Victoria & Abdul

Oh dear.

What a let down.

The story, that of the unlikely friendship between an ageing Queen Victoria and her Indian servant, is not only a delectable one, but the additional fact that Abdul Karim’s diaries were only recently discovered is also thrilling.

Add the incomparable Judi Dench to the mix, and we should have had the blockbuster to beat all costume-historical-sweeping-blockbuster-epic-y thingies.

Except we don’t.

Judi Dench is her usual incomparable self.  Not one word of criticism about her performance.

She is absolutely perfect as Queen Victoria.Perfect.

But for the rest of the cast…yet again, at the risk of repeating myself, what a let-down.

Stellar names delivering flat performances, with Eddie Izzard a notable exception.

I haven’t read the original book, nor do I know enough about that period of British & Indian history to speak with any authority, but I’m pretty sure that an Indian servant like Mohammed would not have slightly cheeked off the British, used words like “bloody” and been so, well, so 21st century in his open disdain for the British and their way of life.

Also, and I may be over-estimating Queen Victoria, but would she really not have known the background to the Koh-i-Noor?  One of her prized pieces of jewelllery?

And now let’s move onto young Ali Faizal, who plays the charming, handsome and likeable Abdul Karim.

Great eye-candy, totally, but what a sadly one-dimensional portrayal.

The actor is utterly charming, and you like Abdul unwaveringly, but other than smiling sweetly and affectionately at HM, what else does he do?

Victoria and Abdul
Judi Dench (left) as Queen Victoria and Ali Fazal (right) as Abdul Karim

Lovely visuals, as one would expect, but that was it.

Didn’t care about any of the other characters, they were all so 2 dimensional.

Liked Ali Faizal.

Loved Judi Dench.

But left the cinema feeling slightly cheated.

This movie could’ve been fabulous.

Could’ve been epic.

Instead, it was formulaic, and even a little silly at times.

But, having said that, it is still worth seeing for the wonderful Judi Dench.

Testing the underwater housing for iPhones

On a recent scuba diving holiday in Thailand, we all tested out the housing for my iPhone7, first in the hotel pool and then during a week’s diving trip.
Result?
A resounding success and such fun to use.You simply place the phone inside the housing (above) and snap it tightly shut, using the black catch (below).  It really is that simple.
It is also super-simple to use, with just a couple of things to be done to your phone before use – basically, you need to put the camera icon in the centre of the screen, at the bottom, so you can access it via the housing.

And that’s about it.

You can video, slow-mo, the works, and there’s a fitting so you can put it onto a grip, as I did.

This case was bought in China, and comes with spare O rings.  The box is well-padded, meaning the housing is safe from scratching etc during the time between diving trips!

The photos and videos were way better than I would’ve thought, so, yes, an all-round success story.

There are housings easily available online for different phones, so am only including a couple of links, since these both appear to work on the same principle as mine in the review.

 

How good are ASICS Nimbus running shoes?

Yesterday, I was chatting to one of the lovely fellas in my running group, Navi Singh, as we ran our warm-up laps, & he was singing the praises of ASICS running shoes.

Now before you jump to any conclusions, this was nothing to do with the fact that we are part of the ASICS Running Club, since the club is only a few months old and Navi, as you will see in a moment, has been a loyal ASICS fan since 2011.

He waxed so eloquent on the subject of his running shoes, that I arm-twisted him into writing it up for the blog.

I expected a re-hash of what we’d chatted about.

But no!

This is a product review like no other 🙂  Just read it and see what I mean.

Navi, my friend, this is such a fun review!

And now, let’s hear his thoughts.

Over to Navi.

“My run buddy Asics was introduced to me in the year 2011.

I was never an athlete in school. My flirtation with running started in college days as evening runs, listening to 80’s music on the cassette player Walkman.

Typically while growing up in the 80’s, the sneaker brands known to us were Adidas and Nike.

Reebok and Puma came in around late 80’s.The sneakers were brought more as a lifestyle fashion statement. The interesting thing about running shoes was, you buy new sneakers and then wear them sparingly while going out, partying etc. They were used for running after 2-3 years, ie. when they got old.

Now it’s the other way around. I use the new shoes for my runs, and after few years use it for everyday wear.

Fast forward to 2011.

I tried Asics shoes by default and fell in love with them instantaneously. The first ever model I brought was Cumulus 13, even ran my first half marathon in them. The feeling you get after wearing them is like floating in the air, thanks to the gel technology of Asics. I used them for almost 3 years of road running and the damn shoes still bounced back. The mid sole has the longest life compared to any other brand available at least to my knowledge.

It is unbelievable that I still have that shoe and is going strong.

My second pair of Asics was again Cumulus (15).

Another amazing aspect of Asics is you need very less time to ease into the shoes. The 2014 ADHM I ran in my new Cumulus 15, was only 15km old. (Not that I recommend/advocate anyone doing that!)

The love affair with Asics continued, and I brought Nimbus (17) for the first time in 2016. And fell all the more in love with them. It would be not wrong to say they are the most cushioned neutral shoes available.

The cushioning in Nimbus is out of the world.

I have compared it personally with Nike Cushlon and even the latest Adidas Ultra boost, & the gel cushion of Asics Nimbus way surpasses both the brands. And when you compare the price with other brands, it’s a steal. Typically the competition brands are around Rs17-20k range whereas Nimbus is in Rs12-14k range.

I would like to point out another misconception about Asics that runners typically have is that Asics is a heavier shoe. I have personally compared it with other brands, mind you it’s lighter compared to any shoe with that kind of cushion. Anyway, I could never understand the concept of 20gm here and there in a shoe, when you weigh around 50-75kg.

The Nimbus is so, so, so amazing that I have brought another one, this time the Red Nimbus 18, and it reminds me of the late David Bowie song “Let’s Dance” :

“Let’s dance put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Let’s dance to the song

they’re playin’ on the radio

Let’s sway

while color lights up your face

Let’s sway

sway through the crowd to an empty space

 

If you say run, I’ll run with you

If you say hide, we’ll hide

Because my love for you

Would break my heart in two

If you should fall

Into my arms

And tremble like a flower

 

Let’s dance for fear

your grace should fall

Let’s dance for fear tonight is all

 

Let’s sway you could look into my eyes

Let’s sway under the moonlight,

this serious moonlight

 

If you say run, I’ll run with you

If you say hide, we’ll hide

Because my love for you

Would break my heart in two

If you should fall

Into my arms

And tremble like a flower

 

Let’s dance put on your red shoes

and dance the blues

 

Let’s dance to the song

they’re playin’ on the radio

 

Let’s sway you could look into my eyes

Let’s sway under the moonlight,

this serious moon light.”

 

Told ya.

Isn’t that the best review ever, complete with musical accompaniment?

 

I liked this post so much, that I have added “Let’s Dance” to my own running playlist (why wasn’t it there in the first place, of course…) & written a short blog post about the song, with a link should you wish to download it, too.

So a second thank you to Navi is in order 🙂

Travelling with India’s best adventure tour operator

I know I am spoiled beyond belief – 2 trips to the mountains in almost as many months, but you know how it is, when the mountains beckon…

In late January/early February I went on a high altitude trek in Ladakh with my all-round favourite adventure travel people – White Magic Adventure Travel.  I wrote about the Chadar Trek in a blog post – here it is again for reference.

Then, come mid April, off I set again on a super exciting, super challenging 2 week trip to the mountains of Himachal, yet again with the one & only White Magic Adventure Travel.  Just got back late last night, tired as anything but smiling happily as only a mountain addict can 🙂

The first week, we were taught the basics of climbing.  The second week we attempted Friendship Peak.

And, yet again, the amazing folk at White Magic delivered a fantastic experience, for the 12 of us on the course and then the 8 of us who attempted Friendship Peak.  The weather for our climb was crazy – huge amounts of snow, as in HUGE amounts of snow – knee-high levels, that kind of thing, so we got to within 200 metres of the summit but then turned back.  The snow was simply too deep and too risky to continue.  Avilash felt it was avalanche-prone and indeed on the l-o-n-g descent from 5000m+ to our Base Camp, there were numerous small avalanches happening all around us.

Oh yes, before I go on – one night, as we were all sitting in the mess tent at Base Camp, Avilash very quietly & diffidently told us that WM had just won the Outlook Traveller Award for excellence – recognising WM as the ‘Best Adventure Tour Operator’.  Cheers all round, as we were living this excellence – plans being rearranged to deal with the weather, sick travellers being looked after, oxygen saturation levels being checked twice a day – that kind of attention to detail which bagged them their much-deserved award.

Here, these are photos of the award ceremony:

So, yes, back to our trip.

Difficult logistics, with all that snow at high altitude and rapidly melting snow at the lower levels.  Indeed, when we descended on the last day to Dhundi, where we were based for the training course, the slopes were virtually unrecognizable, most of the snow having melted.

The training course consisted of practical sessions on the slopes in the morning – terrifyingly exciting skills like arresting your own fall with your ice axe, an adrenalin-pumper if ever there was one.  Kami Sherpa would rock up half way through the morning sessions, with tea and juice and biscuits and we were allowed a quick 10 minute tea-break, and then back to work.  (See what I mean about the WM service and attention to detail, by the way?)

After a late lunch, there would be a classroom session – how to wear your boots and crampons, how to pitch a tent, how to tie knots, many of them conducted by the wonderful Tashi, with whom I trekked on the Chadar.

There was not one single thing to criticise on this trip.

Not one.

Fabulous professional service & attention to detail.

Top class equipment.

Great food, including a high altitude sponge caked baked by the brilliant kitchen staff.

I was so knackered after the summit climb, that I slept right through lunch & emerged about 5pm, absolutely starving.  Staggered through the thick snow to the mess tent, where I was fed bowls of Maggi noodles.  That famous WM great service again.

Every single member of the WM staff was a rockstar – special thanks have to go to our 3 trainers, Avilash, Kirti & Tashi.  Kami Sherpa was beyond wonderful on summit night – I think shovelling snow to make me a space to pee, when we were all on a fixed rope, at 4500m, in the dark, goes way beyond the call of duty…

Fab trip with a fab company.

Would I recommend White Magic Adventure travel?

Unreservedly.

Disclaimer: the guys at WM know by now, after 4 trips with them, that I blog, but they have never, ever once asked me to write a favourable review.  This is all 100% genuine feedback.

I paid for my trip.

White Magic Adventure Travel – THE adventure specialists in India

Yesterday, with great reluctance, I left snowy, wintery, beautiful Leh, and headed back to Delhi, after another stunning trip with White Magic Adventure Travel.

As I unpack and download my photos and generally ease back into city life, I thought I’d put pen to paper (as it were) and give you an update on the travel company that organised this latest adventure.

I have travelled with White Magic Adventure Travel twice before and have written about them in an earlier blog post, but since every trip is different, I felt an update in order.

No surprise, White Magic did it again.

In the face of extreme weather, beyond unpredictable conditions, sickness (that would be me…) we had a fabulous trek on the frozen River Zanskar high up in the Himalayas.

The River Zanskar freezes over in the winter and what has always been the traditional access route between Leh and Zanskar for the locals, has become an increasingly popular trekking destination.

The very nature of this trek means it is extreme in every sense – you are camping on a frozen river bed, and the logistics are nothing short of astounding. Tents, food, supplies – everything has to be ferried by hand, with a team of 20 fabulous porters dragging the food and luggage and baggage on wooden sleds, and then hoisting both sledge and baggage onto their backs whenever the ice was broken and we had to clamber up hills. (More anon).

The trip started in Leh, and it was great to catch up with old friends from previous treks, like dear Tashi Angchuk, Nitesh Sati and Mohan Singh, who has always been a tower of strength.

On day 2 in Leh, I felt unwell – drowsy, no appetite, vomiting – and so after a morning of worried nagging by Sanjeev Ganju and Tashi, I was marched off to Leh hospital and put on oxygen.  I wound up spending the night in hospital on oxygen.

Since my oxygen saturation level had risen overnight, I was cleared for travel the next morning, though Sanjeev made it quite clear to me that at the slightest hint of further sickness on my part I would have to turn back.  And no discussion.

This is one of the reasons I travel with White Magic –  they are safety-conscious in the extreme, and expect you to follow their advice.

Another member of our group came down with a bad stomach so he too was whisked off to hospital, injected and also cleared for travel.

Full marks to White Magic for prompt reactions – and for visiting me in hospital late at night and first thing in the morning.

So, off we all set to drive to our departure point.  Nitesh had done a recce run the previous day so it came as a total surprise to him when we rounded a bend in the road and – whoa! – landslide. The road totally blocked.  No way vehicles could get through.  And so we scrambled over the landslide and walked, while the porters had to offload and reorganise and walk for miles in the sleety cold snowy weather.  Indeed, some of the porters wouldn’t even make to our first campsite until the next day, poor fellows.

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I shot this video as we left the valley after our trek – and to be honest, the landslide looked even worse than I’d remembered…Goodness knows when it will be cleared.

The Chadar – the ice cover on the river – was so broken in places that after 5 days, the decision was made that we should turn back, having already accepted that our 3 day planned homestay in Zangla was out of the question, since the region was under 5 feet of snow & inaccessible.

Throughout all his process of decision-making and re-working arrangements, plus 2 people turning back earlier, Sanjeev, Tashi Zangla and Nitesh handled things with smooth but firm efficiency.  Cups of tea, warm fires, hot meals – everything went like clockwork, despite all the behind the scenes headaches.

The weather was so extreme that the DC – the local authority – actually closed down the Chadar trek for a few days, banning anyone from setting out, and in addition Leh airport was closed by snow for 2 days.

There was no mobile connectivity, satellite phones are not allowed in India, so the fact that the trek leaders rearranged, planned, re-jigged our trip is nothing short of a miracle.

We were fed copious amounts of food, served gallons of tea and hot mango juice (my latest fav drink, by the way, below)

and slept every night, come snow or high winds, in super-warm double sleeping bags and I, for one, was honestly never cold.  OK, let me rephrase that – it was cold, but I was honestly never uncomfortably cold.  OK, admittedly, one night I did sleep in 2 layers of fleece, I never took my thermal beanie off once – but other than that…

After we turned back from the Chadar, the White Magic team quickly re-organised the rest of our stay.  A welcome night back in the toasty-warm hotel in Leh, and then off we went for a 3 night homestay in Stok village –  all quickly arranged on the go – and never forget the lack of connectivity.

From then on, people started peeling off, heading back to Leh earlier, and with the threat of more snow, some of the group even brought their flights forward.

I didn’t, deciding to gamble on the weather gods and indeed the predicted snow never came, and so I squeezed every last moment out of this amazing trip.

Tashi and Mohan even took the final remaining 4 of us rock climbing, which was super-fun & has now inspired me to tackle new ventures…

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our kitchen crew baked a birthday cake for Anu, we watched the cricket with our homestay family, our kitchen crew and – I think – a few neighbours, all of us happily ensconced around the heater or “bukhari” – oh, the whole adventure was so much fun, and it was a credit to Sanjeev and his team who took a lot of strain.

Trekking in -15C/-18C is already tricky enough, but when you add landslides, dangerous ice conditions, a lack of connectivity, then even more praise is due to the competent, devoted folk at White Magic Adventure Travel.

I fully and whole-heartedly recommend this company – and the proof of the pudding…I have already signed up for my next trip with them in April.

What are Mabul Water Bungalows like?

Borneo’s Sipadan is a mecca for scuba divers, and on both our visits there we have stayed at the lovely Mabul Water Bungalows.

The first time we visited was in September 2009, for our son’s 21st birthday and we returned in August 2015 for my husband’s 60th.  The very fact we returned is testimony to the quality of the accommodation and the diving infrastructure.

The resort is super pretty, with walkways connecting all the different parts of the resort: the rooms, the main hotel dining area, the dive centre and then onto the “mainland,” which is actually a tiny island, with a few stalls and another dive resort.Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070984

Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070983Every room has a bike, for getting around:

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The island:Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070989

One of the stalls, that cater mainly to visitors.Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1071013

And back to the Water Bungalows:Malaysia_Mabul Island_P1070871

Malaysia_Mabul Water Bungalows_3185It is all charming, beautifully maintained and staffed with friendly co-operative staff.

There were a couple of changes in the 6 years between our visits, not to the standard of the rooms nor the resort per se, but 2 changes that should definitely be noted.

In 2009, a majority of the guests were European and virtually everyone was a diver.

Fast forward to 2015, and the situation was very different.  The majority of the guests were mainland Chinese, most of whom were not divers, but exuberant (and rather noisy) snorkellers. Unless you dive on the house reef, close to the resort, the obsessively-selfie-taking Chinese (many of whom seem to swim fully clothed and wearing rubber rings and arm bands) are not an issue.  The menu in 2015 seemed to be a little more Chinese than I’d remembered it from 2009, but I guess that’s inevitable.

It’s also popular with Chinese honeymooners…IMG_2205The second change was the presence, very discreetly, of soldiers.  I used to go for a run every evening, up and down the connecting wooden walkways, one of which juts out into the sea, and one night when I went out later than usual, I came across a group of soldiers.

There has been, sad to report, kidnapping incidents – and worse – involving Abu Sayyaf (a terrorist outfit operating out of the southern Philippines) and these soldiers are now stationed at Mabul to protect staff and guests.  They were very discreet, and always friendly, but you have to know that there is a certain element of risk.

The diving was excellent – that is not under the control of the hotel, of course, but their boats, dive-masters, boat crew, dive centre staff were, without exception, friendly and competent.

On the days when you get to dive on Sipadan, the boat leaves very early, but there is always a light self-service breakfast and – oh joy of joys –  good coffee available, even at dawn :IMG_2222There’s even a house moggy to keep you company.

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We had 2 memorable stays there, both for significant birthdays…which is why being charged Ringit 15 for a broken glass was a silly irritant.  When you have spent a lot of money – the resort is not cheap – to be charged for a broken glass…it wasn’t the money, obviously, just – quite frankly – the pettiness.

But that would absolutely not stop us from re-visiting, nor from totally recommending it.

Be sure to check the security situation before you go, and then make your own decision, balancing the fabulous diving with the possible safety issues.IMG_2128I can’t honestly tell you about rates, because they are a function of season and then there are the diving costs to add on.

Here is the link to their website, where you can enquire about rates.

We paid our own way both times and I did not tell anyone there that I blog.

WAR DOGS

“War Dogs” is a fun, quirky film (though with more F*** words than you can shake a stick at) and – absolutely fascinatingly – a film based largely on true events.

2 youngsters – Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz –  become international arms dealers, exploiting a U.S. government initiative that allows businesses to bid on military contracts.  They scour the internet, find the contracts posted online – all in the name of transparency, bid for the contracts, source the merchandise from some of the planet’s murkiest corners, and become overnight millionaires.

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And this is all absolutely true.

To quote the film’s director, Todd Phillips: “To me the guys are heroes…The government knew that they couldn’t source 100m rounds of AK ammo in the middle of a drought after two Iraq wars. So they went to these two kids knowing they were gonna source it in a shady way, and as long as nobody knows, wink wink we’re cool. For me the film is an indictment on the US government and their process of procurement, and the guys are kind of awesome.”

And this is what makes the film such fun.

These 2 youngsters, who rock up to meetings with government officials stoned out of their minds, are super likeable, and you are clearly gunning for them. (Yes, agreed.  Bad pun.)

Miles Teller (David Packouz) and Jonah Hill (Efraim Diveroli) are both excellent, playing the young, hustling, “bro” lifestyle to perfection, though Jonah Hill does tend to steal the limelight.
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The real David Packouz even has a small part in the film.

Well worth watching.

And I learned a little piece of recent, crazy American history.

PARTITION Stories of separation by Sonam Kalra

Currently this is, perforce, a Delhi-NCR-centric review, but one hopes that this latest show by Sonam Kalra will travel the country and beyond…

“Partition Stories of Separation” was performed for the first time at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre in front of a sold-out audience this weekend.

A show devoted to the trauma and sorrow of Partition was never going to be easy viewing and there were moments of great sadness.  Great, heart-wrenching sadness.  When the elderly Sikh spoke about the death of his sister, I could hardly breathe, it was so raw and painful.

But this pain, which Sonam Kalra talks about in the programme, cannot –  and must not – be avoided or ignored:

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This trauma is part of the DNA of the subcontinent and it has to be commemorated and shared, especially with the gradual passing of the brave generations who lived through the horrors of Partition.

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Through song, and poetry, and interviews with amazing people who lived through Partition, this traumatic period of history is brought to life by Sonam Kalra, Salima Raza and Sonam’s team of amazing musicians.

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But for me, what moved me the most, was not so much the looking backwards at history, but the positive looking forward towards peace and reconciliation.

And here the energy and thrust of a younger generation with a different mindset was in evidence.

I loved the inter-active feeling of the show –  from old fashioned postcards on which we were asked to write our message of peace starting with the positive words “When we meet…”, to the hashtags to be used on social media to build a dialogue with “The Other Side.”

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There were cute, quirky touches, such as a “postbox” for the postcards for Pakistan.

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We were even given pens, ensuring that there we all had no excuse not to write.

A pile of old luggage in the entrance to the auditorium spoke volumes.

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I hope that this show travels the length and breadth of India, and more than anything else that it travels to “The Other Side.”

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Shabash to Sonam Kalra for giving voice to painful memories, but than anything for presenting the pain with so much love and, most importantly, hope.

Travels with my coffee mug

If you are a coffee-holic & a bit of a coffee snob to boot, then this review is tailor made for you.  Especially if you travel/hike/climb/trek.  And even more so if you can’t stand instant coffee.

Wearied by frankly revolting coffee in so many (otherwise amazing) places, uncaffeineated at the start of days in (otherwise amazing) remote parts of the globe, this gift, below, from a fellow coffee-holic & trekking friend was beyond perfect.

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It’s a thermal portable coffee plunger mug from Kathmandu – the company, not the city.

So all you need to do is pack a bag of ground coffee, get boiling water from your hotel/camp cook/boil it yourself (hey, you can figure this bit out, right?) and Bob’s your uncle.

The only teensy flaw in this jug is that when your pour out the coffee, it leaks a little from the top, but that is such a small price to pay for having one’s morning caffeine fix that it hardly counts.  I checked the website just now, when sharing the link with you and, guess what I found?

  • Lid is not completely spill proof

There you are, then.

In the 3 years I have had this mug, it has travelled all over the place with me, since it weighs virtually nothing and saves my life every morning.  It’s tough, and in 3 years in backpacks it has precisely one scratch, and I’m still trying to puzzle out where it came from.

Together, we have been up to the Himalayas (I live in India), we have been climbing in Ladakh, to Africa (where we used to live) to Myanmar, Sri Lanka.

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Have Kathmandu coffee mug, will travel is now my new mantra.

Indian Summers Season 2

I have no excuse.  No excuse whatsoever.

A little under a year ago, in this very same blog, I shared with you my thoughts on Indian Summers, a TV drama that…well, let’s just say underwhelmed me totally.

Hey, why mince words?

I thought “Indian Summers” was absolutely terrible.  Truly terrible, despite all that money thrown at it.

Here are a couple of relevant stats (courtesy of the thinking man’s paper, the Daily Mail)

  • Indian Summers is Channel 4’s equivalent to ITV’s Downton Abbey
  • It’s the most expensive drama commissioned in the channel’s history

Anyway, obviously when Season 2 came out, yes, of course, we HAD to watch it, just to see if it was as bad as season 1.

Actually, I approached Season 2 with the hope that perhaps the good folk over at Channel 4 had put a bit more thought & attention to detail into Season 2, and corrected some of the more glaring mistakes/errors/inconsistencies.

Whatever.

No such luck.

Season 2 was every bit as bad as Season 1.

So compulsively bad in fact, that, hooked like addicts on the sheer awfulness of it all, we simply has to watch it right to the weird, rushed, inconclusive end.

But that was the end, I gather.

Channel 4 has mercifully pulled the plug on what should have been a fantastic series and which was, on the contrary, a total disappointment.

I won’t bore you all with repeating the litany of inappropriateness from Series 1 – the locale, the people – because the series is now over.

When the end finally came, I realised that there was not one single major character about whom I cared.

Not one.

Ralph Wheelan?  Nah.  He got his come-uppance.

His wife? Nope.

His sister?  No. Despite her horrid, spivvy husband and her inter-racial love affair, Alice remained boringly one dimensional throughout.

Cynthia? Shudder.  What a truly appalling character.  I cannot for a minute imagine that in colonial Shimla, in the 30s, a woman as common as Cynthia would have called the social shots.

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Tell you what, though  – what I’d love more than anything else is to be proved wrong here, with someone promptly telling me that Julie Walter’s character was based on a real-live person, and then I can re-evaluate the whole thing.

The only nice Brit is that young Scot, Ian McLeod.  And he turns “native”, so there you are.

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On the Indian side…well…they are all portrayed more sympathetically then the Brits, but they are by and large so totally stereotyped.

Roshan Seth is great, and one of the few truly good actors in the series.

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Ayshsa Kala’s character is appealing, and she has the most winning smile and sparkly eyes.

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Way more pizzazz than her brother.images (1)

Don’t get me started on Art Malik as a Maharajah wearing costume jewellery.

Maharajah (Art Malik)

Anyway, it’s all over, a series that was addictive because of its awfulness.

PS: And clearly Channel 4’s answer to “Downton Abbey” it was not.