This week I helped with preparations for the Christmas fete on Saturday – ensuring all the products had been made and labeled, and the leaflets/ fliers/ posters were all finalized and printed. Fingers crossed it all goes well.
Being the start of the new month I also went through November’s bills and receipts to analyse the revenue generating streams (or not revenue generating as the case may be). We’ve taken quite a hit on the sandwich project as a major retailer in Pondy has stopped stocking. They are refusing to stock unless we agree they can return any unsold, losing about 8,000 rupees revenue for Sharana a month as a result. Hopefully when Rajkala gets back we will be able to renegotiate with them. I’ve found in India that great emphasis is placed on age and gender in business, and I’m often overlooked or not taken seriously which can be very frustrating at times. It is likely her husband will end up negotiating with the male supermarket owner! We are also struggling with the paper unit sales and bistro sales, it being low season and few tourists in town. Hopefully following the increased marketing effort and flood of tourists in the new year that sales will increase and the bistro will become self-sufficient.
Took Friday off to travel to Jodhpur (taking a flight from Chennai to Delhi and then another to Jodhpur) for the British Polo Day India. British Polo Day (www.britishpoloday.com) is a fantastic concept co-founded by a friend of mine, Ed Olver, which celebrates the heritage of the game all over the world – with events through the year in Singapore, Dubai, UK, India, Thailand, South Africa, France… to name but a few! Arrived early evening and freshened up at my guesthouse then headed to the Umaid Bhawan Palace to meet some of the others for drinks and a buffet on the rooftop. Absolutely stunning location (I think its 40,000 rupees a night to stay there!) and had a lovely evening meeting everyone involved with the weekend. Surprisingly a number had flown in not only from other parts of India but also Dubai, Singapore, and the UK. After a few drinks felt pretty tired so headed home around midnight, excited by the prospect of the rest of the weekend.
Next morning I headed to the RAAS hotel next to my guesthouse (much nicer!) where I bumped into a number of people from the night before and we chilled out by the pool. Changed into a summer dress and took a tuk tuk to the polo ground to watch the matches in the afternoon. First off was the elephant polo which looked such fun (although went at a very slow pace compared to normal polo!), played with very long sticks and mahouts sat at the front to control the elephants. We were told if the elephants didn’t want to play they would stamp on the ball and burst it – luckily they were all in a good mood today! Managed to get onto one of them post match and have a ride in the sola topi.
Afterwards I sat in the sunshine with a glass of wine and chatted to the others whilst watching the second match (Eton College v Mayo College) – which certainly felt very civilised after my last few months here! Even the Maharaja and his family came to watch and do the prize giving. A good spread was laid on in a marquee for high tea on the grounds before we all jumped into taxis as sun was setting to head back to our hotels in town. Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any better, in the evening a party had been organised on the Mehrangarh Fort ramparts overlooking the town below. There was a bar, dinner, and even a disco which went on until the early hours. Absolutely fantastic! Especially loved the moves from the young Mayo College boys, JT style on the dancefloor! Only downside was that in the midst of the excitement I unfortunately lost my camera, although I’m sure there will be tons of photos that I can get copies from people.
Slow start to Sunday after the 4am finish the previous night! Met Olver by the RAAS pool (thanks for chucking me in…) and had a yummy club sandwich to stave off the hangover. We headed over to the polo grounds to watch the final of the Umaid Bhawan Trophy and then the main match of the weekend – the British Army v Jodhpur Eagles.
Had to head off just before the end back to the Umaid Bhawan Palace to get ready for the fashion show that evening which I had readily agreed to take part in. It was to showcase Beulah London’s designs (by the fabulous Nats and Lavinia!) – see www.beulahlondon.com. Not only are the dresses beautiful but the girls set up the company after visiting the slums in Delhi and meeting women who have been involved in the sex trade. With every purchase of Beulah, a canvas bag is given which has been made by women victims of trafficking in India, with a percentage of all profits from the clothes going back into anti-trafficking charities in India and the UK. Really inspiring.
Seven Indian models had been flown in from Delhi/Mumbai along with myself and two other British girls who had come for the weekend. It was good fun having our hair and makeup done, before doing a few run throughs in the grounds, where it was to be held later. A couple of hours later everyone else arrived and we began! Luckily everything went without a hitch and we were told it all looked great – especially at the end when we all stood at the front of the sun temple with fireworks going off over the palace in the background. There was another buffet dinner in the grounds afterwards, and then drinks until the early hours in the Palace bar. Sooo much fun – vaguely remember twirling round the room in one of the Beulah dresses and dancing to Coldplay until 5am! Another brilliant day.
Flight home the next day at 1pm via Mumbai to Chennai, and back to reality. I certainly saw another side of India! Thanks so much to everyone who organised the event – I had an amazing weekend with memories I’ll never forget and met some great people who I’ll hopefully keep in touch with. Just figuring out now if I can make the next one in Thailand…