India 7 : Blue


If Jaisalmer is Gold and Jaipur is Pink then so must Jodhpur be Blue.

The sky is a leaden blue but the air is taut and sticky. It’s a humid day where clothes cling annoyingly and you spend minutes detaching yourself from their clammy embrace.

A mighty fort dominates the skyline. Mehrangarh, iconic illustration of the city which lies beneath its gaze. Dominating, powerful, sturdy and majestic, it looks down haughtily upon the denizens who reside within their blue washed walls.


Within its walls lie intricate houses and apartments with elegant friezes to hide their contents. The walls are massively thick and huge cannon jut out proudly from the battlements, their open mouths gaping over the city. You can only imagine the noise if one were to be fired now.


We pass through endless rooms that echo with our footsteps where once they would have echoed to the sounds of soldiers as they moved to and fro, their barracks now museums displaying the accoutrements of war in shiny display cases, far removed from the heat and dust of battle.

Amongst the high walls and the latticework of private apartments, you find little oases of calm in which you can pause and reflect; take in water before plunging once more into the maelstrom that is tourism in India.


Away from the crowds there is a quieter place. This marble mausoleum of sorts, cremation site of the rulers of Jodhpur. Here is the contemplation of mortality, overseen from afar by the mighty fort upon the skyline.

Another day done. Another day of bewildering history, set against a background of stone and marble. Stories of triumph and tragedy, of victory and sacrifice, resonate in my brain.

We began the day in blue and so shall it end, beside another blue creation but one which is cold and ripples gently when the wind blows.


And dusk falls, obscuring the fine detail of buildings and faces alike. Dimly lit torches illuminate the paths that lead us to and from our dinner. Insects buzz loudly in the trees and sharp eyes watch from nearby bushes, small creatures of the night, observing us from afar.

Night. A slow walk in the balmy darkness.

A room. A bed. Perchance to sleep.

India 6 : Camel


It starts to cool as evening draws near.

This is not a coolness born on a freshening wind but the subtle drop in temperature as the sun begins to wane, leaving behind a sticky, clammy feeling but one which, no matter how unpleasant upon the skin, gives welcome respite from the relentless heat.

The desert beckons us. The ship of the desert shall be our vessel.


They are haughty creatures. Honking, chewing, eyeing us without enthusiasm, only too aware of the burden they must carry. Surely there is more to life than this?. They kneel upon the sand, occasionally complaining and where one begins, the next shall surely follow.

Their owners lavish praise upon their charges. This one is ‘patient’ whilst this one is ‘gentle’ and the one over there is ‘a slow walker.’ How then are we to choose?. It matters not as we are directed and cajoled into heaving ourselves atop a kneeling steed which then lurches up as we hang on for dear life.


The setting sun is our destination. The night draws in and the sun sets but it is hazy and obscured and there is no golden glow beneath which to ride but rather a painful and unpleasant experience which requires an early dismount, conscious of the growing dryness in one’s mouth and the aching thighs. Easier and swifter to walk alongside your charge than to ride upon it.


We assemble upon the dunes and boys rush forward, their arms clinging to cold bottles with which to quench our thirst, but for a price of course. We gather and watch the sun fade yet the light remains a while longer before it too is extinguished and darkness covers the land.

The curtain drops and a black velvet throw covers the Earth, sequinned stars shining in an impossibly clear sky. There is tiredness and a throat, only recently cooled, already dry once more and in need to quenching.


Out of the gloom, lit up like a Christmas tree, the hotel is a welcome sight for within lies the promise of the cold drink and cool shower, the change of clothes and a respite from the desert sands that infiltrate into both garment and skin.

Tomorrow we move on. Tomorrow is another day.

India 5 : Gold


Deep in the heart of the desert now. Deep beneath a cloudless sky with an unrelenting heat that batters you down and makes movement an effort.

Ancient city now inundated by all manner of modern constructs. Where once there was history and the silence of space, now there is the clutter of hotel and cafe, none built with any permission but invasive, an occupying force, crammed into tight alleyways which throng with bovine life and the reckless motorcyclist, determined to mow down the unwary visitor.


This is a challenge. Conscious of the jarring thrum of motor engines that rise and fall we send our way deeper into the city. Jain temple, one small reminder of the past, one original creation amidst the modern.


Figures caper upon the walls, intricately carved and chiselled with love in golden stone. They dance and come alive before our eyes in an endless and joyous display of agility centuries old. Here is craftsmanship that delights and entrances and one is lost in the mesmerising show.

Wedding invitations are painted upon the walls. Open invites to join in the merriment. Alas there are none for us to attend but the openness, the bold display to all and sundry, reflect the warmth exuded by the people we meet.


Ancient houses, intricately carved, cause pause for breath. Young girls, dressed in traditional costume, pose reluctantly for photographs, embarrassed and wary as they shift and squirm beneath the fussing fingers of their mothers who pluck and twist and adjust until they are satisfied.


We move on, wandering slowly through meandering streets, narrowly avoiding the spinning wheels of rash riders.

The high walls, strong and gold, give us a sight, if eyes were keen enough, of the Pakistan border. Below us the rows of tourist buses stand silent awaiting their returnees. Buildings clutter the land below the walls, a city bursting at its seems, leaking out into the surrounding area.

Slowly we must return, tired and weary, footsore and bruised now from the handlebars of an errant motorcycle, wending our way past a young girl, standing high upon a tightrope, our destination more grounded.


Tomorrow is another day. A golden sun sets across the golden city and we leave the bustle behind for the cool sanctuary of yet another hostelry, grateful for the respite and the retreat of the sun.

India 4 : Moving


India is always moving and we must move with it.

To stand still is to be swept away by the mass of humanity and vanish into the heaving swirl of a billion souls.


This not the road less-travelled but one which takes us away from one hive of activity in search of another. A road is merely a conduit, a passage linking A with B and so it must be for us as our destination lies to the West.

Here it is flat and the vast expanses of the desert lie to either side of the tarmac trail. Yes there is life here for this is not the desert of the movie or book with its vast dunes and gleaming golden sands. This is more scrub than gleaming gold yet it is desert all the same, unbending and hot, lying exposed beneath the sun.


High above us, flocks of birds wheel and dart against the backdrop of blue. A lake provides welcome water and cool relief when the temperature rises as it quickly does as the hours tick by.

There is beauty here. It is not the beauty of jewels or a myriad of colours but a beauty that is entirely natural and relatively untouched by human hand. It is nature without interference, unspoilt and allowed to find its own way, unencumbered by civilisation and the human insistence upon change.

The casual observer might say that it is barren; devoid of life and yet that is not so for plants grow more frequently than one might expect and there are abundant splashes of greenery to break the monotony.


Camels wait patiently, almost nonchalantly, for a passer by to stop and purchase them. Young men; men with seemingly no desert experience, stand by, like used car salesmen, waiting to pounce upon the prospective buyer and tempt him with their chewing wares. As a mode of transport they are an acquired taste but no desert would be complete without them.

But we move on.

Mile after mile after mile. Rarely changing. A seemingly endless vista reaches away to both sides of the road and accompanies us as we cross the desert, deeper into the west and the border that joins India and Pakistan. There is no pause and why should there be when india does not pause for us to allow a chance to breathe, to take stock. There is always another road to travel and another destination to reach.

And if you do not move then you stagnate. So on we go.

India 3 : Past



The sun peeps it’s reluctant face above the parapet of a building to my left, illuminating the grounds of my hotel and bathing me in golden warmth.

Once this was a grand home to an Indian ruler but now time and progress have removed all traces of domestic bliss and now, where once family talked and played and ate, tourists, both local and foreign, stalk the long halls and sleep in rooms once occupied by royalty.

My view is of a space still occupied by one such royal. The Maharani of Bikaner lives in an edifice not dissimilar from my own and her chauffeur, a throwback to a former age, diligently washes her car beneath the burning sun, patiently awaiting his mistress.


Whilst the past has its share of glories, it is not without its less palatable excesses. The games room is one such example where the bright Green baize of the snooker table contrasts vividly with the stretched skins of the hunted that decorate the walls.

An era of big game hunting is displayed graphically about the room and cold eyes, unrealistic and yet piercing, gaze down upon the unwary visitor. Where once these animals were full of life and lived according to the natural law, now they are flat, tired and out of keeping with modern sentiment. I shake my head and leave, unwilling to stay in a place so full of horror.


The past is here and cannot be avoided. It seeps out of every veneer, every stone, every inch of the building. Yes there is grandeur and elegance here but it is faded and in keeping with much of what makes India fascinate.

The modern is hidden. It’s desirability muted and reserved only for certain times and occasions. Here it is the past that is king and those modern adaptations, introduced to bring this palace kicking and screaming into the new world, clash loudly with what has gone before. It is an unsettling merger that leaves one uncomfortable and unsure as to the suitability of the old and the new confined to such small spaces.


At least beyond the interior of this place, one can find comfort in design. Intricate lattice work, gentle arches and elegant carvings are the trademarks of the palace and the grounds, clean and neatly laid out, offer respite from the forced Union of new and old that exists within.

The pool offers its own sanctuary. A space unvisited by most and thus the water, cool and blue, lies un-disturbed, reflecting only the sun and bright blue sky above.

Night. The soft breeze tangles with my shirt as I climb to the roof and there, amidst the dark, bright lights shine, beacons about which the insects of the night hover and sway.


Beyond the bright lights shine those of the city, tiny stars that flicker against a backdrop of grey and black. Faint noises, those of the car and bus and human traffic, drift on soft wings to my ears and I bask in all that surrounds me.

I exist in the modern but crave the past for it is in the latter that I find solace and tomorrow when the future is here, the past will guide me on.

India 2 : Art


The road is long and dusty. Men walk alongside it, eyes fixed upon the horizon, each step just one more towards their destination. Where that might be, only they know for the road is long and habitation is often far apart.

There’s a stillness in the air. Dust motes fail to find purchase and rise and fall, for there is no wind in which to dance and swirl. The air is warm, an embrace that is not that of fire but one of gentle touch and the occasional soft breeze only lightly ruffles my hair.

The castle, our temporary home, stands silently behind us as we step out into the town. Broken paving stones, unwitting traps to the sandalled foot and unwary traveller, lie beneath our feet.

There is a sense of abandonment here, a sense of desolation. There is no traffic nor noise to disturb the sound of foot upon the road for the streets lie virtually deserted bar these intruders from the West.


But beauty here lies not with people but rather that which they leave behind. Locked doors guard crumbling edifices but edifices that are resplendent with colour and activity. Edifices now abandoned save for those few deemed worthy still of human inhabitation. Troubling it is that these are few and far between and the palpable sense of decay lingers in the still air and lends a sadness to this town.


These works of art, this fading glory, harder to see through eyes that dim with a tear at the thought of such loss. But here these works are left to die and only we, the paying tourists, are witness to their painful demise.


Each scene captivates. Each scene is given time and due reverence. Small details entrance and the colours leap from the walls and touch the heart.

There is no rush here, no deafening cacophony that heralds the arrival of the straying tuk-tuk, no jostling as the camera lens captures a scene that might not live ten years longer. Here, the death of art is slow and peaceful, not harsh and violent. But it is still death and one which, in a more caring world, might be avoided.


We merely glimpse most. Held prisoner by circumstance and those who cannot spare time nor money to redress the crumbling balance, much is hidden from us. Hidden from prying eyes, judgemental eyes of those with no understanding of the art form and yet, as we would be told, audacious in our criticisms of those who fail to act. But they will not preserve it for us nor those who follow us and so, as with all things, it must fade; fade back into what it once was.


And so it must end.

With the dying of the light we turn back. Sights still unseen and must remain so for our feet slip on broken stone and the darkness shall be a treacherous beast. The sun is setting upon us and with its fall comes the relative coolness of the air.

Tomorrow is another day and the sun will shine upon the paintings once again, but who shall view them? Not we, for we shall be gone and our footsteps will be naught but empty spaces where once we walked.

India 1: The Silence



I lay there, listening to the quiet cacophony from the street below. A hazy sun shone through the smog that lay over the city and I pulled back the curtains on a scene of hustle and bustle as the city came to life.

Through the glass I could feel the heat, warming me, touching me with its soft golden strokes of the new day.

Keep your eyes open.

Always a new scene unfolding before you. The child on her way to school, smiling, eager for the day in a uniform so white and perfect that it seems to openly defy the dust and dirt that swirls about her. Two men in animated conversation. One delicately picks at his teeth with a toothpick whilst nodding ferociously at his friend.

Traffic. Gleaming Mercedes launch themselves, spat out from side streets and the embassies that line the broad roads. Tuk-Tuk and rickshaw, paint peeling and jostling for position, carrying both native and traveller to destination unknown.

And yet, there is silence.

An eerie calm, self invented. A space within which to exist; to draw back and take stock. A viewpoint from which to observe and from which one can reach out a hand and pause time, allowing respite from the day.

Dark alleys, sheltered from view, are merely glimpsed. Crowded, lined with small shops whilst above them the wires and cables conjoin in bizarre shapes of intimacy, coupling and uncoupling high above the ground.


Green spaces, the solace of nature amidst the concrete jungle. Trees, green grass, lush and verdant. Beyond the screen of foliage the city becomes a mere mumble, a low growl of animalistic chatter.


Wandering. Feet upon the ground. Silent and contemplative. No need for words to shatter the still. Nothing I might utter that would give meaning.

Meaning to this. To places of silence; of quiet dignity; of reflection of past lives. Lives of men I do not know but men whose lives touched mine through words and deeds from years before my birth. Heroes. Tainted heroes, for all men are tainted and where there is gloss even that, in time, shall diminish.

But heroes nonetheless. Men of vision. Men deserving of my silence lest I speak in frivolous and banal terms and, in doing so, lessen them. And so I lower my head respectfully and thank them for their service.


The dead are honoured.

Grey skies. Sticky tendrils attach themselves and sweat trickles down my back. But that is for the living to endure.

Vast monuments. Great edifices built to honour great men. Men who once ruled these lands. Sandstone, elegant domes, gardens of paradise and yet set, not in heaven, but behind stone walls in the suburbs; a city built up about a monument once more isolated and deserving, perhaps, of such honour.

To contemplate the hand of man.

The bricklayer and the plasterer, the architect and mason, the gardener and the surveyor. The triumph of their discourse; their vision, the lasting construct for a fallen lord. To stand the test of time, immortality in sandstone.


Triumphal arch. A stone memory to those more recently felled. Lasting reminder of the futility of war. In honour yes, but how many young were sacrificed upon a blood soaked field of unfamiliar hue?. Far from home, loved ones imprinted upon their young minds. Deserving of gratitude but is that represented here? Is this honour?.


Streets blur in the dusk drawn light. All ages, all sexes; humanity mingles and merges into fleeting visions of colourful garb set against the greying light. Pale orbs, golden soft, their harshness diluted by the silent mists of the evening, line our way.

And in silence we return.

Today is done. Tomorrow is a new day and one in which noise may have its turn. But now, as the lights grow dim and the darkness encroaches across the land, we slip into the silence of sleep.

Once I was afraid

Once I was afraid,

Of a man I knew,

I thought I knew him well,

Turns out I had no clue,

A man of many facets,

A troubled, tortured soul,

Torn into a thousand parts,

That made a wretched whole,

Conflicted and tormented,

A constant writhing shape,

A prison cell of self made bars,

And no means of escape,

Yanked to every compass point,

Skin so ripped and red,

Armies marched to fight great wars,

Battlefield within his head,

They crashed and clashed in thunder,

Their screams assailed his mind,

In cowards way he turned and fled,

A haven he must find,

Depression wrestled misery,

Self loathing upper hand,

Disgust, self-flagellation,

Tore gouges out the land,

Yes of this man I was afraid,

His misery so vile,

I feared what he might do to me,

With no panache nor style,

Brutality and torture,

No compassion stayed his fist,

His punches landed solidly,

And no, he never missed,

And so my fear kept growing,

Beneath the barrage of his hate,

I tried so hard to save myself,

Before the hour was late,

But the man I fear is me, you see,

And myself I cannot lose,

I wish with all my heart I might,

But have no strength to choose,

Now I fear what I’ve become,

A wretched, lifeless shell,

This fear will be the end of me,

And drag me straight to hell,

If such a place exists of course,

That’s not inside my head,

For I fear I live there now,

And will do, till I’m dead.

What the eyes do not see

What the eyes do not see,

And the ears do not hear,

Is that I’m still around,

But what is now clear,

Is that I’m an irrelevance,

No place in a world,

With coloured cloth of allegiance,

Bright banners unfurled,

A world with its causes,

Some valid, some not,

Where bandwagons groan,

If the right topics hot,

Righteous indignation,

Narcissism rife,

Stirring the pot,

Stirring the strife,

No thought for another,

No pause to take stock,

When the differing opinion,

Can be met with the block,

No opinion is valid,

No, none save your own,

Those that see differently,

Abused, stand alone,

And that’s where I am,

Sitting outside the pack,

My eyes see things differently,

Dare not speak, fear attack,

So I suffer in silence,

Keep views deep within,

For dread, I reveal them,

And invite conflict in,

What your eyes do not see,

And your ears do not hear,

Is the poor lonely soul,

Shedding quiet tears,

Tears of abandonment,

Of sorrow and pain,

And so it must be,

And so it shall remain.

I knew I was invisible

I knew I was invisible,

When people saw right through me,

No disturbance in the air,

No clue that drew them to me,

My writing, words in lemons juice,

Was naked to the eye,

Only if held up to light,

Revealing natures dye,

Those words, so meaningless to some,

Were etched in grief and pain,

Words of heartfelt anguish,

Driving me insane,

Despair was written cross my brow,

The worry lines carved deep,

By guilty hands of humankind,

And the demons in my sleep,

A thousand restless thoughts of harm,

A million of self loathing,

Took me in their evil arms,

Clung like vicious clothing,

Suffocating, strangling,

Scratching at my soul,

Tearing me apart inside,

Shattering my whole,

No part of me escaped unscathed,

No skin, not torn and bruised,

The fragile ego shattered,

The inner man abused,

But all this passed unnoticed,

By those with eyes downturned,

Embarrassed by my sadness,

My sanity, no concern,

They passed me by so swiftly,

Ignoring, caring not,

If I should live or I should die,

They did not care one jot,

Perhaps they never saw me,

Through choice or by design,

Perhaps I am invisible,

My soul, it does not shine,

A light to draw them to me,

A light to guide their way,

And so they pass me by once more,

Just like yesterday,

I knew I was invisible,

And got what I deserved,

Ignored by those oblivious,

To my frayed out nerve,

I knew I was invisible,

A fading of the light,

I tried, I really did you know,

But now I’m gone,