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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom consultants. MEMOIRS about husband Pieter Vedder, who was a SCIENTIFIC PIONEER in Mushroom Cultivation Education. His practical handbook is in 9 languages and is called the MUSHROOM BIBLE: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2020/08/modern-mushroom-growing-2020-harvesting.html

Friday, August 10, 2018

My 1st Trip to India - Consulting Together with Husband Pieter

On March 2, 1990 we both traveled from Atlanta, USA (yes we had moved back from Italy) to Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 8 hours on a KLM Royal Dutch Airline flight.
There we had a layover of some 8 hours.
On days like that it is priceless for having an airline courtesy card with access to their business class lounge. For reading, writing and relaxing. We also did make phone calls (old fashioned coin machine) with the family in The Netherlands.
We left again on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for Delhi, India and on Sunday, March 4 we arrived early morning in Delhi at 6:00. 
Through customs and checking in for the flight to Madras (now Chennai), the capital of the state Tamil Nadu.
A representative of Pond's India Ltd. did meet us and drop us off at the Trident hotel in Madras. 
We were exhausted and slept till 19:00 and had some room service as food and by 22:00 in bed for the night.
On Monday March 5, we got up at 3:30 and re-packed our suitcases for an early flight at 6:15 to Coimbatore. We would be going on to Indonesia for living and working there. So we packed only our work clothes for the job here and the other suitcases stayed behind with Pond's.
In Coimbatore we were met by a person from Pond's India mushrooms. 
A very dusty but interesting ride up into the Nilgiri Mountains, to our destination in Ooty.
The first time that I saw an elephant in one of the villages, donkeys, buffalos and lots of monkeys alongside the road.
Passing palmtree woods and eucalyptus tree woods.
We arrived at the Mushroom plant by 11:30 and we got garlanded as a traditional welcome.
We filled that first day till 18:00 - we were very tame by then...
It had been a long day, since we got up at the Trident hotel in Madras...
Waking up at 3:30 in the morning in order to go to work!
Just to show you the luxury of hotels in India. Elegant setting in a garden; indeed!
But we hardly could indulge as we were there only for 1 short night.
So here we are now at the Savoy Hotel Cottages in Ooty.
For 11 nights, so we have now a base to start from and don't have to pack every day...
The Taj Group's Savoy is one of Ooty's oldest hotel with parts of it dating back to 1829.
These 19th century cottages are surrounded by 6 acres of landscaped gardens.
Such lovely garden and this huge Orchid cactus lived in a tree.
We took a starter home from this...
Ooty is called the Queen of Hill Stations, a former British Resort area and it is nestled in the Nilgiri hills (can be translated as The Blue Mountains). Eucalyptus trees grow in this area and also the Neelakurinji flower turns the hills blue, every 12 years! Click on link that shows the Neelakurinji in the bordering state of Kerala.
Ooty Udagamandalam (also known as Ootacamund and abbreviated as Udhagai or Ooty (click link for more and for photos).
Just to give you an idea how we traveled to our work during those 11 days.
There is a famous Botanical Garden and they have thousands of Roses...
So much to see and explore but as usual, we were not there as tourists! 
One morning in our 2nd week, we did ride the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Ooty to Ketti station.
Actually a Toy Train...
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2005. Click the above pink hyperlink to learn more.
Nilgiri Railway was made famous through cinema first in 1984 with David Lean's 'A Passage to India'.

This is a short video about Nilgiri Mountain Railway and at 10:44 you can see the Ketti Station where we got off.
Quite an experience!
Ketti station is at 2,109m or 6919 feet altitude and it goes till Fern Hill at a height of 2,193m or 7195 feet, the highest point on the railroad. Shortly before Ooty, the line dips downhill.
Now you also know why the Palace, where husband Pieter dined during his solo trip, is called Fernhills Palace, once the Maharaja of Mysore's summer residence. (see post below about Husband Pieter's ADVENTUROUS 2nd Trip to India).

We both worked with pleasure at this mushroom plant high in the mountains.
Very nice staff and also my group of harvesters and supervisors with whom I worked rather intense.

Stay tuned for more in my next post and thanks for your visit and comment!

Previous post:
Husband Pieter's ADVENTUROUS 2nd Trip to India | previous post by me


  1. It all looks so different and so much nicer from what I imagine India to be.
    Beautiful hotels and gardens...love the garlands they gave you as a welcome.
    Have a lovely weekend Mariette.

    1. Dearest Sami,
      You have to keep in mind that India is such a vast country and it has many faces as the climate is different from north to south, showing a different flora and also fauna. Their architecture, all throughout the country is the most amazing and also their gardens! One never tires of visiting there. And the food is HEAVEN! We both love spicy food and especially the Indian food.

  2. A nice welcoming with the garlands. They look heavy. Lovely gardens and the hotel is a fine one for sure.
    My grand nephew went to India last year with a mission from his church. None of the pictures he brought back looked anything like this. Glad you shared this with us, nice to see.

    1. Dearest Betsy,
      Those welcoming garlands are very light and it is a work of art! It depends which state your nephew has traveled to and in the dry area or what. Most Americans have no inkling about how vast this country is, with so many different climates from north to south. It is the world's 2nd most populated country with almost 1.3 billion people! There is a vast upper class but sadly there still remains a very poor lower class.

  3. Hi Mariette! You've been in a wonderful place;-) Have a nice weekend

    1. Dearest Anne,
      Yes, as we both love mountainous regions, this was heaven to us!
      You will see more of it in the coming posts.

  4. Hello Mariette, Although it can be fun being completely independent, it is also nice to have people at your destination to take you around and see to everything, especially in a foreign country. Pieter's mushroom work reminds us that all of the fabulous tourists sites and built-up cities depend on a thriving economy in general.

    1. Dearest Jim,
      Oh, we both have always received such royal treatment wherever we traveled and India almost topped it off.
      They literally go the extra mile in taking care of their people and we felt blessed.
      Growing mushrooms in such countries in rather simple structures with cheap local labor is possible there.
      You are so right about a thriving economy in general, for creating almost fairytale like tourist sites.
      But they should curb their over-population for lifting the majority out of poverty; there are still stark contrasts.

  5. I love the photo of you and your husband Pieter wearing garland. Nice welcome tradition! The places you stayed are beautiful. The photos from link for Neelakurinji flowners are absolutely amazing! Thank you for sharing xo

    1. Dearest Tamago,
      Indeed, a very nice welcome tradition in India and it is touching.
      Don't you love the Blue Mountains; looks like a miracle and that only once every 12 years!
      There are so many surprises in the vast nature all around the world.

    2. Cara Mariette, io ancora non riesco a commentare sul tuo blog. Volevo dirti che mi fai sempre sognare con i bei racconti dei tuoi viaggi. Ho anche visto le foto delle montagne colorate di blu di fiori, non ne conoscevo l'esistenza. Grazie e ti auguro buon ferragosto anche a tuo marito Pieter. Un grosso abbraccio da Lorena

    3. Cara Lorena,
      Ma il tuo commento hai fatto entrare, ho solo il 'commento in attesa di moderazione' acceso, per mantenere gli spammer fuori. La ringrazio molto e sì, anche noi abbiamo fatto godere i nostri viaggi di lavoro! Abbiamo avuto la possibilità di vedere il paese reale e come i locali vivono e lavorano, come abbiamo lavorato con loro e ci hanno invitato a casa loro per una cena favolosa. Oh, mi hanno fatto mangiare così tanto!

  6. Hello dear Mariette,
    India is really something else!
    I enjoyed these "vantage" photos!!!
    Warm hugs and enjoy your week :)

    1. Dearest Noushka,
      Thank you and we enjoyed the natural surroundings most!
      A shame that only now we find the time to look back and ENJOY. But never too late to take it all in.

  7. Dearest Mariette.
    My mother goes to India several times a year for humanitarian work. She loves this country.
    I don't know if I could take this train without fear!
    Good nigth.

    1. Dearest Nathalie,
      Kudos to your Mother for doing this. We did too, on the side...
      We fell in love with the country and would have loved to explore it more at leisure time together.
      That train did not cause me to have any fear; we both know one thing for sure - we do have a Guardian Angel and ours has been on heavy duty at times!


Thanks for your visit and comment.



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