"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 laundry-boy in our Mysore hotel,  hangs washing on the roof.

Are You Being Served..

Breakfast at the Hotel Asma Tower, Calicut.

Time To Go Home


Our trip to Trivandrum for the Hay Literary Festival had been a great success:
A friendly and comfortable hotel; superb conference logistics; and a wonderful selection of speakers, including some of my personal heroes.
And amazingly, this wonderful fest of the English language was in Kerala,
my beloved Kerala..

Picture of our ever-smiling doorman at the Maurya Rajadhani Hotel, Trivandrum.

Darjeeling Dusks

Our stay in Darjeeling was made particularly pleasant by the helpful hotel staff.
On our first morning, whilst taking breakfast, I had taken a picture looking out from the dining room.
When the waiter saw me fiddling with my camera, he smiled and pointed to a large notice by the stairs:
An arrow directed upwards and invited interested guests to enjoy the viewing gallery.

And so, when twilight fell, we thought to try out the facility.

Following the sign, we found ourselves in a narrow corridor which led into an extremely spacious room.
It was not quite what I’d expected.
Although the large windows provided excellent views, this rather grand room was fully furnished
with wardrobes, armchairs and a slightly dishevelled, king-size bed.

But the sun was setting fast. There was no time to ponder our hotel’s eccentric décor.
Opening up the windows to get better photographs, I took my shots.

It was only when we left the room, and retraced our steps back along the corridor, that I noticed a second sign
advertising “panoramic hill views”.
This sign pointed in the opposite direction to the one from which we’d come. 

We had taken our pictures in another guest’s bedroom…


Pictures inadvertently taken from the windows of a deluxe suite, in Hotel Seven-Seventeen, Darjeeling.

Northern Exposure: Part 12

Room with a view..

View from the dining room in our Darjeeling Hotel.

Tea For Two.. Or Three..


We had spent the weekend in Mysore.
Monday morning required an early start to continue our tour.


Though, as the song so neatly puts it:
“I like a nice cup of tea in the morning.”

Normally, I am woken each day by my kindly house-boy’s greeting of:
“Good morning Papa. You sleep OK?”
He carries a large mug of this wonderful drink.
Its absence would imply some sort of crisis.

Before living in India, I assumed the subcontinent would be awash with tea.
I was mistaken.
Coffee is now the more popular drink in India.
When not at home, trying to get a cup of tea any time outside of breakfast and “tea-time” can prove challenging.
Even ordering early morning tea in a tourist hotel brings surprises to the unwary.

In India, tea powder (finely ground lea leaves), milk and copious amounts of sugar are all boiled together in the preparation of tea.
Should you not wish to court diabetes or dental disaster with this decidedly caustic brew of syrupy tannins, firm instruction to room service are required:
“Please. Sugar Separate!” 

When the order is delivered to your room the consequences of a different tea culture are made manifest.

The spoons are often enormous –
– And the cups invariably minute.

My solution is to order tea for two – or three.
Occasionally this stirs the waiters to peer with puzzlement around the hotel room, in search of my early morning guests.
But more often, it is merely attributed to further eccentricities in the firangi.


The tea, by the way, was excellent!

The Party’s Over

The season is over.

With the arrival of the rains, all but the most hardy of tourists have left.

Autos stand idle

Leaving their drivers time to sit and chat.

Commerce is quiet. The Kashmiri salesmen finally relax.

Lord Krishna prepares to be packed away,

while the souvenir shops close.

Focus drifts

And staff drift,

As hotels empty.

The clear-up begins.