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Just one of those things…

Just some of those things that you think you’ve forgot, but they’re some of those things you cannot (after Jimmy Durante), and sung badly by Bob Cranwell !



Legends of Madras, the heat and humidity sits like a weight on my already swimming head, driving me under the cooling blast of the fan day or night. The air is almost liquid, at 98% humidity. A first day in the city brought thoughts of Robert Clive and countless gentlemen officers and their demure ladies; I remember well how I looked in silent astonishment at their tombstones – often erected over them within weeks of arrival. Now, month later, I’ve become acclimatised to most aspects of India, but it still holds surprises.

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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.

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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


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.


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