Country Mouse visits India

India is a nation of a million contrasts. It has the most expensive real estate in the world and some of the poorest people on the planet. It’s a mixing bowl of religions that mostly get on. It attacks the senses like nowhere else; from sewage to orange blossom, and from extraordinary buildings such as the Taj Mahal to corrugated shanty towns. It’s extraordinary, and, somehow, it works. It’s definitely a country on the move.

The best way to see the contrasts is by road if you live to tell the tale. There are, seemingly, no rules beyond honking your horn, and the violence of that honking depends on the level of the impending crash. We drove from Agra to Jaipur during the Holi festival, when the whole of India goes mad, throwing paint and coloured powders over each other.

From tribes of eunuchs to camel trains, we saw more than in a lifetime on England’s roads, except, remarkably, road rage. Our driver told us that the only thing he had to miss were the hundreds of sacred cows wandering loose on the roads, which would be an ‘utter disaster’ to hit, and, perhaps, the elephants. Nothing else mattered too much. Somehow, we arrived in Jaipur unscathed and a thousand times richer for the experience.