An Old Delhi facelift

No – not some mediaeval torture method but a proposal that after years of delay, the Chadni Chowk redevelopment plan will finally get under way under the auspices of the Shahjahanabad Corporation. Many Delhi residents will of course be skeptical that this will prove to be the success its champions claim. However, if it means preserving at least something of the faded and broken beauty of the Walled City then I wish it very, very good luck. My only concern is that this is not some run-down inner city in the West being gentrified: it’s a vibrant and working area where thousands and thousands of people make a living. The imperative to preserve its heritage, whilst obviously critical, should be tempered at least by a consideration for those that call Old Delhi home. Although I suspect one can guess how that will turn out…


India - Delhi - Heavy traffic on the congested streets of Old Delhi looking towards the Jama Masjid, Delhi, India


India - Delhi - Traffic on Chadni Chowk looking towards the Red Fort, Old Delhi


India - Delhi - A man lounges inside the remains of the Sultan Singh Ghar ki Haveli. Much of Old Delhi's historical architecture has been lost to new development.

‘The Ambassador will see you now…’

I was a little saddened to read this week that India’s oldest car maker, the Kolkota-based Hindustan Motors, said reduced demand and accumulated losses had wiped out over half its net worth.

Since the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the 1990’s India’s roads have been filled with gleaming new cars. I do sincerely hope that Hindustan’s most famous vehicle has some mileage in it yet.

The Ambassador is such a feature of the Indian landscape that it’s demise is almost unthinkable. I think it’s by far the most reliable and sturdy vehicle on the Indian roads and, by dint of its ubiquity, it can be repaired almost anywhere very quickly. Usually by a combination of hammers, tape and brute force.

The extraordinary Raghubir Singh who it is my great regret never to have met, used the car as a device in his wonderful, A Way into India.

Here’s a recent image of mine of an ‘Ambi’ parked on a quiet street in Tamil Nadu with a rather lovely garland hanging from the mirror

India - Tamil Nadu - A garland of flowers hang from the mirror of an Hindustan Ambassador car in the town of Swamimalai