Back in the day, I went to India, and it changed my life.

Well, let me qualify. Life changes all the time. Any meditator will tell you that. Aneeche, as the Sanskrit has it. Impermanence. Change; it’s the only constant.

Yes, okay, but not all changes are equal. I’d always wanted to go to India, and it was beginning to play on me. If not now, when. So I went and many things followed on thereafter. Further Indian visits for a start. And other books, two of which have a very Indian flavour: The Mating Call of the Racket-tailed Drongo and Karna’s Wheel. The Racket-tailed drongo is a bird I first saw in the Indian jungle, an extraordinary bird with a tail like a lacrosse racket. And Karna is the anti-hero of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata.

My first trip to India injected India into my blood, and changes to the blood can I think be fairly described as life changing. Travels in an Ambassador is an account of that trip. Most of it was written in the evenings from scribblings made as I travelled around. Scribbling-as-you-go is the best way to travel, if you’re travelling solo. It makes you very attentive. And it allows you to sit alone in a restaurant and have the day’s events as your companions. In India, these are never dull.

My initial thought was that I would publish the account of my travels as soon as I came home but what with one thing another – not least getting caught up in writing another book – my journal notes faded into the recesses of my computer.

There they might have remained had it not been for covid and lockdown. In the long evenings, my role was to read to my wife and daughter. They demanded entertainment and were not easily satisfied. ‘What about your travels in India?’ they asked after everything else had been exhausted. So, I dug out the notes, read to them a chapter at a time, and they laughed. I laughed too, reminding myself of that time. ‘Get it published,’ they said, ‘We find it funny and so will others.’

Well, as you can see on the website, here it is; Travels in an Ambassador, available on Amazon and in other good bookshops. But it has changed a bit since its outing in lockdown. Times have changed and the book had to change with them. Issues that were not to the fore then – particularly colonialism and empire – are now.

Addressing those issues in the context of what is an amusing travel book, has been a challenge. Travels in an Ambassador is not the place for an exhaustive examination of colonialism and empire. There are plenty of large books that do that.

So I’ve made it personal, picking out the particular aspects of Indian history that interested me, the British Raj certainly but also its antecedents: Indian history from the very beginning up until Independence in 1947. In fact, you’ll find, when you reach the end, the shortest history of India ever written.

So, the book describes itself as laugh-and-learn-travel to be read on the plane, tucked in your rucksack or, as a proxy traveller, when you’re wrapped in a blanket lounging in the comfort of your armchair.

I think you’ll find it an entertaining companion. I hope you do.