Sunday, October 30, 2005

Icon Villa, Delhi

Pashmina scarf display, Kathmandu, Nepal, October 25, 2005

Hanging around my room at the Icon Villa trying not to imagine that every bang I hear from the street is a bomb. I should know the difference having heard the bomb that exploded in Kabul in late 2004 but my nerves are still on edge. I've altered my plans for the day and won't go to the nearby cinema or shops, but I am about to go just along the road for a shave. I think I'll head to the airport early.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Back to Delhi

ADDEMDUM: I'm in New Delhi now - safe and sound and unaffected by the horrible bomb blasts (or the train crash).

Market wares, Kathmandum, October 27, 2005

Waiting in Kathmandu International Airport to head back to Delhi. Excited to see Twin Otters (great Canadian aircraft that I used to ride in the Canadian Arctic) puttering around.

I'll miss Nepal but it's certainly time to move on. I feel something strange about my three weeks since leaving Kabul - time is supposed to feel quick when one is having fun and I have had fun but strangely, three weeks in my job in Kabul always seemed faster. Inexplicable.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Last night in Nepal

Market seller, Kathmandu, Nepal, October 27, 2005

Today - my last full day in Nepal and anywhere before I get home to Ottawa on Monday - was both lovely and interesting. On my way out morning I noticed that almost all the shops were closed. I learned that the government recently shut down a critical radio station and several political parties had called for a national strike today. Somebody explained that shopkeepers were confused about whether it is better to support the government (by opening) or the opposition (by closing). In the meantime many of them were washing their closed shutters in preparation for a big festival tomorrow. By late afternoon I noticed that some more shops had opened for business.

I met Kabita (pictured yesterday) again and she introduced me to her father whose rice she's been drying. She lead me to her real job which is money changing in the Thamel (mostly touristy) part of Kathmandu. We went for tea and I learned that she's studying business - but that's on hold because she has also had to help her sister in law with a new baby. She hopes to resume her studies soon.

She then showed me something I'd been told didn't exist in Kathmandu: a tattoo parlor. I now have a third tattoo. I got my first tattoo on my left arm about four years ago - it's my own design of a penguin holding an old Speedgraphic camera, representing two of my passions. It only has black ink because I like black and white photography. (I only stopped the artist just in time before he added some coloured detail.) When I visited Thailand this March I was so enchanted by the country and its people that I decided to get 'peace' in Thai tattooed onto my right arm. I planned then to add 'peace' in the local language of any other country I visited and came to love. The writing is one centimetre high and the plan was to allow one centimetre of space between 'entries'. Nepal has been the next qualifying country and I now have 'santhe' ('peace') tattooed exactly to specification. (I also had it embroidered onto a t-shirt.)

Tonight will be my last night in Nepal. I've gone to a different restaurant every night and eaten nothing but splendid food. I confess it hasn't really been Nepalese. (Some lunches have been.) The first night I was so excited to learn that there are Mexican restaurants here that I didn't hesitate. I had a steak. The next night I stayed at the hotel and had pizza. On the third night I went to a fairly well-known restaurant called 'K-too' - it has all sorts of world food but I went straight for the steak. Last night I went to the Via Via Cafe which is a very swanky lounge - and I had an extraordinary chicken fillet in a delicious mustard sauce. I don't know where I'm going tonight but I think it will involve another steak as tomorrow I'll be in Delhi and beef will be right out of the question - even at T.G.I.Friday's, where I'll probably end up.

[Added later: I had spaghetti bol. at La Dolce Vita... then found a restaurant called 'Steak Restaurant' on the way back... sigh...]

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Kabita, Kathmandu, Nepal, September 27, 2005

I think I'm ready to admit two things:

  • I'm looking forward to going home.
  • I've seen quite enough temples, stupas, Buddhas and erotic carvings.

Today I did most of the Lonely Planet's walking tour number 1 ... until making admission number 2 (above). Even when a statue in a bazaar is impressive because it's over 1000 years old and being used to prop up some seller's wares, I've had enough of it.

I did, however have two special moments with local people.

Firstly, one of very many touts in the Durbar Square approached me with the usual "Where do you come from?" routine, but then knocked me for six when in response to "Canada", he said "I am a great admirer of Margaret Atwood". (He has a degree in English lit.)

The second was when I stopped to photograph Newar women drying rice in a tucked-away courtyard. I started talking to Kabita (which means 'Poem'). She is very interesting. The courtyard is a common space for rice drying and they take it in turns to spread the ride on tarps under the sun. They rake it into patterns that remind me of Japanese gardens. Most of the rice being dried today is for eating but a slightly darker type is for making beer which Kabita hopes I'll try. On a hot sunny day, 20 minutes is enough drying time. Then they shovel it up. She gave me a chocolate and asked me for a CD of my photographs so I'll be back tomorrow to learn more of the process. I confess I was a bit surprised that she seemed so educated and conversational but so completely unpresumptuous - a lesson I shall try to remember.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Swayambhunath Stupa

Guardian monkey, Swayambhunath Stupa, Swayambhunath, Nepal, October 26, 2005

Tried to walk to Swayambhunath, near Kathmandu this morning but got happily lost and ended up taking a taxi. The Stupa is wonderful - but swamped by tourist touts. Enquired about getting a Nepali 'peace' tattoo but tattoo parlors are apparently not found in Kathmandu. Took the afternoon off, as usual recently.

Am working up my Nepalese photos for my Souvenirs web site section. Here's a sneak preview but I have two days more shooting that might contribute.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Morning Stupa Stupor

Kathmandu, Nepal, October 25, 2005

It's been a pretty good day, although I was woken at 6am by the sound of irregular ringing of a big nearby bell. I later saw locals ringing another bell near a stupa (holy place) so I suppose it's a ritual - probably propagated by devotees who think that those who try to sleep beyond 6am deserve no pity. Pity.

After a ridiculously generous hotel breakfast (I'll have to hold them back tomorrow) I ambled out with my Lonely Planet and did 'walking tour #2', interrupted by a shave. Not just a shave, as it turned out. I'd already noticed that South Asian barbers go all out to please (head massages and the odd cream or other which I can't frankly be bothered by) but today due to a miscommunication I got the full beauty treatment. After being shaved twice (standard) I was asked if I want "mumble-mumble?" (?). Thinking it meant some sort of massage, and not wishing to offend, I said 'a bit, yes'. That lead to three different types of facial application, one of which was removed by a stretched and dragged thread (I thought he was going to floss my teeth) and then that funny waxy mask treatment which took ten minutes and a hot hairdryer application to set before being peeled off by the barber and his assistant. I got quite anxious to continue my tour but I must admit my skin felt good.

As per my new holiday protocols my tour was followed by a good nap. Then I went to a public call office and did a telephone interview for a voluntary job in Malawi (I think it went well - I would begin in early January) and then had a passable steak dinner at "K-Too".

Early to bed with John Fowles' The Magus, which I'm re-reading.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Arrival in Kathmandu

Flour mill, Sunauli, Nepal, October 23, 2005

As usual I seem to have fallen on my feet. I'm now settled in a luxurious hotel in Kathmandu (for a hardly atrocious US$12 per night). Today was marvelous - I had a leisurely morning and then flew on Cosmic Air to Kathmandu. (The other airlines at Bhairawa airport - Bhairawa is close to Sunauli and is also called Siddharthanagar - are the splendidly-named Yeti Airlines and Buddha Air.) I was met by a hotel representative who, while looking like Hitler, taught me a lot about Nepal in just the time it took my bags to be delivered and for us to ride to the Hotel Encounter. For instance, tourism has fallen upon hard times due to the Maoist uprisings although this is the best time of the year for the industry. I asked where most tourists currently come from - I think he said Japan first, then he named several of the wealthy western European countries. He said it's rare to find Americans here and, when prompted, he said the same about Canadians. I asked about Indians and he surprised me by saying that although they are fairly few, the five-star hotels here would close without them: they come to Nepal for the gambling or to visit Lumbini (close to Sunauli where I spent last night) which is merely the birthplace of Lord Buddha. I also asked about popular support for the Maoists, remembering learning in Cambodia that Pol Pot had never had popular support there. Perhaps it was a pretty naive question - he said about a third of the country support the Maoists. Another third support the monarchy and the last third support the democratic government. Right now the government is looking bad in the public eye for not recognizing the Maoist's three-month cease-fire. I also asked if the Maoists are propped up by China. He doesn't think so - he thinks there are no Maoists in power in China anymore - he says China has become a capitalist state.

Speaking of capitalism, this is extremely rare for me but I can honestly endorse Sight Nepal Travel & Tours (P.) Ltd. who have looked after me since I stepped off the train yesterday. They're enterprising to be sure but honest and they deliver good value. (Well - maybe the yesterday's bus wasn't quite as lovely as they lead me to expect... but the accommodations have been fine. Anyway, I%2


India-Nepal border at Sunauli, Nepal, October 23, 2005

I've been in most of the places that have 'half-hour' time zones (Newfoundland, Darwin, Afghanistan, and India - I think I only have Rangoon still to go) but I'm now in my first (and the only) '45-minute' time zone: Nepal. The Lonely Planet says that Nepal is offset GMT+5:45 rather than GMT+6:00 just for some sort of sovereignty statement. Anyway, time has been surreal since my last post.

After watching two western movies - 'The Four Brothers'(not bad - and Mark Whalburg continues to impress) and 'Into the Blue'(unrealistic but nice for babe-watching) I rushed to the station - to discover that my sleeping accommodation on the Delhi - Gorakhpur train was identical in class to yesterday's - rather than the luxury I was lead to expect and which I confess I'd been hoping for. Still, I did have a berth to myself (along the aisle) instead of in a less-private cluster of four. Departure was at 21h45 last night and arrival was scheduled for 09h00 this morning. I felt I had to be alert because this was my first non-terminus destination but I had some very helpful fellow travelers so my only real concern was how to arrange transport from Gorakhpur to Kathmandu.

We got into Gorakhpur at around 09h30 this morning - I don't consider this delay very significant - and I stepped off the train wondering what to do next. ONE MINUTE LATER - and within 5m of the coach step - I had been offered and accepted transport to Kathmandu. I soon worked out that the touts were targeting my first class carriage. Fair enough - I was a willing mark. I was rushed to their office where I paid 1,025 Indian Rupees for 'luxury' (four abreast) bus transit to the Nepalese border and on to Kathmandu plus one night in the Kathmandu Hotel. They said I'd be at the border in two hours and in Kathmandu by 20h00. I was then rushed onto the bus and towards the border.

It was a pretty cramped bus. It let people on and off at every village and I had a variety of seat-mates, including two mothers with children. I couldn't communicate very well with anybody but I was reassured by the shadows that we were heading north-ish and eventually we arrived at the friendliest border crossing I've ever encountered (not counting the border between Northern and Republican Ireland, which was invisible). I'm pretty sure I could have walked through without any formality - it looked as if many people were doing so. I found the Nepalese customs office in a cottage beside the road and there discovered that I'd bypassed the Indian exit formalities. I walked back and found the Indian office amongst a row of shops set back from the border. I'm always a bit nervous at border offices - expecting that I've done something wrong or that I must pay a bribe (or worse - see my timeline entry about risking jail in Ghana. Soon after getting my Nepalese visa I was met by representatives of the transit company I'd engaged in Gorakhpur. I learned in their office that by now the only bus to Kathmandu would run through the night. I was hot and tired after two long road trips and two overnight train trips so I immediately accepted an unplanned alternative: a 30-minute flight to Kathmandu. Unfortunately a flock of Thai tourists had booked the whole plane so I was quite pleased to check into the Nepal Guest House which is clean and serviced with proper hot water. I'm booked on the 10h20 flight tomorrow

I might be favorably biased because I wanted what they were offering (a flight, hot water, a bed) but my first impression of Nepalese people is that they are, if it's possible, even friendlier than Indians. I feel I've neglected to remark before now that Indians are in general the friendliest and warmest people whose country I've visited. Now they're rivaled by the Nepalese.

While relaxing in my hotel room I've been updating my web site - specifically my travel maps, my biography, my
timeline, my contact me page, a link to my CV, as well as routine updates of my cinema and reading pages.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Indian Overnight

Eagle, Srinagar, Indian-Administered Kashmir
October 20, 2005

Wild day yesterday. Left Srinagar in a microbus crammed with six passengers and a mad driver with a penchant for honking (tooting) and driving on the right hand side. (India drives on the left.) He estimated that it would take 7 or 8 hours to drive the 305km to Jammu where I would meet my train to Delhi but due to many slow-moving army convoys and protracted prayer stops it took 10 hours and I only made my train by 45 minutes.

My first Indian overnight train was a lot less posh than my experiences in Thailand but I'm told my next one tonight will be better. It will take me to somewhere near the Nepalese border where I'll sort out how to cross the border and begin exploring Nepal. My only fixed itinerary once I'm off the train is my flight out of Kathmandu on the 29th. (Hope I make it.)

Meanwhile the job hunting is not going too well...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Gulmarg and Dal Lake

Dal Lake, Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir, October 19, 2005

Yesterday: drove to Gulmarg, high in the Kashmir valley. Once a mountain retreat for the occupying British it is now being developed by an apparently very effective local organization into a superb alpine resort, featuring India's best skiing and the world's highest golf course. Engaged a very good local guide who, at 67 remembers Independence and who has been in his current profession for the last 53 years. And - by an absolutely amazing coincidence, ran into my Thai guide from my adventure holiday in Mai Sod, Thailand, earlier this year. (He was here guiding Thai tourists.) This is probably one of my best 'small world' events.

Today's program was a four-hour paddle around the Dal Lake propelled by one very hard-working boatman. Took lots of photos but few seem pleasing. Couldn't get close enough to the soaring eagles and always seemed to be on the wrongly-lit side of the interesting boats.

No plan set for tomorrow - despite the promises made by my travel agent in Delhi, the last proposed day-trip involves extra cost...

Monday, October 17, 2005


Water ferries, Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir, October 17, 2005

I'm now in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir. (Not that the local maps admit to the existence of any Pakistani-administered part.) It's been nine days since the earthquake that was centred about 160km to the west. I'm told there was very slight damage here, but the people fear for those in the remote villages.

I flew here today on Sahara Airlines. Amongst the normal baggage emerging on the belt were boxes marked as medicine for earthquake victims. I was met by my travel agent's father and brother installed on their houseboat 'Kismat' (meaning 'good luck'). Then was taken to see three lovely botanical gardens and a surprisingly interesting and low-pressure carpet makers cooperative.

There's a huge military presence, even with soldiers standing bored every few hundred metres along the main road which itself is choked by army convoys. Yet it's a somehow gentle presence. The soldiers smile rather than threaten. India has never seemed to be a very stern place.
I've been offered an upgrade to a 'water trek' - three days and two nights aboard a slightly larger boat (paddled by two men instead of one) and marvelous scenery. At $250 I can't afford it right now but I wouldn't mind coming back here with more time, money, and perhaps some companionship.
The power only just came on and there's certainly no Internet connection so while I can write each of the next few days, I won't be able to upload this in anything like real-time.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Movie reviews

Wyoming, April, 2002

Yesterday I solved the Oxfam loyalty issue described on Thursday. I had to sit at Oxfam for 3 1/2 hours to get a meeting with the Human Resources manager but to her credit it only took her 3 1/2 minutes to agree that Oxfam is legally liable for their signed contract. Whew.

I then saw the first half of an amazingly bad movie and then a rather good substitute. The first was "Monster in Law" with Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez. What was Jane thinking? It wasn't just bad - it was completely boring. I left at the intermission (Indian cinemas have intermissions!) and a friend who was subjected to it on a plane assures me that I didn't miss any redemption in the second half. Then I saw "Flightplan" with Jodie Foster. It's a pretty good psychological thriller with fairly little necessary suspension of disbelief. I'm giving it a 7.75 in my movie database. [Later addition: interestingly, I see Internet Movie Database users have given it only a 6.00. I rarely give higher scores than they do.] (I'm giving "Monster in Law" a 4.50 - which makes it the first addition to my 'worst movies' list since 1997.)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

National Railway Museum and Oxfam duplicity

Boy Scouts at the National Railway Museum, New Delhi, October 13, 2005

Well, a lot of what I described on Monday has gone pear-shaped. Specifically, my 'volunteering' at Oxfam, allegedly my Oxfam loyalty bonus (13% of earned pay upon contract completion), and now at risk: my actual Oxfam loyalty.

To explain: On Tuesday I was told that Oxfam Kabul is 'uncomfortable' with my working in New Delhi for the remainder of my contract. There was always something fishy about me being asked to leave three weeks early and now it's confirmed although not explained. Today's blow was that I had been given the 'wrong contract' when I joined. Although my contract was explicitly six-months, contracts of six months or less are not meant to have the loyalty clause that mine contains. I'm sure it was a mistake - and I'm sure I'm going to collect because it's what we signed.

Before receiving this blow I had a nice saunter round the National Railway Museum. It's not the poshest in the world - and all the model trains were derailed or otherwise inoperable, but it was all very pleasant. (The Indian Railway system is, by the way, merely the world's largest single employer.) The museum holds a large collection of locomotives and rolling stock, coping, as does India, with a large collection of track gauges. (The turntable accommodates three.) As I was leaving the museum was invaded by a swarm of Boy and Girl scouts who seemed to think I was one of the attractions. They all wanted to shake hands (to the consternation of their master) and they all seemed to need to be reminded to do so left-handed. (They got the three-fingered salute right.) I was pretty amazed that I remembered that Scouts should shake left-handed. If I recall correctly, while normal hand shaking is meant to signify that you hold no weapon, Scouts shake left-handed to signify that they hold no shield. It's a nice symbol for what is otherwise sometimes almost a neo-fascist organization.

To cheer myself up tonight I worked hard on refurbishing my portrait gallery. Here's the link:

Monday, October 10, 2005

Earthquake SITREPs

Jenny Talbert, 2001

Well, my holiday is cancelled - but I'm still in New Delhi. Instead of traveling around India on my own dime I'm going to be working at the Oxfam Regional Centre on the 'India - Pakistan Border Earthquake' relief. Today I helped prepare a SITREP ('Situation Report', apparently) and I'll be doing that each day as well as, I hope, other more exciting stuff.

This came about after I decided to volunteer to help yesterday. I also contacted the Red Cross / Red Crescent and they accepted my help this morning but I feel I should commit to Oxfam as they're still paying my salary. I explained this to the Red Cross person and he said he understood and all was well as long as we were all helping people - very friendly and it sounded as if he was almost inviting me over for a Kingfisher!

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Indian cinema

Brigitte, 1977

Just saw "Red Eye" - quite a good thriller. I like that it didn't have too many unbelievable aspects. I'm fine with the absurd when that's the point, but not when reality is the goal. It's the 727th film I've seen since I started recording notes. (You could go to my cinema database page here.)

Observations on Indian cinemas (or at least the PVM in Delhi):

  • computerized seat reservation is excellent,
  • projected censors' certificates (before commercials, previews and the feature) - including hand-written remarks and X-d out text are amusing,
  • intermission is disruptive
  • cleanliness is pleasing.
With respect to good management accountability, let me review today's goals as established yesterday:

  • watching the Japanese Grand Prix - this will be just the second race I've been able to see on TV this year; DONE,
  • getting a shave and a haircut from my friendly neighborhood roadside barber hovel, DONE,
  • buying a phone charger and credits, DONE,
  • investigating flying to Nepal, PARTLY DONE,
  • investigating getting to Dubai on the 29th, PARTLY DONE,
  • finishing a little bit of left-over Oxfam work. AMAZINGLY, DONE.
Not too bad.

Saturday, October 8, 2005


Quokka, Kabul, Afghanistan, October 9, 2005

Just after I finished packing in Kabul this morning we had a small but noticeable earthquake. Learned since that it hit with deadly force in and north of Islamabad.

Meanwhile, I've left Afghanistan, perhaps for good. I'm bittersweet about that because I've left behind some friends who are suffering from some pretty bad management. On the other hand I'm personally happy to be back in India, where things generally work. I'm planning an early night tonight but I have a lot of tasks for tomorrow, including:

  • watching the Japanese Grand Prix - this will be just the second race I've been able to see on TV this year;
  • getting a shave and a haircut from my friendly neighborhood roadside barber hovel,
    buying a phone charger and credits,
  • investigating flying to Nepal,
  • investigating getting to Dubai on the 29th,
    finishing a little bit of left-over Oxfam work.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Verbal warning

Fuel wood market, Eritrea, 1999

"Tom we are sed to see you go. We wish you saccees." This was the sweet note left for me by our wonderful household staff today.

Unfortunately I'd left work under a bit of a cloud. Four of us had gone to The Elbow Room restaurant for lunch but none of us booked the car or asked for security clearance to go there. Plus we got in the wrong car - even if we'd had permission to go we weren't meant to use that driver because he doesn't speak good English (and thus our security could be compromised if there were a crisis). My colleagues reasonably thought I'd done all the preparations but I'd neglected them. We all received verbal warnings, which will (and this is typical Oxfam logic) be written into our personnel files. I'm terribly sorry to do this to my friends. (It wasn't my first warning - I and two different colleagues got one a couple of months ago for breaking curfew.)

The work day had started quite nicely because there were a few nice words of farewell in the morning, including a charming speech in developing English by our cook. (Everybody remarked, however, how spiteful the Country Director's remarks were.) The rest of the day was up and down.

Anyway it felt good to walk out of Oxfam's gates. Everything was lovely again until damned Quokka beat me at Scrabble again.

Scrabble: Quokka 5 - Tom 1

Chess: Quokka 0 - Tom 1

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Visa euphoria

Quick entry: I am probably the happiest and most relieved person in Afghanistan. I have my visa and ticket for New Delhi on Saturday. I'm just now arranging where to meet my New Delhi friends for Kingfishers...

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Ramazan in Afghanistan

Elephant riding in Mai Sod Province, Thailand, March 2005

This picture was from a marvelous holiday I had in Thailand in March. (
See my pictures.) I seem to be falling into a pattern of going on great holidays between periods of employment (not to mention on the occasional mid-contract holiday). Thailand was unforgettable.

Today was the first day of Ramazan (Ramadan) - the most holy of Muslim months. Here's what I know and have observed about it:

The uncertainty about the beginning of Ramazan makes planning anything difficult. The first day of Ramazan is an important national holiday and so it's hard for my western mind to cope with the fact that although we know precisely when the moon will be new, we can't persuade various old Mullah's to commit to it until that day. There's a maximum length (30 days) for the previous month so if the Mullah's hadn't declared it today they'd have to tomorrow. In the case of our projects it influenced when an important peace building workshop could begin.

Next there are issues of fasting. Proper Muslims fast between sun up and sun down during Ramazan. Children, the sick, I think the elderly, the pregnant or nursing and travelers are excused. Work schedules are altered to allow some prayer time but generally a shorter working day because there's no lunch. At Oxfam we normally have lunches provided on weekdays but I've had my last of those because of Ramazan. There are various views on the proper behavior of non-Muslims who exist amongst Muslims. The most respectful behavior would be to fast too. The next level would be to eat and drink only behind closed doors. That could be for respect but it could also be so that food and drink aren't flaunted in front of the hungry. This is my second Ramazan in Afghanistan and I am planning a compromise position - discrete eating but no hesitation about drinking.

My first exposure to Ramazan was in Ottawa. I joined the Geographic Information Systems Division of Geomatics Canada - which had a Muslim director, Dr. Mossad Alam - during Ramazan. He was fasting and would hold long meetings right through 'lunch time'. He also invited me to his home for a magnificent evening (post sun-set) feast.

Last year I was working in the field (for the Landmine Impact Survey of Afghanistan) during Ramazan. I remember stopping for dinner in a Kebab restaurant near the Salang Pass. The Kebabs were all ready to go but everybody was waiting for the amplified voice of the local Mullah for the go-ahead.

Anyway, insh'allah I will only be here for a three more days. Thank goodness India is a Hindu state!

Sunday, October 2, 2005

India planning

What a crazy few days it's been. I've had a lot of work to do but it seems to be under control now. I'm now NOT going to a climate change conference in New Delhi at the end of October because it won't happen until later. But I AM still supposed to leave my job on the 10th (I'm still unclear why) ... so I'll have a three-week holiday (with pay). I'm still going to go to New Delhi but only for me, not for work. My travel theme will be 1) trains and 2) mountains. That's normally all it takes to make me happy. However, making me happy is a pretty tall order at the moment.

I expect to fly back to India on Saturday. I'll stay as much as a week at the Icon Villa where I was in September - where I'll re-gather myself and work out a plan, while visiting friends and the National Railway Museum. Then it's off to the Himalayas - and maybe even Nepal.

In other news, I'm experimenting with Mark McIntyre's Web Album Generator 1.6.5 software available free from[....]