Out here in the desert…
Delhi was mad, but managed to pick up some sandals for the ride & get a bag made-to-size for my notebook. Bumped into mi mates Steve & Kate in the middle of it all, who helped me settle into the dreamy chaos with a couple of lines of ketamine. Got out of Delhi on a sleeper bus – though how the hell it carved a way through the greasy, grid-locked streets I will never know. The distances here are terrific, the journey over even this small portion of India was 600 miles… about the distance from Inverness to Brighton. Reached Jodhpur next morning, where the first of the famous Rajasthani fortresses tower over everything & are seen for miles. The city itself sprawls around the majestic walls of the Mehwangar Fort, with half the rooftops painted sky-blue, giving the city a watery feel. Spent my time settling into a rickshaw-fuell’d, cannabis-driven writing rhythm, staying in a classy hotel, with a rooftop terrace & food on call.
Had to book into a hotel near the train station on my last day, where to shelter from the heavy heat I watched HBO movies & the cricket, plus a replay of the terrible England match! Outside, the city swirled about me, a constant drone of beeping cars, bikes, camel-wagons, buses & rickshaws all competing for whatever space they could find on the roads. Occasionally the smells of various street-vendor frying pans would waft up to my room & drag me outside for the munchies (good weed), where I mingled with %100 Indians. It is a far cry from the traditional tourist routes of Goa & Kerala, & I sometimes feel like I’ve just walked thro’ Blackburn town center with a Burnley shirt on. Come nightfall, I caught a crowded ‘sleeper’ train – which thanks to the valium Kate had given me I made full use of.
After the chaos of Jodhpur it was a joy to reach the medieval city of Jaisalmer, very Italianesque as its narrow streets crowd the fortified hill on which it stands. Every building is built from the same reddy-brown sandstone, so the whole city seems to blend into the desert around. Jaisalmere does have its down-side, i.e. the constant harassment of the traders wanting you to buy something; I mean its fuckin’ constant, everyone leaping out at you to buy a plethora of goods, from the Rajasthani violin to camel safaris. I was tempted to do the latter, but the thought of a sore arse & the blazing sun put me off. I have instead hired a moped for a pound or so a day & been razzin’ around the empty desert roads. I stumbl’d across a large town called Kuvalla, deserted for two hundred years after its citizens thought the local taxes were too high. In fact, even in these modern times, only last weekend nine debt-laden farmers have committed suicide.
One of the maddest things about being here, a long way away from friends, family, acquaintances & even the idiosyncratics of my native land, is that one feels a sense of ‘personality.’ That is to say, my self is pure & I do things for myself which please me & no others. The way I interact with strangers is also based purely on my personality. So all is well out here on the edge of the Thar Desert. A few hundred k across the dunes lies Pakistan – but I aint goin’ that far, they don’t sell booze.