You catch a quick taste of a few of the millions of flavours that blend into the complexity of India at Heathrow, where Terminal Four is the designated anthill for Third World airlines and travellers. A first glimpse of the tie of turbans- flying saucers, jaunty bandanas and strangely modernized mushrooms of this proud headdress- bob around. Aunties in floral shalwar kameez and all their gold jangling from wrist and throat, cool teenagers keeping a discreet distance from granny who is thumping her stick in her wheelchair. Ah, all of human life is here.
Next day in Delhi: Quick sortie to local market, where I say hello to shopkeepers I’ve known for years. The brothers Singh who update my Indian sim card, the pharmacy which sells everything from aspirin to cornflakes, the stationers who print my visiting cards, Fotomart who take passport pictures, Shankie who has the best fruit and veg for miles, the magazine stall where I buy Delhi Time Out.
I keep seeing turbans everywhere, so here are a few stylish Sikh gentlemen who courteously and gallantly allowed me to photograph their cultural emblems.
Mr Inderjeet Singh of Quick Electronics: “This is Vinter, jee, so black and sober colours are favoured. I buy four and a half metres of fine voile and tie a fresh turban every day.”
Mr Baljit Singh, brother and co-owner of Quick: “I remember the fantail fashion of the Patiala arristocratic families.”
After that I travel in style in Ramu’s rickshaw, to the beauty parlour where sweet Usha gives me a fantastic pedicure.
Here endeth my first day back in Delhi