Bren McGowan

It’s always difficult to explain why something was magic – if you weren’t there, you’ll never understand. Christmas at Bijaipur was like that – pure magic, and you never quite worked out how it was done. The mix of people and place (and food and drink, of course) just made it. There was one particular day (a typical day if anything can be typical when every day was different). I looked out from my hidey-hole on the castle walls and saw other people in their own little hidey-holes: reading (everything from bonkbusters to the ubiquitous Da Vinci Code through to the Dali Lama (in French!) and Dickens) or playing backgammon. It was all peace and tranquillity. The came lunch by the pool and the atmosphere changed – loud conversation, raucous laughter, general mayhem and the sound of diets hitting the wall. You would have thought everybody had known everybody else for years, rather than most people meeting a matter of days ago. And in the afternoon, some people went riding, some cycling, some put in extra work by the pool, others went to he village (the shopping gene was alive and well) to work up an appetite fro the evening. To be fair, you didn’t need to work up an appetite, the food was so good that just the sight of it made you ready to eat (hungry or not). And in the evening, sitting outside by the wood fires, watching the stars, we wouldn’t have changed places with anybody.