As their Boeing 787 hurtled down the runway at Madrid’s Barajas airport, Jessie asked Bradley what was bothering him. She could tell he had something on his mind and guessed it was something to do with his dad.
‘So, what’s up with you Bradley? You’ve hardly said a word all day.’
‘Sorry darling. Just thinking about my old man. Barajas was where it all started to go wrong for him when he was heading back to LA after Christmas. Not that it’s Barajas’ fault he had too much to drink.’ He smiled.
‘That’s all behind him now, he’s moved on and doing alright. You don’t need to worry about him anymore.’
‘I know I shouldn’t worry about him, he’s been a pain in the arse for years. A lot of kids would have disowned him by now, but he was still my inspiration and I do still care for him. Not talking to him for months is a worry. Is he too embarrassed to call me? Never stopped him before.’
‘I think you should forget all about it for now and call him when we get back to Mijas. I’ll make sure you do.’ Jessie laughed as the plane left the runway and climbed into the sky en-route for India.
The plan was to land in New Delhi and spend a few days exploring the north of India taking in the Pink Palace of Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and surrounding area then fly down to Goa for a week in a seven star luxury spa resort on the beach so they could totally unwind.
When they arrived, the first thing they noticed was the stifling heat. Although they were used to the heat of the Spanish summer, it was nowhere near the levels of humidity they would have to endure for the next couple of weeks. The other thing they noticed was the crowds. Everywhere was so busy with people rushing around aimlessly in pursuit of their daily routine.
The pre-booked driver, Jamal, was going to be their guide for the next week while they explored the historic monuments of Northern India. He was an extremely jolly forty something who had lived all his life in New Delhi and knew his way around which was fortunate as the traffic didn’t seem to have any logic whatsoever. They dodged cattle in the streets, alleyways spilling over with beggars and children in rags hoping to convince visitors to part with a few Rupees in exchange for a friendly smile. This part of the trip was upsetting for Jessie and Bradley and they kept asking Jamal if they could throw them some money. Jamal insisted that if they did that, there would be a riot as hundreds of kids would appear from nowhere all wanting a piece of the action.
Jamal went on to explain about the conditions in his home town and how things were gradually getting better as India advanced into a prosperous nation once again. It would take time; there were over 1.2 billion people living in India that the government was aware of, and it did take some managing.
After a couple of hours driving around the city, they finally came to their hotel, the Taj Palace. It looked wonderful, they thought as they were helped out of the Mercedes into the oppressive heat once more by a couple of bell boys hovering around outside the hotel.
‘Welcome Mr Gardner and Miss Tennant. Welcome to New Delhi and the Taj Palace hotel. My name is Gupta and I am the manager here. Anything you need to make your stay more enjoyable, please call me. We have reserved the suite for you, as requested.’ Gupta told them with a big beaming smile on his face as he instructed the bell boys to take their luggage straight up to their suite while they did the checking in procedure, out of the heat and flies.
‘Thank you Mr Gupta. It looks like a beautiful hotel, I’m sure we will enjoy our stay here very much.’ Bradley replied.
They were shown to their suite where the bell boys had already unpacked their clothes and hung them in the massive wardrobes. The suite was magnificent; all colonial and pastel colours with an enormous four poster bed in the middle of the room. Looking out of their window, they could see over the rooftops of New Delhi to the mountains in the distance and the heat haze shimmering above them.
‘Wow!’ Exclaimed Jessie excitedly. ‘This is really beautiful. Come and have a look Bradley.’
He joined her at the balcony and surveyed the vista in front of them and shared her excitement. It was truly spectacular which was made all the more special by the sounds and smells coming from the streets below.
‘We trust everything is in order Mr Gardner. Let us know if you need anything, absolutely anything, and we will be pleased to help.’ The head bell boy said.
Bradley thrust a 500 Rupee note in each of their hands which brought a huge smile to both their faces, and thanked them for their help before closing the door behind them and re-joining Jessie at the balcony where she was still taking it all in.
He put his arms around her waist and kissed her bare shoulder.
‘This is truly magical.’ Bradley whispered. ‘But I need a shower after that journey. Care to check out the bathroom facilities? It can’t be any more opulent that the bedroom, can it?’ He laughed.
Jessie held his hand as they opened the door to the massive bathroom with gold-plated accessories, big fluffy towels and exclusive toiletries which drew another wow from Jessie. The bath was also in old colonial style and looked like it could hold at least four people in it in comfort. The shower was also accommodating and Bradley slowly undressed Jessie out of her sweaty clothes and together they stepped into the cubicle and washed the heat of New Delhi from their bodies.