Poster outside the Maternity Unit

You might have to use a magnifying glass to read it, but the white billboard says:

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” Psalms 50:15


PS I am impressed by the figure bending down, very flexible. No problem touching toes.

(Rough) Diamond Dogs in Delhi

Wandering down the lanes (galis) of Old Delhi on Sunday morning, I took some photos of dogs. Here’s an old man, sitting in the feeble winter sunshine with his dog.


This family were catching up on some sleep, huddled together on a ledge.


This man was lovingly stroking his dog’s head with his left foot. The dog really seemed to enjoy it, too. I suppose any form of gentle contact would be perceived as being affectionate.


In the fancy paper producing area of Chawri Bazar, this dog has curled up among discarded magazines, gold foil wrapping paper and off-cuts. There’s some discarded food in front of him, wrapped up in a plastic bag, but he doesn’t seem bothered.



Loos of Manipur

Don’t get too excited. I only photographed the poshest urinals. The usual stinky ones riddled with concrete cancer I will not inflict upon you.

This is my favourite one, very colourful, with a corrugated iron roof and concrete steps up to the throne. I would have ensured the back wall has a strategically placed window, making it a “loo with a view”.


Remember your school days, smoking behind the lavatories? Not me, of course, but these ladies are enjoying a smoke in front of the public toilet. I was surprised to see that the loo appears to be on the upper floor. It gives a new meaning to the term “long drop”.


Here’s an open air, well ventilated urinal which I would be glad to use any day.


This is not a urinal. Check the sign.




Delhi Traffic

I have become blasé about the lawless nature of traffic in North Delhi. I say North Delhi because our drivers say that drivers in South Delhi tend to be more law abiding – possibly because of a greater police presence in Lutyens’ leafy avenues around the diplomatic enclave and the PM’s house. Or maybe because there are cameras on traffic lights at some intersections.

An article in the Times of India earlier this week seemed to suggest that India wasn’t doing too badly in the traffic fatality stakes, especially when compared to other developing countries. I don’t think that this is because of the deterrent of fines for traffic offences. The standard fee is 100 rupees (about £1.13) for a “small violation of the law” such as not wearing a seat belt, jumping the red lights or not having a licence plate. For the past decade, this has been supplemented by an additional levy of 500 rupees. More serious crimes warrant a higher penalty, like this sign warning of the dangers of driving in the wrong direction down a one-way street.


About 400 Indians die every day on the roads. I am sure that the death rate would be higher in Delhi if there were fewer road users. There is so much traffic that everyone drives slowly, weaving between rickshaws and bicycles. Most vehicles bear the scars of minor scrapes caused by “brinkmanship driving”. However, in today’s paper, there is an article on the front page with the headline ” Ring Roads turn into death traps as city steps on the gas”. The peak time for fatal crashes in Delhi is between  11pm and midnight on the dual carriageways ringing the city. This is when there are fewer vehicles and speeding is rife.

Two lanes of traffic merging at Azadpur. Often there are bicycles weaving between vehicles in the opposite direction.

What concerns me is that 40% of the fatalities are pedestrians, in a city where there are few usable footpaths at the sides of the road. Another 40% are cycle or motorcycle riders. I have been dealt a glancing blow by rickshaws a few times, luckily without sustaining any harm.

Tibetan market on the fringes of the outer ring road
These mattresses wouldn’t help to cushion the blow in the event of an accident

Not a foodies guide to Manipur

I wasn’t there long enough to find the best places to eat. With the curfew, we had to be back at the guest house at dusk (5pm in January) for security reasons, so evening dining was out of the question. There was one fast food restaurant which looked like it had been sponsored by an American church group, which served western meals – burgers, fruit smoothies, chipped potatoes. Manipur is a dry state, so no wine or beer with your meals, either.

Here is a scene at the market in CCpur. Mystery meat on sale, with dog looking on wistfully. He hasn’t a hope.

Making a special dosa (rice flour pancake) during Pongal celebrations.


Steaming rice cakes called “idlis”

The markets contained some excellent fresh vegetables. Look at the size of those brocoli. I didn’t feel confident enough to sample the mussels, though.

I am not sure that naming an establishment “Three Star Hotel” will pull in the punters. The saloon doesn’t serve alcohol, but you can check out the poultry hanging outside the kitchen area.


Or you could try your luck at this interesting restaurant.


This is how you make stuffed parathas. Take a ball of dough, make an impression using your thumb and fill it with spicy potato and coriander. Fold it back up, then flap it back and forth between your hands to make a thick pancake which is fried. Delicious.

This is a plain breakfast paratha, with spicy relish on the side, eaten for breakfast in the clinic, accompanied by sweet masala chai.


Some road side snacks – eat on the pavement. No one could tell me what the green sludge was in the large pot – Burmese tea leaf salad? There is rice stew, offal stew with lungs, aorta, liver and other stuff requiring a veterinary anatomy degree to decipher and finally, black pudding sausages. These were very tasty indeed.

You could cook your own food, of course. Here is a row of indeterminate chunks of meat hanging on hooks at a butcher’s shop. The easy way to pluck a chicken (“ploat” is what I wrote at first. Is it a real word, or is it just Geordie slang?) quickly, using a blow torch. It also gets the cooking process started, I suppose.

For snacks, you can buy fried strands of dough. And for dessert, there’s always candy floss (cotton candy). With chillies.


Thursday Doors


On the border between Manipur, India and Myanmar there is a little town called Moreh. This is the local supermarket, a wooden building with plenty of ventilation and wooden shutters to close the shop. The door is rather nondescript, I’m afraid.


This door is a lovely shade of blue. In the road outside there is a design drawn in chalk powder to celebrate Pongal, the South Indian Harvest Festival. Strange that this is North East India, not Tamil Nadu.

More basic wooden doors in Moreh. The houses are rather ramshackle, but I like the fringe of sweeping brushes on the roof of the first house.


This is my favourite door of this week’s posting. It is the Salvation Army’s “Destitute Boys’ Home” in Moreh. It has been painted blue, but it’s metal, not wood.