I worry that I am slowing everyone down, and we’ll all get eaten by Nepali mountain forest wolves before we reach civilisation.
Suddenly she spies the sleeping hound. My stomach screws up as I watch her hand flail behind her and close around a thick bamboo staff leaning against the wall for just such an occasion. She wrenches herself to her sandalled feet with anger blazing from behind her thick spectacles.
I was first introduced to my camel as Michael Jackson (the camel’s name, not mine), but I later found out that his real name was Rallu. A much more camel-sounding name if you ask me.
Off in the distance camels stretch into as far as the eye can see. Single humped, double humped, dark furred and light, rough haired, and two toed. Chewing with lower teeth jutting out from the split in their floppy camel lips. Adorned with cascades of all-coloured pompoms, plaits, and beaded trinkets, looking proud and silly all at once.
An army of monkeys marching down three sides of a narrow alleyway, their tails waving like banners of victory behind them.
Two mud-black pigs caught snuffling through the worst smelling rubbish in a tiny side street, one turning its too-pink nose to pose for the camera.
The maze is 20 hectares of pure imagination, twisty passages, armies of wobbly-legged stickmen, spindly ponies, growling stone hounds, hobbling rocktagenarians clutching clay pots, wavering-necked graceful but gawky swans and peacocks with shards of mosaic feathers, and colourful boogie-ing bracelet maidens.
Before now I have had no reason to fear the cow. I have cheerfully chewed my way through still-mooing steak for as long as I can remember. They must have known, though I have been veggie since we got here, because three days ago the cows took back the power…
Mumbai. Once Bombay (they just call Bombay Mix ‘Mix’ here), and now Mumbai, but still Bombay to half the people here leaving us all a bit confused really.