2006-10-16 : More from the British Summer Capital
First week down, so here's some more choice tidbits and photographs…
Our class consists of Rob the Dutch Dude, our instructor Sukhdev, and myself.
There's a big old theatre in town, which was built when this was the Indian Summer Capital when the English ran the place (it gets wayyyyy too hot down in Delhi during the summer, so they'd cart everything up here and be in charge instead). The theatre's called the Gaeity Theatre, and it featured once on an episode of Michael Palin's “Pole to Pole” series. Being a famous British actor, they organised him to appear on stage to say something official. However it became clear that nobody there really had any idea who he was, the first tipoff being the introduction – the special guest, Michael Plain.
ANYWAY, what else ? The theatre's being renovated so like many world monuments that I visit, it's covered in scaffolding. What's different about this scaff though is that it's all made of wood ! It's like a great big scout Pioneering project ! Enough square lashings to bring tears to your eyes.
Some mornings I've slept in a little and missed my cab to the training centre, so after some investigation it turns out that by far the best solution is to take the bus.
The bus is mainly a transport method that locals use, and there's always an air of mystification on the bus when I get on, but you just can't beat it ! Danger, excitement, and only 3 rupees per trip ! I particularly love the way that they chock the bus door open with a rock – when you round a bend in the wildly un-cautious way that drivers do here you can look straight out the door into the dropping valley below. None of this poncey “Stand clear – the doors are now closing” that the lawsuit-happy British have.
The other day I decided I was getting a bit stubbly, but the morning being such a rush job like it is, I can never be bothered shaving. However in The Mall I spotted this hairdresser dude who does shaves with a straight razor. Now, getting a shave from a barber's something I've always wanted to do and I was told in London that they're not legally allowed to do anything more severe than a beard trim. So I grabbed my opportunity and got one !
The shop floor was as rickety as you like, and he advised me to walk on one side of the shop rather than the other. There's no shortage of adrenaline surges in this place – between wondering if the bus was going to topple off the cliff, wondering if I was going to crash through the barbershop floor, and the constant fear that everything you eat is going to send your gastric system into death ructions, you can get quite a buzz !
As I hinted before, much of the activity here revolves in moving things from one place to another, and the chief body part utilised for haulage seems to be the head.
The training centre is near a market area called Sanjauli, which you get a decent sort of view of from the centre roof.
If you turn the other way there's quite a pleasing aspect of the valley below and the new-ish residential area on the hill to the east.
Finally, on the topic of nature's lifeblood: coffee. I'm certainly suffering from the isolation from my beloved espresso machine and the life-giving Santos Dark that issues from its nozzle. The coffee here at the hotel is uniformly awful, and at the training centre there is only THE MACHINE.
I'm always wary of something that, when you push the button for the drink you want, displays a message like “Beverage 1” on its little green illuminated screen.
Thankfully there's a decent-ish coffee place in The Mall, so we don't have to latch onto its nozzle too often. Eeeeurgh. It's like one of those drink fabricators Douglas Adams wrote about. Dire.