Namaste India! “Meraa naam Liv hai!”

After a 10 hour plus journey in an aeroplane and many months of anticipation and planning, I am finally here!! Namaste India!

My adventure begins in Jodphur, my home from home for the next few months and the ‘Blue’ or ‘Sun’ city, in the state of Rajasthan, Northern India, but firstly I’d like to say a bit about my journey over here! I flew with Emirates from Manchester Airport to Dubai, which is probably one of the best longhaul flights I’ve ever had, competing only marginally with Virgin Atlantic. On the first flight to Dubai I met an older lady who was going on a trip to China for a Gadventures tour who was lovely, and I mused with her on all the positives and negatives of tours abroad (I am going on a Gadventures tour in January around India). Little old me was worried initially that my youth would work against me in India – naivety and all that – but this woman was worried of precisely the opposite! Just goes to show that travel can be intimidating at any age and that you should never let your fears get the better of you!

In Mumbai I was also helped by two very kind Indian gentlemen, one on the plane who helped me with my visa landing pass – I was panicking slightly about writing down an Indian address with my complete lack of one, I lent him my pen in return! – and another on the transfer to the domestic terminal who has the most kind facial features and helped me make sure I didn’t miss my flight. Small gestures, but they helped me feel welcome! Note: India is the land of the Blackberry! Every time the plane landed a flurry of beep beep beep for emails and texts would begin!

Upon arrival I was greeted by a very nice taxi driver named Rasheen (I proudly asked him his name in Hindi! First tiny victory for Liv!) who brought me to the office for Natural Mystic, the luxury travel and events company where I will be interning for a while. The car journey was an experience in itself! Horns are made best use of in India, with a cacophony of horns greeting you wherever you go! Cows meander by the side of the road and people happily wander in and out of the many mopeds, tuktuks, cars, motorbikes and even horse drawn carriages without a care for the chaos around them. The colourful anarchy however is mesmerising, with colourful pashminas being used as ad-hoc motorbike headwear by ladies whilst children no older than ten decide to drive the motorbike instead and best of all the cows don’t seem bothered by any of it (although I later learn they can be quite dangerous in themselves)!

Next stop is the office, my working home for the next few months. The office is small but comfortable and very close to the city centre with everything in walking distance, a massive plus! The office adjoins onto the most beautiful boutique hotel called the Raas Haveli, which is also owned by Natural Mystic’s director and was the first hotel of its kind built within the old city walls. A magnificent building split into 3 accommodation sections, 2 restaurants, a lounge area and a stunning swimming pool, the Raas lives up to its five star status, even having its own copyrighted blue tuktuks!

Next stop of course was my new home from home which I was very thankful for – jetlag was slowly getting the better of me I think – and is only a minutes walk from both the office and the Raas. I am staying in a little family run guest house called the Acha Niwalas, next door to a bigger and more famous hotel called the Haveli Inn Pal. Being the first intern to arrive, I naturally dibbed the room with a view of the fort and started to settle. My room is quite bare but very comfortable, having a double bed, ensuite, 2 tables, 3 chairs and a mirror. On the walls there are paintings of Indian scenes which are very pretty and a great homely touch too. I share a shaded patio with the room next door which will shortly belong to Esmerelda, a fellow intern coming to join me and it overlooks the Haveli Inn’s rooftop restaurant, playing Indian music and serving delicious smelling dishes in the evening. I also have a very noisy air conditioning machine, which I am most grateful for!

The guesthouse is mainly run by a gentleman called Saamsingh, with another man called Raamsingh and a delightful woman named Manju who wears the most gorgeous colourful saris. All of the family are extremely friendly and Manju very kindly came up to tell me how best to keep my room cool! Very important in 30 degrees temperatures! She told me how she often befriends everyone who comes to stay and is very sad when they go, but she hopes we will be friends too. The family live below the guesthouse and I feel very safe here. Even if I didn’t, I have a bigggg padlock for my door! 🙂

After I had been here for a few hours and grabbed a quick nap I plucked up the courage to go and eat dinner with the staff at the Raas. Dinner works on a buffet style basis with food being put out and you basically help yourself. Spoons are provided but apart from that you eat with your hands! Right hand only of course 🙂 The food was very nice and the staff did their best to welcome me, a man called Sanjev explaining that I should go and watch Batman 3 over at the fort when I get chance! They said to make sure I arrive 20 minutes early as it is very popular! I may be in the home of Bollywood but Hollywood certainly still has its influences!

Afterwards I decided to go and get something to drink from the local market. Raamsingh’s cousin explained it is safe for me to go out at night, but I should avoid it after 9/10, giving me the directions to a stall outside the market gate where I would be able to get something to drink. Here I met Wiki – like ‘Wikipedia’ he told me – who is a very friendly young man who I got chatting to. He asked about where I was from (EVERYONE in India asks you this first!) and my name, told me he knew the last intern and that I should come back to visit soon after I had bought some juice. Whilst I was chatting to him though a man came and stole some bottles from the stall who he then had to chase after and confront! I took this as my cue to leave and return home for some sleep! Goodnight!

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