... from January 15 to March 25 2024, photographs and regular chronicles, visit the "Back to India" page... and its portfolio

from Mumbai rediscovery of the rupestrian sites of Ajanta and Ellora, and the citadel of Daulatabad

 

... reader's note: the texts, like the one that follows, will not appear at the same time as the porfolio, but according to my inspiration and logistical constraints, a trip to India is not a walk in the park and requires a lot of energy and vigilance, let's remember that ... so thank you very much for your indulgence!...

... thirty years on! ... has India changed? certainly yes, who would dare to say otherwise? but I would like to qualify this by saying in Indian terms: yes and no, "same same but different ...".

... "mother India" !!! ... it's only in the centres of megalopolises like Mumbai (and even then) that you can touch "positive modernity", elsewhere it seems to me to be almost worse than before, despite smartphones that look like robotic transplants ... I think 99% of Indians have one and never leave it, heads down, eyes riveted to their screens ...

... almost a billion and a half inhabitants ... what a manna for operators! ...

 

India Gate - Mumbai

... we were staying at the Aroma hotel, booked before our departure - the aroma was dominated by the smell of mothballs, the white balls of which were everywhere in the bathroom - a blind room measuring 9 m2 at best, a bit depressing for two tired old travellers ... the words of Bernard Lavilliers' sertao came to mind (thank you, friend):

Caruarú Hotel Centenario, princely suite
View of the toilet, colour TV, alternating current
The fan blades cut slice by slice
The air as thick as manioc

The last Texaco has just closed its doors
Only mosquitoes love me like that
Their bloody kisses keep me awake
Serves me right! I shouldn't have come

 

... I had spotted the possibility of showing the "urban jungle" through a curtain of vegetation ... all we had to do was get to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), accessible by train without much difficulty other than braving the dense crowds of travellers on this suburban line ... 1h30 later we reached Borivali where we jumped into a tuk tuk for the entrance to the park ... 104 km2 of protected tropical forest and an astonishing haven of peace ..

 

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

... after paying our entrance fee, we take a wide path up the hill which is the highest point of the park ... lined with tropical trees through which we can see the buildings of Borivali, the large suburb of Mumbai, it quickly becomes a staircase with asymmetrical stone steps ... at the top a pavilion offers a shady break and a view of the city on one side and the forest on the other ...

... not many visitors at this early hour of the morning, but as we make our way back down we come across more and more people, especially groups of young people and lots of couples enjoying the peace and quiet for a few romantic moments …

 

the Taj Mahal: the old and the new from the forecourt of India Gate

 

... the city is a huge construction site, making pedestrian traffic difficult ... often, very often in fact, we are obliged to walk on the pavement ... what can we say about the way traffic is organised? ... organised seems to be a big word to define a kind of tacit agreement between pedestrians and vehicles of all kinds ... let's stay together must be their motto, a group imposes itself more easily in the face of mechanised and backfiring adversity!

passing Chhattrapati Shivaj Maharaj Terminus (Victoria station)