Knight fight

This is a series of historically themed fighting shows on US TV featuring 6 men fighting in armour with weapons as if they were part of a jousting contest but without the horses. It’s like an historic UFC fight as there are a couple of rules. You can’t hit the groin, feet or back of the knee, not hitting a man when he is down, no stabbing motions.

Each episode starts with the 6 guys going head to head against each other to see who wins the Grand Melee after 3 rounds of 90 seconds. It’s hard work and 2 contestants are eliminated by the 3 judges who score them on aggression, technique, takedowns and injuries. Octagon control is not a factor here even though it’s a dodecahedron.

In the second bout the remaining combatants are paired up to take on the role of a famous battle for 3 rounds of 90 seconds. I watched Saxons vs Romans and Vikings vs Byzantines. I had no idea that the Vikings had gone as far as India!

After the historically themed second stage is over the winners face each other one on one in a final 2 round 90 second battle to decide who wins the $10k episode prize and then goes through to the grand final to battle all of the other episode champions.

I didn’t know such a sport or society existed in America for them to make a reality show out of it for the History channel.

Greece and India

When I was writing many articles about the history of Lefkás last year someone commented about the fact they thought there was some link between the two. At the time I couldn’t find anything on the web about this so I couldn’t help them. It is only through listening to the excellent Eva Palmer Sikelianos- Her life in ruins by Artemis Leontis that I have been able to find out any information about this. Even Google comes up blank!

Now in order to fill in a lot of gaps of generally unreported or unknown history I’m going to have to give out a couple of history recaps and this will make this article long and quite possibly unwieldy. Bear with me while I set the scene.

When I was in India just before Covid caused the world to shutdown I went to the Gandhi memorial gardens. It’s a peaceful paradise in the middle of a busy, hot, dirty city. It’s quite simple but it’s effective just like Gandhi would have wanted it to be. It is however part of the tourist trail which is not what he would have wanted but you don’t have control after you die. As we were on quite a whistle stop tour we just passed by it since you can see everything from your window and Covid was starting to bite. It might have been nice to go around the place but instead I have a postcard memory. By that I mean the memory of an image rather than the actual place.

As India is so big it’s good to have a plan in place so that you make the most of your time there. Checking out Gandhi’s history only became part of the schedule as we had time to spare. It would take a whole other holiday to properly research this.

As I’m clearly digressing from the point I’m wanting to make I will try to get there promptly. The reason I mention Gandhi is because he was a major influence in the revolution in India against British colonial rule and included in that was wearing Parisian fashion. These were often made using Indian cotton and cloth. This was to become known as the khadi or homespun cloth movement. He wished women to go back to the loom and weave their own clothes similar to Eva Palmer Sikelianos.

Eva had also met the first Indian Nobel literature prize winner poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore; along with the granddaughter of Dadabhai Naoroji who was known as the Grand Old Man of India. Now Khorshed Naoroji is a person who has completely disappeared into history apart from her time spent with Eva, Gandhi and the knighted Tagore.

Khorshed possibly had a brief intense relationship with Eva where she was converted into wearing traditional Indian saris instead of the more fashionable Parisian styles she was more accustomed to wearing. She was trying to develop a Byzantine style school to teach those in India about Greek music, dance, language and culture and would have succeeded but Eva choose to help her husband with the development of the Delphic festivals. It was this that led to Eva’s life in ruins as well as her study of archeology 😉

Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Choker Bali is available on Netflix to watch if you want to find out more about his work for yourself. I found it a very enjoyable watch. It’s subtitled as far as I recall.

The Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naoroji, was the first British Indian MP who is commentated in many street names in India but also in Finsbury Park London. If I had continued to read the William Dalrymple book that was in a hotel in India I would know more as would you all.

Clothing as a social and economic battleground

Many different people have used clothes over the years to showcase their point in a way that there words and action have not quite been able to capture people’s attention.

Catharine the Great had done so to emphaise both her feminity but also that she was empress of Russia. With that she was leader of the armed forces so was entiled to have military elements added to her dresses to show solidarity but ultimately that she was in charge.

Eva Palmer Sikelianos rallied against the influence that the Parisian fashion houses had on the bourgeois in the 20th century. She was so committed to presenting herself as an original that she wove all her own clothes from her adulthood onwards. She also influenced many of her Indian compatriots including Khorsed Naoroji and Gandhi to adopt their nationalist dress.

Freddie Mercury or Farrokh Bulsara who was of Parsi Indian origin, wore outrageous clothing on stage to make the point that you can be an outsider in terms of culture, religion, language and sexuality but if you have an undeniable talent and showmanship the people will flock to you. You can change the world bringing light, awareness and recognition to sensitive issues like AIDS.

In the case of Elton John ie Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he showed that while flamboyant costumes make a good character, so does a more subtle look as it doesn’t change your innate talent. In addition he decided to fight back against the drug and alcohol abuse that is so prevalent in the music business by going sober many years ago and still be hugely successful.

Lady Gaga Or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is known for her stage outfits being on a par with Elton John with how otherworldly they can be. Her meat dress springs to mind as a protest against treating gay people as pieces of meat. They have rights too.

Grayson Perry is an artist/potter who famously went to collect his award for services to art from the queen wearing a dress and in her Claire persona. It was interesting to see that during lockdown within his own house he was wearing normal clothes for a man. He even joked that since it went on for so long the first time he almost shouldn’t be allowed to do it again or anymore.

Drag and it’s older theatrical cousin pantomime is the ultimate in self expression and non conformity as it is men dressed as women. This is lowering your place in the social hierarchies and they are poking fun as what society says you must do in order to be classified as a man or a woman. This disobedience allows others to bring attitudes, beliefs and desires to light that outside of a comical show would be too heavy to digest otherwise.

“Woke” society is identifying with this recategorization as is the LGBT+ movement. A lot of millennials and Gen Z kids don’t conform to gender stereotypes. They see themselves as gender neutral, non binary or gender fluid. This allows them to combine elements of both traditional female and male clothing to create there own styles. Fashion is about breaking the rules and they are certainly doing so.

Feminism

This is quite an unusual article to me to write based on my past history but I feel now is the time to start exploring it. I have realised that actually I’m a strong woman. I need to start embracing this characteristic of mine. A person can only go so long not recognising who they are before they start to develop their inherent potential.

The woman’s struggle has existed since the dawn of time and I have been guided through my mother and others to study the Suffragettes at college, to see exhibitions about them, to gather information about Virginia Woolf, visiting Sissinghurst where she stayed and acquire lots of books about the subject. This also led to me reading a Handmaid’s Tale as it was on my high school book list and later on watching the TV series. I will get the Testaments later. Other books that are on my list are Vox, The Farm, etc.

As I got quite into feminism through an alternative viewpoint on classist history I wrote several articles on what I discovered. I think it’s a novel idea because history is written from the standpoint of the victor. This traditionally has been male so to put another spin on it is quite good. It also helps me to learn about myself as my mother and my grandmother have been very strong influences on me. I’m only starting to realise the extent that impact has had on me.

A short history of the effect of British culture on its people

This is actually a mindset of emotional repression caused by the inherent class system which uses alcohol and a trip to the pub as it’s let off valve. The sports of Football and boxing are also used by men to let off steam, with cricket traditionally being played by gentlemen and rugby being the sport for gentlemen but played by ruffians. Tennis was a much more genteel sport with polo, croquet or bowls definitely for the upper classes as they had time to indulge in leisure activities. Racing whether it be horses or dogs was for lower class gentlemen just like darts is today. Even this delineation smacks of the true division that is still ever present in our society. These are all masculine activities those are women were expected to be barefoot and pregnant as the saying went.

The self deprecating attitude traditionally associated with the English is perplexing to foreigners. We are always putting ourselves down, thinking we are not good enough. We are always complaining amongst ourselves but never to those in authority as we don’t wish to upset the apple cart. We can’t have ideas above our station after all.

We are always queuing waiting for our turn quietly obeying the laws of the land but we are also always gossiping about others who dare to do something different. It is such a scandal when someone does something that doesn’t fit with the status quo. Those that dare to be different though make the most of there lives by breaking out of the stuffy container that we have made for ourselves.

Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, the Bloomsbury group, the Pre Raphealites these were all people who were bohemian that believed the world could be a better place through art and music. They lived a hedonistic lifestyle but they could afford too as they were commonly part of the landed gentry. They could afford to live eccentric lifestyles travelling abroad and living in grand houses attended by many servants. This is harking back to Roman times but more often I think it was a nod to a romantic notion that we all in the UK entertain about life in Ancient Greece. If you think about it we are still ruled over by an Anglo Greek alliance through Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

So in a way you could say we are all striving for something better in our lives while remaining exactly where we are as we have internalised the fact that the class we were born into is the one we will die in. If we achieve a meteoric rise some how then we are frequently brought back down to Earth again abruptly like Anne Boleyn was only not quite so dramatically.

The crab bucket effect is very much part of our lives along with the keeping up with the Jones idea. For those who are not English this is the constant fight to maintain the appearance that you are a heterosexual married couple who are middle class with a good job, car, well maintained house with 2 well behaved children. This idea is a complete fallacy but it’s what we all learn from our environment as what we need to aspire to. If we have not managed to achieve this by age 30 we are somehow incomplete and there is something wrong with us.

With this break from normalcy we should all new values to creep in to replace the old ones which didn’t serve us. You may have noticed that all of the individuals I mentioned earlier were not only artists but engaged in different sexual identities. There gender representation was also different from the norm. This has been so against what society has said was acceptable for so long that we have lost some of our greatest minds like Alan Turing through this ignorance. We need to allow all forms of expression for we are all human at the end of the day. If we are much kinder and welcoming of those that present differently, think how much creativity and intellect will be saved. We will be living in a better world for all concerned.

Using meditation to supercharge your mind

While in lockdown I’m trying out Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation course. It’s been provided by a friend and it’s like the hen do that we didn’t get to go on due to Covid.

I’m finding it amazing for my clarity of mind and we’re only on day 4. It has simple tasks for you to do but they produce results. The meditation contains a mantra in Sanskrit which helps clear your mind. It’s different every day and a translation is provided. It only lasts about 15 minutes but you do need to be uninterrupted for this time for it to have its full effect.

I definitely felt the loss of it today as I receive them in the evening and I did yesterday’s before I went to sleep. So, by the time it got to siesta time the next day I wasn’t quite sure how to proceed with the rest of my day. The previous day I had experimented with doing it just before siesta time so I haven’t found a good time yet. However those are the easiest times for me to slot in such a routine as phones and technology are not a thing I can do too easily first thing in the morning. It affects my day too much if I do that.

There is also a new phrase to write down and repeat each day to power you up but doing these at night defeats the purpose as you forget by morning. Halfway through the day means your energy is mostly gone so maybe I aught to try breaking it into parts with the audio at night and the rest later on? I could perhaps repeat the audio while doing the task later?

In addition there is also a task (writing, drawing etc) to do that maybe related to previous tasks so you need a notebook to keep all of the work together. It helps in processing things. They bring up surprisingly things which are best written down also lest you forget these important revelations.

There are getting to be questions to be answered too so again a dedicated pad of paper is required to make full use of the techniques you are learning. A sheet for each day is good or one each for the phrases, mantras, tasks and questions. I have a feeling this might get quite lengthy, quite quickly and you will need to refer to previous days to get the full benefit.

Drinking and emotional regulation

I have come to the conclusion that the traditional British attitude of the stiff upper lip is responsible for us drinking far more than we should on a regular basis. It’s also not just how much but how early we start, that we commonly drink everything in sight and that we don’t stop. We don’t even drink soft drinks to water it down. Even in this pandemic alcohol sale and therefore consumption levels are at record levels. We can’t go to the pub to drink our alcohol so we drink it in our homes where we don’t have to worry about work, transportation and it’s cheaper.

It’s no wonder that millennials have stopped drinking. They have learnt from our European cousins that there is more to life than booze. They have also learnt to be a lot freer with their emotions. Emotional repression is why the majority of people drink as it’s too painful to endure but the consequences of this are insidious. You do more long term damage to yourself by not addressing your own problems and feelings than you do by ignoring them.

The Greeks are very spiritual and emotional people. They can be commonly found having a disagreement ie shouting match but it never results in blows. The next day they are friends again having resolved their issues. They do love a good catchup and right now they are enjoying their beaches having come partially out of lockdown.

Where as us in the UK are still in for at least another month. We can go out of our houses now but still have to social distance and can only meet friends one on one in the park. We can’t invite them round for afternoon tea or a sleepover. We can take as much exercise as we want as long as we social distance so playing golf for instance. No spectating and no group sports otherwise. We can go to work if we can’t do it from home ie construction or manufacturing. So working for others is allowed as you have to think of big business but otherwise stay home and alert watching to see if Covid is around the corner of your now spotless, well organized home. Which by now is full of home schooled children, artwork and home baked goods. Maybe you even have a bun in the oven yourself since you’ve had so much time on your hands?

Time and Autism

Autistic people perceive time in a very different way to the rest of the world. It flows much more like a river. Most of the time we are quite happy to let it pass us by absorbed in our own interests. Other people like to have others around them to interact with. These are like stones in the stream. We are objects that slowly but surely get broken down into our constituent parts and distributed across space and time.

I can understand how Einstein came up with the theory of relativity in this way and that it took a couple of years to get the maths to prove his ideas. I can understand how people could think he was autistic too. We do have an unconventional way of thinking that is also systematic. Our ideas do not get respected though until they are profitable as I mentioned in The Current War.

As Autistics brains get stuck thinking about words that were said to them, conversations, events or literally that has happened to them they pick apart everything to find the smallest details possible. In this way they see how to correct mistakes and make things better which others do not but they also miss the bigger picture that everyone else has.

It’s this lack of socialisation and connection that is both an Autistics strength and weakness. It’s a strength because they can work unhindered until the task has been completed but it’s a weakness as it takes a toll on there mental health. They are not aware of developments in the world or simply choose to ignore them thinking them unimportant or too depressing to contemplate.

In a world remade like Greta Thunberg would like as this one has been; let’s all take advantage of the time we have spent with our families and away from society to make our environment a friendlier place based on love, togetherness and peace. Let’s not just hope but work towards making the old world of corruption, deceit, lies, money and exploitation of both environment and people languish in the past as it should.

Infinite Monkey podcast, Primates and Pokemon

Today I was listening to Brian Cox on the BBC Sounds App and the title of the episode was called Fire. There was a lot of interesting information like the practical information about fire in this universe and whether it could exist elsewhere but the thing that was most interesting was the “Did fire or life come first debate?” Life came first as it created the oxygen required for fire. This lead onto the fact that creatures other than humans (birds) can deliberately create and use fire as a tool just like some primates do. I think it’s amazing that the Aboriginal Australians knew that the fire bird was capable of doing this thousands of years ago as it’s in there traditional dream festivities. It’s also possibly the origin of the Phoenix and almost certainly connected to the legendary fire bird Pokemon Moltres. It does however mean that the story from Greek Mythology about Prometheus stealing fire from the Gods is almost certainly wrong. It’s an eye opening discussion to have with a Buddhist which I did a while ago now. Sometimes things are so strange that they have to be true or at least based on an established fact that has now been forgotten to have lasted for so long. My memory is a strange thing with what it forget and then later on pulls out of its memory bank.

Later on I was watching Primates on BBC narrated by Chris Packham who is a famous autistic naturalist and it showed that in 2017 they discovered a new type of Orangutan. It’s simply stunning that we are still finding new animals in our world but also extremely worrying that they immediately go to the top of the endangered animals list since there are so few. Yes there is also a Pokemon – Orangu and the librarian in the Discworld is a wizard who refused to become human again as life was much simpler as an Orangutan. These are some of the strange thoughts that flit across my brain while watching tv or painting but wait in a holding bay until I decide to write them out on here later on. If I don’t let them out to play they cause trouble by withering in potency after they have prevented other thoughts from emerging. Then I become blank and boring to be around since I’m lifeless having nothing to comment on or communicate to others. This is a state to be avoided at all costs.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This is a television series about the Tudor Monarchy and specifically Henry VIII’s break from Rome to create the Church of England to marry Anne Boleyn and create a male heir. This is based off the series of books that Hilary Mantel wrote about this period in history. She has just written the 3rd and final book in the series so that may be turned into a series by itself. It might be too difficult to change the original series to include this new addition.

This time in British history has been covered many times in book and film as its very memorial to us British. Its the only time one of our monarch’s had 6 wives so its the most standout part of our schooling. The other parts are when we study the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans along with the Anglo Saxon and Viking Invaders.

The earlier Tudors series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers follows pretty much the same script because you can’t change history just to suit your serialisation. For this reason I get kinda bored watching this as you know exactly what is going to happen. The acting is good as we know how to do costume drama but that doesn’t stop me from being uninterested in it. If you know your history like I do then there are no surprises. This is Sunday night drama at its best but since everyday is a Sunday for most of us right now where is the enjoyment factor.

My Indian Odyssey by Vincent Ebrahim

This is another Audible book that I listened to recently after my recent holiday to India. It covers places that I went to like MumbaiDelhi and the Taj Mahal at Agra as well as places that I didn’t go to like Darjeeling and Kolkata. He too went in search of his heritage because his grandfather was Indian.There are many parts to this series as India is such a vast place peopled by so many races, religions and languages.

In the first part he goes to Mumbai and stays in the same hotel as I did – The Taj Mahal Hotel. Here he gets the tour which I wasn’t able to but I didn’t hear anything that I didn’t directly observe while I was there. It gives a little background on the reasons for its construction and some facts and figures about its cost.

Next he goes to the laundry which was on our tour but was cancelled due to Covid 19. It was nice to know about it so I don’t feel like I missed out so much. After that he learns about Parsi food culture by visiting various shops and cafes. I didn’t pick this up from the book Parsis and Zoroastrians but maybe if I had more time then I would have. Afterwards he learns about the Tiffin culture of India. This is fascinating how everyone in Mumbai gets fresh homecooked food for lunch no matter where they are. Its cheap, hygienic and a very sensible idea. Maybe if we borrowed this plan we could all eat healthier in the future. If illiterates in India can manage, we certainly should be able to figure out a next level Graze who deliver snacks by post. We do have packed lunches like the Japanese have Bento boxes so its totally possible.

In each place he goes to he meets the staff or has a guide to get inside knowledge on what its really like to live life in the diverse sprawl that is Mumbai. He also needs a translator because he couldn’t get this information without being able to speak to the locals who don’t always speak or understand English.

I’m looking forward to listening to all of the other parts during my isolation I hope you do too if you decide to download and listen to it as well.

The Girl under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming

This is a historical romance ie chick lit book I have been reading to cope with the social isolation that we all have to perform right now to rid ourselves of Corona Virus. Its in a similiar style to the Victoria Hislop books that I have read and tried to emulate.

This is a very interesting book as it documents the fictional life of Penelope Angelika Georgiou or Penny George as she goes by when in the UK. Pen as she is called in later years recounts her life as a Red Cross nurse in Athens, Greece during the Second World War. Its thoughtfully written with an accurate portrayal of what an upper class debutante would have to face going it alone with only her Greek heritage and looks for protection against an uncertain world.

It seems that the books that I enjoy most inadvertently tend to evoke my own life as Leah is in the Yorkshire Dales while writing these books which is where I originally hail from. The character Penny has for a middle name, my name in Greek and she reminds me greatly of myself. Very much like when I was reading Angelology and Angelopolis about 5 years ago. That was on my other blog as this one didn’t exist then.

India – Jaipur

This city was founded by its ruler Jai Singh. He was a Hindi which is why its a pur and not a Muslim abad as I first mentioned in my post on India – Delhi (part 1). Singh means lion or warrior depending on how you translate it. Lots of people are called Singh as its a symbol of strength not a family name which you might think given its popularity.

I really enjoyed the orderliness of Jaipur. It was one of the first cities to be organised on a grid fashion. I think it was the first in India. Jai Singh was into maths, physics and astronomy. To do this on a regular basis he built the most amazing astronomical equipment. These utilise the sun as opposed to the moon which makes it different from anything else that I’ve seen or heard of before.

Indians also seem to enjoy playing chess as there are an amazing amount of chess boards about in the hotels that we have been staying in. Fancy chessboard

Fancy chessboard

This was one of the best that I have come across. It was very confusing though with elephants and camels instead of the usual pieces. Life size fancy Chess board

Life size fancy chess board

I went to the City Palace in the town centre and learnt that Polo that most English of games actually came from India. Jodphur which is nearby is where the trousers come from for playing the game. There are also 5 different types of pyjamas which is another Hindi derived word. I also learnt that while the Sari is Hindi, the shalwar kamneez which is the other outfit that you often see women wearing is of Muslim (Persian) origin. It’s a lot simpler to wear and requires a lot less cloth so is better for children. Jaipur has lots of places you can go to like we did to get clothes custom made for you. My husband got a shirt and my father in law did too. Our driver had recommended that Jaipur was the best place for shopping and it certainly seemed a good option from the limited time I spent there.

We also went to the Amber Fort on the hill which is built on 4 levels each with increasing privacy and seclusion. The courtyard at the Amber Fort

The courtyard at the Amber Fort

There are 12 apartments for each of his wives that he could visit separately without the rest of them knowing so that kept harmony. The wives apartments

The wives apartments

There was also a harem of about 200 women hidden from view behind a screen that allowed them to see court proceedings without being observed themselves. The Harem cloisters

The Harem cloisters

There were gardens to appreciate nature without going outside the fort which is always good for your mental health.The Amber Fort gardens

The Amber Fort gardens

The architecture with the designs on the tiles and the artwork is phenomenal wherever you go in India as they really had some good artisans in those days.Tiles

Tiles

Arches and wall decorations
Arches and Wall decorations

Intricate wall carvings
Intricate Wall carvings

White Marble inlaid with Turquoise
White Marble inlaid with turquoise

Symmetrical precision art
Symmetrical precision art

They also have an art gallery inside that me and my husband wanted to visit but my in laws were quite hungry by this point so we left. There is always many salesmen that you have to avoid so photo opportunities have to be carefully managed.A view of the Amber Fort

A view of the Amber Fort

While I was there I participated in Holi which is the Indian festival to celebrate the Spring. Happy Holi dessert place

Happy Holi dessert plate

A bit like our Easter. Holi is known as the festival of Colours as they get hold of them very cheaply and they are extremely bright. The red is the worst to get to get out of your skin as it takes a couple days. Water is also part of the festival so expect to get wet if you are a young girl. I got absolutely mobbed and needed my husband there to protect me as they like to give out hugs and take selfies with you. The hotel warn you that it isn’t safe and when you still want to go out, they tell you the wrong direction to protect you. A taxi driver found us and corrected this. He took us to the main area and waited while we proceeded to walk and become living artworks.My Holi outfit

My Holi outfit

 They really like peacocks over there as they turn up everywhere.Peacock displaying

Peacock displaying

Peacock arch and artwork
Peacock arch and artwork

To look at all my Indian Adventures see here

India – Delhi (part 1)

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

Parsis and Zoroastrians

India – Udaipur

India – Goa

India – Mumbai

Mumbai airport

India – Delhi (part 1)

I have just been to the Indian subcontinent on a 2 week trip to take in many of the world renown cultural and historical sites that are spread around. I was extraordinarily lucky in that Covid 19 only affected the later part of my trip in Goa and Mumbai. I am now home having got what was perhaps one of the last planes out of India before they started to shut everything down.

I flew into Delhi to start my exploration. Our hotel was a heritage hotel (there called Haveli’s like ours was) in the centre of Old Delhi. Inside there was many pictures of the renovations that had taken place to turn the building from a wreck to the stunning place that it now was. Your greeted by refreshments, the red dot is applied to your forehead as a welcome and as a precaution due to Covid 19 you have your temperature taken. Then you have the forms and after being handed your key left to your own devices as the restaurant timings have already been explained to you. For yours and there entertainment in the evenings they fly kites which you can see being demonstrated on the roof at sunset. They also do pigeon racing which is explained to you. From the roof I got an excellent view of the city sprawl.

Later in the evening they have traditional music Life in Delhi is loud as you soon learn. The often repeated phrase, “In India you need 3 things, Good horn, good brakes and good luck.” is understood pretty quickly. On the back of every vehicle it says Horn Please! or Horn not OK to indicate the drivers preference. The streets of Delhi are narrow so walking is an art form as you have to dodge all many of transportation and people selling to you on the street. The roads are congested and there is no such thing as a bus stop or bus station. You just get on or off the bus at a traffic intersection. Pedestrians have little fear of death here as at every junction you will get children miming they want food for there younger siblings, people trying to sell you trinkets or most surprisingly lady boys trying to advertise there services. I didn’t think you would get groups of men dressed in Saris walking the streets. The guide told us that frequently European men who have had too much to drink can’t tell the difference until much later and then they have to pay to quickly get rid of them so it most be a thriving trade.

I visited a Sikh temple (there are approx 10 across Delhi), while I was there and you have to keep your elbows and knees covered as well as your head. This applies to men as well as women so they sell coverings just for this purpose. Alternatively bring a scarf like I did. You have to be barefoot as well but there is water later on to clean the dust away. You can’t take pictures of the insides of the temple but its marvellous.

I found the kitchens amazing in that they cook for hundreds of thousands of on daily basis. The poor of the region get there 3 daily meals for free as well as being able to spend as much time there in quiet contemplation as they liked since there were no set services. You can volunteer to cook there as my mum did and its open to all regardless of colour, creed, race, heritage, religion, age, wealth. The rich sit with the poor cross legged on the floor eating the same food but its funded only by those that can afford to contribute. They feed you until you are full and Indian food is surprisingly filling, allowing you to take your leftovers home with you as its like the Indian Welfare State they are providing here. There were several sittings a day and it was never empty. They never ran out of food and only rested for a couple of hours at night to make sure that they could complete there never ending duty once again the next day. We didn’t eat there as we didn’t have time to wait but the goodness of these people is astonishing.

Talking of kindness we visited the Mohandas Gandhi memorial gardens and they have a flame there that is tended so that it never comes out. Mahatma is a title that is given to Gandhi to show reverence to all that he achieved for India peacefully. Its lovely and peaceful which is a complete contrast to the bustling metropolis that is New Delhi. They are side by side with Old Delhi also being referred to as Shahjahanabad. This is because the city was found by Shah Jahan. He was a Muslim so the city has abad appended onto the end to indicate that its not only his city but an Islamic one too. If it was Hindi it would be pur on the end like Jaipur which I will talk about later.

We also visited Humanyun’s tomb which is a magnificent building in the Taj Mahal (Crown palace) style. This is a striking contrast to the rest of the buildings that people live in on a daily basis. The mughuls that lived there are descended from the Mongolians and its where we get the phrase media mogul from to indicate how much wealth someone has accumulated. The palaces are full of marble and inlaid with precious stones. They have gardens and fountains to replicate the heavens as the word paradise comes from a walled garden. They had more wealth than the average person could gain in a thousand lifetimes as the average life time income after 50 years was £2.

Chandri Chowk is a street that you will pass by often if you are exploring the historical district and it means Moonlight street. This is connected with the daughter of the ruler at the time. There were 5 Shahs that you will hear about when you are driving between the different attractions and if your guide is anything like mine was, it will be information overload. I loved hearing all the history and the word origins as I’m a bit of a word nut as you may know.

There are many temples (Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist etc) in Delhi as you might have guessed and as we were walking about we came across a Jain temple. These are strict vegetarians and have rather odd rituals for their priests during celebrations. They are in fact not allowed to wear a stitch of clothing and therefore the family surround them so that nobody is embarrassed by this. This parade happens from the temple to the family home so it can go on for quite a while. Luckily I didn’t see this but I was reliably informed by my guide who was turning out to be extremely well informed on everything to do with Delhi’s monuments and history.

We passed by the India Gate which was built by Edward Lutyens (who also designed the gardens in Sandwich, UK amongst many other things). He also designed many buildings in Delhi which were beloved by William Dalrymple but sadly are gone now. I read some pages of an amazing book by him (A City of Djinns) provided by the hotel but I didn’t get very far and it didn’t seem right to take it with me. I wouldn’t have had time to read it much anyway as the time was so packed with places to see. I got to read more about the East India Company later in a hotel magazine in an article written by him.

The Red Fort that acted as barracks for the soldiers in Delhi has apparently been hollowed out by previous occupants so we saw the one in Agra which is amazing. More on that later as the next stop is Agra which is home of the Taj Mahal!

Best wishes

Angela

 

Parsis and Zoroastrians

This is a book I started reading in my hotel in Mumbai as there is a big population of them there and I was curious to find out more about them. As far as I know they don’t exists anywhere else in the world.

Freddie Mercury (Farrokh Balsara) was the most famous one as far as I can tell but I didn’t even know that myself until I had watched Bohemian Rhapsody which is an awesome movie. Zoroastrianism also turns up in Nietzsche as he wrote Thus spoke Zarathustra which is the name of their God. Although it’s a much changed version according to the book’s author which I’m afraid I don’t recall.

I had a spare day since Covid 19 had cancelled my city tour so I settled down to read through a photographic journey of the life of the author so far. The writer grew up in the Parsi culture in Bombay but was educated elsewhere so that is why they were able to explain in English so well a religion that is not well known in the rest of the world.

Parsis is the cultural name given to Zoroastrians to separate them from anyone else that was living in India. The Parsis are originally from Persia but left due to persecution from Islamic forces long ago. However, they were followed much later on so became very insular. Where as before they were at the forefront of business and became very rich a bit like the Jews of Europe .This fear and persecution has contributed to their downfall in the eyes of the author since they will soon no longer be numerous enough to be considered a community (30,000+). At this point (25,000) they will now be labelled a tribe. There is a very big emphasis on staying within your community and they will provide for you that’s why this downgrading of their status is such a big deal to them.

I was unable to get more than half way through the book as I had to leave the next day but the information about the lives of the children who were becoming priests was fascinating. It is part of the culture for at least one boy in the family to learn how to be a priest even if they subsequently decide that is not the field that they want to go into.

India – Taj Mahal at Agra

India – Agra

India – Delhi (part 1)

Best wishes

Angela

Athens by Dr Michael Scott on This is Greece

This is part 2 of a five part series on PBS. Part 1 is Northern and Central Greece, Part 3 The Peloponnesus, Part 4 is the Cyclades Islands and Part 5 is the The Dodecanese Islands .

I have been to Athens and I wrote about it previously when I visited at New Year. I haven’t been back since as it took some getting used to.

I must not having been paying attention when this was on in September and just recently during the week and on at the weekend. As it’s an American show I can’t stream it and I can’t find it anywhere else but I have written about The Parthenon which is a major part of the history of Athens.

Best wishes

Angela

Cyclades Islands by Dr Michael Scott on This is Greece

This is part 4 of the series with him previously visiting North and Central Greece before moving on to Athens, The Peloponnesus area, and now The Cycladic (Circular) Islands in the Aegean Sea.

The Cyclades encompasses sacred Delos which is the centre, Syros which houses the capital Ermoupoli, tourist hotspots like Naxos, Mykonos and Santorini for the magnificent sunset, historic Milos and Tinos, religious Paros and out of the way places like peaceful Folegandros and Sifnos known for its many churches.

Our guide for these islands are 2 different Greek ladies, Cassandra and Sylvia as tourism is more prevalent here than history. Santorini is well known for producing the best wines in the area due to its volcanic soil. I personally know this having attended a wine tasting involving their wines. I’ve probably written about this years ago too.

The famous Venus de Milo statue was found on Milos.

He visits Tinos to talk about the islands dedication to Poseidon and to see the many dovecotes on the island. There is also the famous church where pilgrims crawl on their knees from the port to the entrance which is 700 metres. This is an island that is part Catholic due to its Venetian heritage and part Greek Orthodox.

For the last episode he visits the The Dodecanese Islands or 12 islands.

Best wishes

Angela