as a visitor. I tried to suggest something similar on the Africa branch to someone who wished to decorate a room "Africa style" by buying artefacts in the US at, obviously, highly inflated prices.

Let us just say that it fell on deaf ears
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Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 04:55 PM
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Alan, what is the address for the school in India? Writing from California. I will keep an eye on this thread. Best regards.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 07:00 PM
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Hello All,

This is a wonderful thought on Alan's part and one I try to incorporate in my travels, even a small extent, as well as suggest it to my clients.

Another one of the areas I specialize in is Jamaica, which is a beautiful country and I love the people, but it IS Third World. I do try to encourage clients to leave their gated resort they're and interact with the "locals". Get a true feeling for the country they're visiting.

The children are gorgeous and sweet and whenever I go I always take books. It doesn't really seem to matter what KIND of books they are; they are always most appreciated. A paperback or two doesn't take up much room in your luggage and you'd be amazed at the responses you'll get.

I frequently chat up the staff at whatever resort I'm at; asking them where they live, how long they've been working at the resort, if they have kids, etc. Then, when I'm checking out I give them some books for their kids; or an American baseball cap (don't ask me why anyone in Montego Bay would want a SFO Giants cap, but they do)!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Aussie & Kiwi Specialist
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Old Dec 3rd, 2004, 08:45 PM
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And the address is.....


A/D
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Old Dec 4th, 2004, 03:15 AM
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Alan, I loved your side track post in the chicest hotels thread and am SO happy that u enjoyed your India experience. I followed Susan's thread but only made 1 fairly brief reply - while I sympathize I also feel sorry that someone can make such comments - incidentally have you read the book, Shantaram? Interesting description of the man on the run's life in Bombay.
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