Returning to India grew to be like a second homecoming. Touchdown was nearly always Mumbai - which for a decade I knew as Bombay - and each time, as the aircraft powered forward, dipping towards the runway, those snapshot glimpses of an uneven terrain crammed with shanty dwellings would resume in my view. More and more this struck me as a symbol of why I was there in the first place, for it was perhaps the most extreme lifestyle interface one could imagine: high-tech jumbos gliding past squalid slums. Neither existence could touch the other … and one certainly did not want to.


So here I sit, not long after the crack of dawn, astride an old wooden chair, positioned dead-centre, with a microphone on a tall metal stand in front of me. To my left, with jet-black hair and dressed like a queen in a beautiful azure and white, sequined saree, sits the school’s director and principal, Dr Mabel Aranha; a somewhat formidable figure, attending her final Republic Day parade, before retirement. To my right a considerably more jovial character, the white-mustachioed Mister Mirchandani .....


Country of customs, colours and contrasts, India is a place that reaches out to test all our senses, at times to their limits; love it or loath it some people say. In a chaotic marketplace with cows, cars and humankind jostling for coveted space, the sights, the sounds, the smells of India can sometimes overwhelm. But immerse yourself in all this: ask questions about the vividly coloured dyes, listen to the strange looking gadgets on Juhu Beach and taste the sweet sugarcane offered in friendship, then you can begin to love India …like no place on Earth!