Home Roaming#Shutterbug Heather Gupta • February 3, 2016
Not so much a roam as an extended stay, I’m back living in the UK 15 years after I left my comfortable London advertising job to backpack around Asia. That “year off” dragged on, and on and on … taking me to live and work all over Asia.
I’ve happily made Mumbai my home for the past 12 years, acquiring a husband and a couple of kids along the way, and I never planned to come back and live in England again. But sometimes life gets in the way of the best plans, and I find myself back here again, due to my father’s ill health.
Luckily, my home town of Exmouth, in the South Western county of Devon, is an area of natural beauty. It also happens to be diametrically opposed to my adopted home, Mumbai, in many ways.
Some facts about my gaon
Although all my Mumbai friends assume I’m in London, I’m actually 200 miles away from the capital. There’s a fast train to London which takes about 2.5 hours. A return ticket is about 100 pounds (or 10,000INR … ouch!).
The population of my home town of Exmouth is 35,000 …. 43 times smaller than Andheri!! No wonder it feels so deserted … you can walk for miles through the streets here and not encounter a soul. especially at night. Quite the contrast to Mumbai’s crowded streets.
My street. Completely empty at lunchtime.
The two mile long beach is stunning. Unlike Versova or Juhu beaches, the water is clean (but freezing cold) and the beach is largely devoid of rubbish. Even dog walkers (dogs are allowed on the beach in the winter) religiously scoop up their doggy poop.
The county of Devon (known archaically as “Devonshire”) is bordered to the North and South by beautiful beaches –red cliffs are characteristic of the region, along with sandy coves, a mix of sand and pebble beaches, surfing in the North, fishing towns and ports.
In the centre of the county of Devon is Dartmoor, a National Park which covers 950 square kilometers, and which is protected by the government, as an area of natural beauty. Dartmoor is known for its Tors – huge granite rocks which sit proudly atop sweeping hills and its tiny Dartmoor ponies. The entire area can be bleak and exceptionally rugged in winter, with frequent snowfall.
This area of the UK is known as the “English Riviera”, in an attempt to suggest that its southerly location makes it slightly more tropical, weather wise, than the rest of the country. This is of course complete nonsense, the winters are cold and rainy, spring is cool and rainy, summer is warmish and rainy and Autumn is again cool and rainy.
Houses are replete with perfect little gardens here, something I really miss about living in Mumbai. The Brits are mad about their gardening (me excepted) and everyone tends to their postage stamp spaces with loving care.
And finally to food. The diet here is mainly bland upon bland, at least to an adopted Mumbaikar, who is used to spicy food. Although it is absolute bliss to be able to buy deli food – ham, cheese, olives, and other yummy nibbles, and gorge on fish and chips and pies, I’m missing my Mumbai ka khana …