Two things: sorry for the delay on these posts – I’ve been lazy for reasons that will soon become clear – and more importantly THANK GOD Macron won in France – I’m watching from afar at the moment but I promise to actively join in on the fight against fascism once I’m done finding myself over here.
So three days in Delhi was more than enough for us, and in search of better things we rode a brilliant, cramped night train with the locals to Rajasthan, terminating in Udaipur, the ‘White City’. It’s a pretty, simple town made up of stony backstreets, crumbling cream-coloured guesthouses with rooftop terraces and abandoned maharajas’ palaces lining Lake Pichola. The lake was the highlight of the place for me: we rode a boat across it one day in the scorching heat, and had cocktails at its shores one evening when the water glitters with little pink and blue lights.
This is the point at which the soundtrack should change to dark, dissonant bad-guy music, for right on cue on our fifth day in India, the beast of food poisoning reared its ugly head. And boy, did it rear it. If there is one thing I’ve learned from the sleepless night I spent with my head in the toilet, it’s that paying extra for an AC room is always worth it.
I wish I could say I enjoyed the rest of Rajasthan – I’ve heard the food is excellent, and it offers great desert activities. Sadly I could only stomach chips, and it was so hot and dusty in the day that we saw more of our hotel room ceiling than anything else. That said, when we did venture out in Jodhpur (the blue edition of Rajasthan’s colour pack) we had a wonderful time zip lining over Mehrangarh Fort with a tour group of Brits who shared their own tales of bowel misery. Jaipur is supposed to be nice, but severe bellyache is my most vivid memory of the place.
Never mind! India fascinates me despite my qualms with its food hygiene (it was the paneer, I’m sure of it). I’m noticing that it’s the small things that make this subcontinent both amazing and awful; magical or terrible moments of everyday life that you glimpse from the window of a tuk tuk or the balcony of a restaurant. A herd of donkeys blocking the road in the quiet light of 6am; shouting boys playing cricket with rocks for stumps and an old plank for a bat; a woman hanging the rainbow pieces of a sari on a telephone wire to dry. A box of crying goats strapped to the back of a moped like battery chickens. A half-naked toddler sleeping on the ground at a busy intersection.
Only time will tell what I think about the place overall, but I have a feeling that India is a mystery that won’t be unravelled easily.
Next stop: Agra.