arrived in Delhi, rode elephants in Rajasthan, climbed Mt. Abu,
breathed toxic fumes in Ahmedabad, shopped ‘till we dropped in Mumbai,
drank coffee in Goa, partied in Bangalore, played maharajahs in Mysore,
drank tea in Ooty, sunned ourselves in Mahabalipuram and left from
Chennai five and a half weeks later.
We overpaid guides,
underpaid waiters, terrified hotel maintenance men, supported a million
beggars; we paid entrance fees, camera fees, transfer fees, luxury tax
fees, surcharge fees, tip fees, laundry fees, liquor tax fees and fees
for paying fees and we stood under the Gateway to India.
We saw a group beat up a man, a woman beat up a man, a squirrel run up a tree and the Taj Mahal.
were in a riot that needed armed police to calm, a state that was at
war with itself, drove through brigand country, were captured by an
auto-rickshaw driver and watched a sunset over Goa.
We travelled in Ambassador cars, on trains, in buses, by planes, on foot and we stayed at Lalithamahal Palace.
suffered cold showers, no water, power cuts, dreadful liquor, bad
roads, hair-raising driving and we paddled in the Bay of Bengal.
had our hands held by tall moustachioed turbaned doormen, our shoes
cleaned by laughing urchins, our wallets cleaned out by persuasive
traders and we dined by moonlight at Lake Palace.
towering fortresses, Hindu temples, Jain temples, Mossie mosques and one
Christian church and we feasted on the most exquisite food at Vishala
We were accosted in sight, sound, taste, touch, smell
and thinking in ways never before; we slept in guest houses, one star,
two, three and five star hotels, in trains, cars and sometimes not at
all and we walked where Gandhi walked at Sabarmati.
Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Swahili, English and Ian spoke crossly or not
at all. We met one billion Indians in the street, no tourists, made
friends in Bangalore parlours and dined at midnight. We went to a high
society fashion show, high country tea plantation, and high tea at the
We bought ten CDs, nine coasters, eight shawls,
seven scarves, six shirts, five kurtas, four pairs of trousers, three
belts, two rugs and one camel.
We left India as intact as she
kindly left us. We flew out on the clock strike of New Year for Raffles
in humid Singapore. We sat at the Long Bar and we drank Singapore Slings
and thought of India."