India…in hindsight

Reading No Worry Chicken Curry was not necessarily a book that I expected to enjoy. I appreciate how stupid that might sound considering it documents the trials and tribulations of my family’s adventure in India.

 However, I expected it’d just be a repetition of events I knew very well and descriptions of locations I could instantly picture. I expected stories to be exaggerated beyond recognition and people to be twisted into fictional characters that resembled something more like the plot and cast of Alice in Wonderland. But this wasn’t the case at all. Instead, I found myself being taken back to a place and time that contained fond memories and entertaining anecdotes. I was more conscious not that my dad had exaggerated the characters and stories but that no one would believe they were true!

To my surprise, it included events that I had either forgotten or worse, didn’t know the full stories to. It made me laugh in places and at times, I put the book down and remembered the tale that I was following. It was a plot that I could relate to so I can’t imagine what it’d be like for someone who was unable to relate to the India or its culture. It would appear too farfetched and unlikely that parents would leave England to make their kids endure what we did in India.

Normally in these blog I reflect on sections of the book that I want to contribute my interpretations of. However, there has been a recent flourish of interest in No Worry Chicken Curry so I thought I’d write a little sales pitch.

If you want to see what I’m talking about….read the book!

Kepp up to date on Facebook and Twitter

Rebel without a cause

We even look gangsta!

Page 104: Olly on the other hand has achieved the accolade of the new pupil quickest to be threatened with suspension…he seems hell bent on expulsion

Olly’s version: If they decided they were going to shove me in a ridiculously strict boarding school, thousands of miles away from my parents, I was going to make it perfectly clear that I wasn’t happy about the decision.

There I was ‘fresh off the boat’ from England with my English slang, clothes, middle-parting knew how to smoke and drink and then suddenly, here I am in Hebron School where I even have to 6 inches away from a girl and I’m not allowed to dance.

There was only one answer really, if my parents were going to dump me in this sh”t hole then I was going to get myself out. I had a plan and it was simple. I would do as I wanted and if I got in trouble then so what, I didn’t want to be there anyway. I didn’t want to do anything too troublesome because I din’t have the nerve for that, if I really wanted to get expelled then I suppose a match and some fuel would’ve done the trick, but I couldn’t bring myself to that, it didn’t even cross my mind.

I did do the classic- smoking and drinking and I got caught. Not by the conventional method mind. My dorm parent went through my letters in my personal box. I was writing to a friend telling him what was going on and included all the excitement of the mischief. I was going to tell him how the headmaster’s daughter was sha**ing a friend but thank God (maybe it is proof of a divine entity) I ran out of space on the paper so it was left out.

I also found out later that the goody goodys of the dorm had created some code with the dorm parent so that when we went out on the roof to have some fun, they’d tap the wall and he’d be alerted that there was a chance to catch us red handed.

Of course I didn’t get expelled, Mr Barclay asked me for the appropriate punishment and when I said expulsion he said he wouldn’t give me that joy. In fact he gave me a far worse punishment- I was grounded for 6 weeks, had to prepare and clean up at the Christmas dinner and numerous hours of community service. Expulsion would’ve been a lighter punishment!

A Big Disappointment

Nice day out turns into photography studio....big disappointment!

Page 108- Olly’s catchphrase throughout all we did in India in the first year – ‘it’s a big disappointment’- is now said with empathy, affinity and a wry smile, rather than in abject misery

Olly’s version: having been promised the likes of elephants, video games and our own lodge, it could hardly have been surprising that I was mildly disappointed after eight years nothing had come to fruition other than being shipped off to boarding school 36 hours away from my parents!

I certainly created my own disappointment but that was only because I had to maintain the hope that our situation was going to change or get better- in most cases it didn’t and this lead to disappointment.

But I quickly changed my mentality and in doing so aligned myself more with the Indian attitude- if it happens then it happens. Because nothing out there happens the way you plan and it’s utterly useless and detrimental to your health, to get worked up about plans going astray. Where I used find disappointment being sprung on me because I’d hoped for more, in the latter years I was almost expectant of disappointment and therefore not surprised by it. If that makes sense?

Hebron Reunion- the London version!

Olly:I now know that if all else fails… least I’m in with a chance of being a Hebron Ambassador!

Having had very little communication with old friends and certainly the school it’s odd, in my eyes probably others too, that I would attend two reunions within 3 months in India and London. Having previously attended the London reunions when the owner of Cobra beer, an ex Hebron student, was sponsoring the events supplying free food and importantly, free alcohol, it was strange to visit with no freebies and set in a church rather than a swanky restaurant.

But of course this is not the driving motivation to attend these events; it’s all about catching up with old friends. In fact some I hadn’t seen since the day I’d left- 9 years ago.

I was asked to give a quick speech about the reunion in India, covering the main changes from when I was at school to my recent visit. I spoke about the grass on the ‘titch pitch’, how couples were certainly closer than 6 inches, the shocking sight of seeing students dance and the Christmas banquet fit for kings. Fran attended again, she must be getting sick of hearing about cheese toast, prep, football games and random names and local slang that get thrown around at a furious pace when I talk to old friends as though we don’t want to leave a memory untold. It won’t be long until she knows enough about Hebron to pass as a ex student.  

You always want to return to reunions with a collection of long stories about how much you’ve done since you’ve left school. Maybe it’s just me but when I was at school I thought by this time things would be very different to how they are. But at the reunions these types of ‘shallow’ thoughts weren’t even an issue. People were happy to see each other again, even if someone had achieved huge wealth or great status, they were not important during our time together. We were more interested in ‘do you remember when we…’ and stories of the funny things we did and the rules Hebron implemented.

I’m always reluctant to go to reunions, maybe it’s the stigma attached but it always guarantees a lot of laughs and fond memories. It’s the fun of catching up with people you were sharing every day of your life with at the time. It’s about picking up where you left off after nine years. And it’s about being reminded that after so long and often little contact you have such close friends dotted around the world.

Paradise Pachmarhi

One of the amazing views in Pachmarhi

Page 81: We realise that Pachmarhi has much to offer in terms of history, location, proximity of wildlife, receptive Forest Department Director and equable climate. There are virtually no private cars on the plateau, no industry and no commerce other than Indian tourism that revolves around honeymooners and devotees of the many shrines on surrounding hills. The plateau is effectively a dead end for vehicles, so it’s spared the onslaught of heavy lorries that destroy the tranquility of other potential havens in India by ploughing through them en route to commercial tasks elsewhere.

Olly’s Version: Here’s a typical Indian town for you: beggars pulling your shirt every two seconds to get a couple of coins out of you, dodging rickshaws as though they purposefully aim for you, getting covered in dirt and sweat every time you walk out the door, crowds of people everywhere you go as though the town you’re in contains all 1.2 billion of the population…..i could go on and on and on!

Pachmarhi was none of these- it had no beggars, one auto rickshaw, was a cool climate and was surrounded by quite incredible forestry land. It was a town unheard of, forgotten maybe by the hustle and bustle of India. There was only one road in and out and it required extra effort to get to so maybe the couldn’t be bothered to get to Pachmarhi and destroy it like most Indian towns have been. Destroy it might be a harsh word….contaminate maybe. Again not very complimentary but I think you get the point!

When we were first told about Pachmarhi whilst we were in Delhi I had a good feeling about it. maybe I was just desperate to settle and bring an end to all this gallivanting around in chase of something it had appeared we’d lost sight of…it certainly wasn’t in search of a ‘lodge’ so what was it? Pradeep told us about this unique village surrounded by jungle that held a variety of wildlife.

I remember him taking us to Pachmarhi. It was completely different to any other town we’d been staying in or visited. It was a different world compared to Ramnagar!

It became our home. The one place we could put a peg in the ground and say was ours. I had a room that was mine, well when Grandad wasn’t there and I wasn’t chucked out when guests came! I t was my room, mine and the family of rats!

I grew very fond of Pachmarhi. I used to enjoy drives around the plateau in the car or on the Enfield. I loved visiting the jungle. Granted I was only there for holidays- it would’ve driven me nuts living there…it was too quiet!

Rickshaw Run

Here is the article I’m (Olly) getting published in the local papers to generate awareness and raise money for our trip:

Crossing India in an auto rickshaw for charity.

India is already an enthralling country to travel across but when a group of friends from Bournemouth decided to sign up to the ‘Rickshaw Run’, a 3000km journey in an auto-rickshaw, they added some serious spice to the challenge.

Typically used as taxis for short distances, the group of three friends will take their Rickshaw across the breadth of India in two weeks. Dodging stray goats and sharing potholed roads with fearless lorries, it will be a long and exciting ride.

Olly Whittle, a member of the group, admitted ‘we know the trip is going to be really tough but that’s why we signed up’. Olly and his brother spent eight years living in India from the ages of 13 and 11 so will be prepared for some of the likely hazards.

They hope to conduct as much awareness and fundraising for their chosen charities, Frank Water and Patchwork Kids, before they set off in September. If you would like to donate please go to where the money will be divided between the charities or email  for more information.  

Preparing for the challenge: the Whittle brothers get their first taste of a rickshaw during their childhood in India

Good Riddance Ramnagar!

Jamie and I doing our homework- what was all the fuss about?

Page 53: One year after our first exploratory visit and we’re back as a family in the UP Tourism Hotel, Ramnagar. We’re all living in one dingy room, with mosquito nets rigged across the total expanse of the beds. We have an intimate knowledge of every item on the UP menu. Olly and Jamie have forged a close relationship with the lads who run the hotel restaurant and frequently play football and cricket with them in the dust outside during the interminable days of waiting for meetings with Forest Officials or permissions to enter the jungle.  Inevitably we all become fractious with the inactivity and the boys do everything they can to avoid homework. 
In all the years we spent in India and even the upheaval of leaving England, I have to say that I still recall Ramnagar as the worst period of our eight year trip to India.

Olly’s version: The town was desolate and empty; it was the worst of India all in one place. There was nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was so incredibly hot that we couldn’t leave the hotel between about 12pm and 3pm because you’d be dripping in sweat after one step. We had no transport and even if we did there was nothing to see.

I remember it too as the place where tensions seemed to boil, the adults were bickering, Jamie and I were getting into regular brotherly scuffles and for the first time I felt as though we really had no plan and were beginning to lose sight of why we were in India. Whereas before there was some sort of act that when things weren’t under control our parents gave the impression it was all part of the plan but in Ramnagar because nothing was happening for weeks on end, there was no disguising that they didn’t have a clue what was happening.

But despite this there was one good in the town and that was the people we met who looked after the hotel we stayed in. They were a group of brothers who lived in the hotel and were chefs, managers, bar men- the complete set to run a hotel. But they also liked to play football and cricket and for Jamie and I that was gold dust. We played at every opportunity- when they’d finished work and we’d sacked off our homework.

And to make things better- they were good cooks who would whip up anything we asked for whether it was on the menu or not. The UP menu was very limited- a selection of about 10 dishes covering Indian, Chinese and Continental. Jamie liked to stick to his familiar dish whilst my parents tried to vary it as much as possible- often with disastrous consequences that night and the following morning!

When we were finally leaving and there was no doubt that we were happy to go the only sadness, of any degree, was saying farewell to the friends we’d made.  On the day of our departure I wasn’t feeling well- no doubt I’d taken ‘risks’ on my menu choice the night before! We were invited to their house and when we arrived they’d cooked EVERY dish we’d ever ordered during our months stay. It wasn’t even consistent- a mixture of Chinese and Indian and probably some of our breakfast orders too! I battled thorough as much as I could, Jamie never ventured far from chapatti and curd so he was safe, which just left my parents having to clean up. Bet they wish they hadn’t been so clever with their menu choices during our stay!

I was happy to move on and get away from Ramnagar and put everything behind us. Moving demonstrated we were back on track but to my surprise I knew it’d be a shame not having the guys around to play football with. But would I miss Ramnagar….no chance!

Indian Christmas

Hinduism is so vast and so ‘tolerant’ that it has been kind enough to incorporate Jesus into their religion. Hindus regard him as an avatar of their own gods and others laugh that they’re merely covering their bases! There is a strong belief and many articles written suggesting that Jesus didn’t die on the cross but instead fled to India where he raised a family and eventually died in Kashmir. Hinduism just can’t resist the opportunity to extend it’s already mind blowing list of 330 thousand deities.

Whilst Hebron went to great effort to celebrate Christmas in a country that didn’t consider it a date of much significance, their efforts were primarily focused on drilling home the message and meaning of Christmas, not passing out presents as I would’ve liked! We had our carol singing, church services and Christmas dinner but we were all waiting to go home and really enjoy decent food and lavish presents. I however, at my first Christmas in Hebron had to help the domestic staff cook the Christmas dinner and then clean the dishes later having been caught smoking and drinking!

On our first Christmas in Pachmarhi we didn’t get the computer games, remote controlled cars or such toys that we’d hope for in England. This year we were told we were getting something quite special and when we were led outside with our hoped high we found a large wrapped box- normally a sign of a good present. When we opened our first Indian Christmas presents we found new Indian bicycles that resembled what kids were using in England during the war years!

Unexpectantly, those bikes became Jamie and I’s only chance to get away from the house and more importantly, from the parents. We took them down to the market on a daily basis and if we were feeling energetic, took a trip to the abandoned airfield. Having initially scoffed at our presents they became a gift that allowed us to explore Pachmarhi and being no longer restricted to the house compound, maintain our sanity!

Eight years away from Hebron and not a minute apart from friends

I (Olly) returned from a Hebron School reunion on Tuesday having not visited for eight years and I could never have imagined the week I was going to have.

I travelled with my girlfriend Fran who had not experienced India let alone the peculiar school environment and the odd ex Hebronites she was about to meet. As we left Heathrow I told her to take a mental snapshot of everything around her- the order, discipline and infrastructure and when we arrived in Bangalore I told her to compare that image with what was in front of her. Bangalore was obviously riddled with chaos, cows, rickshaws and smog and yet strangely…it was the excitement and energy of daily life that I’d missed so much.

I felt at home straight away, despite the years and obviously adapting back to English life there was almost a switch that flicked and my body and mind slipped in to India mode.

My first test was to haggle with the taxi drivers to take Fran and I from Bangalore to Ooty, an eight hour journey. I’d been told by an old Hebron friend based in Bangalore that the likely cost was £70 to £90 (approx RS 5000 to RS 6500) and so I made it my mission to beat that price- I may have been out of the country for eight years but I still wasn’t a foreigner! I told Fran that it was likely to be a bit of a pantomime and predictably, when we left the airport door we were mauled by taxi drivers, tour operators and anyone else who thought a white face meant a quick buck. I did the usual drama of explaining it was too expensive- it’s part of the routine even if you have no idea what the guide price is, and then proceeded to leave them all to venture to the taxi stand- being told it was too dangerous as I walked away from the first group of drivers. But we found a pleasant driver, one that seemed trustworthy and safe and for RS4000 I happily shook his hand and we began our journey to Hebron.

The week was dominated by spending the day time at school, looking around the compound, talking to staff and students and sitting in on meetings and classes. We ventured to Pykara, a local spot we used to visit on dorm outings- though I couldn’t remember ever visiting the lake. The nights however, were reserved for heavy drinking, Bollywood style dancing and retelling old stories and remembering old friends. I managed to hit at least 3am on every night and forced myself to rise at 8am on most morning to involve myself in the days activities, although I probably should have stayed in bed on one morning when I attended the school assembly still very drunk!

The amazing part of seeing old Hebron friends, some who I hadn’t seen for 10 or 12 years because they’d left the school before I had, is that even though neither of us have any idea what the other’s done since we last met, there is an instant connection and old friendships reignite. After all, we did spend all day of every day together as we grew up. We were all in the same situation- away from our parents, dealing with the strict rules, growing together through our teenage years, sharing sporting events, punishments and forging lasting friendships. It’s something that I don’t think will change and I’ve met people who went to Hebron in the 60s/70s or know people who attended Hebron and instantly, you’re the closest of friends! This is what I realised I’d missed most of Hebron- not the football pitch that was made of gravel, the prison food, writing lines in the chem lab or having my emails checked- it was my old friends who I’d shared some hilarious and memorable years with.  

Coming back to England was such an anti climax, after the excitement and energy of India, the UK seemed so dull and boring! I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed India. England couldn’t offer rickshaws, dosas, shaving parlours, cheap living or even good weather.  I don’t want to leave it eight years again and so I’ve booked a 3000km trip from north east India to west India in an auto rickshaw- I don’t think it gets more exciting than that!

Be inspired………. Interview with Geoff and Cherrie Whittle

This interview was taken from Thinking Nomads. Click here to read the article.


When the going got tough, the Whittles got going…to India. Knocked sideways by recession. Geoff and Cherrie Whittle decide on a radical change of direction… and set off for India with their two children…to save the tiger!

Geoff and Cherie have written a book about their time in India, aptly named ‘No Worry, Chicken Curry’ which is a collection of anecdotal incidents and events that chart the family’s time in the sub-continent. ‘No Worry, Chicken Curry’ is a story of today, with insights for all times, including the trials and tribulations of dealing with bureaucracy, climate, survival and two adolescent kids in a story of strength through adversity.

1. How did the idea come about to go India and save the tigers?

A downturn in our business fortunes coupled with an overriding desire to do something radical and adventurous rather than simply continue to repeat the predictable cycle of life in Britain.

2. What was your biggest fear before leaving?
Geoff: I didn’t really have any fears as the move seemed to present nothing but opportunities – a little naïve perhaps but it provided the commitment and impetus to break away from all that we knew.

Cherrie: My biggest fears were leaving my family in England – when would I see them again. How would it affect the boys. How would we educate them. Where, when would we find a place to live

3. What were your family and friends reactions when you told them about your plans, and how did you deal with any negative reactions?

Family were generally supportive and didn’t put any obstacles in our way. Friends were more vocal and less supportive, telling me (Geoff) to consider the kid’s future and Cherrie’s feelings (as if this hadn’t crossed my mind anyway). One friend was particularly obstructive and has never really reconciled himself to our move to this day and we see very little of him. Dealing with this was difficult as we already had many conflicting emotions within the family to deal with without outside influences – my reaction ultimately was one of determination (perhaps stubbornness) to see the adventure through

Cherrie: My mother was very upset especially when we were selling everything in a garage sale.  She became more reconciled once we found a Christian school for the boys.

4. In the first few months you were in India what were the three biggest obstacles you had to overcome with regards to living and working there.

Intransigence, apathy and obstruction on the part of the Indian authorities; difficulty in occupying, educating and placating the boys during long months in Delhi; living in the mayhem of the most Spartan, noisy and dirty environment of Pahar Ganj – the ‘Main Bazaar’ of Delhi.

Cherrie- learning to live in one bedroom which slept all four of us, finding ways to encourage the boys to eat proper food when I could find it.  Entertaining the boys on long journeys keeping the peace between everyone, and always trying to be positive no matter how I felt.

5. What was your best experience/moment during your time in India?

Being completely alone as a family in the depths of the jungle, trusted as valuable contributors to the efforts of the Forest Department, with free rein to travel/explore/report throughout its 1,000sq.Km range of pristine and stunning landscapes

Cherrie: Best times were times spent in the jungle, the excitement of seeing and hearing wild animals, all four of us learning to drive through the steep, broken and overgrown roads of the jungle. The reward of being able to help some of the tribal children and women folk within the national park.

6. What was your worst experience/moment during your time in India?

Leaving our kids in Boarding School; having promised them that we would never do so. Other than that, actually leaving the country was a huge disappointment.

Cherrie: sending our kids to school but also some of the long days spent shut in during the monsoons not ever really being dry, warm or comfortable. Trying to find places to go to the toilet!

7. Undertaking this adventure with two adolescent boys can’t have been easy. What were the three biggest challenges you faced in trying to get the boys to adjust to your new life and what did you do to overcome them?

It was almost impossible to explain why we were chosing to leave UK but to some extent the boys were resigned to being with their parents (as would any young child) Olly was less enthusiastic as he’s started to forge more of an individual life of paper-round, girlfriend etc.

Once in India, trying to encourage enthusiasm for our ‘adventure’ was extremely difficult during the early months of official meetings and confinement in Delhi with no exposure to the jungle and animlas that we’d promised. Later, the constant travel of our first year, whilst fascinating, took a toll on all of us in terms of having no fixed base to call ‘home’ – so barren hotel rooms, unpredictable diet and hygiene all served to drain us of energy and enthusiasm for our pursuit. Only when we found Pachmarhi did our resilience return.

In order to overcome these trials en route we attempted to set the boys tasks, which whilst educational in nature, nevertheless gave them a deeper understanding of the places we visited – so they would be asked to write stories revolving around the history of the many fascinating destinations we found ourselves in – from the Taj Mahal to the foothills of the Himalayas. Whenever possible we would spend time in the jungles of India to expose them, and ourselves, to the environment we ultimately wished to base ourselves within.

Cherrie: I have to say in some ways the boys were more resilient that I was and they always seemed to find friends and ways to entertain themselves wherever we were.  But I was always worried that we would sit round a table one day and that they would say that they’d never forgive us for what we did to them, (as a friend had done once about his parents during a dinner party), but fortunately they haven’t done so – so far!

8. For people who want to follow in your footsteps and go after their dreams,have an adventure or even a career change. What three bits of advice would you give them?

DO IT! You’ll always find hundreds of reasons not to and many fewer why you should – listen to why you should – because even if you ultimately regret having done so, you’ll never have to live with the thought that you should have done.
You probably have less time left on earth than you think – so do it now!

The World is changing so quickly and the opportunities to do the more radical or adventurous pursuits are forever being curtailed/controlled and legislated against. The longer you delay the more clinical an experience you’ll have. (The freedoms we enjoyed in India have already disappeared the environment continues to be decimated, the wildlife increasingly under threat – whilst in the jungle for a purpose we were nevertheless privileged to be there when we were)

Cherrie: Yes I would probably say do it, but if possible try to keep somewhere as a bolt hole in England

9. Although your not in India now what have you taken from the experience that you apply to your life now?

A knowledge that above all I value the closeness and companionship between the four of us as a family that is borne out of shared experiences and having learned so much about one another – most especially that we can be together through adversity and survive. If this prevails it is worth more than any material gain.

Cherrie: Most important of all is our family but also not being so materialistic and being far more aware of the environment

10. How did the name of the book come about?

A chirpy rickshaw driver used it as his stock phrase whenever we berated him for attempting to take us to his relations’ shops or on tours we did not want to go on as we were not tourists for the taking. It stuck as a phrase for us to use whenever the going became particularly arduous.

11. What are you doing now?

Back into our own business development/design/marketing ventures (as well as being guest speakers about all things Indian and conservation at various venues including on board cruise ships) but with much more of a focus on quality of life rather than a quest for profit.

12. Do you have any more big adventures planned or a return trip to India?

We maintain contact with India, continue to run charitable activities where we were based in the heart of the country and have taken groups of individuals/supporters around many of the landmarks we spent time in. We’ll always have an affinity with India but that’s not to say that if the opportunity arises for a totally different kind of adventure that we won’t pursue it – we always have our eyes open!

Cherrie: Not at present but it is very difficult to adjust to becoming one of the many office workers after the life that we led during our time in India. So we are always coming up with ‘our next plan’ but as yet nothing has made us leave

13. How can people help or donate to the charities you set up.

The simplest way to help the work we do is to go onto our website and click on the LifeForce or patchwork Kids logos at the bottom of the page.

14. After 7 years of living in India you must be pretty expert on all things “Indian”? Quick fire questions just a quick short answers. (please indicate if different for both of you)

a) Best dish you’ve eaten in India? G – Jungle-chicken roasted over an open fire in the depths of the forest in a Tribal village at night.
Cherrie: Some of the meals cooked whilst we were traveling through the forest – cooked and eaten around the fire, no lights, only the jungle noises around us

b) Worst dish/or food you’ve eaten in India? G – An unidentifiable lukewarm semi-transparent ‘splodge’ of entrails/brains in a remote village in Balpakram National Park in Meghalaya when we were starving hungry.
Cherrie – some of the sweets which were force fed to us whenever we visited a family in their home.  If we hesitated they would literally push it into our mouths

c) Most exotic food you’ve eaten? G – probably the above – although I don’t know what it was!
Cherrie I can’t say that I thought anything was exotic – different but not exotic

d) Most memorable place? G – The tropical rain forest of Balpakram overlooking the Gangetic plains of Bangladesh
Cherrie – Satpura National Park – driving through the park when you knew you were the only vehicle in the area, and the occasional skinny dip in the river as we drove through at night.

e) Most memorable person? G – Fatesingh Rathore – the dedicated and disillusioned, much maligned and persecuted ex-Director of Ranthambore National Park. Cherrie: Father Pandyan a completely whacky, unscrupulous vicar; our first landlord when we were in Pachmarhi

f) Best form of transport to get around India? G- Train – Second Class Sleeper – where you meet India face-to-face.
Cherrie: Our jeep which drove us safely for thousands of miles.

g) Best National Park to visit ? G – Satpura for pristine jungle, Kanha for the chance of tiger, Bandhavgarh for guaranteed tiger but tourist mayhem. Cherrie as above

h) Best City? G – Benares (Varanasi) for the colour, culture and chaos of India. Cherrie – Bhopal as it was always a relief to have a little bit of luxury

i) Best Beach? G – we spent time in Kovalam but beaches weren’t our mission and I don’t think they’re India’s strong point.
Cherrie – Kovalum as it was the only beach we went to

j) If you could go back to India where would you go back to? G – Pachmarhi in Madhya Pradesh – it holds millions of memories
Cherrie – we were talking to the lads recently and we all said we would love to go back to Pachmarhi together and remind ourselves just how we lived there.

You can follow Geoff and Cherrie online at  and on Facebook and Twitter