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If I should die think only this of me; That there's some corner of a Delhi highway..

INDIA | Wednesday, 18 May 2011 | Views [968]

..that is Forever England.

Some people have daily affirmations. Mine goes something like this:

‘Holy fucking crap!’

‘Jesus H christ’

‘I/He/she/we/ are all  going to die’

Ah yes. Delhi traffic. I had been warned, but like so many things, nothing prepares you till you experience it. One of my sacred cows of self-belief (‘’I don’t get scared’’) is now in the scrap heap of self-realisation. I used to say I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve been scared in my life.  Well, now I can count them on two hands and half belong to Delhi which is pretty spectacular seeing as I haven’t even been here a week.

On a daily basis on my route to work,(I've only been twice; yesterday was a day off. Either to celebrate the 44 degree heat or Buddha's birthday, not sure which)  bicycles, tuk tuks, motorbikes and cars, toot and crisscross in up to ten lanes of traffic and sometimes not all going in the same direction (cyclists!).Today in a tuk tuk I skimmed so close to a bus that I could have stretched out my finger and touched the wheel, I was tempted till I realised that if I did a motorbike would probably still try to whip through the 4 inch gap and snap my arm off so I decided not to. 

I admire the die-hard (no pun intended) pedestrians who cross the traffic – today a lady managed with a combination of grace, ease and confidence to cross six or seven lines of traffic. I gawped at her, awestruck, with the kind of admiration one usually reserves for nobel prize winning scientists or world class pianists. Truly this lady is my hero.  

I had a thorough security briefing and yet I am confident that if anything unfortunate should come to pass, it will almost certainly be a Delhi highway. Which is why I thought the title (ever so slightly adapted) from the war poem by Rupert Brooke was so apt.

It’s a lovely poem and I think captures the spirit of navigating Delhi traffic quite nicely:


The Soldier (by Rupert Brooke)

IF I should die, think only this of me;


  That there's some corner of a foreign field


That is for ever England. There shall be


  In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;


A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,


  Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,


A body of England's breathing English air,


  Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.



And think, this heart, all evil shed away,


  A pulse in the eternal mind, no less


    Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;


Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;


  And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,


    In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.








Tags: delhi, india, near death experiences

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