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I have caught the travel bug.

By this I mean two things. First, yes, this trip is turning out to be pretty good, and I’m feeling the exciting call of many roads ahead. Secondly, however, I mean that of all the bugs I’ve travelled past – on streets, in food, from people and festering among the heaps of fresh cow faeces on roads – one of them’s got me I’ll.

Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer were consequently not the most successful of visits, especially considering the stagnant temperatures reaching 40*C. A good six litres of bottles water each day and some rest sorted things soon enough.


On the basis of my experience in Udaipur, Bollywood trumps tourism in importance. Visiting the palace in the late afternoon, I was chased through every room by an entourage of staff and armed guards who locked doors behind me. Leaving, (promptly) I discovered the intent of their haste to remove me – a film crew with accompanying crowd of dancers, shuffling through final preparations before their location filming. Perhaps my tardy tourism put a spanner in their schedule.

On reconsidering, perhaps I should have stayed to watch, or perhaps blagged a part as an English waiter. But I had my evening’s entertainment pre-booked: a night of classical Indian music and dance. Narrated by a cheery lady who vamped for time by inserting five second pauses between each word, the night turned out to be unexpectedly engaging. Sure, there are your basic saris and drums which provide the rice and dahl (ie. Bread and butter) of your evening, but they also throw in a magical puppet, some guys picking up hot coals with their teeth and a woman balancing nine pots on her head while tap dancing on glass. A fine night’s entertainment.

This, though, is just about all we get to see of Udaipur. As we leave, there’s just time to spare a thought for the poor restauranteurs who must endure daily screenings of Octopussy to draw in diners (it was filmed here at the middle-of-the-lake hotel.)


Political unrest seems to adorn much of our path. Arriving by bus in Agra we find our hotel stranded in a temporarily-pedestrianised zone, the roads marshalled by police. Instructed to walk, I jumped on the back of a motorbike straight to the hotel door.

This time, the unrest that has caused the lockdown originated far away in Ayotha, Lucknow. This location, claimed as a holy site by both Hindu and Muslim groups for many years, was under high court trial to determine it’s owner. Potential fallout from the ruling’s announcement seemed to be causing security concerns. Thankfully, equal sections of the site were apportioned to each major group, and the media’s attempts to gee up violent responses were met with a generally resounding “ah well, that’ll do.”

I spent most of my time in Jodhpur in bed, conducing that forty degree heat probably doesn’t do much good for curing illness.

Being nearby, though, I did try a few spice sniffs in the town market. Some of them were almost strong enough to wipe our the great British cold for an entire season. Recovering from this sensory onslaught only took a few sips of fresh cinnamon, cardamon and saffron tea (which actually didn’t have any tea in it at all.)

Dabangg was on sale in this market for just 30rs “with four other film on the DVD”. Also on sale: heaps and heaps of electrical junk which only the best of scavengers could possibly find use for.


Warned of dusty days approaching, I’d bought myself a fifteen rupee bandito face mask. Sure enough, ploughing a train through the desert with all its doors and windows open does indeed make for a rough ride.

Worse still, the hotel provided little in the way of freshening up possibility, with dust, sand and sweltering heat infiltrating every possible recess.

The golden sandstone fort here provides playground for an active imagination, and houses some excellent rooftops for sunset spotting. Personally, I preferred to spend my evening back at the hotel throwing up, watching ‘Cloudy with a chance of meatballs’ and going to sleep.

To avoid the afternoon sun, I left the group while they camel safari’ed, opting to do my own before sunrise the next morn. Controlling a camel is a piece of cake. You sit on it, tug some ropes, then make clucking and raspberry sounds with your mouth. Admittedly, it doesn’t always do what you tell it, and more often simply stops for a snack, but otherwise it’s simple.

Leaving Jaisalmer proved a low point. Jolted awake at 4:30am, I proceeded to loose the room key, fall over, step in cow dung and get laughed at by a local man. Morning fail.

Now it’s the long and bumpy road back to Delhi with a couple of stops to break up the trip. Wonder how the Commonwealth Games are going…

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