Hello, again!

Well, that was particularly annoying.

My computer suddenly took sick and had to be sent away to the Poorly Computer Hospital, where it underwent a major transplant.


It seemed to be particularly bad timing, considering that I needed to set up the Print On Demand detail for my book, and that I don’t have immediate access to an alternate machine, other than a notebook. Unfortunately, though, the notebook:

a) is very slow,

b) doesn’t have any of my files on it and

c) has a screen too small for me to read without getting a major headache within 5 minutes.

Because of that, I got cross about it and fretted. But after a couple of days I realised that instead of fretting, since I had found out that fretting didn’t seem to help much, I could just have a bit of free time.

And so I read and went for walks and did all sorts of other things, but today I was able to go and collect it from the Poorly Computer Hospital and bring it home again.

The surgery had also involved having several important programs removed, but when I came to reinstall them I discovered that Microsoft had decided to no longer support the Office 2010 program I had bought from them, and so I ended up having to purchase a new version.

Thanks, Microsoft.

On the plus side, though, it had also removed Windows 10, and reinstalled Windows 7. And this is A Good Thing, since it appears that Windows 10 is good for very little other than causing computers to run at a temperature almost high enough to melt rock and to switch themselves off at random times, preferably when that will cause the maximum amount of inconvenience to the user.

Anyway, I’m definitely overdue another post, as it’s a week since my last one. So, what have I missed in all that time, that I might have been blogging about?

The main news in UK seems to be the upcoming referendum on membership of the EU. The Leave Camp have warned that remaining inside the EU will mean that the UK will be plunged into disaster the very next day, with at least 5 million flesh-eating zombies poised to swarm through the Channel Tunnel and invade the country, whilst the Remain Camp warn that a vote to leave will lead to every single family being evicted from their suddenly value-less houses and every business going bust since there will no longer be any market for them to sell their goods to.


What else?

England trounced Sri Lanka in the first test! *dances little jig* That’s important, anyway!

I don’t think anything else has happened.

So, what do I need to do?

Well, firstly apologise to everyone I’ve not had a chance to reply to yet. I’ll do so very shortly!

Secondly, sort out that Print On demand book. I’m on it!

And thirdly, think of a blog post.

Heaven only knows what I can write about this week.

My First Long Trip to India (7) – the Final Installment!

It was much warmer down in Kalimpong. Indeed, I would be inclined to describe it as hot, although I have no doubt that most Indians would say ‘Pah! You think that’s hot?’ Possibly I wouldn’t think so either, if I had just come up from the plains, but coming from Sikkim, it definitely felt hot.

The first morning, as soon as I had finished breakfast, I took a long, hot, but extremely beautiful walk up hill through mixed forest to the Durpin Gompa, or, as it’s properly called, the Zang Dog Palri Fo Brang Monastery. It was a morning of flowers, trees, sunshine and butterflies, and for some reason I felt especially euphoric.




The road to the monastery runs through an army checkpoint and lots of army land, and from the checkpoint I was helpfully taken partway by an extremely polite and friendly redcap and shown the correct junction. As I continued my walk, I was passed by a number of soldiers who all smiled and wished me a good morning. It was slightly unnerving, since most soldiers I had come across before had tended to adopt their special stern and unfriendly faces for me as soon as I neared them.

Later, on the way back from the monastery, I was stopped at the same checkpoint by a soldier who decided that he wanted to chat. So for some ten minutes or so, I was standing there, with him holding my hand and asking me where I came from and about my family and what I thought of India and yet, after two months in India, it all seemed entirely natural.


What else did I do in Kalimpong? Well, I virtually overdosed on lassis, especially mango lassis. The fancy just took me.

I had a haircut.

I got some of my films developed. There was no real reason why I should, but I felt impatient and for some reason wanted to look at the ones I had taken of Bodhgaya.

I watched the last of the India / Pakistan cricket series on the TV. India won the test series as well as the ODI’s. It seemed that the whole series had been played in a fantastic spirit, and I found myself hoping that this might, in some small way, lead to improved relations between the two countries.

But I feared that I was being hopelessly naïve.

I looked around the market, which was fun – as it usually is in India. And I took a number of photos. And here I must admit to a strong loathing of the tourists and travellers that shove a camera lens in someone’s face and take a picture, totally oblivious of any offence they may cause. You see it so often. And I think it is so often a kind of western arrogance, an idea that they somehow have a right to do it.

Once, waiting for a flight at Dubai airport, I witnessed two young Japanese tourists who approached an Arab gentleman who was looking splendid in white dishdash and keffiyeh, sitting and drinking coffee. After poking the camera lens into his face and taking a couple of photos, whilst the gentleman sat impassively ignoring this rudeness, the girl had the effrontery to pull a chair right up next to him and lean into him, as the boy continued taking photos.

I cringed. I felt the entire room cringe.

The gentleman concerned drained his cup and slowly stood up, bowed without smiling to the young couple, and walked off.

So I walked around the market stalls, asking people if I could take their photos. Some said no, but most said yes.

market 1


market 2

Late afternoon, and thick cloud was quite literally sitting on the top of Kalimpong. The ground level was warm and dry, whilst the tops of the buildings and trees disappeared into the clouds. I remember seeing this also in Kathmandu, once. It’s a kind of inversion, but I think there’s a special name for it when it occurs in urban areas.

I returned to the plains by share jeep again, and flew back to Delhi the following day.

Delhi felt very different to how it had felt a couple of months before – much hotter, now, and the lighter evenings gave it a very different feel, too. Other than buy books and walk around a lot, I didn’t do a great deal with my two days there.

In my mind, I had already left to go home.




Cricket is a strange game. Even those of us that follow it will agree on that.


To an outsider, the rules appear to be deliberately complicated, almost absurd. And for a ‘sport’, it is played at a ridiculously pedestrian pace, stopping for lunch and tea, and, in the case of a test match, lasting up to five days. And even then the result may just be a draw. And then there is the obsession with statistics.

Of course, all of that is part of the attraction of the game, although I doubt that I could convince any non-believer of the fact.

Us believers like to think that it is the most civilised game in the universe.

I can start up a conversation about cricket with someone from, say, India or New Zealand, and we will generally be enthusiastic and polite about the other person’s team. Would the same happen if a football supporter met a supporter from another country? I concede that it might, but I do suspect that there would be a lot more tension, a lot less generosity of spirit. At a cricket match, rival supporters mingle freely as they watch the game, and crowd trouble and violence is virtually unheard of. Even during matches between fierce rivals such as Australia and England, or India and Pakistan, it is not necessary to segregate the rival supporters (at least, I am unaware of it ever happening, and it would be most unusual if it did).

On my first long visit to India, I soon came to realise the importance that cricket held there.

Everybody follows the cricket in India, and everywhere that I went, somebody was playing cricket. Beside the dusty river bed in front of my guest house in Bodhgaya, each afternoon a host of children of all ages, from youngsters of five or six to almost adults, formed into two teams, and a serious game of cricket would then ensue; the fast bowlers steaming in towards the water buffalo end, the spinners employing their guile where the pigs had roughed up the pitch around leg stump. They never missed an afternoon.

Towards the end of my stay in Bodhgaya, I went to change some money at the bank. After the usual round of form-filling and waiting, I finally sat in front of the desk of a severe and tight-lipped bank official. He curtly asked me a few questions as he read my forms and looked through my passport. Then his demeanour suddenly changed.



‘Sussex? Sussex won the Championship last year. Do you watch them?’

‘No, Tonbridge is in Kent.’ I replied. ‘I follow Kent.’

We then happily chatted cricket for five or ten minutes until he sighed, looked at his watch and waved me to another counter where I would collect my money.

‘Enjoy your stay in India.’ he smiled.

After this, I travelled up to Darjeeling. Darjeeling is built on a steep hill, and the majority of its roads snake along and up and down hillsides with steep drops below. In many places children would set up games of cricket, skilfully avoiding the ‘six and out’ hit into the adjacent chasm. Even in the middle of markets, one had to squeeze past keen games of cricket being played amongst the stalls. Occasionally a tennis ball would ping off a bat towards me, followed by a cry of ‘Catch it!’

Many other times in India, I have often found that conversations I have been having just naturally turn to the cricket after the other, less important, things have been dealt with. And every time I return to India, there is no sign of this enthusiasm diminishing.

The photograph at the top of this post is of the Maidan in Kolkata, on a Sunday morning. As I walked along, there must have been dozens of games of cricket going on. Some were being played by sides all in their best whites and shiny new kit, some by sides in old clothes, with maybe only half a dozen players a side, playing with a scuffed old ball and battered bats. All were deadly serious.

I’d love to hear your views on this.