Oh dear. My sincere apologies for the tardiness of posting this. I did, in fact, write it yesterday but there appeared to be no internet connection last night, which was more than rather disappointing. Anyway better late than never, I suppose:

I’ve made it to India to see my mum again. I made this journey with some trepidation, not knowing how I’d find her this time but she recognised me immediately and was very pleased to see me.

If anything she seems better than last time, though I’m not quite sure how that’s possible. Though she obviously finds it more taxing to read my written down questions and statements, she does get to the end of the sentence reasonably well and we could hold a written and spoken conversation in English and Marathi for a good half an hour before her focus seemed to tire. Of course she can’t keep anything she’s just read in her head or perhaps her brain doesn’t easily assimilate what’s being said or written.

Who can blame her, though? It must be very difficult for her to take on board that she’s now 81 and that her grandson goes to university in Canada. These are quite difficult abstract concepts to get to grips with, if you think about it. Having said that, I have clear memories of my own grandmother, my mum’s mum, gamely toddling around Venice in her 9 yard sari and playing in snow she was seeing for the first time in the Italian Alps at the same age. Her brain did not seem to degenerate until several years later. This is a better memory of my Aji, come to think of it, than the last one I have of her sitting vegetating on a bed while her family bustled around and largely ignored her.

Sadly, a slight deterioration in my mum’s condition became apparent when she failed to identify a toy elephant and lion that I’d brought over for the Nightingale Unit on a previous trip earlier in the year. Perhaps it’s because she has no childhood memories on which to hook the lion but I am sure she must have seen elephants around as she was growing up: you still see them in traffic-congested city streets from time to time.

And the rain is still coming down. Last year I came fully prepared with a specially-bought pink raincoat – one feels completely wrong wearing dark colours here – which has never had to resist a single raindrop. The monsoon rains were quite sparse last year. This afternoon, though, it’s bucketing down, evidence of a strong El Nino perhaps. (I always question the English expression Indian summer: summer falls in March – May hereabouts, and September is still in the monsoon season.)

A note to self, though: there is absolutely no point in catching an earlier flight to arrive here at 8.10 to go shopping since the malls don’t open until 11am. Setting off from London at 3pm and arriving in Dubai at midnight, with an onward connection at 3.30am is a way of ensuring that I get virtually no sleep and no breakfast, unless I count the 4.30am espresso and croissant on the plane. No wonder I was sitting in the food court at the mall trying so hard not to nod off before the Donut shop opened and I could have some coffee.

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Nevertheless, shopping has been achieved and my mum has some lovely new shoes and Shalwar Kameezes and I couldn’t resist these, though the hard sell from a shoe shop salesman with Rupee signs in his eyes was not really what I wanted.

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But look @Olympians! Organic Quinoa at £6 for 500g! I don’t know how that compares with the price in Waitrose.

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