Let's Goa - to Karnataka: Part Two

Sheila Newton By Sheila Newton, 6th Mar 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3n0r3xha/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Asia>India>Karnataka

Part two of my journey from Margao, Goa to Hospet, Karnataka. In this final part, I recount my experiences in the town of Hospet and in the amazing Hidden City of Hampi. I hope you enjoy part two of my travel tale as much as you seemed to enjoy part one.

The Hospitable Town of Hospet

Having flung our well-travelled rucksacks onto the bed of our rather splendid room in the hospitable Hotel Priyadarshini , in Hospet, we splashed our faces and hit the road, squashed into a hot, rickety, mini-bus – destination, Hampi bazaar.

The sights and sounds of Hospet burst into my eyes and ears as we passed through the dusty main street to travel the thirteen kilometres to Hampi.

My eyes widened at the sight of tiny straw-roofed shacks that housed and sheltered not only families but also their animals.

A man in a dazzling-white galabeya sat aloft a motor-bike, carrying a woman in a startling orange sari riding side-saddle with a child in a cute cotton dress.

Brightly-coloured tuc-tuc’s carried their fares, packed like sardines into the small space of the interior, hanging on for dear life.

Cows and dogs sat around or strolled in aimless contentment up and down the rural mud road, vehicles tooting their tuneless horns to scatter them.

A woman swept the cobbled street with a home-made broom of bamboo and palm leaves, dust soaring into the hot air.

My impression of a laid-back view on life here was epitomised when I saw a smiling man slap the backside of a cow from a Mercedes. He used expletives like they were pleasantries to get that brown-and-white dusty bulk out of his way!

Sights, Sounds and Flavours of Hampi Bazaar

We piled out of the mini-bus in the middle of a large market square, taking in the stunning colours of stalls selling sparkling shawls and bejewelled bags, gleaming wooden statues of Ganesh (the elephant god) and smoky joss-sticks that pervaded the atmosphere with essences of spice and lemongrass.

I bought handbags, soft to the touch, smelling strongly of hide; I picked up an intricately- carved rosewood statue of Ganesh, the god who is half man, half elephant.

I spent a dollar to be blessed by an enormous elephant who brought me good fortune by pressing his stone-grey, curling probiscus over my hot, sweaty head. As he took the crinkled dollar note, I patted his coarse-haired, gold-speckled trunk. He eyed me with rueful amusement and trumpeted into my ear: it tickled - and I heard ‘pop-pop-pop’ as though I’d reached the summit of Everest! Then he swayed, handsome ears flapping in the hot Karnataka breeze, tail thumping proudly against his substantial rump as he wandered regally back to his master to hand over his well-earned wages. The money goes toward the upkeep of the magnificent Virupaksha temple, so I reckon that was a dollar well-spent.

Back at the hotel, in an outdoor enclave of potted palms and huge grasses set beside the babbling waters of the Tungabhadra riverside, we ate a sumptuous meal of vegetarian thali for the princely sum of two pounds fifty – and that included sparkling spring water and chilled bottled beer.

A gaudy bowl of tit-bits was set out in front of us at the end of our delicious meal: The powerful tang of aniseed exploded in my mouth.

First Impressions of Hampi: the Hidden City

Next morning, just before the cockerel’s loud holler of cock-a-doodle-doo, we were up and ready.

Yawning but refreshed, we set off eagerly in our shabby old mini-bus with our friendly driver - off to Hampi to explore the hidden city that, long ago, was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.

It had rained the night before, a huge downpour, they said, that broke the banks of the dam while I slept like a baby, unaware. Not a droplet did I hear in our state-of-the-art double-glazed bedroom.

The earth smelled sweet, like new-mown grass, as we trundled along in the open-windowed bus, skirting potholes, dogs and cows, watching a spectacular sun rise slowly on an azure and white-clouded canvass.

We motored maniacally toward the breath-taking huge shapes of rocks of the Hampi terrain that appeared like giant arms uplifted to the heavens.

Great Shining Boulders of the Hampi Terrain

We walked through a mass of surreal boulders in pastel golden-browns, pearlised-greys and ivory-whites, all different shapes and sizes – ovals and oblongs, spheres and cubes.

They felt like warmed silk to the touch as the sun began to burn brighter and higher in the sky.

In front of a pale-blue background, ethereal wisps of steam floated from great shining boulders from the previous night’s rain.

The terrain was lightly peppered with shrub and bush, shining brilliant green after the heavy downpour. Our guide told us that there was flooding with the bursting of the banks of the nearby dam and it was causing chaos. They'd banned the tourist buses from entering.

It was like walking the landscape of another planet. And I was so awe-struck that for once in my life I was as silent as a church mouse!

Temples and Shrines to the Gods

We climbed uphill, following our guide, Sadiq, who showed us the remains of temples and shrines dedicated to Ganesh and Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu, set in the midst of these strange volcanic rock formations.

There are around five hundred temples, statues of gods, ruins of ghats (bathing places) and palaces, over a vast area.

Although, we must have visited twenty or so grand sites dedicated to Hindu Gods and Godesses, Kings and Queens, I came away wanting more.

A day is not nearly enough to explore the maze of rock formations and ancient relics of statues and temples, palaces and grounds – but I’ll know better next time. And there'll be a next time, I sincerely hope.

Planet of the Apes!

We reached the top of the hill, followed faithfully by droves of cute monkeys: white-faced, red-faced, black-faced.

Some of the females were nursing tiny babies at their breasts. These striking creatures scrutinised us from massive boulders as high as the heavens, their cute faces pulled into glorious shapes of curiosity.

They chattered and waved. Some of them mooned at us, screeching from the tops of impressive Corinthian columns of buildings long-since abandoned. Now where di they learn that trick?

Some of them were posing for photographs like movie-stars.

Outnumbered by monkeys at least ten to one, I might just have been on the set of Planet of the Apes!

Virupaksha temple

From the top of the hill, we looked down on a huge, stunning temple in the valley.

Beautiful Virupaksha temple is dedicated to Shiva, the dancing god, destroyer and creator of the universe.

Looking down on it from the hilltop, it looked like it belonged in paradise. I began to stroll down the slippery, grassy slopes toward it.

So magnificent it was, with mystical stories of its past and tales of the gods carved in every nook and cranny of the walls, that I broke into a run. I couldn't wait to get a closer look.

It was easy to imagine it as the hub of thriving Hampi city in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Temple Tourism

We wandered downward to take in the wonders of Hampi city and I met up again with the ‘I’ll bless you for a dollar’ elephant in the hustle-bustle of the market square.

The temple enclave was awash with professional beggars - men dressed up in the splendour of clothing worn centuries ago when the city had great importance, all with their hands out, wanting money – or, in the case of the cheeky monkeys pawing at my ankles, a banana!

A bunch of bananas in one hand, a fistful of jimgling coins in the other and a camera on my shoulder, I fed the cheeky monkeys and mangy dogs, snapped a cute striped squirrel and a monkey banana fest and gave coins to the beautiful men dressed up in all their splendid glory.

In a temple enclave, I was gifted a round red mark - called a bindi - thumbed onto my forehead by a smiling priest. It symbolises auspiciousness and good fortune, he told me.

The immediate area around the temple is still very much a holy place of prayer. We took off our shoes and women covered their heads with shawls or hats in deference to the Hindu gods, hundreds of effigies of whom are carved beautifully into the walls.

Down by the Riverside

The Tungabhadra riverside was amazing, although I was somewhat distracted from the beautiful views by fierce marauding black-faced monkeys hanging around vehicles like gangsters on the lookout for booty! One of them had a mobile phone in his fist. Stop! Thief!

We had a magical coracle-ride for a few rupees. A coracle can be likened to a huge floating basket and ours was a beauty, woven like a flower basket and shiny like a new pin.

We didn’t have time to do the crossing to Anegondi, the Hanuman temple, so we spent our time on this plush coracle going around in circles, catching glimpses of vivid blue kingfishers and wild scarlet irises. It was a truly magical ride, though believe me, a ride in a coracle is not for the faint-hearted. It’s like a waltzer at the fairground.

We clambered high up among those giant boulders at sun-down to view a stunning sunset fit to take your breath away. Chattering groups of sojourners became suddenly silent at the awesome sight.

I challenge anyone to say they’ve seen a sunset to equal the vision of a red ball of fire glint off a thousand boulders, dimming into a pink haze over the horizon.

Dreaming of the Delights of Hospet and Hampi

Our heads were down on our pillows early that night ready to make the seven hour train journey at six in the morning from Hospet to Margao – back to Goa.

A foray for some treats for the train - marzipan squares, coconut sweets and bananas - was all I could muster up the courage to do that evening.

Hampi had been an extraordinary experience: one I wouldn’t have missed for the world. It has invaded all my senses and etched each moment of wonder forever into my brain.

We’d had only a day and a half to explore the delights of Hospet and Hampi and we’d made the most of them. But, as Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I’ll be back!”

The Train Back to Margao

I sagged into the hot, hard seat of our railway carriage, looked up and noticed an empty overhead bunk. It was such an inviting sight to my weary eyes. I climbed up, mimicking one of the intrepid monkeys of Hampi and slept soundly the whole journey.

“We’re coming into Margao,” I heard, through a dream of boulders as big as mountains and monkeys as big as elephants.

“Ah, elephants!” I said. “That’s where we’re off to tomorrow – the Shanti Nature Reserve, to swim with elephants!

Details and Links

For tour-guided trips to Hampi, go to:
http://www.goafootprints.com/humpi.htm

For advice and forums on trips from Goa to Hampi by train or by overnight coach, go to: http://travelguideadvice.com/hampi-from-cavelossim-goa-cavelossim-127692.html

To swim with elephants, take the Eco-tour ‘jungle book’ experience. Go to:
http://www.goafootprints.com/junglebook.htm

If you missed Part One of this two-part series and would like to read it, go to:
http://travel.wikinut.com/Let-s-Goa-to-Karnataka%3A-Part-One/1sw9n0tv/

Tags

Goa, Hampi, Hospet, Karnataka, Margao, Monkeys, Railway Travel In India, The Hidden City, Tuc-Tuc

Meet the author

author avatar Sheila Newton
A retired nurse and teacher, with two cats, a husband and a grown up son, I write short stories, articles - and I'm an ardent blogger. Catch up with me on my blog at: http://sheilanewton.blogspot.com

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Comments

author avatar jayababy
6th Mar 2012 (#)

What a lovely and lively article. Very much impressed, indeed.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
23rd Mar 2012 (#)

Thanks my lovely friend.

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author avatar Denise O
6th Mar 2012 (#)

Nice one. Great pictures, I love the telling of this wonderful journey. Really entertaining. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Sheila Newton
23rd Mar 2012 (#)

Cheers, Denise. Love ya, girl.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
6th Mar 2012 (#)

Great piece so explanatory and the pics are beautiful...

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author avatar Sheila Newton
23rd Mar 2012 (#)

Thank you so much. Lovely comments indeed.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
6th Mar 2012 (#)

Well those monkeys are such, they are trained to lift things and mobiles are the easiest too especially when you feed them. One stole my dad mobile from the house on the first floor and through the window might I add.
Two wheeler used as a family transport is a common thing and very dangerous. We used to do that initially - four of us on a scooter till dad said it is unsafe and used the autorickshaw instead to ferry us around until we got our own car. Had company cars but never ever used them as personal is personal and office is office.
These temples are usually carved on a single rock and the beauty of it is that there was a time when the rocks got soft and people could carve the whole sculpture effortlessly. The technology and the know how has been lost through the ages.
The way they know the era is based on the ceilings the Gopura as they call it. We were made to study all of them in detail and knew them all when we went on field trips.
The Elephant is a sacred animal and it signifies strength, a huge bunch of bananas usually help it get the food for the day.
Good on you for the dollar.
Well in these poor areas, locals and natives make their money through gifts etc. and there are few awestruck people who know how to get a dollar instead of a rupee. I have had people ask me for 100 GBP just because I stepped out the flight from there and I told them go do some work and earn the bucks or I would complain to the airport authorities. Still happens.
Ganesha is the God who wards off obstacles from the pathway.
Brahma is the Creator
Shiva is the Destroyer of Evil and incidentally Ganesha is his son, the one who was made of clay slain by the father because of anger for not allowing him to see his wife and then brought back to life again after saying he would get the head of the first object that passed by and it turned out to be the elephant. His best friend was the rat and Ganesha hated the moon as it laughed at him for riding a rat.
Vishnu is the preserver of the Universe and he had his soulmate, the source of his strength whom he loved a lot, she was the Goddess of Wealth and the only one who could ban the Goddess of Misfortune successfully. She is also the keeper of Fertility, prosperity etc.
Shiva's wife was Parvati was she is the second wife who comes in after the death of Sati who burned herself alive to prove her purity for the sake of her husband, the Lord of Destruction, Shiva.
The Bindi is the significance of the third eye and is placed on the forehead to enhance it. Red is for the Gods, if they use a yellow with the red its for the husband and the Gods. They also put the red on the head for marriage.
No volcanoes in South India just rivers Plateau lands and vegetation. Rocks are usually sedimentary and riverbed based.
Black Faced Monkey is usually North India but I coud be wrong.
The best transport is used the 2 Tier AC Coach next time it will prevent you from tiring out. I used to do that.
Try Belur Hallibed it has the similar sculptures, Ajanta Ellora Caves, Goa Shanta Durga temple one of the most powerful temples all dreams come true if you go there.
I am Christian by birth, go to temples around and was brought up by the muslims, so no religions for me but I love the artwork around.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
23rd Mar 2012 (#)

Thank you for such a comprehensive view of my article. I just LOVED Goa - and I just LOVED Karnataka.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
6th Mar 2012 (#)

Most of the population live below poverty line. The one elite 70% live on borrowed money. 20% struggle a lifestyle, 10% naturally rich.
I am not in the naturally rich but we work to live each day, not struggle because we study for a living and teach others.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Great philosophy Aiyanna.

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author avatar Jules Castillo
6th Mar 2012 (#)

i wonder where the STAR on this page is.....

this is StarPage to me

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author avatar Sheila Newton
23rd Mar 2012 (#)

Thanks so much Mr Cowboy for your support of my work. Love ya!!

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author avatar Retired
6th Mar 2012 (#)

very nice article with the beautiful pics !

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you so much.

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author avatar Robb714
6th Mar 2012 (#)

My landlord says my goats have to stay outside, maybe I should move here!

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Yeah - you should. Cheeky landlord!

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author avatar Songbird B
7th Mar 2012 (#)

Cowboy, I echo that sentiment...why did this not get a Star? It is truly stunning, beautifully written and images to die for.. This gets 5 stars from me Sheila..*****

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks Songbird. I did think, if Part One got a star - why didn't part two!! But c'est la Wikinut vie, huh??

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author avatar Retired
7th Mar 2012 (#)

my world this is a superb photo journal

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Aw, thank you. Lovely comment indeed.

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author avatar Buzz
7th Mar 2012 (#)

As beautiful as Part 1, my friend, and should have the star, too. Well-done. Will add to FB.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks for doing the FB thing for me, Buzz. You're such a great friend.

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author avatar M G Singh
8th Mar 2012 (#)

A wonderful post dear girl. Reminded me the year I spent in Goa as the general manager of the Ramada Resort at Varca.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Wow - didn't know you did anything with Tourism. WOW!

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author avatar Delicia Powers
9th Mar 2012 (#)

Just stunning thank you Shelia !!!

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks for the lovely comments as ever, Delicia.

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author avatar Retired
9th Mar 2012 (#)

Wonderful to be able to visit India via your page, since I am currently in USA for six months. :-))

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Ejoy the US of A. Hope you have a good time. You working there?

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author avatar vpaulose
10th Mar 2012 (#)

Interesting journey. Beautiful pictures. Thank you dear sister Sheila.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

And thank you, dear brother, for the lovely comments.

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author avatar Spicy
11th Mar 2012 (#)

Wonderful page Sheila, really I am happy to read this page and deserve for the star. Very nice pics.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you so much, Sp[icy.

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
11th Mar 2012 (#)

You write such a wonderful commentary with amusing little asides. The pictures are incredible. Thank you for a page so beautifully presented.
Your friend, Ivyevelyn.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you my very dear friend Ivy. Love ya, honey.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
7th Apr 2012 (#)

SOOOO sorry it's taken me so long to get around to returning to Wikinut after my trip to Gambia. Didn't know where to start to catch up with everything. I think I'm just about getting there. Starting to write about Gambia now - so maybe I'll post some of it here. Maybe I'll post other stuff too! Thanks for bearing with me, lovely people. Hope you read this message.
As Michael Jackson would have said - "I Love you ALL" !!

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author avatar Retired
7th Apr 2012 (#)

haha sheila going MJ VOCAB WOW

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author avatar Hugo La Rosa
8th Apr 2012 (#)

It's amazing the places you've been so far. I wonder if you write your articles while you are on the go, or maybe at the hotel. The article is really interesting. Thanks!

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author avatar Sheila Newton
8th Apr 2012 (#)

I write a journal of little notes while I'm away. Then I sort those out with the photos and remember everything from all my senses - I hope!

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
8th Apr 2012 (#)

Sheila: I have read through this wonderful page again. I have just seen you on my page. Love, Ivyevelyn.
So glad you are safely home. x

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author avatar Sheila Newton
8th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks for the welcome home, Ivy.

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author avatar Denise O
8th Apr 2012 (#)

Well darn, I already read this but, it was well worth the trip back. Just a great page, all the way around. As always, thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Sheila Newton
8th Apr 2012 (#)

Aw, shucks Denise!!! Thank you.

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
9th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you for sharing, nice pictures indeed.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
9th Apr 2012 (#)

A big thank you for the comment, Md

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
9th Apr 2012 (#)

You are really back with a bang, Sheila! What an article, what an effort with stunning pictures to boot! Thanks for the share and now looking forward to more from your recent holiday! This is better than a travel documentary! siva

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author avatar Sheila Newton
9th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you so much my lovely friend Siva. You say the lovliest things.

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author avatar Retired
10th Apr 2012 (#)

This looks like a really great place to visit. I envy you. Sheila.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
13th Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks my friend Tony. Lovely to hear from you.

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author avatar Val Mills
11th Apr 2012 (#)

Magical writing, you bring your whole trip to life for us!

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author avatar Sheila Newton
13th Apr 2012 (#)

Magical???? What a lovely thing to say. Thanks,Val. XXX

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author avatar rajaryanme
13th Apr 2012 (#)

Most of the population live below poverty line. The one elite 70% live on borrowed money. 20% struggle a lifestyle, 10% naturally rich.
I am not in the naturally rich but we work to live each day, not struggle because we study for a living and teach others.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Sheila Newton
13th Apr 2012 (#)

I gather you must be from Goa? Gotta say, all the Goan people we met and travelled with, were fantastic, positive people. We shared anecdotes about UK and India. What a great bunch of folk we came by.

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author avatar Pradeep Kumar B
18th Apr 2012 (#)

I enjoyed reading your page. It is very entertaining. The pictures are very fine. Thank you.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
19th Apr 2012 (#)

Thank you so much - must look you up, Pradeep.

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