This is the seventh part of an amazing overland adventure journey from England to India and back again that took place in 1970. I am really honoured to be hosting this story by Reverend Stephen Barton on Selims Raasta – off the beaten path travel interviews Have a read of the other parts and how two friends hitchhiked all over Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now in India…have a read how this incredible journey started!
In his words “The world has changed. Yugoslavia is no more, and I doubt if it’s advisable or even possible to bum a ride over the Khyber Pass these days.”
Wednesday 15 July: Somewhere south of Jalalabad to Lahore via Peshawar
Great ride over the [Khyber] pass and at last reached Peshawar. Very glad to find Al, tho still ill. I had
spent much of an anxious morning searching for him in shops and hotels before I remembered the agreement we had had in Europe: to meet at the Railway Station. And that is where I found him.
Exchanged tales and took minibus to Lahore. Ate interesting fish. Arrived late in Lahore and found 4 rupee hotel. Quite good really.
Thursday 16 July: Lahore to Delhi
Arose before Al (long before!) and breakfasted at Lahore Hotel. Later we both went there and then on to obtain road pass. Crammed into 1.00 pm bus with hundreds of natives. Took 2 ½ hours! Crossed
border and 8 of us on horse tonga to hotel – poor meal, tho’ excellent bath. Took bus to Delhi. Dreadful ride, no sleep, but French were fun.
Friday 17 to Monday 20 July: Delhi
5.30 am on 17 July arrived in Delhi and walked till we found YH and split up. Spent day wandering round offices and then superb meal. Horrible poverty.
[letter to Gill] Arrived yesterday and all’s well. Apart from the very high humidity, India has not struck us in any particular way. As regards the living conditions of the poor, it’s got slowly worse the further east we’ve come. Yesterday afternoon Al had to go to the British Embassy and I spent the time waiting for him by wandering the back streets and bazaars. It is unbelievable, or would be, had we not been told that there’s worse to come in Calcutta. There’s little point in attempting to describe it – just remember any pictures you’ve seen of undernourished kids, filthy streets, gutters flowing with sewage, houses that are no houses etc etc, put them all together and you have a typical Delhi back street.
The Indians are the world’s best bureaucrats. We want to visit Kalimpong and need permits cos it’s in Sikkim and therefore dodgy. We’ve failed here (after sweating gallons in the search for the right office) and shall try again in Calcutta or perhaps in Darjeeling. We shall be gone from Delhi by Aug 31st so if you write, please write Delhi and allow a week for post. Istanbul by the 20th Sep – latest date we’ll be there.
We were sitting in “English Dairy” drinking lovely yoghurt shake, but after ¾ hour or so we thought it best to leave cos we was getting hints. So now we squat in shade. Some parts of Delhi are very pleasant – magnificent memorials of British rule – drives Potter crazy. But it’s still very difficult to find a place in the cool apart from cafés and it’s far too hot to go sightseeing. So I guess we’ll drink tea till 6.00 when we go to see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in air-conditioned cinema! What a way to spend time in India! Tut tut. Promise not to do it again.
Pakistan and India are incredibly hot and sweaty. Al’s had the grot, but survived. I’ve been OK so far. Of course we’ve again arrived long before our post but they’ll keep it till we return. On Monday we set off on a slow trip to Calcutta, stopping at Jaipur, Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi (Benares). We then hope to go to Darjeeling and perhaps Kalimpong but it’s difficult to get permits. After that we go to Kathmandu and eventually back to Delhi, which we’ll leave by the end of August. We’ll be back easily by September 28th. Does Dad remember a superb drink called Lassi – yoghurt and water, shaken and served ice-cold? Our diet is mainly liquid cos it’s so hot, but we reckon to eat in the evenings. We had a great meal last night in a restaurant – beeootiful coffee – first I’ve had since we left (apart from Turkish stuff). I ate about as much as I would at college dinner (i.e. less than at home) and was incredibly full up. We’re eating much much less but just don’t need any more. We’re staying at a Youth Hostel camping ground which is OK but no more. Anyway, it’s cheap.
Sorry no postcard but they’re very expensive and often get nicked in the post! I might write to the many good people who asked me to send them one, but they are 30 in number and that’d cost more than I got right now. So if you see Vicar, Jenny, Diana, Bennets, Highleys, Peatys etc etc give ‘em my love or whatever appropriate. Ta. Trust England is well (tho I gather that Cambridge is very far from well and happy) and I’ll be seeing you.
From Delhi we are catching an overnight train to Jaipur for our grand tour of North India. We have a fantastic railway ticket – cost about £3 – itinerary Delhi – Jaipur – Agra – Lucknow – Benares – Calcutta – Darjeeling – Patna – Raxaul – Delhi – Ferozepur – ALL ONE TICKET – thousands of miles!
The images are a gimpse of what is to come in the next post!