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Living on the backside

by Stravaig

Although no stranger to the Indian sub-continent, I am new to New Delhi. Perhaps I should shut up and write about what I know. Rule one in any “How to write” manual. Even so, the observations of a newcomer may be of interest. Let’s give it a shot.

I have the best of both worlds. No culture shock, yet childlike wonder at some of the new sights. On day one, I was excited to see a flock of green parakeets fly past and shouted to my spouse (let’s just call him Mr S for now) to come and look. By day two, I realised that they are as common here as sparrows are at home. They’re noisy little buggers too. We know they’re there but we don’t rush to watch them any more.

I’m still at the stage where I will stop to admire a plant or tree. It’s all new. It’s green, hot and humid; a perfect environment for growing things. Frangipani trees are common, ginormous snails (wonder if they’re edible*), and bougainvillea, one of my favourite shrubs (trees?) is plentiful. Enough of that, I think I’m turning into Mike Clark.

Glancing out of the window yesterday, I saw an elephant strolling down the street. My driver, Mr Krishnan, is helping me get acquainted with the place. His favourite word, I think, is “backside”. Our house is at the backside of our area, my dentist – yes, I’ve already been done – is at the backside of the market. (For some strange reason, the dentist appears to share his premises with a gynaecologist, but let’s not go into that.) And it is essential to keep a bucket in the backside of the car.

I have discovered Khan Market, which I love. So much so, that I keep going there instead of exploring further afield. For all I know, there might be an even better place just down the road. However, after discussing it with a friend, I discovered that Mr Krishnan always takes me to the backside. What I had thought was the front is, given Mr Krishnan’s foible not surprisingly, the, yes, you’ve guessed.

Khan Market is a paradise for book lovers. Unfortunately, most of the best bookshops accept credit cards. We’ve only been here a few days and already have filled one bookshelf. It’s a small anomaly in an otherwise bare house. I’ve almost got to the stage where I’m hiding my book purchases from Mr S. Yep, I’m an addict. They are cheap though. You can get a whole bag of books for about £20.

Hey! I didn’t come to India to sit indoors and read books! I’m outta here!

Till next time. (If the Ed lets me have a regular column.)


* Having been plagued by snails in our suburban London garden, I discovered the ultimate revenge. Eat them. First detoxify the snails by keeping them in a container. Feed them lettuce and water for about a week. Then get the garlic out. OK, I admit I didn’t actually get around to doing this. But it’s the thought that counts.

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