In My Hands Today…

Three Quarters Of A Footprint: Travels In South India – Joe Roberts

For five months Joe Roberts was a guest of the Trivedi family in their flat in Bangalore’s Baghpur Extension.

Major Trivedi, a military Brahmin, was given to reciting quatrains of Nostradamus; Atul, his 18-year-old son, was more concerned with Guns n’ Roses; while Mrs Trivedi, with her neighbour Mrs Sen, took charge of her visitor’s plans for travelling around Southern India.

Roberts journeyed to the jungle beyond Mysore – a jungle that, contrary to expectations, was only little trees and dappled glades; to the queen of the hill stations, Ootacamund, to which generations of English colonial officers had retreated, transforming an Indian plateau into a passable imitation of Bournemouth; and to Kovalam, which he visited in order to see the Kathakali dancers, but where he also found himself dining with an Australian pornographer. And he also travelled to Cochin, on the Malabar Coast, and shared a railway compartment with a drunken Bristolian who seemed unimpressed with everything but Indian moonshine.

But Roberts always returned to the ground-floor flat in Baghpur Extension, and to his friends the Trivedis. This is his account of his travels.