Indian interlude

I’ve just got back from a week’s R and R in north India. Too short a time but a wonderful escape all the same. I took my camera but not a single photo, and felt freer for avoiding the viewfinder. But that does now mean I have no pretty pics to show, and am struggling to think how to describe it without clichés.

Delhi – wow. That’s quite a city: not exactly relaxing, but certainly exhilarating. So much energy Kabul felt like a ghost town when I returned. Sultry night air, assaulted by the smells and sounds… clichés be damned.

Terrifying at times, buzzing round in auto-rickshaws, being nuzzled by the blunt, battered bows’ of buses squeezing in from all sides. But the joy of just being able to walk as far as the sun would allow, getting lost, being swamped by the place, imbibing something of the wonder of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, one of my favourite books.

I normally dislike being a ‘tourist,’ or being the type of tourist I dislike, making little effort to understand where they are. This time round I did pretty much that. ‘Cultural awareness’ is in my job description. On this holiday, I went without. Shamefully, I didn’t learn a single word of Hindi. Give too hoots I did not.

I escaped the heat of the plains for a few days and went on a spiritual retreat to the foothills of the Himalayas with a bottle of whisky. To a delightful old town, a once favoured holiday spot of the British Raj, and now of Delhi’s middle-classes. Such greenliness! My eyes and soul fell on the sight of trees like a shrivelled camel stumbling to an oasis.

Back in Delhi I planned to spend my last day in Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Enjoying a care-free disorganisation I left it too late to go by train, my plan went awry and I never made it. I may come to regret that but in a way I was happy not to go. Seeing the world’s greatest monument to love, single and alone…? It would be like a teetotaller going to the Guinness museum in Dublin.

Instead I spent the day idling around bookshops and coffee shops, being a very lazy tourist and loving it.

Taj Mahal, pic from wikitravel

A picture I did not take, of what I did not see.

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