Jottings

The Sanity Clause, (apologies to Groucho Marx)

I was entranced and delighted to hear chunks of a programme on Radio 4 one day, (link at end) which confirmed what I’d been telling folk for years – particularly those who travelled with me on camping trips in Scandinavia. I’ve since found that my mishmash of ideas is far from novel, but at the time I got a lot of strange looks from m’learned punters who clearly thought I’d lost the plot a bit (Okay, okay, evidence-based). I hope you’ll enjoy this exploration of the people from whom significant chunks of the Santa Claus story derive.

Podcast version here

 

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Do you see what I mean ?

As an aside (before I’ve even started !), I’ve had an attack of synchronicity – today I got through the post a card from my opticians, reminding me of a sight test due (I have them every year,  sometimes more often as I have glaucoma in the family), and also later a brief conversation with a new guy working for Scottish Water who has taken on my old job and my old van, too.

Podcast version here

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Christmas in Madras 1987

As might have been expected, India burst in on me like a storm. Sometimes it’s the proverbial wall of heat when you’re coming off the plane, or the overwhelming chaos of rank and sweet smells and eye-jarring colours, but most often for me it’s the milling mass of humanity which ambushes you. 

madras_map_1862
Madras Map 1862

 

I’d read somewhere, (I think it was in Trevor Fishlock’s brilliant compendium of essays called India File), that the elephant god Ganesh, or the Taj Mahal in Agra are usually seen as emblematic of India, but the true motif of India is the crowd.

 

Podcast version here

 

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Swat valley, Pakistan

Hotel Sarfaraz, Madyan, Swat, Pakistan. Well, after all the humming and haaring over where to go we’ve ended up in Swat – the accommodation in Gilgit, we found out, would be too expensive, coupled with the cost of getting there – and back, probably by plane, which is highly dependent on local weather and we might be stuck for many days, eventually put us off. 

Also, although the mountain scenery would be spectacular, the valley floors would be very bare at this time of year, and very, very cold. The alternative we came up with was to take the bus to Swat, costing a mere 80 Rupees (about £4.50) for a pretty interesting journey of some five hours or so from Rawalpindi.

Podcast version here

 

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Some corner of a foreign field…

I went to eat in a small ‘French’ restaurant in the town, apparently bought and run by the son of a former governor with allegedly embezzled funds sent from Delhi to fund the former statelet. A French couple entered and ordered their Sunday lunch in French, getting a rough replica of what it might have been at home, but no wine. Read more . .


Plus ca change; plus c’est la meme chose

Madras.

From outside the hotel traffic noise begins to filter into my mind around 6.30am, though I’d known of and had felt people moving through the city all night, sporadically waking and sleeping in time with passing truck horns. It seemed that it took until this time of the morning for the air horns, cycle bells, mendicants cries to reach a critical level of continuous cacophony that would remain at that level until around 11 that night. Some cities are said to never sleep, but Madras does sleep, although never long enough in my humble opinion.

 

boy and elephant
You might not believe this, but an elephant ate my homework

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