India


NOT Trainspotting, but a bit like it

Collecting STUFF. We all do it in some way or another but collecting passport stamps as a pursuit in itself, rather than incidentals that just happen from time to time always veers a bit close to braggadocio for me. Nevertheless just as train and car number plates fascinate some people, so do passport stamps. It takes all sorts ! (I have to admit my own peccadillo is collecting CAA airport significator codes – LHR, DEL, MCW etc).

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Sahib ! It is my duty ! (The Bikaner Mail)

The early morning train left Old Delhi station soon after six in the morning, thankfully containing myself and all of my bleary-eyed charges, writes Bob Cranwell. Alarm call, then after a brisk coffee and bus ride, there followed the inevitable crocodile of rolling suitcases and imploring porters through the tumult of the station, heaving like a fractured termites nest.

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India Gallery

The collection of photographs from India, a tiny selection of those I have, is eclectic in nature, as is the country. I spent a total of 7 years in this fascinating, maddening place, adding up all the 3 and 6 month stints working there. The main areas I visited were in the North and West, and in the South; I do not have much to show for the middle bits. The diversity – desert to jungle to city and village is a reflection of Indian geography and society. Read more . .


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 . .



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
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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