September has been a month of all work and no play. While relentless, heavy monsoon rains wreaked havoc with the mad rush to complete stadiums and infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, they provided the ideal environment for me to finally sit down and complete my Master’s dissertation. I had done much of the research work and background study during the preceding months, but in August I stepped it up three gears and pulled long days and nights pulling everything together and writing up the research report. It was a really great feeling to submit it at the end of the month.
I did manage a couple of all-to-brief study escapes during the course of September. The most notable was definitely an excursion to Gwalior with Katherine and a few friends. Our good South African mates, Guy and Katie, treated us to an extremely enjoyable weekend away at the luxurious Usha Kiran Palace (www.tajhotels.com/Leisure/Usha%20Kiran%20Palace,GWALIOR/). Long lazy days drinking beer around the swimming pool, champagne on the terrace and wine at dinner were the perfect tonic for a relaxing and recharging break. We did venture out on the Sunday and explore the huge hilltop fort and palace that overlook the city; otherwise, it was very much a poolside retreat.
With my backlog of magazine stories and newspaper articles pretty much cleared, I am no longer staring down the barrel of multiple deadlines, so I look to October with my sights set on exciting new assignments, adventures and travels. The Kali-Sarda beckons for a river rafting adventure through the pristine wilderness along the Nepalese border in mid-October, while tiger tracking will be the order of the day when Katherine joins me on an assignment to cover two more of &Beyond India’s luxury safari lodges in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh towards the end of the month.
It’s always good to finish off on a high note, so I’ll leave you with some unexpected good news… I finally have a bank account! After sacrificing a small forest in a bid to provide all the paperwork required, two months of heartache and suffering drew to a close last week when Katherine and I were finally deemed worthy enough to deposit our meagre riches with Standard and Chartered Bank. A very happy ending to a long soul destroying confrontation with some of India’s finest bureaucracy!