Saturday, December 6, 2008

Final few days....

Visited "The Clark", an art museum famous for its French Impressionist art collection. ONE of the rooms had over a BILLION dollars worth of art on display!!!

One of the churches:
From Travels

Had Thanks Giving dinner with the McNeil's - the food was piled high:
From Travels

Had one final night in New York before heading back to New Zealand. Stayed with Dale, adn spent the afternoon wandering around downtown:
From Travels

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I flew into New York and found my way to Tama and Dale's place on the subway at 150 Mott St, Manhattan, NY 10013-5409 (or for an oblique bird's eye view....)

View of Empire State Building from Mott St outside Dale & Tama's apartment
From Travels

Then onto Jeannette and Matt's place in Raleigh, North Carolina - I originally met Jeannette as an exchange student at Massey University back in 1979... One Friday we went up to Triple Creek Ranch
From Travels

Jeannette's husband Matt is in a folk band: Back Porch Boys - on Friday night they got together at Matt and Jeannette's house for a practice session.

Jeannette's video of another song:

Saturday flew to Albany to catch up with Mike and Hollie at 334 County Route 59, Buskirk, NY 12028-1829
From Travels

On Monday visited Mass MOCA - an amazing museum of contemporary art. The primary exhibition was by Sol DeWitt - huge wall drawings.... (more on LeWitt)

Click on slideshow for a larger view....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Sunday 16 November

Sunday – the three of us catch the ferry to the island of Zealand for a family gathering....
From Travels
The ferry crossing takes about two and a half hours, then it is another 90 minutes driving across Zealand to Charlottunlund (sp?) where Stine, my cousin, and Kevin, her husband, live. Elsebeth, my other aunt is there, along with Stine’s three boys. In due course Annette, my other cousin and her two sons arrive. I show them my photos and videos of paragliding in India. That evening a major feast is served…..
From Travels

Monday 17 November

In the afternoon I go to an art exhibition with Elsebeth – three Danish artists who have won a major award – a retrospective of their works is being held. We are both of the opinion that we are viewing the emperor’s new clothes….

We then return to Elsebeth’s apartment, and Pira, a cousin of my aunt is phoned up – she comes around immediately, and we spend a very pleasant afternoon chatting….

I then catch a train to Lyngby, and am met by my second cousin Merete and her parents. French Café takeaways are obtained, and we return to her house for a very pleasant evening. Vibeke arrives later for desert.
From Travels

Tuesday 18 November.

I go out to Birkerod to see Susanne and Uncle Hans for lunch – however, I get distracted and end up at the end of the line at Birkerod,,,,, A few text messages later and I am back on the train. Later that afternoon Susanne and I go to Louisiana – an art gallery set in a large park next to the sea. There are some wonderful exhibitions, but the main one, we both agree, we could have equally have easily daubed swathes of paint on large canvases!
From Travels

That night I catch up with Rikke, a Danish woman who spent a couple of years in Wellington studying algae, and Jonas, who had spent couple of weeks with us as a Wwoofer.
From Travels
From Travels

Wednesday 19 November

The alarm goes off at 6am, as I need to be at the airport at 7am, for my flight to New York….. I transfer at Geneva, and the flight is delayed briefly as USA immigration requirements are fulfilled by transiting passengers. The in-flight movie I watch is “Affair de Familie” – an excellent French crime movie with several surprising twists…..

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I love the rain!

The flight from New Delhi to Munich was uneventful, taking about eight and a half hours. Lufthansa has “on-demand” video, which to me at least was rather novel! Watched the movie “Flawless”, which starred Michael Caine, to pass the time (and I'd recommend it!). Arrived in Munich, where it was 4 degrees and raining – I took the opportunity to go outside for a a few minutes to breath in the cool crisp air and luxuriate in its freshness! “God I love the rain!” I said to myself, having come from a very dry and dusty place – It rinses the air clean and you can SEE for more than 800 metres. It washes the dust away and the grass is GREEN. I resolved never to complain about rain again at that moment.
From Travels

My flight to Copenhagen was on a small turboprop, and before I knew it I was on the ground in Denmark. Marianne and Ejnar meet me at the airport – surprised at how fast I have been “processed” – then whisk me into Copenhagen. They then depart to visit for the first time their third grandson who has been born that very day!, and I take the opportunity to relax. I have sole use of their basement “apartment” – the only problem with it being that the ceiling is 185cm (about six feet!) – so when downstairs I have a permanent stoop….

Thursday afternoon I catch the metro into Copenhagen and go “window shopping” as I discover that the NZ dollar buys only 3.3 Danish Krone! I had bought a small bag of sugar roasted almonds from a street seller and belatedly discover that they cost the equivalent of NZ$8!! I consequently savour each nut!

Friday I travel by train to Sonnerborg to visit Inger-Merete and Calle – Inger-Merete is Ejnar’s sister and they had been to our place in Wellington in 2007. They were very keen to reciprocate my hospitality and rued that I could only stay one night. Dinner was roast duck with sugared potatoes. One of the things that visitors to Denmark should know is that you should only take the smallest of portions to start with – as the more “seconds” you take the higher in regard and esteem you are considered to then hold your hosts! One of the rudest things that you can do in Denmark is to not take second helpings! Conversely Danes have been “caught out” in New Zealand by taking a small first helping – then starving when no seconds are then offered!

Saturday sees me catching the train to Arhus to visit Susanne (my Aunt) and Uncle Hans. The train arrives early – I spend 15 minutes waiting on the front steps of the station while Susanne waits on the platform…. That evening another wonderful meal of many servings, this time salmon, awaits me!

Sunday – the three of us catch the ferry to the island of Zealand for a family gathering....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Leaving India....

Tuesday 11 November.

Tuesday morning entailed sorting out a final few things for Lucy before Dr Samir Dwivedi arrived from International SOS to take Lucy to London. The ambulance set off through the New Delhi traffic at about 8:30am – with the siren whining at various intervals as we sat stuck in jams…. About an hour later Lucy and Dr Dwivedi were deposited at the International airport, goodbyes were said and I was then taken back to the hospital in the ambulance.
From Travels

Later in the day I “volunteered” to repack Chris’s wing, as it had only been roughly packed after his crash. This was to primarily try and reduce the bulk so other things could be also packed into the PG carry bag. A large area was found in the basement next to a café area, where I then proceeded to disentangle the lines and then concertina fold the wing. This caused a considerable amount of interest from passing Indians!
From Travels

Ozzie Chris: “It would be fantastic to have a Kingfisher beer with our Indian meal tonight – afterall, it IS our last night in India. However, if you don’t want to go out a find some beer that’s okay.” Chris says this from his bed, whih he is confined to with three compressed vertebrae…. How could I say no! So I venture out of the Max Super Speciality Hospital for the second time that day just as it is starting to get dark, and having NO idea as to WHERE beer could be obtained. Earlier in the day I had enquired as to where I could possibly find an internet “café’” and had been given vague directions as to where one may be. My supposition was that if there were internet cafés in that direction then there would probably be bottle stores too.

I turned right down a small “alleyway” that was chock-full of pedestrians, tuk-tuks, and bicycle rickshaws. I explored down this street for about five minutes then asked at a store where a wine or beer shop would be – they waved me on staying continue to the “circle” further up, then catch a taxi towards what sounded like the “car mart”. Five minutes walking and I arrived at the indicated round-about, but none of the tuk-tuk drivers could understand English….. Three Indian guys came to my rescue and assured me that it was only five minutes further walk to the market, where a bottle store would be found. What seemed more like 10 minutes or more of walking I seemed to be in the centre of a market area, with many street stalls selling delicious looking deepfried foods, feshly sliced pineapples wafting alluring aromas and other interesting looking fruits. A query at another shop had the bottle store “only” another two blocks down the road…. An then I spotted it. It contained rows upon rows of whiskey bottles – and I had to wonder whether I had found a whiskey shop or a bottle store! Down the back I asked for two bottles of Kingfisher Strong, and the Indian guy plunged his hand into a large barrel filled with ice and withdrew two bottles. 90 rupees (about NZ$3) later I was on my way out looking for a tuk-tuk back to the hospital – one was rapidly flagged down and we were off down the road dodging pedestrians, cars, rickshaws and other tuk-tuks…. In short order I was delivered back to the “Max” and then smuggling the beer into the hospital!

Chris was very pleased to see me with beer in hand – the bottles were opened in a very short time and we were toasting our time in India – but with the hiding places for the bottles nearby in case nurses came in! Eventually our Indian meal came at about 8:20pm - there are three choices – European, Indian vegetarian or Indian non-vegetarian [an interesting distinction!] and we finished the beer off with the meal.
From Travels

The next task was to then pack all of Chris’s gear into his paraglider bag, and this was accomplished with judicious stuffing and pushing of clothes and gear into the nooks and crannies of the harness and wing - then it was time for an early night as Chris had to be at the airport at 4:45am the next morning.

Wednesday 12 November
At 1am the phone went off – it was a call from accounts saying that Chris needed to pay for the ambulance that was going to take him to the airport. Chris patiently explained that East West (his medical insurance provider) were providing their own ambulance – and that he didn’t need or want the Max ambulance. At 2pm the phone went off again - accounts having another question about the ambulance - a not so patient response was given...

At 3am the phone went off again, this time requesting Chris to come down to obtain his discharge forms – he patiently explained that he was confined to bed and this wasn’t possible! I suggested that I would be able to do that a little closer to when we intended leaving. At 3:30am I reluctantly got up – and headed off to the Accounts Section (which runs 24/7!) Chris’s bill, which was being fully picked up by his insurance company, came to R51,000 – about NZ$1600 for a seven night stay!

Dr Singe and his accompanying nurse arrived about 4:15 and Chris was then bundled into the waiting ambulance. It was decided that with my paraglider and large suitcase that there was too much for me to also get in also – so I was to follow in a taxi. I tried phoning for a taxi unsuccessfully, then one of the security guards said that they would get a taxi for me. Five minutes later an unmarked car turned up, with the driver wrapped up in a blanket, and shivering in the cold. The agreed fare was R450. Just before we arrived at the airport he asked if I could pay before we arrived – as it was illegal for unlicensed taxis to drop people at the airport, and if asked to say he was a friend dropping me off! I found the ambulance outside Gate 3 as promised – where we proceeded wait for about 90 minutes while all the immigration procedures were sorted out. Eventually the ambulance moved off to deliver Chris to his Singapore Air flight (from which nine seats had been removed for his stretcher), and I headed off to check in for my Luthansa flight to Copenhagen.
From Travels

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Delhi again...

I'm back in New Delhi again - arrived on Saturday and have been hanging out with Lucy and Ozzie Chris. More details on Lucy's blog. Went off to the markets shopping for various trinkets for Lucy and Chris on Monday.....

Lucy doing exercises
Bernie, Chris and Peter

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Leaving Bir

I pack up in time for my taxi ride at 12pm – the trip to Dharamshala airport is at least two hours – the flight is 3:45, but contingency time has to be allowed for. A small Suzuki Maruti van arrives for me, and the agreed price is R1400 – about NZ$45. Miraculously the van has fully functioning safety belts. I encourage to the driver to also wear his – say that while he may be an expert and careful driver, that there were others on the road who were not, and that it improve his welfare by wearing it. He reluctantly puts it on…. An hour into the journey we are following a bus very closely, the driver looking for an opportunity to overtake, when the bus stops suddenly. Brakes are slammed on and we stop with a few inches to spare. The driver shortly afterwards then takes off his safety belt with a flourish – his demeanor indicating that he considers that by wearing the safety belt that it has jinxed his driving. Despite the near miss he is not inhibited from continuing to tailgate the bus. Five minutes later the inevitable occurs and the bus stops again suddenly. Once again brakes are slammed on, but this time we are short of about three inches. I laugh with involuntary nervousness as we thud into the rear end of the bus…. Having stopped for a few moments the bus continues on its way, the driver obviously oblivious to the collision at the rear! My driver jumps out and inspects the dented bumper and front panel. I assure him that the din rapid Hindi what has happened. We then continue on at an only slightly more sedate pace….

At Dharamshala airport I start chatting to the person next to me in the queue – his name is Tendzin Choegyal, and it transpires that he has visited Wellington in the past! He was part of the delegation that traveled with the Dali Lama a number of years ago, and that he was a former MP with the Tibetan Government in exile. I ask what I, as an individual, with many other demands on my time, could do in a remote land to promote the freedom of Tibet. His response was that I should travel with other paraglider pilots to Tibet to explore and get to know the place, even though it would mean money going to the Chinese government…. We sat together on the plane to New Delhi and had a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation. Tendzin was now devoting his life to studying Buddhism.