20 June, 2021

Uttarakhand Diary

Dominic Asquith, British High Commissioner to India, shares his 'Valley of Flowers' experience...

Uttarakhand Diary
Landslides in Heaven

As Louise and I headed on the long drive east from Chandigarh to the Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, I started collecting road and shop signs and T-shirt motifs to ­alleviate the tedium of slow progress. Astrologer Officer, Be Soft on Curves, Black Mango Resort, The Meek Inherit...Nothing, Hug Your Kids at Home but Belt Them in the Car. Sadly, in the hour it took to navigate the havoc of road works around Dehradun, not a thing to distract.

And then we hit landslides...some 50 over four days. Despite the volume of rock that had descended, not once was the route impassable. Some feat. I was gratified to pass successive ‘British-Indian’ JCBs working on the boulders. Semi-permanent shanties housed families of road workers from Bihar and Nepal—women stirring cement, mobile phone in hand, keeping an eye on children darting out of rusted corrugated iron shacks. It hit me on day two: I hadn’t spotted a single...

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