We took the evening train – 6 hours – back to Delhi and I have to say, despite dire expectations and warnings from Delhi friends, the train was on time, the washroom was bearable, the food plentiful and pretty palatable and no-one got sick. Success all around really.
We have returned to the Park Hotel. While the lobby is still the same jarring neon pink velour and beaded curtains, my room is bright, calm and clean ( first time around the clean was sadly lacking).
We are only here for a couple of days, enough time to swap things around between my two suitcases, get laundry done and have a visit to the spa (there is a story there too).
The main event by far was dinner at Sheeba and Micky’s again with the whole group. As Beverley’s daughter Rebecca was joining us, making the group 9 (it should have been 10 but Patricia stayed back at the hotel with the beginnings of a nasty cold or bronchitis and had to be up for a 7 am flight back to Italy – nothing worse than travelling sick really!), Micky arrived with three cars and whisked us off to his showroom. We managed to power shop for a good two and a half hours; several people bought carpets, virtually everyone picked up scarves, shawls, pashminas and lovely pietro duro boxes as gifts!
Then off to dinner. Sheeba and Micky are such perfect hosts and once again Sheeba outdid herself with the food. Mind you, she does have lots of staff so dinner for 14 isn’t quite as much fuss as it would be in Toronto say. We had a fried okra dish which may actually reverse my aversion to the stuff! Not slimy at all and with a very pleasant almost nutty flavour.
The next night we were out walking to Connaught Place to find a restaurant Beverley had been told about called “The Coffee Shop”. After a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing, and asking for directions from various helpful but ultimately wrong souls, we ended up walking about 3/4 of the way around the circle – which is enormous – to find a place that I remembered from my first visit with Florence and Arthur. Turned out to be the same place probably, that Beverley was looking for but a slightly different name.
We have been very fortunate to have had some superb meals and “The United Coffee House” came through as well
So the story of the Spa – Cecilia and Felicity, having heard me raving about the spa treatment at the Imperial decided they wanted to experience it as well. The website was down so I emailed to make the arrangements – after a fair bit of back and forth I thought we were all set – I’d decided that another bliss filled afternoon wouldn’t hurt me at all either. Then the spa emailed me a couple of hours before the time scheduled to say that the facilities were only for registered guests and despite my assurances of previous and future stays the matter was closed. BUT The Park had a spa too so we dutifully trooped up there to see what we could arrange! Yes it could be done, well no actually not, possibly yes, “let me get the manager” etc for about 20 minutes….
We left it with them and said we would be back in a couple of hours to see what arrangements they had worked out. So – Cecilia and I got the royal treatment, massages, hot oil head massages and then wash and blow drys. For some reason Felicity ended up getting the head massage done sitting up in a salon chair, a perfunctory foot rub and the W&BD – not relaxing at all. There all finished whinging!
I beleive there is a certain amount of that “face” thing we are accustomed to with Asians at play here as well. They don’t like to say no to you, so they don’t – until there is absolutely no choice – which is frustrating to western sensibilities.
Louis, our pilot/guide in Africa said two things right at the start of that trip which stood us in good stead. “Africa is about patience” and “Africa is not for winkypuffs” (love that word) I dare say you could substitute India for Africa and still be spot on.
It certainly is a good thing for me to learn anyway….