"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

The Road To Calicut

“The journey is the reward.”   Taoist saying


We set out.

Mindful that these are times of great austerity, I travel light: just my driver, Babu, and house-boy, Anu, will attend me.

They sit in front. I recline sideways across the back seat, with the aid of two specially purchased cushions.

It occurs to me that I have adopted the regal posture of  H.M. The Queen, sitting side-saddle, as she reviewed the Trooping of the Colour. Such are the indignities of age and infirmity.


We take our food in road-side restaurants.

Kerala vegetarian lunches


Meals are eaten with fingers.


The roads are largely unsigned and often deeply pot-holed after the recent monsoon.

Babu and Anu chatter quietly but excitedly in the front, while I take in the sights or gently snooze.


Indian driving is unlike that in the West. Even if the Highway Code is known, it is seldom followed.

Fortunately Babu is calm and measured. When forced to brake suddenly he does not shout or curse, but looks ruefully at me through the rear mirror, saying  “I am sorry, Sir”.

Similarly, Anu regularly turns round to face me and enquires, “You are alright, Papa?”

Dalila and Shaji, my other house staff, call Anu from time to time, checking on our progress and ensuring that “Sir is OK”.


We are starting a five-day tour of Malabar. I hope to meet a couple of friends on the trip but the main purpose of our journey is just the joy of travel.



“to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”  Robert Louis Stevenson.


2 responses

  1. I can appreciate what this must cost you physically, yet I also admire your decision to enjoy the journey.

    November 13, 2010 at 3:06 am

    • No, it honestly wasn’t difficult. Anu was there to help me in and out of the car, with stairs and very uneven pavements, and be my cheerful health-care assistant. He, along with Shaji & Dalila, make my life here extremely easy and comfortable.

      November 13, 2010 at 7:32 am

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