Glenn & Matt and the adventures of Claude travel blog

Violet and friend

The drawing room at the Fairlawn

One side of Calcutta, Victoria Memorial

Another side, Sudder Street

Dear Friends & Family

Today, our 100th, we leave Calcutta for Singapore and therefore begin the last part of our journey home. It is a bitter sweet moment of course but our thoughts of home have been increasingly persistent and we feel we are now ready to go. Claude's ship leaves next Thursday and should be back in Auckland early October.

Calcutta is a great city and we have enjoyed our stay here. Being busy with Claude's shipping has meant we have not done as much of the touristy stuff but this has been offset by our 'retreat' - The Fairlawn Hotel in Sudder Street. The redoubtable Violet Smith is 85 years old and her family have owned the Fairlawn since before independence. She married a major in the British Army and for 35 years travelled and lived throughout the world. She paints wonderful verbal images of places like Beirut in the 60's. They lived mainly in London but Violet returned to India when she inherited the hotel from her mother. Ted died here 15 years ago so Violet is every bit the matriarch, her guests are her family. The hotel is very English. The walls of the lounges upstairs are adorned with signed photos of favourite famous guests and Raj era memorabilia. Our room has a claw footed bath. There is a wonderful palm fringed garden café and meals are served in the dining room by formally attired waiters. It's quirky but its authenticity makes it oddly appropriate and therefore completely comfortable. There are people who come and stay for months each year even now, in the middle of the monsoon.

Jacqui Walker arrived yesterday. She is a Kiwi and a regular visitor to the Fairlawn from Grey Lynn in Auckland. We discovered a number of mutual friends much to Violet's delight and received a rare invitation for gins on her balcony at six. The three of us sat there in the pale evening light with waiters hovering, Violet immaculate; me feeling scruffy and the cacophony of noise from Sudder Street filtering up through the coloured lights. I listened to Violets doubtful jokes and nostalgic stories with a mixture of admiration and sadness: respect for a life well lived, sorrow that it was nearly over.

Our little trip (it now seems puny compared to Violets life journey) is also nearly over. We tried to thank you all for your help, support and encouragement on the video we posted a few days ago but with only 15 seconds each it was difficult. Please know that you have contributed greatly and we will always remember you for that. Cheers !

I just want to add a little piece from Goethe sent to me as I left New Zealand in some confusion and with many last minute doubts about what I had taken on. It has been an inspiration of course and also in its own way, a reassurance. What it may also be saying is that it's ok to make peace with real life.

"Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic and power in it. Begin it now."

All our love and peace, Glenn & Matt.

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