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On Our Way

hello from the Maple Leaf Lounge

overcast -3 °C

Okay ... so you're not going to be surprised. I've only been here since 2:30 in the afternoon. Don't ask me why. You know why. Ask my parents.

It's not that bad -- we were supposed to be here at 3:30. That's what Rashmi told us to do. She arrived at 4. It doesn't matter. We've checked in and been through security; and now we're sitting in the Maple Leaf Lounge waiting to board our flight.

Yes, I am having a glass of wine. I think I've earned it!

So we've lost a tour member. Teri has pneumonia. But everyone else is here: Marney (retired nurse) ... Cynthia (retired teacher), Haidee (professional photographer and she and I are collaborating on a book of this trip), Rashmi (our fearless leader.) We met Rashmi's brother and her husband today. They are so nice and both very handsome -- her husband looks like a rock star -- she's been holding out on us.

Allright I'm going to love you and leave you now -- I think I'm going to get another glass of wine. And take pictures of everyone to post on my next entry.

Talk to you soon ...

Posted by a_broad 13:55 Archived in India Tagged air_travel Comments (3)

between us girls

try to get it all out of your system this week please

snow 0 °C

I'm referring, of course, to Mother Nature. That's quite a load you dumped on us today; and seeing as how this time next week I'm supposed to be enjoying a cocktail on my flight to Delhi -- at this very minute you should know -- I just want to make sure you don't do anything to rain (uh, make that snow) on my parade.

Because hell hath no fury like a woman who's planned a trip for nine months and then can't go because of bad weather!! Enough said.

Yes. I've had all my shots. I've swilled back enough Dukoral to make sure I never get e-coli. My malaria pills are on stand-by until the day before I leave. I've paid my money. Renewed my passport. Got my visa. Done my laundry. Had my hair cut. Made lists. Checked lists. Double-checked lists. Scratched things of lists. Made new lists. Stocked up on cat food. Loaded up on Litter. Remembered to buy cat treats. Charged batteries. Downloaded music. Paid bills. Ordered money. Bought medicine. Bought books. Bought bathing suits. Finished shopping. Booked a limo.

In other words, I'm ready to go!

When will you next hear from me? Maybe while I'm whiling away the hours in The Maple Leaf Lounge. Maybe before the plane takes off. Maybe from Brussels if we're there long enough. Definitely from Delhi -- which is our first stop.

We arrive there at about 10:30 at night on the 27th of December and will be staying at the fabulous Imperial Hotel -- do check it out on the web. A family friend lives there so I'll get a chance to see her and her husband while I'm in town. She's going to take me shopping for a sari or a salwar kameez -- I've decided I want to wear native garb for New Year's Eve -- which we're celebrating in a former palace -- now a heritage hotel!

So stay tuned. I promise to keep in touch.

Posted by a_broad 16:51 Archived in India Tagged preparation Comments (1)

three weeks and counting

soon, soon

sunny 3 °C


I can hardly believe it myself.

After all the months and months of researching and reading and planning and choosing and deciding, exactly three weeks from today I will be sitting on a plane on my way to India. Actually, as I sit here and write this, it is 11:23 p.m. in Toronto -- and three weeks from this very moment I might be snuggled up in my pod on the plane fast asleep. At least I hope I am.

While life is certainly not "normal" (after all how could it be?), things in Mumbai seem to be settling down. Rashmi has had to change our hotel because obviously we cannot stay at the Taj. But other than that our plans remain the same. I have been checking the Canadian Travel Advisory site regularly and the advisory has been lifted now.

And I continue to be very excited about going.

Yes, I know. Security has been heightened at airports all over India. That's a good thing.

So be on the lookout for photos of me on an elephant, on a camel, in front of the Taj Mahal and in a sari -- not necessarily in that order, or at the same time.

Later ...

Posted by a_broad 20:21 Archived in India Tagged preparation Comments (1)

India vs Canada

a sobering thought on World Aids Day

rain -3 °C

No, this is not a blog entry about soccer or cricket. Sorry.

December 1 is World Aids Day. Considering how prevalent Aids is in India and considering I'll be on my way there on the 26th I have decided to do my bit to make people aware that we are far from out of the woods.

For everyone who gets tested and insists partners get tested, good for you. For everyone who won't have anything to do with anyone who won't use a condom, good for you.

You should know you represent the tip of the iceberg.

It is estimated that there are approximately 2.4 million men and women in India who are currently living with HIV. Let me put that into perspective for you: Ottawa, Canada's capital and our 4th largest metropolitan area has a population of just over 1 million. So there are more than 2 times the number of people in India who are either HIV Positive or have Aids!

And contrary to what you may be thinking right about now, it's not just the sex trade workers and impoverished who are affected. It now affects all sections of Indian society including housewives and the wealthy -- and a huge number who are under 30 years old.

Here's another way of coming to terms with the severity of the problem:

When I had my consultation with a health care professional at a travel medical clinic as part of my India preparations she told me that under no circumstances should I have a manicure or pedicure while I'm in India. Perplexed, I asked her why. "HIV and Aids" was her short answer. "Do not, I repeat, do not let anyone use any kind of a sharp object that could cut or puncture your skin", she went on. End of conversation.

"But I am staying in 5 and 6-star hotels and heritage palace hotels", I said. "Surely in those kinds of luxurious surroundings there won't be a problem", I countered.

"Under no circumstances" she repeated.


So what about Canada?

The latest statistics I could find are from the end of 2006. At that time 18,560 men were suffering from Aids and 1,866 women -- while 47,523 men were HIV Positive and 9,569 were women. 2,802 of the males with Aids are between 15 and 29. 471 of the females are between 15 and 29. 11,180 of the males who are HIV Positive are between 15 and 29 and 3,513 are female. What's it all add up to?

77,518 in Canada versus 2,400,000 in India!

I think we need a huge, online, worldwide brainstorm to come up with some ideas about how we can get the message about prevention across in a compelling and relevant way. Because the real challenge is, to quote Ratna Gaekwad, outreach co-ordinator with the Delhi NGO Pratyatna 2, "How do you talk HIV/AIDs to someone who does not know the basics about health and hygiene?

Who wants to start the ball rolling?

Posted by a_broad 14:12 Archived in India Tagged educational Comments (0)


to reassure you

overcast 2 °C

Since this tragedy started to unfold yesterday afternoon I have been inundated with emails from all of you. Thank you so much for your concern, your love and support -- how lucky am I to have all of you in my life.

I want to reassure you ...

We are not leaving for a month.

Mumbai is not our first stop. In fact we'll be well into January before we go there.

My travel agent is on top of it and she will not take us anywhere that isn't safe.

It's academic anyway because the government will not let us in if it isn't safe.

Tragically, nowhere is safe. 9/11 certainly brought that message home loud and clear.

Thankfully I have decided to write this blog ...

... and you will know that I'm ok. So if you haven't subscribed yet, please do -- that way you'll be notified every time I post an entry. And if you haven't become a member of travellerspoint yet, please do -- that way you can post comments and I will respond and we can converse (if you have disposed of that email already -- and shame on you if you have -- I will send out another notice soon.)

Let us all pray that this gets resolved as quickly and effectively as possible -- not so I can take my trip, but so those who are already in Mumbai can be safe and secure once again; so those who are injured make speedy and full recoveries and so the souls of those who perished can rest in peace.

Posted by a_broad 10:44 Archived in India Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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