Iran Part One

Iran The only two cities I visited on my trip were to Mashad and Isfahan. Mashad is famous for two things. The shrine of the Eighth Imam of the Shia sect of Islam, Imam Reza, the only one out of all twelve Imams to actually be buried in Iran (all the others are buried in…

Jaisalmer. At the edge of the desert

If Jaipur is the Pink City and Udaipur the City of Lakes, how can Jaisalmer not be the Golden City? Every edifice, from its fort downwards is made of the same golden sandstone, known in the rest of the world as Jaisalmer stone. Perhaps it’s fortunate that Jaisalmer’s airport has little, if any, civilian traffic.…

Smoke on the water

A houseboat holiday As the setting sun turned the sky first golden and then rose, the waters of the Dal reflected the multitude of tints. Other shikaras were darkly silhouetted against the sun’s rays, and I supposed my own shikara was too. My shikarawallah sang a mournful ditty that made up in gloom what it…

Sikkim

It’s my pet theory that you can never really have explored a new destination till you’ve seen its market. It was with that in mind that I set off to the floor above the local taxi stand in Gangtok. Extreme pressure on real estate and not much in the way of flat land means that…

In the Shadow of Shahrukh

It was 1988 and I was wending my way to Khajuraho in June. I remember that trip with clarity, despite the 26 intervening years. Partly because the muddy dull light of the height of summer crept into every one of my photographs, whether I took them at 6 am, 3 pm or 7 pm. And…

La Vie en Rose

A week after I returned from Paris, I visited an up-market restaurant near where I live. Though I have always been partial to their warm chocolate cake, I have to say it tasted like hell. It was chocolate brown all right, but the flavour defied description. It had nothing to do with the ingredient I…

Jaisalmer

If there’s one man in Jaisalmer who qualifies for the title of Mr. Jaisalmer, it is Jitendra Singh Rathore, Vice Chairman of Fort Rajwada, by far the best hotel in town. He has worked tirelessly to put Jaisalmer on the tourist map, an activity that has borne him bitter-sweet fruit. Bitter because as yet there’s…

Blue Blooded in the Pink City

Zorawar Singh Gate, held up with scaffolding, does not look like a very promising sight. Nearby, a movie hall, also coloured the regulation pink, albeit in a lurid shade, looks even less promising. Yet, just as you’re thinking that you’ve left the ‘old Jaipur’ behind, somewhere in the vicinity of Tripolia Bazar, you’ll be taken…