XIX: Desert Ranger

Whoa! It was salmonella… but just as I was ready to finish my tour with a flourish, the fuckin’ doctor stung me for a great whack of rupees for mi antibiotics & now I’ve had to go easy on the spending – so no shopping b4 I come home. However, health comes b4 wealth & I only really needed to buy a pair of shoes so that’s cool. On to Rajasthan… it’s bloody scorchin’ man! From my train window, just cacti-dotted wilderness framed by jagged silhouettes of mountains – pretty magical really, but still too bloody hot. I pull’d into Pushkar first, a bustling place crowding round a small lake. It’s very holy & there was definitely some kind of ley-line craziness going on. The women are all garbed in psychedelic colours, the men wear nappies on their heads, camels whizz by yer in the street & mi head was buzzin on the energy. Altogether a cool place, but after beating the local chess champion with a cunning kingside attack (to the shock of the locals) I knew it was time to go. I did that in the morning, a bit naughty really, realizing I was drastically low on funds I crept out of my room at Dawn, stepping over the sleeping staff & waking a rickshaw driver to whisk me to the bus-stop. A nervous few minutes were spent waiting for the bus, upon which I hid under the window for a rather long time!

Next stop, five hours & 200k down the line, was Chittorgarh. It has to be one of the dirtiest hell holes anyone would choose to live in. But I wasn’t there to see the oily sludge in the street, nor be run over by the constant stream of trucks that whizzes thro’ this one road dungheap, but was there for the ancyent fortress city that sleeps on a tabletop plateau above the town (xxv). Went for a walk beneath it this morning, just as the sun peep’d above the battlements. It felt like the last true poetic moment of the tour & I blew it a kiss as I turn’d my back on history & thought, ‘lets go home.’

I arrived in my last port of call this afternoon after an interesting train journey. As I’m budgeting, I took third class & was cramp’d up with, & was the object of humour for, a load of Indians. Despite knowing no Hindi I resorted to my good ol’ Burnley manner & we were soon having a whale of a time. Thank fuck, I was sure they were going to mug me. I’ve book’d into a hotel for a couple of days. It’s got a telly for the weekend’s footy, a great restaurant underneath & is still only 90 rupees a night. I guess when you stray from the beaten track (which I have – no tourists for 100k) it gets cheaper. I’ve bought a sleeper train ticket (no more 3rd class) which leaves here at 7pm on the 15th, getting’ me to Bombay 6am on the 16th for my 6.30 am flight to London on the 17th. And to tell you the truth, I’m very much lookin’ forward to it.

13th April

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