Monday 25 January 2021



We started December by going to the farm that we stay at and having a wonderful cooking lesson where we learned how to make several dishes. We enjoyed walking in the open air, eating lovely food and enjoying everyone’s company. The last time we went there we had joked about the leopard. This time, a couple of days before we were due to go, the leopard was spotted on the rocks above the farm. One of the people on the farm had managed to take a photo so we knew what to look out for. It was very exciting.
When we went for a walk the chap came with us to keep a look out. We all kept scanning the rocks but we didn’t manage to see it. 
Later on, Andrew and I went for a quick walk on our own with Andy and two of the farm dogs came along too. All of a sudden, the dogs became alert and froze, then they formed their own pack ( if two is a pack?) and moved as one. They darted between the trees and ran ahead of us. 
Andrew looked at me and said, “have you got the baton ?”.
 No, I hadn’t.
 Now, usually I carry the rucksack with all potential weapons inside, as obviously, I am the only one who seems capable of doing this, but this time I only had my phone as I was fed up of having to carry everything, it gets too hot and we were only going for a quick walk.
 All the other times we had gone for a walk and I had “THE” rucksack. I had my phone and a spare metal lead as Andy is so strong he has managed to snap one so we need a spare, just in case. As the farm dogs continued to stay alert, we decided our only form of defence was Andy and the metal lead. 
First of all, Andy is of no use what -so- ever as a guard dog, he rolls over for everyone and everything, wanting to play. Added to that, he’s a chunky boy and would be very juicy. So, I had a practise swinging the lead around like a ninja’s nunchuck as we scuttled back to the main farm area, Andrew in the lead with Andy and with words to the effect that leopards/ tigers/ etc always get the one at the back.
I managed to survive and when we got back we relayed our dramatic story, only to be told by Meena,  “oh, it was probably just some deer " I don’t know what we would do if we actually came face to face with a leopard and I don’t really fancy it but the adrenalin rush is exciting.
But the next time we went out we took the rucksack just in case.

 our cooking lesson.

Andreas learning how to grate a coconut on an authentic coconut scraper/grater

We actually needed jumpers on that afternoon

these are a sweet dish with peanuts and jaggery sugar . Milo loves them.

the children love the hammock

on one of the group walks


This year was quieter although the lead up to Christmas was very busy with mini parties with our close friends. We had a secret Santa party and we all enjoyed choosing names out of a bowl and then buying a present for the secret person. We had our Christmas dinner at our French friends’ house. Aurelie and David and their children, Margot and Gaspard had made some delicious dishes. For the presents, it was amazing how people had really managed to capture the person’s personalities in the gifts that they had bought. Milo got some tins of beans and he was very happy. Max got a wall clock, Andrew received a hand painted picture of a local bird and I got some silver bangles and a cake stand. Exactly things that made us happy.
Margot made the yule log. Well done.

Secret Santa party day

Sheetal brought some christmas crackers but I don't know from where. We were the only ones who knew what they were for. We told each other about  Christmas traditions. The most weird must be that in the Czech republic is it normal to put a carp in the bath, let it swim in there for a few days, then you bash it on the head with a hammer and eat it for your evening meal.  When Andreas first met Petra's parents they gave him this honor!

Another party was an international carol service at Petra and Andreas’ house. There were carols in Czech, German, Latin, French and English. All of this was, of course, socially distanced. It was such a pleasant evening. Petra and her husband are very talented, playing lots of instruments and being able to sing in tune. Mathieu was playing the violin.

For Christmas day, we went for lunch at the Leela Palace like we did last year but this year there were less people. We had a lovely time.

Andrew was so happy to have a "proper" dinner.

Santa was not wearing a scary mask this year.

The band are brothers and sisters . We know their other brother and Milo has singing lessons with their other sister. There are 7 of them and they all sing.

Andy loved his presents.

Milo loved his money! He has not actually spent it yet.

The boys got a football table from the family. They keep thrashing Andrew and I. We are rubbish at it.

Added to the excitement of Christmas, we found a British lady who makes British food so we had a Christmas cake and mince pies. They were delicious. We have also had a beef pie from her. Yum!

The cake was lovely.

New Year 

We were due to go to Michael and Ken’s new apartment for New Year’s Eve but during the afternoon, the government of Karnataka decided to block the roads near their house and called a curfew. So, we had to quickly change our party venue to Palm Meadows. Another fun time was enjoyed and we all wandered home in the early hours. Fireworks were everywhere and the loud music was still going on at 4 in the morning. 


Mala, Mala, Mala. What can I say? After five or so months of living with us due to covid, we decided that as the numbers for Covid had gone down in India that Mala could now go home at the end of the day but this was only after I thought that I might actually lose my cool with her. 

If she had not agreed, I think I may have completely lost the plot. 
Bless her, she tries so hard and aims to please but she is not the brightest button in the basket and this can be very, very trying after a while.

It all came to a head after a few instances where I thought that I might explode. 
Here we go…
1) Mala has worked for us for 3 years and is still finding it difficult to sort the washing (or she can’t be bothered to sort the washing, I’m not sure….) I went into the room at the back of the house where the utility room is found and the washing machine had just stopped. As I was standing there, I thought I would empty the machine. I am perfectly capable of doing this even though she thinks I might exhaust myself in the process. 
There crammed inside were Milo’s cream shorts, my black dress, a white towel, a red cloth (this will come back into the story later) and several other mismatched coloured clothes. They all looked pretty dingy. There were so many clothes in there that the middle of the washing was still dry as they were so tightly packed together.
 Gritting my teeth and practising my deep breathing from yoga, I calmly called Mala. Smiling sweetly, I pointed at the wash basket and asked her if she had had trouble sorting the washing and she needs to remember to only put it in half as much. I showed her that the middle clothes were still dry.
 “Sorry, ma’am,” she said, shrugging her shoulders and wandering off.
Now, she keeps saying sorry and shrugging her shoulders at me but never seems to remember what I say and so ruining the clothes. 
Shrugging her shoulders at me made me rather annoyed so I called her back and said that she has been doing the washing for 3 years now and I can’t stand over her all the time. 
Please sort the washing properly.
So, we did a little sorting activity where she had the 3 washing baskets and played at matching the colours. She seemed to get it right  (at that moment in time) and was pleased with her efforts. Had she been 4 years old, I would have given her a smiley face sticker.
2) Then, one day, I felt really unwell with a bad headache. I went to bed early that evening and Andrew said he would sort the evening meal. I went to sleep (in my room having closed the door) only to be woken by Mala standing next to the bed and shouting at me.
"Ma’am, Ma’am, Ma’am, what about night dinner?"

Mala had just walked into my room without knocking. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. 

“Sir is cooking!” she continued to yell into my face.

Now, I know Andrew does not do much in the house due to the long hours he works, and that is fine, but he is perfectly capable of cooking a meal for himself and his children and he doesn’t mind doing it.
I feebly told her to go away and I went back to sleep. 

Then, at two in the morning when my headache had totally gone, I woke up so quickly when I  registered what had happened. I was so mad that I couldn’t go back to sleep. I couldn’t believe that she had just opened the door and come in when I was ill.
 I got up the next day and made a chart on the computer, just like I would do for the young children at school who cannot read. 
It consisted of pictures and photos of the things I wanted Mala to do in the house. Mala cannot read English and I cannot write in Tamil/ Kannada, so it has to be something with a common ground.(she obviously can’t remember verbal instructions….)
So, for example, a photo of 4 toilets with 4 cloths and a photo of a bottle of Dettol. ( meaning- clean each toilet with a different cloth) 
My chart was detailed, very clear and in a numbered order.
I went over it with Mala. 
I also said that now would be a good time for her to go home in the evenings as she must be missing her family. After a bit of a protest, she agreed to go back to her normal timetable 8-3, so arrive at 8 go home at 3.

Before she went, I got her to repeat what I needed her to do and what would happen. 

Okey Dokey ,all sorted.

Or so I thought…

3) So, Mala is cleaning the mirrors and windows with a soft red cloth last Tuesday. She washed out the cloth when she had finished and put in on the line outside.
During the week before, after I had given her the new chart, I couldn’t really check because Milo had come down with a flu bug and Max had an ingrowing toenail.
 I had spent most of the week at the hospital (more on this later) so I had not checked the cloth changing/ cleaning situation. 
Wednesday comes and Mala saunters past me with her cleaning bucket and the trusty red cloth. She went into our bathroom. I saw her start to clean in the sink area where there is a mirror and then I went off somewhere else in the house.
After a while, Andy came charging out onto the terrace with a shampoo bottle in his mouth, he had obviously stolen it from our bathroom and run off. I grabbed it off him and went to the bathroom to take it back. 
As I went in, I saw to my horror, Mala cleaning the toilet seat and the inside of the toilet bowl with the red cloth. As I watched, mouth open, unable to find the words to speak, she wiped the toilet handle and then the door handle. She was about to wipe the sink top when I found my voice. Through gritted teeth (again- I shall have no teeth left at this rate!) I told Mala to stop and to put the cloth in the bucket. I wasn’t quick enough though, as she still managed to wipe the fan’s buttons as she took the cloth towards the bucket.
Now, how was I going to go about this one in a kind but firm way ?

“Mala”, I said ,” Where are the cloths that are in the photos for cleaning the toilets?” 
“Here”, she said picking up the red dirty germ -ridden cloth.
Me -“No, you have the disposable cloths for the toilets and each toilet has a different cloth, “
“ No, the red cloth “

In my mind I was saying  this “ **** *** ******* *****!

I marched downstairs and got the chart. Brought it up (and got the correct disposable cloths) but, as I walked in, she had started cleaning again with the red cloth!

I have worked with some trying children in my time and I think my patience level is quite good but this was the limit, I was beginning to seethe with rage. I felt like jumping up and down on the spot.

How we had not been poisoned with E-coli I don’t know !

 Mala was just behaving like I had never spoken.

" Mala, stop cleaning with the red cloth ! Please look at the photos”

"Yes Ma’am "

Holding up the disposable cloths, I pointed out that they were the the ones for the toilet and the red one was soft for polishing things.

"yes Ma’am "

The light seemed to be on but no one was at home, so to speak. 

At this moment, I decided to ring my friend Sindhu who speaks Kannada. Mala speaks Kannada too.
Sindhu explained everything to Mala who then grabbed the disposable cloths off me and went off to redo the cleaning, slamming the doors as she went.

She continued to slam doors and not answer me for the rest of the morning but at least I had finally got my message across. Fingers crossed ….. 

Max braces 

Max has had retainers and braces for the past three years and finally last week was the big day when he could have them removed. We were all so excited but Max was, of course, the most excited.

He has not crunched an apple or bitten anything that could break the wires for so long. We had his favourite food lined up – hotdogs and chips. We can get pork sausages here (no spice) and I make the rolls myself.
As he came out of the dentist, he had put his mask back on and I couldn’t see. Then he pulled his mask down to reveal the most perfect teeth. I was so happy for him.
When we got home he spent all day smiling as much as he could and he hasn't stopped. He thoroughly enjoyed his hotdogs too.

Hospital trips 

What is very interesting about India is the health care system. It shows the other extreme of intelligence in India.
It is excellent without a doubt.
Milo had come down with a very heavy blocked nose and cold and one night he woke up very distressed saying he couldn’t breathe and he was dizzy. 
I gave him some medicine and he managed to go back to sleep, once he had calmed down.
 When the time came when I knew I could book an appointment, I sent a whatsapp message to the consultant paediatrician. She answered me immediately saying she wasn’t at work on that day but sent a list of medicines to give to him and to come in the next day to see her. 
I sent a whatsapp message to the pharmacy and the medicine was with me half an hour after. So efficient, it is amazing.
Milo rested and seemed more comfortable.
The next day, as we were about to go to the hospital for Milo, Max mentioned that his toe had swollen again and was painful. He had already seen a paediatric surgeon about the toe a fortnight before. So, I took both of them but to two different doctors.
Milo needed rest and medicine. Milo had a chat with the doctor who listened to him and took the time to speak directly to him rather than to me. This doctor was laughing as Milo kept putting up his hand to speak. There was no seriousness just sensible advice and a good understanding of how to speak to children. She is a wonderful doctor.

 Max needed minor surgery !
I got Arjun to take Milo home while Max and I waited for the surgeon to get ready. He, again, is extremely nice and efficient. After examining Max and saying he needed to do a little incision work etc, he took us to a room and said.
“ Do not leave this room as we need to reserve it”. 

The surgical instruments needed sterilising and he was worried that another doctor would go in the room and he would lose his spot in the queue. He was going on holiday after seeing to Max so he wanted to be quick.
He then went to see another patient as we reserved the room.
Max sat patiently on the bed and I stood in the corner, looking at the blood splats on the wall behind Max and around the bin.
The surgeon came back as the sterilised instruments appeared along with a rather young looking, and nervous, nurse.
The surgeon said to Max that if it became too painful he could inject him with painkiller but if he could manage without it would be better for him.
The surgeon told the nurse what he needed.

Oh my goodness me! That man had the patience of a saint with that nurse. 
“Please give me the scalpel “
No movement from the nurse
“Please give me the scalpel”
No reaction, just her big brown eyes staring at him.
He did this about 5 times before she did anything.

This went on for each stage of the procedure and I seriously considered asking him if he wanted me to help him. But each time he persisted until she found the correct thing he wanted. She calmed down and managed to listen to him. 
Max was really good and only grimaced once and he managed without the painkiller. I was pleased that the doctor put on the bandage as I wasn’t sure that the nurse would be able to do it.
The doctor had a wonderful sense of humour and took his time to speak to Max. He really was a lovely man.


I think every family has their rebel amongst them and Milo is our rebel. There was a festival day so there was no school. Milo was banned from going on his screens and so his friend came round to play and I kicked them outside.
Now as you know, we sit on the terrace which is upstairs and Milo decided to play downstairs in the front. There is a tap and a hose pipe and we could hear them playing with the water on and off. What we didn’t realise was that the bright orange soil was involved as well. 
After his friend had left, we went downstairs only to find the garage area and Arjun’s car covered in the staining mud. Firmly, we told Milo that he had to wash everything away. We left him to it. We decided to take Andy for a walk and, as we came out, there was Milo with a bucket of water and one of those scourer’s that has sponge on one side and harsh plastic on the other. He was washing Arjun’s car with it! That was all we needed, a car that looked it had been decorated with a spiro graph set. Arjun washes and polishes that car, lovingly, every day. We virtually tiptoed to the car to check that it was not damaged and scratched but Milo reassured us that he knew the difference between the two sides. I am pleased he does not need a chart too.


The covid vaccinations have just started in India but they are viewed with more distrust and suspicion than in the UK. There have been reports in the papers where medical staff are not sure either about having the vaccine. This does not help the ordinary people with making decisions. Rumours are beginning to spread. Unfortunately, one person died after having their vaccine, although it is not certain that it was linked to the vaccine. But this has made people uncertain about having it. Added to this there is another rumour that people must not eat chicken for a few days when having had the vaccine as this is dangerous ?? I am not sure about the roll out f the vaccine for ordinary people yet.


He is on a training incentive program using treats, the rascal is trying to greet people and other dogs too enthusiastically. He needs a bit of distraction. He will do anything for food and then learns very quickly. Andy is so strong that when the vet came the other day to give him a jab, he literally dragged me the length of the downstairs terrace on my knees. He proceeded to panic ( Andy, not the vet) and scratched both my arms as he jumped up making them bleed. 
The vet took control of Andy and order was restored.
Andy loves going to the farm and gets so excited. He is not yet ready to be let off his lead as there are too many smells but he has an extender lead.
His latest activity is jumping in the blow up paddling pool. We have put the old one in the garden for him and he loves it.

Update ! April 2024

  20 people sharing 2 menus! When we go to a restaurant, we seem to spend a lot of time trying to keep a straight face so that we do not ups...