Here is the itinerary for one day in Delhi. First drop is the Jantar Mantar. Completed in 1724, this is one of the five parks built by Jai Singh II of Jaipur. The park contains 13 instruments designed to take observations of the positions of the sun, moon and planets. It is not at all clear as we stroll round the park how the instruments were used, but the park is well maintained and the instruments themselves, reddish plastered and white edged, make interesting patterns. It is still early in the morning and there are few other tourists about.

Our next stop is the Old Fort, Purana Qila, a sprawling walled enclave on the banks of the Yamuna River. It dates from the middle of the 16th century and the beginning of the Mughal period. The empire was founded by Babur in 1526 with the defeat of the Lodhi regime. Babur was a descendent of Genghis Khan (1167-1227) on his mother’s and Timur (1337-1405) on his father’s side. He was succeeded by Hamuyun (1531-40, 1555-56), Akbar (1556-1605), Jahangir (1605-27), Shah Jahan (1628-58) and Aurangzeb (1658-1707). At the time of Aurangzeb the empire extended across most of the Indian subcontinent. There then followed a period of decline and loss of territory to local rulers and foreigners, until the last nominal emperor was exiled for supporting the 1857 rebellion and the empire was replaced by the British Raj. The most interesting features of the site are the three gates, each topped by stone pavilions, and the old mosque. The mosque is a single aisle with five doors to the side opening onto the courtyard. It was completed in 1541.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of foresight, we were in Delhi only a few days before the Independence Day celebrations on August 15th, and some of the main sites such as India Gate, the Rajghat Gandhi memorial and the Red Fort were closed. Our next stop then was Humayun’s tomb. This is the earliest example of the royal mausoleum in India. It is based on the tomb of Timur in Samarkand and is surrounded by a formal garden representing the gardens of paradise. It is a fine building but I found the visit somewhat flattening.


I have been reading Colm Tóibín’s novel Brooklyn. It is set in the mid nineteen fifties in southern Ireland and in Brooklyn. The story is the story of Irish emigration, at a time when the economy is stagnant and jobs difficult to find. Eilis Lacey’s brothers are in Birmingham in England. Her sister, Rose, does have a good job, but Eilis can only find a Sunday job in a local shop.

Her emigration to Brooklyn, where opportunities are better, is mediated though her sister Rose and the brief return of an Irish priest from Brooklyn. Father Flood organises her employment with Bartocci’s in Brooklyn which enables her to get immigration papers. Her sister has one of the few good jobs around, but by sending her sister away, she is condemning herself to remaining close to their mother and giving up chances to marry.