Rishikesh

A narrow suspension bridge spanning the Ganges hangs below my table. People share the crossing with cows as monkeys patrol the cables looking for opportunities. Apart from the queue to see the Taj Mahal, I’ve not seen so many westerners in India, so many white faces. Unfortunately, here they’re accompanied by pan piped, meditation muzak that…

The Opal hue of melt-water

Somewhere near Roorkee A quick bike service and back in the saddle. No luck with finding a map, so again navigated out of town by the sun and lot’s of enquiring. With hindsight it would’ve been quicker to just let my shadow show me the way. At one point I was squeezing through the biggest…

Hubcaps make good mandalas

After an amiable breakfast I set out for the third side of the golden triangle: Jaipur to Delhi, with a detour to the marvellous Amber fort. I’ve been struck by how every water level looks low, especially the rivers which are all so dreadfully polluted. As populations grow and lifestyles improve, the pressure on natural…

Something about girls

I’d seen very few women up until today, and had started to wonder where half the population were, when I met Madhuri Kalal and crew filming on location at the hotel. Madhuri reports for Kashmiri News and she told me about “Hello Kitty” parties where women hang-out. Though I don’t think they’re generally absent from public spaces…

150 dusty miles

The Enfield had been left standing for a few days and was a bugger to start. Being such a simple beast, it lends itself to tinkering, and resuscitating it soon turned into an international party game which ended in a close draw: England 1, Germany 1, India 0, Japan 0 In the process we variously…

Taj Mahal

I waited at the West gate of the Taj Mahal for 45 minutes before it opened. Should’ve realised that just because Lonely Planet says dawn’s the time to visit, doesn’t mean the gate staff are following the script. But it was worth the wait, and being first in meant the acres of garden, red sandstone…

Ashes to ashes

I got lost again when I wandered off Agra’s well worn tourist trail and found myself down by the river at an open air crematorium. The ghats at Varanasi are India’s most famous crematoria. Their enduring popularity partly due to the belief that exiting via the Ganges breaks your cycle of reincarnation. But hopping off there is expensive. Here by the water’s edge,…