A lazy-hazy dust conceals India. It mires the pavements and wayside plants. It rises in the rush of traffic and settles over a way of life unfamiliar from my own. Travelling in an air-conditioned coach through the hub of an alien city I am cocooned from the noise and the dirt and the passion. During this journey I discover I am the one clothed behind a grey veil.
When set free to wander in a city of ancient temples I am surprised when I become the subject of interest. Two very beautiful young girls indicate they want to take my picture. Myank, my local guide, informs me I will have to get used to being the subject of curiosity, very few locals have ever seen a European lady in the flesh. We laugh together as we share sight of our digital photographs. Namaste is the local form of greeting, usually given with hands together as if in prayer. It seems in India the sun is always shining.
But on the way back to the hotel I observe, for the first time in my life, absolute squalor. Crammed on the banks of what appears to be a huge rubbish dump are hundreds of rickety shacks, stacked like dominoes. Grazing in the filth are pigs and dogs, cows and people. Inside the luxury coach the air is sweet and cold. I inhabit a reserved world, I must never forget to be grateful.