Hits 2015 | Created 1995-12-01 | Modified 2007-05-24
Extracts from my journal, December 1995, in India.
1st December 1995.
Delhi. Tourist Camp.
Just taken a brave walk through Delhi to 'old' Delhi, to see the Red Fort (about 2km away).Feel happier now about Delhi, as we had a pretty much hassle-free day.
The fort was quiet (compared to the streets of old Delhi, that is), and must have been pretty fab in its day - lots of pavilions and towers that have been looted through the years, and a huge Raj army barracks backing onto it.
Passed lots of slums and street houses and some very poor people indeed - happy enough to get half a rupee off you.Anjila bought some sandals for about 80 Rs, but I am still lacking.
2nd December 1995.
Made the taxi in the end at 5.30am.The train from Delhi station was on time!Our names were listed on the outside of the train too.More leg room than BR [British Rail], that's for sure.We must have landed a first class type deal, as we were given mineral water, breakfast (tea, biscuits, jam and bread), lunch (tea and chips(!?), samosas and peas) and snacks (crisps, hot spicy things, tea) plus mango drinks.Air conditioned seats, fully reclining - aah, the journey flew by.
Ajmer was lively and kind of daunting, as it's in the middle of the desert really.So much more hassle free than Delhi.We hooked up with a local from Delhi on a break / holiday, which made organising phone calls and buses to Pushkar easier (although I had it under control...?)
One very busy bus ride over 11km of hills and thin roads and steep drops brought us to the oasis that is Pushkar - its kind of like Glastonbury festival, but Indian.Peaceful as you get over here, I guess, pretty much hassle free, cheap, pretty and full of hippies, crusties and freaks.Beautiful lake, outstanding views of the nearby mountains / temples, good sunset.Just had a good 'all you can eat' food for 25 Rs (50p), and was offered hashish for the first time by a seedy looking chap.Still haven't asked for a bhang lassi at the sunset cafe, but may pluck up the courage mid-week.
Staying in some bungalows for 125 Rs (£1.25 each) a night - big room, hotel swimming pool - very plush.Aah, a week of this to come.
Sun and not much else.
Bought a very nice top and some flip-flops [thongs] - hooray.
3rd December 1995.
Sun and heat today.Just got hustledinto giving 300 Rs(!) for a blessing ceremony in the Holy Lake - it was karmic blackmail, or maybe it really was for the good of my karma and on the line, the guy seemed sincere enough.He gave me my 'pushkar passport' which is a bit of coloured string around my wrist, which may give me access to some temples.
We had a rat attack in our room last night, it was chewing a Mars bar that Anjila left out.We threw flip-flops and left the light on, and it went away.
I'm well over budget, as I always seem to be when I travel - a bit of a worry as we really need to stay until April to meet Debbie out here.Ah well, let it flow.
Going to trek to the temple on the hill tomorrow morning (this is the plan).
Han - Yes.
Nahin - No.
4th December 1995.
Off to the temple in an short while.Spent last night down at the Sunset Cafe, drinking chai and chatting to a few people - quiet as most other people were at a party that we were too late to be invited to.Listened to some horror stories about Goa and the police planting hashish on people, so they could make money from a bribe.Sat and watched sadhus and lots of other people smoke chillums and get off their heads.The laundry man of the hotel offered us hashish yesterday, it seems like he must be the local hotel dealer!
Well, never made it to the temple on the hill.Got side-tracked by a guy who did yoga, who spotted our Pushkar passports and insisted on taking us to the Brahama temple in town, showed us around, talked about karma and life.Met some ever-chanting Sanskrit swami and an ever-silent one too.His name was Suriya and he was creating an Ashram in the desert somewhere.He also took us on a guided tour of Pushkar, and even to his house, where he tried to sell us hashish - no surprises there [note: we bought some!].Genuine enough guy though.
After being lost in Pushkar back streets for a while, chilled out at the Sunset Cafe where we were splattered with shit by a passing cow.In seconds many urchins offered to clean my shitty boots (5 Rs)!Then met a guy who insisted on taking my address as his friend in England (?) and gave me his too.He tried to buy my watch off me; and I gave him an English £ coin (foolish me), as he collected foreign currency (?).Then met a passing musician who played for me (2 Rs), tried to sell me his instrument, his tape, buy my watch and then guilt me into giving him my socks - I stood my ground.Although I suspect he will be waiting tomorrow to give me a music lesson.He also got me to take a picture and wants a copy sending (no problems).
Retired to hotel for peace and to wash my shitty clothes.
5th December 1995.
Pushkar, Rajasthan.'Pushkar Lake'
We got it together to leave the Bungalows and found a small hotel down some back streets - The Pushkar Lake.Very chilled out place, big, basic, double for 60 Rs per night - 50, 60p each a night.With new found wealth ate more and drank more chai.Did the India times crossword and chilled out at the hotel on the roof with some nice guys.Evening, sat and got to know the hotel owner - funny, nice guy.Sat up around a fire on our roof for a few hours.
Tomorrow - the hill temple (again)
Reading 'Gift of Wings' by Richard Bach.
6th December 1995.
Pushkar, Rajasthan.Wednesday?Full Moon.
Well, climbed the big hill in the mid-day sun - very hot, quite steep.Saw some good birds, small green bee eaters and the like.The view from the top of the desert was excellent, just like a John Wayne film.Lots of Indian woman and children and old women (labouring up slowly on hands and knees) having a day out going up there too.The temple was pleasant and basic.Much singing and ringing bells etc.
Chilled out about town and totally failed to get any information about the Full Moon party (did the Indian Times crossword and drank chai instead).After dithering over food and more chai, we tried one in-town party, but weren't made welcome (in a restaurant, and we were full), so chilled out with 'the lads' on the roof.One of them went to look for the desert party on his motorbike, and found a 'big party, many tourists'.But it was near Ajmer and we'd need a jeep and it would drop us off a good ½ km from the site, in the desert somewhere.It looked like 2am before we got there, so we went to be instead.
Just spotted a big cricket crawling across the floor, I'm glad because I thought I saw it earlier and wondered if it was just and hallucination.
7th December 1995.
Well, hazy day really.Did very little as it was hotter than ever.Sleeping is the order of the day.
Crashed at 9!
Had a bhang lassi at the sunset cafe - blew us away!
8th December 1995.
Much the same as yesterday.Met up with some kiwis and French people who we spent the day with, chilling out.Had a mini party on the roof for Brendon's birthday.I've pooped out as I've got the trots and don't feel so hot (okay).
Nearly went camel trekking today, but too late.Maybe tomorrow.
Too many chillums!
10th December 1995.
Thoughtful narrative of the day
First day missed in my journal.
We actually got it together and went on an overnight camel trek intothe Thar desert.Most of Saturday was a dither until the off at about 5pm.
The whole thing was a bit of a swizz though really, for 200 Rs each.We trekked out for an hour (just outside of town) and camped down.All the others crashed as soon as we had eaten tea.There were uncomfortable silences that I thought should have been filled with chatting to the Indians.But the whole thing was a -ve charge situation, and we had no fire after tea to +ve things up either.Shame really.Excellent experience and all - cold night under superb stars.The feeling that all there is, is just the Earth, you lying on it and the infinite above.Unless of course you sleep before you notice.Maybe these people are not the ones to spend xmas with - too stoned and too zombied out to party really.But good people too.Who knows?
Realisation that the other people in India are not all here for the same kind of reasons as me - I know that, but some of these people have really different agendas.People that are more concerned with catching 'that moment' on film are already itching to be gone, and be at home, passing the photo album around.People more concerned with how the moment looks - never living the moment.How can you live the moment when you're running around taking photographs of the people actually in the moment?Some people it seems have a little list that they tick off - leave your country, UK - tick, okay, India - tick, okay, let's head home and settle down and sell out.
I feel like a tourist in India.Goa will be the worst, touristy-wise though.I can't see a way out of the situation either - I am a tourist here, at least, at the moment.There are lessons every day here, just not the ones I thought I'd be learning here...it's a kind of global bonding experience so far - it's amusing to see same things all over the world.The perpetual washing bummer, the perpetual firewood in the dark bummer.The too wasted to face those daily tasks, like visiting the food shop, bank etc bummer.People seem more alike, the more I see.
11th December 1995.
Pushkar.In bed, ill.
Felt steadily worse all yesterday evening and retired early - trots came back after being held at bay by the Immodium for a while, then started vomiting too.Most of the night I vomited and shat.The toilet overflows (nearly).
Anjila came in late from a night on the town, full of health, then during the night developed vomiting and the shits too.
A long night.
I'm now weak as a baby, it's mid-day and I've stopped vomiting briefly, so just went into town to buy bananas, water and lychee juice.Just had half a banana and am waiting for the results.
I suppose I'll laugh about this in a week or two.
12th December 1995.
Pushkar.Out of bed.
Feel much better.Good night's sleep and many bananas later, I managed breakfast, chai and dinner before stomach cramps warned me not to over do it.
Supposed to be a party here tonight, but it's pretty dead.
Our toilet has been unblocked and cleaned by some kind of local Dyno-Rod man, and we have a new lock on our door.
New plans to book tickets to Udaipur tomorrow for the 16th - couple of days there doing the Octopussy thing, then safari time.
Must leave the tourist trap that is Pushkar.
Bought 'Learn Hindi' book.Finished 'Nothing by Chance'
13 th December 1995.
Booked our tickets out of Pushkar, to Udaipur on the 15th.8pm overnight coach.
Ate 'well' and am now chilling out.
Chilled out some more, now think I'm flaking out at 9pm, although there is activity that I should go an investigate (huh)
Very tired, got stomach cramps too.
This idyllic life take it out of you.I'm becoming such a lightweight!
14th December 1995.
Pushkar.'The Saddhu and the Flute'
Spent a lazy day feeling a bit ill and being conned into eating many cloves of garlic as a cure.Very garlicky day.
Spent the evening with 'Baba Chillum', some Saddhu down at the Sunset Cafe.He travels about from the Himalayas to Goa.Talked about Acid Erik, Stonehenge ad how he danced at a rave party in Goa (after meeting Acid Erik).He smokes chillums all day apparently.Terrible cough.He lives in a cave in the Himalayas with a waterfall, river and beach(?).They ski and climb in the mountains around him.
Brendon got a gift of a flute.He couldn't get a note out of it, then scores of flute players demonstrated on it - the Saddhu, some Chinese guy, some Europeans, all with haunting beauty.Brendon tried to get a note out of it all night.He finally hit a note - there were cheers, and the flute split down the middle, just like that.Funny eh?
Strange and good night.
I was sync'd in with a Saddhu tonight!
15th December 1995.
Spent the day eating and drinking.Just trekked up to the second hill temple for sunset.Quite amazing views up here, with vultures gliding on the thermals, and just vast desert stretching into the horizon.
Got to go and catch our bus later...
16th December 1995.
Udaipur (Home of Octopussy)
The coach journey wasn't too bad. A good dither to start and many stops and dithers later, it took only from 8am until 5pm. We had cushy seats at the front with much keg room too. The drivers stocked up with whisky halfway through - I just went to sleep to avoid looking at the hairy driving... Staying in a nice expensive hotel at Rs. 100 a night, moving tomorrow to the Shiva Guest House for Rs. 80, but that is chilled out and has a good lake view.
Today we toured Udaipur, did a boat ride around the lake, went (stumbled on) the 'zoo' (crocodiles, tigers, rabbits) and watched the sunset.
Udaipur is a really nice, mellow place, not too touristy, not hassley.
This eve we went to a restaurant that shows Octopussy every night (as Octopussy was mainly filmed here) so we ate and cooed as cheesy Roger Moore raced around the streets we'd just walked around.
Then, yes, I had my first beer since arriving here - Kingfisher beer at Rs.45 for a big(ish) bottle. Aaaaah...
Good people here, v. big lake, mountains, temples on hills etc. Good day trek potential here.
Spending over budget though... £££
I'm now the opposite of having the shits.
Reading 'The World According to Garp', by John Irving - v. good.
I stood six feet from a crocodile today with only a flimsy fence between (wow man).
17 th December 1995.
Udaipur. Shiva Hotel.
Moved to the Shiva Hotel after a good breakfast and pleas from the hotel manager not to leave. Shiva is nice with good views of the lake. As our rooms aren't ready, we're sleeping on the roof tonight, free of charge though. He's also teaching us a little Hindi (see back of book), which is v. good. He's just in town now, buying us some beer for sunset.
Brendon feels a bit poorly to the stage of using rehydration salts, but I'm fighting fit now...
18th December 1995.
Night on the roof was smashing - watched all the stars rise and set and names all that we could.
Today Brendon had a blood test and some malaria treatment, but I think he's looking better.
Today we ate at the Mona Lisa and then took a rickshaw up to the Monsoon Palace up the mountain for Rs. 100 for four of us! We had to walk in places and let the engine cool down. Magnificent views of vast mountains all around. Very nice sunset.
We also visited the City Palace today for Rs. 15, which was a bit of a disappointment - nice building, but nothing special. Highlight of this trip was sitting in the Queen's palace courtyard, listening to a guard singing a soulful song.
When we returned to the hotel, the rooftop was home to a folk dancing family who did a little show for us - very good actually.
I have the shits again, but feel okay...
Now to sleep.
We are thinking of moving hotels again.
19th December 1995.
Udaipur. Palace View Hotel (10pm)
Moved hotels again, back to our original choice, as Aj and Jeanene had a bad / dodgy feeling about Raj and were uncomfortable. Felt guilty, but my only regret really is that I won't learn and Hindi from him really. Hotel finding was a long faff (2 hours) but okay in the end. Spent the rest of the day changing money and searching for the bus station down backstreets in the heat. We booked a ticket to Kota on the night of the 21st for Rs. 60. From there it's a train to the town near the Safari Park... Kota sounds terrible (army base, industry, nuclear power plant...) but hopefully there only a few hours.
Spent the evening doing the India Times crossword, drinking coffee and beer too. Very relaxed really. Got rooms for Rs. 50.
Tiger Lake tomorrow... So the plan goes...
V. tired, as last night was spent listening to dogs barking, loud Indian music and engines.
Drinking Kingfisher beer tonight, which isn't as good as Black Label (Rs. 38, alc. 5.5%!) or Bullet (Rs. 40, alc 8%!).
Talked about going to the Andaman Islands and Manali today - sounds good indeed...
20th December 1995.
Got it together and took a rickshaw to Tiger Lake. Rugged scenes, quiet places, mountains and monkeys. The lake was quite big, surrounded by big, dry hills and almost deserted. We walked and swam, it was very hot, and cold in the water. I collected shells and quartz rock, and looked for bugs (very few). Stayed all day, then our rickshaw didn't turn up to collect us (points problem we found out later), so walked, then hitched. Got picked up by a jeep full of men and whisky (rough whisky) who groped Anjila as we got out. Then by a tractor full of men, through small villages and crowds of curious, dirty children. No English is spoken out there, you get by with a curious silence that seems to say everything. Then a rickshaw-bus type Rs. 5 journey, and a rickshaw proper to the town centre. I remember thinking as we waited for our rickshaw, and it didn't arrive, 'nothing by chance', what reason could there be for not coming? What would I miss if he did? It all makes sense, as the journey back was the best part of the day.
Evening watching Octopussy again, but I got bored and left early, walking back barefoot as my flip-flops broke.
Just had a beer to send me to sleep, and read my book.
Kota tomorrow night.
Hitching is somewhat easier here than in England.
Nothing by chance...? Hmmm.
22nd December 1995.
Sawai Madhupor. 5.15pm.
Last day faffing around in Udaipur. Watched TV amongst other things. Coach to Kota wasn't too bad - passed out quite quickly - 7 hours.
We only had to wait about 15 mins to get the train from Kota to Sawai Madhuporm then an hour for the train to leave.
1½ hour journey. Sawai Mad' is a shit hole. Small and horrible. Spent all day trekking from one end to the other trying to arrange safaris. A bit of hassle.
We checked into the hotel Swagart which is a bit of a seedy dive too - stories of rats, and I've seen a few mice sprinting around the room. After reviewing our options, seeing all the nice hotels we were going to book for xmas are booked up, we're leaving today - a few hours after arrival. If we don't, we're stranded here until xmas eve, so we'd be travelling on xmas day. We don't want to spend xmas here... No sireee. So we're on the 9.30pm express overnight to Bombay for Rs. 230, then Bombay to Goa for xmas and New Year.
So, a wasted trip, no safari, and Rs. 130 wasted, and about 8½ travel. Not a lot really, I guess. Maybe we're being harsh on Sawari, but then again...
There have been nice people though.
23th December 1995.
On a train bound for Bombay, 6pm.
Well, we waited 1 hour, for a late train, caught the wrong one, got off at the next stop, waited 2 more hours for the right one (late), and now we're 15 hours into the journey. ETA Bombay is about 11pm, too late to catch a coach until the next day sometime... (another 15 hours travel).
We're on a sleeper and have a seat you can recline on each. I have actually slept too.
The train is very slow and tedious. But, there are chai, coke, food & ice cream salesmen that wander up and down constantly, so we're all snacked up.
Not much to do really, *yawn*.
26th December 1995.
The train got in at midnight, and we had to sleep in Dadar train station, with all the other Indians. We got a bus at about 5.30an and discovered that it was only going to Pune (Brandon thought Pune was in Goa).
The journey to Pune took 6 hours, then we had to wait for 8 hours until the next coach to Goa (Rs. 200).
Pune was nice, no westerners, chilled out in nice botanical garden most of the day.
The coach was okay, journey took 14 hours or so. We were sitting behind father and son from hell who tried to push back their seats just that little bit further, all night... Still, I'm sure they were just trying to be comfortable, and didn't mean to smash me in the face with their seats...
Fairly painless journey, seen to be getting used to cramped, hard seats, bumpy coaches, very loud Indian music (we even had a comedian in Hindi at one point), etc, etc. I can sleep in any position, with any noise! Ta-da!
Then faffed about in Panaji, which was closed, as it was xmas day (no presents), then three coaches, and one ferry ride later, we got to Arambol for 1pm or so.
Aaaaah! What a relief.
27th December 1995.
Sea, sand, palm trees, bars, and hardly any people. Relaxed & hot. We're sharing a big room with Brendon & Jeaneane in a family 'village'. Very mellow, lots of pigs and chickens, and pig toilets, which are amusing.
We have to wash at the well with a bucket, but I'm just sticking to sea-wash each day. The sea is warm & vast with big waves. There are beach bars dotted along the white sand. Just a walk away are more beaches, bars and a lake (warm). Aaah. Beer is Rs. 25 a big bottle, and there are lots of parties coming up. Marty is here too.
Nothing to do but eat, drink, swim, and walk on the beach. Aaaah.
Christmas night I got a bit drunk, but not much, and, I'm off for a beer right now...
28th December 1995.
Went to Anjuna beach last night at the shore bar for a little party - pretty good. Spent the day in Panjim, changing money, checking for mail and phoning folks etc. Lots of bus rides all day. In the evening we got a motorbike taxi back to the ferry, then the ferry, then 8 of us piled into a dodgy bloke's van, back to Arambol.
They dropped us in the village, not the beach, so some people refused to pay and walked off... So we pay our share (Aj and I and some bloke) and leave. It all came to a head when the van came back filled with locals and a policeman. Very ugly scene. They picked me out as the 'leader' and tried to take me to the station... Backsheesh of Rs.100 was required to take the heat off and escape. Quite hairy really.
Tomorrow there is a 'trip' on mass - about 25 people! Meeting time is 12:00 so I'd better get off.
29th December 1995.
Group Trip to Far Beach.
Took a group of 20 or so people up to the far beach for a day trip. The en mass experience. Smashing day. Marred slightly by the threat of cops hassling us.
Mainly chilled out in the water and/or the beach. Talked to the man who built the universe in the sand.
I asked him where he was, he told me he was the right arm. I asked him where he thought I was, and he pointed to where I stood and said, 'there'... 'But better than that,' he said, and straddled the earth-seed connection/arm junction, 'one guy liked to stand here, like this!'
'Really?' I asked. I thought about it, sat down and drew a circle around myself and sat there for a while.
We also had screaming session, and experimented with sounds in the sea.
The locals wanted to know what the symbols in the sand meant 0 he tried to give guided tours of the universe. Clever guy.
20 odd people, it was a real on-the-bus experience alright. Though I spent most of it alone, deep in thought, and 'no fun'. I guess.
31st December 1995.
New Year's Eve.
Cor blimey, the days are a bit of a haze right now. Last night I got blasted round a campfire with Lucky and others, and in the reggae bar with unknown people, and an Argentinean Baba.
Some Swedish woman gave me a pill (pain killer) which blasted me into orbit!
Still feel jaded today, and there's the big new year's bash up the hill tonight...