Next week I'm off to India for most of February so this week will see me pack and unpack until I've finally decided what to take with me. I'm a frugal traveller so I tend to get the packing down to an absolute minimum - if I can't get it in my trusty rucksack - it stays at home. After all its always possible to get things washed and support the local economy.
There are a few must items: first aid kit; (yes immodium has been purchased); mosquito net; sleeping bag liner; retractable padlock (for locking rucksack to seat on trains) and charger.
So where am I headed - well the itinerary I've put together includes Delhi to follow the history of the Mughals and the major sites; as well as some escape from the maddening crowds in the shape of the Lodi Gardens.
Mumbai for a little bit of Bollywood (apparently Westerners are popular extras in films - you never know!). The high life tinged with history and temples as well as taking a Mumbai local tour with some young people who are being supported into education and employment through a social support project.
Lets hope I can keep up as the tour promises to be a riot of hopping on and off buses, trains to fit in lots of different experiences. I've also got time to visit Ghandi's house so that will be a bit of a thrill. Not forgetting a number of markets and bazaars to browse as well as a boat trip to Elephanta Island - no elephants I believe.
Kolkata where I'm staying in a small hotel/guesthouse; the owners support local artistic talent so who knows what I'll see. I will take time out to visit Howrah Station where the guide book states 2 million people a day come through it. I don't know about you but I can't get that image in my head - maybe my camera will capture it.
Last but not least food - a vegetarian dream and it will be so nice not to have to explain and get strange looks about not eating meat. Which reminds me of a story about the worst meal I ever had.............. for another day I think.