We are getting fairly used to the airport routine in India and I have to say it sure beats the old way of travelling around by overnight train. There has been an explosion of private airlines in India and the competition has brought the fares down considerably. It is still primarily used by business people, but it is now within our travel budget and the comfort provided cannot be overstated.
Anil's sister Manju, and her husband Kamal, greeted us at the airport and it was great to return to our Nagpur home, where we had spent almost three weeks in Dec-Jan. The weather was cold in the winter and we were using heavy blankets but now with temperatures of 40 degrees, it was like a different city. I am no longer able to walk to the Reliance Internet office and we pretty much stayed indoors during the daylight hours to take advantage of the cool interiors. We went to an outdoor restaurant called "Eden Gardens" for a great non-veg meal, our first of 2007. The restaurant had even set up a large screen so that the cricket-mad fans would not miss out on the action.
In speaking with Manju about the change in the weather, she told me about the difficulty she faced as an English teacher when trying to explain the terms "spring, summer, autumn and winter to her students. In Nagpur, the leaves on the deciduous trees lose their leaves during the summer months, prior to the onset of the monsoon. This meant that an Indian student would often get confused with the English terms "summer" and "autumn" when using the trees as a guide to what transpired during the season. There really is no autumn in Nagpur, just three months: summer (when the temperatures can reach the high 40's), the monsoon (when the city is inundated with rains) and winter (when the nights are so cold that woolens, heavy blankets and slippers are needed at night and in the morning).
Another delightful benefit we encountered on our return to Nagpur, was the second crop of oranges flooding the market. The winter oranges in December are large, sweet, orange in colour and easy to peel. They are famous all over the country. The second crop of oranges are smaller with thin skins, green peels, slightly more tart but incredibly juicy. We were treated to large glasses of freshly squeezed juice.
The power cuts have increased in length - there are now two "load-shedding" periods a day, from 9:00 till 11:30 and from 2:00 till 5:00. The lost productivity caused by these outages is staggering and we learned that the city of Mumbai will face similar power cuts this summer for the first time in its history. India is growing by leaps and bounds but it is the lack of infrastructure that makes life difficult for so many.