Evocative writing accompanied with original photography, from my travels around India, Morocco and Stockholm. www.clairemcque.wordpress.com/category/writing/travel/
It’s otherworldly; a piece of perfection poised atop its pale plinth. The Taj Mahal incarnates some sort of goddess, her face of serenity held above above human feuding. The huge teardrop shaped domes are uplifting not heavy, soaring from smooth ivory towers towards the sky.
Hefting his wagon, one fruit seller marches boldly through the water, confident in rubber flip flops and clearly accustomed to not letting a monsoon downpour slow his day. The daily commute of Nathapur, a small village on the outskirts of Gurgaon, India continues despite the flooding.
Blaring horns, each engineered to create its own ear-splitting sound announce the presence of school buses, motorbikes and taxis. Careering along on three small tyres, auto-rickshaw drivers confidently navigate the puddles of water, leaving a triangular wake behind them. They look like small green and yellow ships in a sea of brown.
Already, the city’s unperturbed, quiet ambiance is a soothing balm after the frenzy of London. Stockholm has about an eighth of London’s population – the difference is incredible. Less cars on the road, less people in the restaurants – just less, full stop. The Swedish capital is as close to a spa break as you can get from a weekend in a city.
Long-limbed residents breeze down its wide streets and waterfront paths. Like the people, the style is relaxed and flattering – knee length pastel coats, suede trainers and slim cut trousers.
Great craters like the moon’s surface gape in parts of the roads. The tarmac is cracked and puckered like the furrows in an ancient leathery face. Earlier on we had passed a nine-wheeler truck that was keeled over, hanging off the side of the road. The bus’s survival on these axel-shattering, bone-crunching Maharashtrian roads is a testament to Tata Steel – the benefactor of every vehicle in India’s vast transport network.