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No Baboons in India

Through wealth and poverty, class and caste, tigers and technology, materialism, mysticism and murder, No Baboons in India ranges from farce to tragedy and back again. We rode elephants and camels, saw leopards, met a Maharajah in his lake palace, and made friendships which have lasted to the present day. There were sad moments and moments that made us shake with laughter.


Meanwhile, we did our best to convince a family of billionaire Indian industrialists that their expensive new school should be about learning, as well as  gadgets, air-conditioning, golf courses, racehorses and olympic swimming pools.

Carpeted in deep blue, the Nerve Centre was a reverentially hushed temple at the centre of Erkon World School, where a team of intense, hawklike, bespectacled young men sat at a long, curved control panel bristling with switches and coruscating with coloured lights. In front of them a line of monitors supplied current information about all aspects of the school’s technical systems, while above their heads another row of plasma screens relayed closed-circuit TV images of every area of the campus. If any problem were to arise, an intense hawk-like young man would speed silently to the rescue. This, at least, was the theory. Like the planet Klingon, the reality was several dimensions away.

If I made an early call to the emergency number, a remote and reproving voice would inform me that it was merely there to record calls, as all its colleagues were at breakfast. If I telephoned half an hour later, they had been summoned urgently to morning coffee. Or lunch. Finally, I mentioned my frustration to Ruth, my PA. She had worked for the Erkon Organisation for years and was not the least bit impressed by Papaji himself, whom, with his love of gadgets, she often referred to as ‘the Boy with his Toys’. There was a sharp intake of breath and Ruth’s eyes opened wide in disbelief as she picked up the telephone. ‘Nerd Centre? This is the Director’s personal assistant. Kindly inform the Chief Nerd that he is required immediately in the Director’s office. At lunch? Then he has two minutes to bolt his chapati and present himself. I am counting.’ In fact, that exalted personage the Director of Technical Services, a tall imposing Sikh, arrived at my office in well under sixty seconds.

‘Respected sir, what is your problem?’

‘Sex,’ I replied tersely.

‘Sex?’ The Chief Nerd was visibly alarmed.

‘Sex. I was attempting to look up a person called Napoleon Bonaparte on an historical web page. The search engine required me to fill in a box specifying the sex of the target subject. I immediately received an on-screen message from your bloody net nanny programme threatening to report me for attempting to access a pornographic site.’

‘Respected sir, the problem shall be rectified immediately.’

The Chief Nerd was true to his word. Within five minutes, my telephone rang and a cheerful voice greeted me from the Nerve Centre: ‘Respected sir, I have made the required adjustment to the net nanny programme. You can now access your pornographic site.’


‘That’s a very nice saree you’re wearing.’

‘That’s just what the old gentleman said!’

‘You mean the one in the plastic sandals?’


‘Mr Chatterjee.’

‘Correct. He said:

‘That, pronoun,

Is, verb,

A, article,

Very, adverb...’

‘What’s an adverb?’

‘Search me.’

‘Search you? What are you hiding?’

‘Don’t be silly. It’s just a figure of speech.’

‘I seem to know your face. What do you do?’

‘I’m a model.’

‘Ah, I thought you looked rather artificial. Just who are you?’

‘I’m Lady Eleanore Evian of Golfcart Grange, Mineral Water Springs.’

‘Is that a special bra you’re wearing?’


‘I thought so. What’s the label?’


‘How do you spell that?’


‘What’s its USP?’

‘It has disposable cups.’

‘How exotic!’

‘And a nerve centre.’


‘For extra sensitivity.’

‘Your makeup is special too, isn’t it?’

‘Yes. It’s designed to make my eyes look more profound.’

‘Like pools.’

‘No, the pools aren’t ready yet.’

‘They’re in the pipeline?’


‘Like the horses.’


At the Taj Mahal with my Chosen One

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