south india

The Curse of Gokarna

The Curse of Gokarna

Gokarna is a village growing awkwardly and uncomfortably into a town. It is in this sense an adolescent, unsure of itself in the modern world, but in every other sense Gokarna is old, with a history that stretches into the remotest parts of human memory.

Bubbling Over: Attukal Pongala

Bubbling Over: Attukal Pongala

Celebrated in the South Indian city Trivandrum, the Attukal Pongala Festival is the largest annual gathering of women in the world.

Claire and Iain post-Holi, in Hampi

Holi: India’s Festival of Colours

Two days ago, the Times of India’s Delhi insert included an article on the “ten dirtiest things crazy revellers had played Holi with.” It was impenetrable, like so [...]

Murudeshwar's temple

Murudeshwar and the Millionaire

The ancient temple at Murudeshwar in Kerala, India, is like a Hindu Disneyland. It has the largest gopuram in the world, and even the dustbins seem borrowed from the idea of a theme park.


A Bombay Beer Bar

I started going to the beer bars because I was puzzled. I couldn’t figure out why men would want to spend colossal amounts of money [...]

A superior room at Hotel Samrat

Hotel Samrat, Mumbai

Four years ago, Hotel Samrat gave Claire and I our earliest impressions of India. The cows just outside its doors and the oversized ledger used [...]

Omkar Lodge, Trivandrum

Last bed in town This was the last room in the city for under Rs1000 when we arrived during the Attukal Pongala Festival, the largest [...]

Shastri Resort, Gokarna

Far away enough from the hippies to be wholesome. One of the lovely Shastri family’s cottages on the hill became our home for almost a [...]

Women line up at Attukal Pongala

One Minute at Attukal Pongala

Claire is writing a post about it, but in the meantime here is a short, shaky clip from the Attukal Pongala Festival. (That post is [...]


Cockroaches in Sleeper Class: Journal Entry – Day 4

Written on an overnight train from Mumbai to Gokarna. There are cockroaches all over our train carriage. They are scuttling along the floor, crawling over [...]

Back on the road

We’re on the road again, at the beginning of our second overland journey – through India, Southeast Asia, China, Central Asia, the Middle East and [...]

Hyderabad / Cyberabad

Hyderabad / Cyberabad

I awoke to the muffled beeping of my mobile phone’s alarm, heard through airline issue earplugs and the metal of the train clattering on its [...]

Cochin's backwaters

Backwaters and Beer Teapots in Cochin

The train rattled along, inducing in me the sluggish fatigue of rock-rocking train travel and blanketing heat. I sat atop a wooden luggage rack in [...]

Maharaja's palace in Mysore, it up at night

Mysore: The Demon, the Goddess and the Indian Prince

Mysore, which was one of India’s most important princely states, traces its history back to a Hindu goddess and a demon doing battle on Chamundi Hill.

Rice paddies during the harvest

A Homestay in a South Indian Village

Rural India is changing: electrifying, learning English and accepting tourists into its homes.

Cows on Vagator's Little Beach

Goa’s Haughty Hippies

Vagator in Goa has a reputation for trance parties. It didn’t live up to it when we visited, but its hippies were there, most of them drug-addled and obnoxious.

Monkeys in Matheran

Matheran: A Hill Station Petting Zoo

Matheran is hill station outside Mumbai. It where the city comes to breathe: all mechanised vehicles are banned – even bicycles – and monkeys, ponies, cows, goats and dogs roam its streets.

Mumbai's Victoria Terminus

The Mumbai Revelation

Arriving in Mumbai was a revelation. Bollywood, Indian newspapers, cows on Khar Road and crowded trains: all of them began our love affair with India.

A Mumbai slum

A Passage to India (with apologies to E.M. Forster)

“The brown skins, the bare feet, the nose-rings, the humped bullocks – all these things were foreseeable, seemed obvious and familiar from the moment of [...]