Well I guess this will be a different New Years Eve to any we have experienced in the past. As Ali and Maisie often go to their Dads in Bournemouth at New Year we alternately either spend it at the pub with friends or go to a party at mums depending on whether we have the kids with us or not.
It was around 8.30 when we woke up this morning and we made our way over the road for a Poonja breakfast which consisted of fresh pineapple juice, cereal, eggs, toast and coffee – plenty to keep us going until tonight and not bad for 120 rupees.
We got our tickets for tonight’s African themed party and decided to visit to the beach which is apparently best accessed through a hotel called The Silver Sands Resort around a 20 minute taxi ride away. Unfortunately when we arrive there is a sign on the gate saying hotel guests only for the 31st December. What a pain and the fella on the gate is having none of it when we try and persuade him to let us in.
We ask the taxi driver where to go and he takes us to the public beach 1.5 km away. It turns out to be quite pretty and we feel like real travellers as we are certainly well off the beaten track here. A deserted beach comes at a price though and we soon realise this also means no sun lounger, umbrella etc and there is very little shade apart from a few scraggy palm trees. We decide to stay for a couple of hours max and this turns out to be long enough. Simon and the kids have a good time playing in the sea but I feel far too self conscious to strip off to my bikini and stay covered up. Despite this I feel like the local tourist attraction as men and young boys all keep wandering over for a good stare.
On the way back from the beach I take the opportunity to have a good look around. Despite there being very little to do I like Mangalore, it seems to be a very laid back and peaceful place and we have been laughing at some of the sights we have seen here.
Maisie now has a bad ear and when we asked for a pharmacy we were directed to “Chemist for all sex problems”. We have also seen lots of signs advertising “The Worlds Last Cannibal” not too sure whether this is a film or live show but we decide against trying to find out. There are also signs everywhere for palmistry and I would like to go and have our palms read but Simon thinks it’s all a load of crap and refuses to spend a single rupee on it!
At 8pm we make our way across the road to The Poonja International Hotel. The party is on the rooftop and we sit in the bar for an hour first having a drink. I’m developing quite a taste for gin and it goes down well with fresh lime juice and soda water.
When we go through we are fairly bemused to find cat masks on the tables and hats with Happy Birthday on them but put them on anyway and enter into the spirit of it. You would be hard pushed to find any evidence of an African theme but the evening starts off well when Ali beats a group of little girls in the musical statutes competition and wins himself a Bacardi Breezer umbrella. There are a number of competitions some of which we enter and the kids are pretty game considering we are the only westerners there.
These are followed by singers, dance acts and a live band which are all entertaining. Although I don’t think they are necessarily meant to be funny, we can’t help laughing at some of them and have a great night.
As we haven’t eaten since breakfast we are hungry, but by 10.30pm the food still isn’t ready and we get quite drunk on the complimentary whisky and soda. By the time the food arrives I’m too pissed to eat much but I do remember it looked quite nice with lots of different types of curries, fried fish, mixed salads and rice and noodle dishes.
There is no countdown to midnight but suddenly there are fireworks in the street and everyone is shaking hands and saying Happy New Year. The four of us must have looked a bit strange linked arms singing Auld Lang Syne on the dance floor but as we are a bit of a novelty here anyway I don’t think the Indians are particularly surprised by any thing we do.
We try and make some calls home but the lines are all busy and we decide to call everyone in the morning. Can’t remember going to bed guess the Indian whisky must be quite strong then.