In September 2001, I took my friends, Mick and Ravi, to India with me. It was just after the abomination that was 9/11, an event that was to have repercussions throughout our trip. Indeed, the reverberations of that event are still shaping our world today, and will no doubt echo through the decades and centuries yet to come.
As a consequence of 9/11, world tension was exceptionally high, and everyone was in a constant state of anxiety over whether George.W.Bush was going to overreact and launch a retaliatory attack on Afghanistan or Iraq, thus drawing the entire Muslim world into conflict. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had, but I just didn’t want to be there when he did.
The possibility of war was a particular fear of ours. Our trip included a week touring Rajasthan on the magnificent “Palace on Wheels” train, which goes all the way up to the very borders of Pakistan. The relevance of this was that India and Pakistan were having one of their regular bellicose disputes over Kashmir at the time. They obviously didn’t need the Americans stirring things up in Afghanistan added to the mix. More importantly, neither did we!
On a more positive note, it also meant that all the American tourists had been scared off and cancelled. Thus, we would have the train more or less to ourselves.
Although this book is a personal memoir of a trip that had a profound effect on my own very peculiar outlook on life, I like to think that it also touched those of Mick and Ravi too. Hopefully, we are all better people for the experience. I certainly feel that I am.