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I’m going to India again. Why India? I go there several times a year and my friends and other people often ask me why. I pay my own way, so this isn’t some all-expenses-paid press junket. It’s usually not for a holiday, either. I love going to India, but it’s not a place in which I can honestly say I normally go to relax (although I hasten to add that there are places where this is more than perfectly possible).

So why the hell do I love going there? First of all, there is the incredible (did I spell that right?) visual variety, a feast for any obsessive photographer and writer such as myself, and the surprises that seem to wait around every corner. And it keeps you on your toes to discover, again and again, that a taxi driver might actually mean “No” when he says “Yes”, as in: “So you know this address, right?” “Yes, sir.” So why is he driving the wrong way (and sometimes against oncoming traffic) for half an hour, then calling his mate for directions? To describe just one example, familiar to many people almost as soon as they get off the plane at Delhi, bleary-eyed and gullible.

I am of the old fashioned, slightly perverse school of travel that says it’s fun and life-enhancing to be removed from your comfort zone. India does comfort zone-removal better than anywhere, unless you happen to be Indian, in which case it’s just normal. Arriving from Europe, you have to take a mental shift sideways or fight against the cultural flow. Either way, you are enriching your soul. In any case, that’s what I keep telling myself. In fact, I’ve just invented a name for it: Creative Stress©. Watch out for the self-help manual.

In India there seems to be a guru for everyone for every day of the week. I’ve been consulting my blog guru lately and I’ve been advised to inject some humour into these blogs. I have a lot of very good friends in India and I think – I hope – they won’t be offended if I tease them a bit with this selection of photos that illustrate some of the more amusing visual culture shocks I have encountered during my visits. If they want to get their revenge they only have to remember that I’m British, and these days that’s about as ridiculous as you can be.

And just to cover my tracks, I have to mention that Indian hospitality is of the first order. Indian friends are for life, not just for Diwali. So I keep returning happily to see them as well.


Spotted in The Times of India, Mumbai edition, I’m not sure this needs any comment. I think all of us condemn bum blasts in public places.


No, I don’t know what a Dliabetologist is either. Probably someone who treats ‘dliabetes’. Meanwhile, form a queue to put your mind at rest with Assistant Professor B. Shit.


Those well-fermented drinks are collector’s items that date back to the days of the 16th century Mughal Empire.


The slogan of the Indian Tourism Board is widely promoted by auto-rickshaw drivers. I think this sums it up. All my memories of Idnia are of incredbial experiences..


On the border with Pakistan at Wagah, near Amritsar, I witnessed the surreal evening border-closing ceremony, at which the Indian army demonstrates its considerable sonic warfare capabilities. I kid you not.


This guy’s tee-shirt is all the more alarming for the fact that he was wearing it at the site of the shrine of the Sufi Muslim saint, Nizamuddin, in Delhi. Sufis are known for the gentle, music-loving, celebratory nature of their brand of Islam. Either this fellow didn’t know the meaning of the slogan or he actually really did know I was going to be there. Probably the latter.

Lots more photos from all over India here, although not all as irreverent as those above:


Come and see me on Instagram too at @tim_bird_photo