Downtowns Abbey-ings, Tuktuks and Bhanu the Artist

If you haven’t quite guessed, I am in India. Another culture, another continent, another way of life. I love it, but its at times like these when you have to cherish the little home comforts in your possession from time to time. So imagine my ecstatic realisation that I can get download the new series of Downton Abbey on iTunes! IN HD! It may take me approximately a gazillion hours to download each episode on my crappy internet, but IT’S THERE.

“No,” I hear you cry, ” don’t do it, soak in the culture, you can watch Downton Abbey anywhere” but that’s exactly the point. I can watch it anywhere I like. Therefore, I choose India. Maggie Smith is after all, the apple of my eye. Those Hindu ruins have been there for 1000 years, will probably outlive both you and I, but Downton will move on, mark my word. The Andrex advert-like dog has been conspicuously absent of late and before you know it the whole cast will have done a Charlie Sheen and left the set for a crappy spin off show (Sybil goes Wild 2k12 or something similar) . Therefore, it is essential I get my Maggie fix once weekly. Maybe old Mags can don a Bollywood outfit, Mr Bates can break into song impromptu (he often looks on the edge of a tune) and we can swap the Labrador in the opening sequence for a camel or goat for contextual purposes. Nothing should ever get done, instead Carson will lie back and say ‘as you like’ whilst wagging his head. Bates would never go to prison, as his alcoholic ex wife would never sink so low, instead only being addicted to mango lassi. Swap all motorcars for tuktuks please and let upstairs constantly haggle with downstairs for their services. Cows should wander the estate and ceremoniously chase Edith at regular intervals for added drama. This would be necessary because no-one would stand anybody else up at the altar, as the week-long celebrations would go to pot and there’d be way too many family members around to deal with the repercussions. ‘Downtown’s Abbey-ings’ would be a much jollier place in general. And of course, in-keeping with Indian culture, the grandparents would be the most respected and honoured members of the household. Result = Maggie, Maggie, Maggie!

So yes, tonight I watched Downton Abbey. And it was good. I realise how sad this makes me but I accept it. It was so, so good. To be fair… I also did quite a lot of other things today. It may not involve old ladies with witty senses of humour and perfectly timed sarcasm, but they are probably more relevant to a travel post. Unless of course we refer to time travel … 😉 *imaginary high five with Maggie over great and witty remark*

So first things first, Yoga. I won’t lie, getting up at 5.30am doesn’t seem to be getting easier. Staying awake afterwards is fine, but the initial internal monologue with myself as to why I should move a muscle is ongoing. My main argument is this: You cannot cancel, as you do not have Bharat’s number. I therefore can never get Bharat’s number. I am keeping any exit points hidden from my lazier self for now. That said, the yoga is definitely working and I want to keep it up. When Bharat (or Barack as Will seems to like to call him) professed that in 14 days we’d be more flexible than ever I had my doubts. It seemed like a soapstars’ fitness DVD. Promising, but ultimately based on blatant surgically enhanced lies. So imagine my surprise this morning when I could do the following: touch my toes for a solid 30 seconds, get my head to touch my feet when stretching sat down and even put my tippytoes on the floor behind my head when lying down. As if Bharat sensed my disbelief, he then demonstrated his favourite yoga position – one I like to dub ‘The Upside down Pretzel’. Standing on his head, he went into the lotus position upside down in an ornately knot like movement… naturally, both Will and I’s jaws hit the ground. Well, not quite the ground – we’re not that flexible yet you see – but give it another 14 days. Bharat then starting rolling his stomach round Mexican wave style until I felt quite dizzy. Impressive, but I’m not sure I’ll be passing along the wave any time soon. You never know…

A few hours losing myself in Shantaram, skyping the boyfriend and chatting to the waiters at Jhankar before heading off to work. Today was spent thinking about the logistics of customising an old Tuktuk. Given a creative free reign, and I lean instinctively towards Pimp my Ride.  Exciting times. That’s all I’m willing to give away! Sawan and I then discussed all things English. He told me that the Indian papers reported Scotland was going to leave England. I declared in my best Downton Abbey tone that Scotland wouldn’t dare. Add the delightful news that tomorrow is a holiday for Dusshedra (involves lots of burning stuff in fields as far as I can tell) and I’m a happy little intern. Every time a festival ends a new one seems to begin!

Like the big kid that I am later in the evening I helped Bhanu this evening colour in his magic books. He loved it, and quite frankly so did I! Bhanu likes to colour in it turns out, and what he likes even more, is to pass you the colours and watch you do it. So I sat as he chose his perfect colours, watched me colour with that kind of satisfied curiosity that only children can truly possess and then picked up the coloured pencil to correct my efforts. I even got a hand-created teddy bear drawing for my efforts. I say hand-created, as these books truly were magical! The colour would come up once you rub your crayons over them… the things it takes to amuse an Oxford student eh. Manju also offered to teach me how to make a sweet buttery chapati. I am moving up in the Chapati world. I had a sugar cane drink the other day too, I forgot to mention. They put the full cane through a press and add water to make a sweet sugary drink. I’m not sure if they’re meant to look like mouldy water – but it tasted great!

Clowning around with Bhanu…

Bhanu wanted documented evidence of his drawings and their awesomeness, I happily obliged. Could you refuse a face this cute? I now have many, many photos of ducks and teddybears on my camera. If Bhanu were in Downton Abbey I might even let him overtake Maggie as my favourite. Might.

They have an stately home, but Bhanu has a teddybear who puts on lipstick. Bhanu definitely takes the trophy.


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