20 July 2020

A Partial India

In October and November 1986, I went to India for the first time.  It was an important experience,  which I tried to capture as it happened in one of my black travel notebooks, now online as three blog posts.  They are essentially unedited transcriptions of what I wrote as I journeyed.  As such, I hope they possess a certain immediacy and freshness.  But they are also necessarily unstructured, other than by each day's itinerary, rather long, and therefore perhaps rather hard to read.

The experiences of those three weeks were so rich for me I decided to re-work my notes into shorter, more digestible pieces, which together form what I called A Partial India.  Partial, because they obviously captured only a tiny part of the vast land, its people and civilisation; partial, too, because it was born of my gratitude for the experiences India gave me.  

A third of a century later, it describes an India which no longer exists, if it ever did.  Given my inevitable lack of comprehension of India's subtleties during that first journey, perhaps this is the best I can now hope for: that the evident non-existence today of the land I described will make Partial India of mild historical interest to others.

For want of anything better, I organised my memories under arbitrary alphabetical headings, which are as follows:

A is for Agra
B is for Books
C is for Camels
D is for Delhi
E is for English
F is for Fatehpur Sikri
G is for Gandhi
H is for Horns
I is for Incense
J is for Jaipur
K is for Kashmir
L is for Large
M is for Mosques
N is for Nights
O is for Ochre
P is for Poverty
Q is for Queuing
R is for Raj
S is for Shangri-La
T is for Trains
U is for Udaipur
V is for Voyaging
W is for Work
X is for Xenophilia
Y is for Yamuna
Z is for Zenana