Mon 4 August Delhi
Our early morning flight is delayed and we arrive in Delhi at 11.30. Dorjey meets us; we give a lift to Adrian, a young German on his first visit. The Park again upgrade us to a 9th floor suite, even larger and better than the last one. After lunch and a heavy monsoon shower we cross the road to the Jantar Mantar. The red painted constuctions of this 15th century observatory look even more abstract today, dark and wet in the recent rain. 

We follow men carrying Tibetan flags up the street to the stretch of road reserved for political protests. Several groups are camped out here, under taurpaulins that offer little shelter from the monsoon heat and rain. Women and children from Bhopal are camped here, seeking Government recognition and compensation for the Union Carbide chemical disaster 20 years ago. They still suffer from terrible birth defects, poisoned water and ill health; they are the poorest of the poor and for years have been coming here on foot, hoping the Government will fulfill their promises and stop ignoring them. 
In the next camp six Tibetans are on hunger strike until death to draw attention to the worsening situation in Tibet. In four days the Olympic games will start in Bejing and time is running out to make use of the publicity. Large photos of dead Tibetans, shot by the Chinese security police in Llasa, are plastered on the walls. The hunger strikers are on their eighth day. I embrace them and hold hands. The monks are young and look strong but some are already weak; the emotions of their supporters are running high. TV new crews are filming. The heat of a Delhi summer, crippling for Tibetans used to colder climates, must be an added torment for someone on hunger strike. This is a difficult decision for the Tibetans; the Dalai Lama asks them not to do this, not to harm their lives, not to go against the Buddhist teachings. But they feel helpless against the power of the Chinese strangehold on their country and this time before the Games is a chance of publicity. The only problem is that no-one is listening. Except those who already know and can do nothing. I leave with a heavy heart.
Next door people are protesting against the land reforms in Jammu that have already resulted in deaths this summer. Every day different dispossessed groups wearing local clothing march with banners and flags up and down this street. It seems a fine example of democracy that anyone can come here and make their case. The unfortunate reality is that politicians never come to this street and there are no toilets or facilities for the people who come to protest and end up living here.

Down in Connaught Circus we look in one of my favourite shops, The Shop, always a good place to look for interesting textiles, then we cut through back lanes past the extraordinarily smelly refuse collection dump and urinals to the temples on Baba Kharak Singh Marg. The Hanuman temple always looks too intimidating so I’ve never been inside - I suspect it may be only open to Hindus, but maybe not. Next door is a walled compound containing a variety of statues of Hindu gods, mostly plastic orbrightly painted ceramic, each contained in a small tiled shrine. An adjacent temple offers rituals blessings for a small donation. Graham receives a blessing.
In the evening we eat at the Kwality next door to The Shop, dim lights, Russian style wood panelling, the same stroppy waiter who’s been there forever, but good food, and have drinks in the Park’s modern lounge.

Tues 5 Aug
A heavy night’s sleep and a slow start. We walk down Parliament Street to The Shop where I photograph new colours for the Duvet covers they make for me. Then back to Kharak Singh Marg to look through some of the State Emporiums. Nothing much there except the usual government employees sitting around doing nothing. We find some exciting silk textiles with modern designs and traditional techniques at a new shop next door to ‘Tribes’. They have some beautiful saris and double sided Bengali silks but I can’t think what to do with them. Next time I’ll come prepared. A small Hanuman temple next to the emporiums stands under a Bodhi tree. The bright orange Hanuman is a strange variety, an almost featureless blob - the only indication that it is of a life form is a pair of small eyes. The orange colour turns out to be a paint that is smeared on your forehead as a tikka mark. For a small rupee donation we’re blessed with holy water, salt crystals, a banana and an orange tikka mark.
A security check in the busy market area around Janpath is a reminder that terrorist explosions do occur in Delhi. The Janpath shops are always fun but there’s nothing new and the price of old Tibetan Buddhas has gone through the roof. Graham buys some mangoes. One of the curiosities of New Delhi is the living room sized hutch full of rabbits next door to the bookshop between Janpath and Parliament Street. Bunnies are hopping everywhere, burrowing and sitting on Hindu statues beneath Christmas decorations and mirrors. Very odd.

If you buy a phone card in Leh it won’t work in Delhi. Presumably to prevent Kashmiri terrorists using phones to set off bombs. This principle also prevented me from getting hold of our friend Ramesh. The centre of New Delhi has it’s share of rascals but it’s also a place of friendly, lively people. The Sikh taxi drivers may seem like the bane of your life, but they’re funny and good natured, just obsessed with taking you shopping. 
Architecturally, Connaught Circus has become a tragic dump. Once elegant but now broken down and overcrowded buildings, unmaintained and with air conditioning units and business signs sticking out of every square foot, rickety external staircases, broken pavements, exposed drains. Free enterprise gone mad.
At 6pm we drive to the airport for our 9pm flight to Abu Dhabi - the most grotesque airport in the world? Then on to Manchester. Delhi airport is much improved, very much improved from even 2007.

Zanskar - DELHI