FYI Gulmarg 2015 and 2016

Discussion in 'Less Travelled' started by Powdercat, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. Powdercat

    Powdercat Active Member

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    From: Peter Robinson [mailto:peter@skihimalaya.com]
    Sent: Wednesday, 24 September 2014 1:01 AM
    To: peter@skihimalaya.com
    Subject: Ski Himalaya - 2015 winter
    Importance: High

    Dear Guests

    My apologies for the ‘group’ nature of this email, but I wished to ensure contact with everyone with minimum delay.

    I’m assuming most of you are aware of yesterday’s news from the Middle East. Whilst the link to Kashmir may not be obvious, Kashmir’s Muslim population is majority Sunni.

    In light of yesterday’s utterances by the Islamic State, I propose to cancel Ski Himalaya’s 2015 winter season. Everyone will have the option of a full refund, or to roll forward their deposit to 2016 (based on the pricing for your existing trip this winter).

    For those in the dark, today’s front page of Australia’s national daily is attached (including the insidious attempt, to influence disturbed individuals, by suggesting to them, that they “not discuss” the thought of killing an innocent person with anyone else, before doing so).

    Over the past 9 winters Ski Himalaya has hosted close to 1,000 international guests at Gulmarg. In that time, our only need to cancel trips was a single Christmas, when owing to late snow conditions, our Christmas/New Year guests were offered the option to defer their trips.

    The 3rd attachment is an article from Kashmir dated 17 July 2014. It did disturb me when I read it back in July. It is only (and 1st) news item thrown up in the past decade by my search functions with Google (set up to monitor for stories of any political unrest), that reflects a potential for development of anti-Western sentiment in Kashmir. You will see it involved events at Tangmarg, which is the town immediately below Gulmarg. No follow-up protests in Kashmir about Gaza have come to my attention since the reports of 17 July 2014.

    The Islamic State conflict is potentially of a flavour distinctly Sunni v Westerners (as distinct from wider Islam v Westerners). I personally believe that It would be foolish, to discount the possibility, that a few disaffected Kashmir youths, will have sympathy for the Islamic State.


    We have not lost anyone in an avalanche incident (or any other incident in Kashmir) at any time in the past 9 years. We don’t intend to lose any guest to an avalanche, or any other danger (however remote the risk), in the future.

    I’ll send everyone a personal email over the next 24 to 48 hours. Please don’t hesitate to email me, in the meantime, with any questions whatsoever. Assuming all is (as I expect) uneventful in Kashmir this winter, I hope you will join us riding at Gulmarg, come 2016.

    Yours sincerely
    Peter Robinson
    www.skihimalaya.com
     
  2. benchives

    benchives Part of the Furniture
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    Strong

    Respect to you
     
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  3. Chondro

    Chondro Dedicated Member
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    sad news, was actually on the cards to go here with a friend in '15.
    We decided against it with the current state over there and are headed back to japan for a casual easy trip instead

    Hopefully see you guys in '16. stay safe.
     
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  4. AndyT

    AndyT Active Member

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    A hard decision. Also not a perspective that I share.
    Good luck Peter, hopefully we will meet one day in Gulmarg.
     
  5. Powdercat

    Powdercat Active Member

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    FFS:

    Men who beheaded half a dozen western backpackers in Kashmir 20 years ago are still "at large."

    They were probably the age of the above back then, so they are probably about my age now.

    And no less combative?

    Powdercat
     
    #5 Powdercat, Oct 12, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 12, 2014
  6. Gimp

    Gimp Dedicated Member
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    Srinagar 89 staying on a houseboat on Dahl lake, thought the locals like setting off firecrackers in the old town every night, until we went to the old town and saw the damage from said 'fireworks'
    I think those dudes slipped over to Nanga Parbat BC.
     
  7. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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    @Powdercat, have any other operators pulled the plug on the upcoming season?

    Just interested as I'm supposed to be heading over in February.
     
  8. expatgm

    expatgm Active Member
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    Ta
    Talk to Tim at alpineheliski.com, he runs Kashmir Heliski.
     
  9. AndyT

    AndyT Active Member

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  10. snowguide

    snowguide Active Member

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    from what i know most international operators will run their programs in 2015. we will be there for our 10th season and have already a good number of confirmed bookings. i will publish a safety update on my blog in the coming days.

    FSH - The Gulmarg Snow Experts
     
  11. Powdercat

    Powdercat Active Member

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    Smackies

    Your own guess about the odds of an idiot decapitating a westerner in Kashmir next winter is just as good as any tour operators - Uncle Powdercat says "never trust men who tell you they have crystal balls". For they must be fools.

    Peter Robinson
    www.skihimalaya.com
     
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  12. snowguide

    snowguide Active Member

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    instead of another blog with safety recommendations for ski trips to Gulmarg I decided to put the potential dangers in Kashmir and their potential impact on travelers into perspective. A trip to Kashmir today is as risky as it has been for the past 70 years! Therefore it is unnecessary to dramatize incidents that happen today in many other places on our planet too, and thus to make life difficult for the tourism depending Kashmiris, escpecially after the massive floods in September - they need and deserve all the support we can provide! Dangers in Kashmir - My Point of View
     
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  13. Adventureproject

    Adventureproject Active Member

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    After careful consideration, The Adventure Project will also be going ahead with our tours to Gulmarg this season too.
    Regards,
    Matt Appleford
     
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  14. Powdercat

    Powdercat Active Member

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    DANGERS IN KASHMIR - MY POINT OF VIEW

    WESTERN COWBOYS SUCH AS CHRIS "free ski himalaya & liar" WARREN (snowguide) and ANDY TURLAND (andyT)

    MATT IS NOT DODGY. HE GUIDES HIMSELF. THE OTHERS - BE YOUR OWN JUDGE.

    Yours sincerely, Peter Robinson
    Founder, Ski Himalaya
     
    #14 Powdercat, Nov 3, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2014
  15. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture
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    FWIW from a humble punter.
    No interests, no agenda other than support of the Kashmiri natives who rely heavily on our tourism.
    I honestly feel more vulnerable in Sydney....
    My experience only , one trip with Bill & his network (%100 'age points) , the crew where very well connected and advised even when we where on the road middle of the night facing the sponsored stone throwers ...
    Random shyte can happen anywhere.
    No disrespect at all to anyone's judgement on these pages.
    Just my obs. and gut feeling is all.

    Go do it.
    It is as good as you imagine. It is actually better. :thumbs:



    Edit : @firstlight one of your mates in this LOL
     
    #15 nfip, Nov 3, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
  16. firstlight

    firstlight Active Member

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  17. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture
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    Sledging our mate is all.
     
  18. snowguide

    snowguide Active Member

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    Peter, insulting people won't change facts or give you more credibility. More than 800 recorded and satisfied participants in the Free Ski Himalaya Gulmarg programs over the past 9 years, all guided by me and my local team, are enough evidence for our professionalism and guest focus. Our guests are proud to share their experience with the world. FSH Guest Testimonials
    They way you address the issue by getting personal is up to interpretation and leaves room for speculation about the real motivation behind your mail and comments!
     
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  19. Powdercat

    Powdercat Active Member

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    Dear Mr "Kashmir is as safe today as when the British were building houseboats on Dal Lake"

    My "real" motivation for calling you a dodgy liar? Be my guest, to speculate away.

    I'll reply "BINGO" once you hit 5 of your fibs/dog whistles.

    Actually, why don't we open it up to all forum readers who've never been to Gulmarg? :)

    Whoever picks your 5th fib, wins this bingo prize:

    You provide 2 weeks room & meals at Hotel Heevan for winter 2016 (gives EVERYONE time to plan flight) and (assuming as I expect all is well in Kashmir this winter) I'll provide guiding. I will guarantee a guide who has worked with (and been trained by) Ski Himalaya the 9 winters from 2006 to 2014. Winner pays own flights to SXR, can bring a friend to share the room and guide.

    I'm serious, some nice positive marketing for Gulmarg for 2016, right here on this forum!

    Are you up for it?

    Sincerely
    Peter
     
  20. snowguide

    snowguide Active Member

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    Peter I prefer to continue marketing my programs in a traditional manner without giving away things for free. My powder ski programs are part of my core business (ski trips, personal snowsports coaching and outdoor incentives) and not a side activity complementing an income from a regular job - with all the destabilizing info shared on forums it has already become difficult enough to make a living from what we do in Gulmarg in the winter. Maybe we can discuss safety and the history of the separatist movement in Kahmir in person when you find it safe to return to Gulmarg - I hope I will survive the dangers you foresee! Best regards, Chris
     
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  21. Powdercat

    Powdercat Active Member

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    Dear Chris

    Ski Himalaya's email of 24 September reads:

    "We have not lost anyone in an avalanche incident (or any other incident in Kashmir) at any time in the past 9 years. We don’t intend to lose any guest to an avalanche, or any other danger (however remote the risk), in the future." (emphasis added)

    Ski Himalaya's cancellation of tours for the 2015 winter is an ETHICAL decision, not a calibration of risk.

    I cannot market Gulmarg in the wake of "IS" when there is no relevant "historical safety track record" to point to. It's not practical for me to be at Gulmarg, in person, for a full winter, to punch a nasty IS person in the nose (if that is what is required to protect our guests).

    [As at September, SkiHim's (cancelled) bookings ran from Christmas 2014 into March. 2015.]

    Matt Appleford's comment above reads "after careful consideration". I'm confident, if Bill Barker is travelling for his 10th winter in Kashmir (unlike you?), Bill has an equally responsible outlook.

    Matt's comments, are the polar opposite of the apparent approach, of yourself and Mr Turland.

    I know whom I'd prefer, to oversee the guiding my loved ones, in avalanche terrain.

    Readers on this forum should think about that.

    Yours sincerely
    Peter Robinson
    Founder, Ski Himalaya
     
  22. snowguide

    snowguide Active Member

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    i have made my point and nothing to add!

    [​IMG]
    “He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak.”
    Michel de Montaigne
     
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  23. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Part of the Furniture
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    Get a room.
     
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  24. J.Rabbit

    J.Rabbit New Member

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    To be honest I couldn't give a shit what the risks are, Gulmarg looks so special that its almost worth it
     
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  25. Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

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    Ah padawan, so I gather you haven't been to Kashmir before and have NFI that it is the most militarised parts of India where you are closer to Kabul than Sydney is to Perisher.
     
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  26. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture
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    The days in my clip above we where skinning from out wide (near the border) back to Drang and came across Indian Army outpost , stone walls, barb wire & tin cans, sentry and others with weapons on shoulder's ..
    "Where are you from ".....
    Aaaah Ricky Ponting !!!! LOL
    Edit : That was encounter with Army not the random extreme element. The village is fine but it's getting from the airport , out of Srinigar & up the hill is the dicey bit.
     
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  27. J.Rabbit

    J.Rabbit New Member

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    Yeahhh never been close, I have read about does that count? Nah in all seriousness it looks like a pretty full on area of the world to be in right now. Not a decision to be made lightly
     
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  28. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture
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    This is where the extra $ come into it and are well worth it.
    Many do complain & choose to do otherwise, all good.
    Reliable, qualified and experienced guides on the mountain, well connected with a solid network of time proven and trusted locals to help manage the details.

    All this again IMO , one trip only....
    Mate of mine going back next year for his 3rd.

    Any sponsors out there for me ??
     
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  29. Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

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    The Kashmiris are wonderful people, though they are not a homogeneous group and unfortunately live between, Pakistan, India and China, which all have claims on the place. And now you throw ISIS into the mix.

    But really, anywhere with decent mountains can be full on but you don't want your full on experience to come from political / ethnic / religious conflicts. So probably safer at this stage to get your jollies elsewhere.
     
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  30. Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

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    @nfip Get you AT kit together and I'll drag you to NZ so I can do a repeat of the last trip. Sponsorship will depend on how the Lotto numbers turn out (have a long history of non-success).
     
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  31. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture
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    ROFL Deal !:cheers:
     
  32. Gimp

    Gimp Dedicated Member
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    Kashmiris are wonderful people in Kashmir, just not so wonderful as touts in other tourist areas of India (product of lack of tourism following 89 a lot moved to places such as Shimla)
     
  33. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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  34. Powdercat

    Powdercat Active Member

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    FYI: Mountain Tracks are one more prominent IFMGA/BMGA outfits that regularly visit Gulmarg. From their website:-

    We have chosen to cancel our Gulmarg trips in 2015 due to the UK Government's advice against ALL travel to this region including Gulmarg. Hopefully the security situation will improve and we will be able to offer the trip in future years.
     
  35. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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    Arrived in Gulmarg yesterday.

    It has been a slim and late start to the season. The snow pack is pretty dodgy - 30-50cm of depth hoar under a large slab. Huge avalanche 5 or so days ago with 1 fatality. The crown wall was ~4m.

    10cm of graupel last night turned into heavy snow during the day. Has now eased off. Snowy forecast for the next few days.

    Will post some pics when both the scenery and wifi improve.
     
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  36. Camelot

    Camelot Dedicated Member

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  37. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    With that releasing and funnelling into the massive terrain traps (gullies) below it would have been quite ugly.
     
  38. firstlight

    firstlight Active Member

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  39. Draizuh

    Draizuh Dedicated Member

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    Looks like a cornice to me. Look at the wind loading at the top. fracture lines (possibly from the event in the upper right) That thing is still a monster though.
     
  40. BobGnarly

    BobGnarly Dedicated Member

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    If you see the pic on fb from across the gully that whole face sits below a cornice twice the size of the avalanche crown.
    I dont know why anyone would think riding there was a good idea.
     
  41. Draizuh

    Draizuh Dedicated Member

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    Haha Yeah i hear youve run into plenty of folks with stupid cornice related travel plans!
     
  42. nfip

    nfip Part of the Furniture
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    Copy that Bob in multiples.

    Pretty much spells it out why you really should be comfortable to spend few extra $ rather than the many alternatives out there. .
    No way is it the environment to be a tight arse and "she'll be right "....
    As illustrated . IMO.

    Just mine fwiw.
     
  43. Belly

    Belly Addicted Member
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    Wow just saw this thread, haven't been online much.

    SPG was there, have been chatting over e-mail, his group is safe and was far away at the time and he's on his way home now ;)
     
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  44. tbnext

    tbnext Dedicated Member

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    Powder cat for all that it's worth I agree with your decision. A trek to Concordia is the top of my bucket list, but no reputable group is offering this for the foreseeable future.

    That's enough for me.
     
  45. Gimp

    Gimp Dedicated Member
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    Why do you need to go in a group. Travelling in Pakistan is relatively easy. Or was prior to 9/11
     
  46. Angus_McCrory

    Angus_McCrory Old And Crusty

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    You don't need to be in a group, but having been to Gulmarg with shark in 2008, trip organised through Powdercat, I can say it was a hell of a lot easier than going on one's Pat Malone.
     
  47. tbnext

    tbnext Dedicated Member

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    Perhaps I could call in at Nanga parbat base camp. Should I stay there or hide behind a rock?
    Gimp when was 9/11?
    I'm sorry but this was a seriously completely out of date post. It borders on dangerous, is completely uninformed and certainly irrelevant.

    Wow.
     
  48. smackies

    smackies Addicted Member
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    I'm back from my 2 week trip to Gulmarg with Bill's Trips. Highly recommend. Very well run trip by a great bunch of knowledgeable people.

    Before arriving, I thought my biggest fears were avalanches, AK47s and dysentery. In fact my biggest fears turned out to be leopards and tigers and bears (oh my!).

    Some quick comments and thoughts:

    The snowpack was terrifying.
    The weather was warmer than usual but we had a good mix of sunny days and storm days.
    The terrain showed a lot of potential but sadly most of it wasn't safe this season.
    The crowds were small. Even the busiest lift/gondola days there were no more than 60 people.
    The Kashmiri people are wonderfully kind.
    The Russians... well, ****ing Russians.
    The food was delicious but never trust a fart.
    Maniacal drivers seem the norm not the exception.
    A lot of people in town call themselves guides when they probably shouldn't.
    Ski patrol needs funding - someone give the guys some explosives and signs.

    And now for a few scenery photos. Sorry, rarely take any shots of people actually riding.

    Delhi morning.
    [​IMG]

    That clean Delhi air.
    [​IMG]

    1.5 hour flight to Srinigar and then a 2ish hour drive in the direction of Pakistan gets you to Gulmarg. The village sits on a plateau at around 2700m. Looking up from the Highlands Park Hotel at Mt Apharwat.
    [​IMG]

    Highlands Park Hotel is made up of a number of cottages and a central building (with bar, dining room etc). Very cool place with amazing staff. The room guys light your room fire 30 mins before get-out-of-bed o'clock and drop a cup of tea on the bedside table. For the first couple of days whilst adjusting to the altitude, things such as these few short stairs killed the lungs.
    [​IMG]

    More Highlands Park Hotel
    [​IMG]

    Storm (and day after storm) days were spent in the forest.
    [​IMG]

    Didn't find any leopards down there.[​IMG]

    Another day was spent dropping off the plateau and down to villages below.
    [​IMG]

    The snow was pretty awful down low, but the scenery was nice.
    [​IMG]

    Splitboarders crossing creeks is always worth watching purely for the grace and beauty.
    [​IMG]

    Tea break.
    [​IMG]

    One of our local guides leading the way.
    [​IMG]

    More crossings (the old bridge washed away in the 2014 floods).
    [​IMG]

    Will assist for bananas.
    [​IMG]

    And the daily occurrence - road chaos.
    [​IMG]

    The Sumos generally only drive around with one chain. My mate was stoked when we jumped in one with 2 chains.
    [​IMG]

    Of course, chains don't fix flat tyres that have come off the rim.
    [​IMG]

    I thought a friend of mine was kidding when he told me to keep my helmet on for any car rides. Good advice.

    More to follow.
     
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  49. benchives

    benchives Part of the Furniture
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    brilliant - looks fantastic.
     
  50. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    Some familiar scenes in there. Clean Delhi air, jeeps, monkeys, road chaos. Brought back memories.
    Bridge looks a bit dodgy.
     
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