Monthly Archives: January 2009

Jaipur, Agra and the Taj Mahal, and Delhi. December 1991.

(I have posted letters about my trip to India in 1991; but I appear not to have written about the last part of the trip, which took me to Jaipur, Agra and back to Delhi. I shall write it now, referring back to my diary. Let’s see how good my memory really is! Although, of course, I could just make it up, with the help of Lonely Planet.)

I was put up in a hotel at the airport; the Centaur. It was ghastly. I caught my early morning flight down to Jaipur – even then, I felt bad about flying, but it made sense to fly, had I made my connection.

I stayed in a cheap hotel in Jaipur called the Evergreen – full of travellers; if I was by myself, it made sense to be somewhere relatively sociable. I went out and explored the city. I loved Jaipur: it was completely different to Darjeeling. Elephants and camels walked through the streets and there were crowing peacocks in the gardens. It was busy; people talked at me wherever I went. A guy who introduced himself as Ricki got shirty because I didn’t want to stop and have a conversation – he was, like so many others, trying to improve his English; but I was trying to explore.
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Darjeeling. December 1991.

(This is the text of a letter I wrote in 1993 about a trip to India in 1991. I have edited out bits that were nothing to do with that trip, and corrected a few typos, but everything else is much as I wrote it.)

The End of the World.

Well, that is what it felt like, high in the Himalayas – high by most standards, but not by Himalayan heights. This is Darjeeling, in India (that last letter, those twenty lost pages, were how I got there, the journey half way around the world and up a narrow, twisting mountain road)…
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Delhi to Darjeeling. December 1991.

(This is the text of a letter I wrote in 1992 about a trip to India in 1991. I have edited out bits that were nothing to do with that trip, and corrected a few typos, but everything else is much as I wrote it.)

It was another crystal clear morning. After the chaos of breakfast on the building site in the hotel, we decided to go for breakfast in Connaught Place, for a western entrance to the day. Nirula’s breakfast bar was full of tourists, all trying to hide their Lonely Planet Guides (like us); they were also studiously trying to avoid each other’s eyes (like us), knowing that eating bacon and eggs for breakfast was somehow not quite the thing to be seen doing. Whereas elsewhere, conversations would have been struck up across the room, as hotels and trains were compared and horror stories swapped, here people kept quiet.
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Delhi. December 1991.

(This is the text of a letter I wrote in 1992 about a trip to India in 1991. I have edited out bits that were nothing to do with that trip, and corrected a few typos, but everything else is much as I wrote it.)

A long flight, drunken. G. was determined to get drunk – it doesn’t take much to get him determined, and he kept summoning the stewardesses. I didn’t feel like drinking – I rarely do on planes, just a whisky or two. G. wanted to do litres. He turned to the Indian guy at the window, and whilst I dozed, listened to the same tunes on the jazz channel over again, and half watched the movie (Robin Hood; only worth it for Alan Rickman), G. got him drunk. This wasn’t such a good move. I mean, at the time it might have seemed like a good idea; a sociable thing to do, a chance to get a head start on the atmosphere. This guy ran a small chain of video shops in Hounslow; a canny Indian, trading, and turning a trick. (A lot of British business must be like that: small, slightly shadey, with dodgy deals hidden away in the cupboards, beneath a layer of dust and varnish.) He was flying back to go to his father’s funeral. One of three brothers, he felt guilty for getting out and going overseas. He had supported his family – built his father a house – and he foresaw big family arguments over: who would get the house (which he saw as his; he built it).
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