Varanasi: “Breaking news”

We broke for the Indian border on the 28th of December with a feeling of relief, sadness, and excitement to see new places and get away from ones that suddenly didn’t feel so safe.

Varanasi: “Welcome to Varanasi.”

People waded into the Ganges to bathe, bent to wash clothes, stood beside the water to place floating lights on its surface, fished about in the depths for errant cricket balls, and in some cases took a quick healing drink (I didn’t join them on that one).

Jhansi: “Aoooowwwwp!”

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.

Orchha: “Hello Auntie!”

It is the place where I finished my first ever sock. In a restaurant where rats ran in and out of the kitchen, jumping off shelves and around jars, causing a French woman to feed her dinner to a passing street dog and say to the owner “You should beeee ashaaaaaamed of your restauran’, eeet eeeez full of rats!” before storming out.

Agra (Taj Mahal): “A teardrop on the face of eternity”

The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore called the Taj Mahal “A teardrop on the face of eternity” according to my trusty Lonely Planet. Which leaves me feeling that nothing I say can really better that. Still I’ll give it a go…

Jaisalmer (Thar Desert): “In the morning we go to meet your camel.”

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.

Jaisalmer: “Oh… It go ice.”

It is clear to me that the waiter has the power to freeze water at will, and that sometimes, maybe when he has spilled birayani down a customer who would have been a big tipper, or a cow gouged at him on the way to work because he looked at it funny, he loses control of his power and ends up showing it to us mere mortals in the form of sudden soft drink freezing.

Jodhpur: “Excuuuuse me, ma’am! You know what is wool?”

At one point, a bit yarn hungry by now, I happened upon a dusty bag of nasty pink acrylic wool. A small boy leapt from the shadows of the shop, “Excuuuuse me, ma’am! You know what is wool?” he demanded. I did know what is wool. That wasn’t wool.

Udaipur: “Are you jamisponding me?”

There is really only one thing about Udaipur that people go there for as far as I can tell. A shaken but not stirred thing that is regularly viewed with golden eyes and pointed out with gold fingers, and… oh hell, I cannot be bothered with anymore James Bond hints. You get the idea.

Bundi: “The work of cobbling rather than men.”

Fort Monkeys, breakfast monkeys, “Your monkey stick doesn’t scare me” monkeys. A whole monkey army of which sat around us as we climbed to the fort, perched on every wall and window, eerily following us with dark monkey eyes…