On 2nd January we flew to Nagpur for the start of our official visit as guests of the MP State Tourism department. We were met with a warm welcome and were able to have tea with our good friend Aditya Dhanwatay whose family own the excellent Tiger Trails at Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. We had visited there last year and it is an easy drive from Nagpur. This time however we set off for Pench. This was the first time we had visited Pench and it had much enjoyment in store for us. Being once again in an Indian wildlife park is always a joy for us and Pench did not disappoint. We were guests of the new wildlife resort of Tathastu and made very welcome. Indeed, it is the first time we have stayed in a cave......ah! But this cave comes with air conditioning and all expected comfort and ensuite shower room and lovely beds!!!!
We had a dinner with the lovely Sonal Kapoor who founded the wonderful charity Protsahan to help educate and nurture girl children who are totally disadvantaged. She does wonderful work and is so committed and courageous. We first met in February five years ago and we visited one of her centres in extreme west of Delhi.
This young lady from Delhi is working with such commitment and courage in a difficult field and achieving hugely. I have enormous affection for her and respect her greatly.
We arrived in Mumbai on 23rd December and enjoyed the Emirates flight from Glasgow to Dubai. I was not however impressed with the second flight from Dubai to Mumbai and we arrived late. It was with a jaundiced eye therefore I viewed Mumbai's Chatrapathi Shivaji airport. Let us say the airport is good....I had not seen this new one before. However the sheer incompetence of the minion handing out the mandatory landing form to be then signed was disgraceful. Hitherto these forms were handed out on the flight and one had time to fill it in neatly sitting in the airline seat...no more it seems. So tired harassed arrival passengers then have to grapple with finding a surface on which to fill out the form accurately. We are used to it, you should have heard the impression it made on first time arrivals.....said one 'if this is what the rest of this trip is going to be like....you can keep India, I won't recommend it....'