After my night on the bus/street I checked into my room then went straight up to the rooftop for breakfast. It was still early enough to catch the sunrise which was, as always, beautiful. At 9am I ventured over the bridge at Hanuman Ghat and into town with the intention of quickly posting a few packages home. As it turned out quickly was not an option available to me! From the post office I was sent about half a mile down the hill to have my parcels properly wrapped. By the time I returned to the post office (around 10.30am) a sign on the door informed me it had closed briefly. I found the nearest chai shack and settled down with the old Indian men who seemed to be keeping it in business. After saying Scotland about 100 times and drinking at least a dozen chais the post office re-opened. I was served by a two man team. The first of the men seemed creepily delighted by my presence; his colleague looked like he’d happily murder me! Eventually, after filling in a staggering 3 page declaration regarding the parcels’ contents I was free to leave.
Wandering aimlessly through the city I discovered a large quiet guesthouse with a pretty little swimming pool. The owner said I was free to use it for a measly 50 Rupees a day. Decision made. I found myself a sunbed on the perfect lawn and parked up there and for the remainder of the day I lay basking in sunbeams, drinking chai out of a silver tea cup whilst being surrounded by tortoises. I went from tramp to princess in under 12 hours. In the afternoon I met a kindly American woman named Debbie. She had never married, choosing instead a life of travel. A decision she said she’s never regretted for a second. She was quite the inspirational woman.
After a full day of baking under the strong Rajasthan sun the walk home rendered me dizzy at times. Chai stops had to be made under shady trees.
I stopped for dinner in a restaurant overlooking the lake. There I had the pleasure/misfortune to meet Frank, a middle aged American gentleman who was smoking copious amounts of Afghan hashish. After his third pipe the conversation turned infinitely weirder. He began to tell me tales of falling in love with a Maharaja’s daughter and of how she left him broken hearted. Just as I was beginning to be sucked in and feel sorry for him he proceeded to relay stories of being granted an audience with the pope, meeting the Dali Lama and then most spectacularly, of when Shiva appeared to him in a forest! Ha ha! Some people just can’t handle their hashish!