Places you can go now

Pondicherry 1

Some corner of a foreign field that will be forever. . . . France ?

I’m feeling a bit out of my depth here, it must be admitted. I came down to Pondicherry last night on a bus with a driver who knew nothing but full throttle, recalls Bob Cranwell, so my arse and brain are almost entirely numb. Also 18 extra passengers crammed in the aisles, and I jest not, under some seats.

 

 

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Miles different to home

An evening in, drinking McDowell’s gin mixed with Limca, a sickly sweet fizzy lemon pop which is essential to mask the greasy taste of the gin. Ah, though, thought Bob Cranwell, not bad for 35 Rupees a half bottle (beer in hotels costs Rs30 a bottle). Normal soapy sort of taste; should do me two or three days. Tsk. Only, finding it was the problem – directions and distances being as pliable as they can be in India. Read more . .



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 !

 

madras_1921

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.

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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