Flew in to Mumbai today with Amy (Birchall) on flight 0199, bringing to mind the Beatles and Back in the USSR, though this was BOAC’s successor, the embattled BA. And Russia’s influence on India is way less these days than it was the Sixties. We are staying at the swish Renaissance Mumbai Conference Centre Hotel – where the view from my room, when I swish back the curtains, and fittingly perhaps, turns out to be of satellite dishes, skyscrapers and a somewhat cheek-by-jowl slum.
Delightful meeting with Rajni Bakshi, a long-standing friend, and then Amy and I head south by taxi to the Gate of India area, to see Amanda (Feldman), recently an intern with Volans – who also arrived this morning to start on internship with Tata. The Gate was the first landing point for many who came to India from Britain, but I found myself recalling the last British troops – the First Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry – passing through the Gate from the landward side in 1948, the year before I was born. Despite the fact that I was born post Imperial India, I have always felt both a profound connection to – and responsibility for the state of – the country.