Monthly Archives: September 2010

India diary, day 2

In June/July 2010 I spent ten days travelling in Rajasthan, India with friends; this is my diary of the trip (full list of entries here).

Sunday 27 June

First full day out here, and I slept reasonably well in spite of the heat – thanks to the air conditioning and the jet-lag, presumably.

In the morning, we drove into the centre of Jaipur to see the city palace:

City Palace Frontage, Jaipur
City Palace Frontage, Jaipur

Behind the palace is the observatory. Measuring the movement and position of the stars and planets is important to Hindus as astrology is part of their religion. The life-size instruments were pretty impressive, and provided shade from the blazing heat:

Instrument at the observatory
Instrument at the observatory

After lunch and waiting for the worst of the midday heat to subside, three of us ventured out to the Rambagh Palage Hotel – 700 rupees for a White Russian, which is pretty horrific in India, but about the same you’d pay in far worse surroundings in Oxford. Had a couple of those and lazed around enjoying the serious air conditioning.

That evening, K’s family very kindly invited us out to dinner – as it turned out to the very same hotel! Fantastic food and unforgettable surroundings -a great dining room originally concieved by the British and immaculately refurbished.

I think of myself as a right-winger but couldn’t help but reflect on the dark side of capitalism whilst being driven back from that dinner amongst the peacocks and fountains, past India’s poor sleeping in the streets. While we were out there the government of Rajasthan cut the water supply from one hour a day to one hour every two days because of the lateness of the monsoon. If you’re rich enough to have a tank on your roof, you don’t mind, and if you’re not, you go without for 23 hours out of 24…

On chancel repair liability

I was fascinated to read about chancel repair liability the other day. Simply put, some ancient laws that nobody bothered to repeal since the Norman Conquest mean that your local C of E church might be able to slap you with a bill for some of their repairs if you own a house on their patch.

As joint treasurer of a church myself (though a Reformed one, not C of E), the thing that struck me most about this was the appalling arrogance of the church in the cited case which bought all this up back in 2003. Sure, Saint Columba’s could do with ninety grand for a new heating system, but even if there were some archaic law that allowed us to send the bill to our neighbours, would we really do that? Let alone pursue it all the way to court and make them pay our legal costs too. OK, so one of our neighbours is Oxford University’s richest college, but even so I find it impossible to imagine we’d sanction that sort of thing.

And they wonder why people percieve the church as arrogant, stuck in the past and unfriendly…