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My diaries are full of notes on India and it is a bit hard to know where to start, especially if extracts are going to make any sense. But India is a bit like that – a montage of experiences, assaults on the senses, moments that make you cringe, followed by moments of pure exhilaration that make you want to laugh out loud. Above all, India for me is place in which life is so precarious for many that every moment that they have is lived to the full. Life is so cheap, and yet as a result it is grasped with both hands with a fervour that can be infectious.
Perhaps the best place to start is in what many in the expat community in New Delhi call the Stinky Markets. Want a haircut? Easy. Want a current New Jersey drivers license? Even easier. How about one from, say Bolivia? “Very easy sir, we can do that” chorused at you in their sing-song lyrical tones. Need some number plates made up to look like a foreign diplomat’s plate? – there is a fellow in there tapping away with a ball peen hammer and a steel punch who can help you out. “But very sorry sir, you will have to wait a day for that.” All that plus seafood that is starting to get a bit stiff and slippery, goat meat, paper mache trinkets from the north, seasoning and spices from the south. All mixed up with a crowd of people doing nothing except milling around and looking like, well, they are milling around doing nothing. Need someone who can spell? Best go to another market for that!! But be assured that most travel in India is just as the sign advertises – PANICKERS travel. They do indeed.