…their brick bones stripped of stucco skin. Beyond the pedimented gateway, the roar of traffic on Park Street fades to a low, susurating murmur. The flagstone path is slippery with moss and from the gentle rain tapping on the blue and red umbrella that the gatekeeper has lent me. The path runs directly from the… Continue reading GARDEN OF STONE
But all was not well in the empire. The Moghuls came from Central Asia. Descended from Genghis Khan and Tamburlaine, they swept down from the steppes in the sixteenth century, conquering all who stood in their way. Adept horsemen, ruthless warriors, they lived in the saddle and took no prisoners. And they founded the greatest… Continue reading THE GREAT MOGHULS
The air is humid and a few spots of rain begin to fall. Morning at Howrah Station. As the Doon Express pulls into Platform 5, I look out through a scratched and grimy perspex window at the sun, rising pale and wan, through a haze of smoke and mist. Porters shift loads of hessian-wrapped freight… Continue reading OH, KOLKATA!
Her long dress is bright amid the sea of black dresses… It is raining on Park Street. Outside the big plate glass window of the Barista Café, the black tarmac of the street gleams beneath the rush of tyres and bright yellow taxis. People hurry past on the pavement beneath undulating waves of umbrellas. The… Continue reading LADY IN RED
And the dawn comes up like thunder, outta China, ‘crost the bay… – Rudyard Kipling, Mandalay Travelling is a series of vignettes and coincidences. As you move through landscapes and cross continents, you see things that remind you of home. You see familiar faces in crowds of complete strangers. Doppelgangers appear and disappear on platforms… Continue reading FROM FAIRLIE TO HOWRAH
He anoints my hands with a fragrant oil and bids me welcome… “Allāhu ‘akbar; lā ‘ilāha ‘illā-llāh…”(Allah is greater; there is no deity but Allah ) – Muzzeim’s call to prayer It is quiet inside the mosque. The roar of traffic out on Chowringhee Road, though still audible, is nothing more than a low murmur.… Continue reading TIPU SULTAN’S MOSQUE
Empty platforms in nameless towns flashing by. I made these notes in my diary as I crossed the state of Madhya Pradesh on the SC DNR Express from Nagpur to Allahabad. 07:20 Monday 17/2Mist over the fields in the cool of dawn vanish in moments as the sun rises.A man in an orange jacket standing… Continue reading The Plains of Madhya Pradesh.
Along the sandstone terrace beside the Kali temple and out into the sunlight beside the Ganges… Dawn on Manikarnika Ghat. A cold breeze blows down the Ganges, chopping the water of the river with tiny wavelets and flapping the orange triangular flags adorning the riverside temples. It eddies around the funeral pyres burning down at… Continue reading THE CHAI WALLAH’S KITCHEN
Few things can prepare you for your first sight of the River Ganges… The driver was lost. Confused by the labyrinth of one-way streets, roadblocks, police checkpoints and conflicting signposts he became disoriented and anxious. His battered Ola cab bumped along a rutted, potholed street running diagonally across a wide, empty expanse of empty ground… Continue reading CONFLUENCE
“Such a river of life as nowhere else exists in the world.”– Rudyard Kipling On the Dufferin Bridge I was standing on the Grand Trunk Road. Formerly known as Uttarapath, as Sadak-e-Azam and as Badshahi, the Grand Trunk Road is one of Asia’s oldest and longest main roads. Its route from Chittagong in Bangladesh to… Continue reading THE GRAND TRUNK ROAD