Monthly Archives: June 1997

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On the set of Octopussy

By |2017-01-06T11:17:10+01:00June 18th, 1997|India|

8am. I awoke to find the train stationery and the people in my booth collecting their things together. "Udaipur?" I asked hopefully - they nodded. I got out of the train and found a bench to sit on to collect my thoughts. It was already noticeably hotter than Bombay.  Task 1: find a hotel. I eventually succumbed to the hawkings of a Rickshaw keen to find me a hotel and to earn himself some commission.  He led me out to his three-wheeled contraption painted in a similar fashion to the Bombay Taxis. I got in and after the machine had back-fired about three times we eventually got going into Udaipur. The journey was relatively short; I had requested he take me to a place on Lake Palace Road - Mahendra Prakesh.  We arrived and I went in to see a room. Rs 350 for a crappy single room, but they did have a pool.  I said "No" and left. The rickshaw took me to a place next door called Shampoo Villas or some such name, where I ummed and [...]

Cursed by a Eunuch

By |2017-01-06T11:17:10+01:00June 17th, 1997|India|

1pm, Central Station, Bombay. I had enjoyed the taxi ride to Central Station. Halfway, we had paused at a set of traffic lights and in the queue (not lane) next to us the owner of a privately owned vehicle had got out and was having a heated argument with the driver of the taxi in front of him. Presumably they were arguing over a traffic violation, though I couldn't imagine what. Their argument turned sour - into a fight at the taxi driver's window. There was lots of shouting and cursing and the man nearly got dragged into the taxi.  All highly entertaining. The train wasn't due to leave until 1.40pm so I had plenty of time. I went and sat at a bench near the platform entrance.  A middle aged man was sat next to me. "Where are you going?" he enquired. "Udaipur. You?" "Gujerat." "When does your train leave?" I enquired, being polite (as we British are). "Ten o'clock." "You're gong to wait here until ten?" "Yes Sir." "Why?" "I am Indian."  It was obvious I still [...]

The famous journal

By |2019-11-02T03:45:25+01:00June 16th, 1997|India|

Time at last to start the famous journal; well famous in the sense that everyone whom I met before beginning this trip said: "Are you going to write a journal?" So hopefully after I have written it, it will become famous. I am currently lying on my Hotel bed in the Kerwala Chambers Guest House  in Colaba, Bombay. It's three in the afternoon and hot as fuck so I've stripped down to my shorts and am presently enjoying the air that is circulating thanks to that big fan thing on the ceiling. Outside is the constant clanging of hammers from builders opposite my window - repairing what looks to be the interior of a new hotel or guest house; also, the constant squawks from the large family of ravens nesting under every rooftop in the district. I have just read the above three paragraphs and immediately want to make some grammar corrections and other changes. Oh if only I had my Psion. Have just tried for about twenty minutes to get the DV to work - it's refusing to [...]

Elephanta (not)

By |2017-01-06T11:17:10+01:00June 16th, 1997|India|

Tourist Bookings Office, Churchgate, Bombay. Met a couple from Brighton in the bookings queue.  They were headed for a highly industrial town in Gujerat. They'd stuck a pin in the map and decided to go. I had mode more of a calculated choice: to only go to places that the guidebook really raved about and that were on a vague north-northeastern route. He had done a lot of travelling prior to this and struck me as quite worldly-wise.  She had recently graduated from the London College of Printing's course in Media studies and had decided to come along for a bit of an adventure. Now, yesterday, whilst at both the Victoria and central stations I noticed that everyone who was queuing for tickets held a slip of paper in their hand. The guidebook had made no reference to this so I was a little confused. The guy said he reckoned that you just picked one up from the booth and filled in where you wanted to go, on which train, and they would do the rest.  He was right [...]

The snake charmer

By |2017-01-06T11:17:10+01:00June 15th, 1997|India|

I began the day by moving hotel.  It wasn't a difficult task by any means because the hotel I was moving to was situated on the top two floors of the same building as The Strand - The Kerawala Guest House. The room was a far cry from my situation in The Strand but cost only Rs700 by comparison.  After yesterday's episode I was keen to save money where I could. The shower and toilet were in a partition in the corner of the room, which itself was quite a cold concrete chamber.  I had a kind of balcony out back, but it was meshed-off to stop the local raven population inhabiting the room.  In one corner of the little balcony was a sink, very small, with a stainless steel mirror slung from the mesh above it. The day was relatively uneventful compared to the previous day. I went back up to the post office and posted the letter to Squeeze. Then I began my quest to get a ticket outta-here.  I tried to find the air-conditioned booking hall [...]

Bad day in Bombay

By |2017-01-06T11:17:11+01:00June 14th, 1997|India|

3pm. Strand Hotel, Colaba. Don't know how I slept - because I was unconscious from intoxication most of the night. I had got to bed around 4am, which approximated to my usual bedtime at home, but knew five and a half hours difference was going to take some getting used to. After rehydrating with a mineral water, I indulged in a hot shower and a long period on the throne - I wanted my time in India to be as odour-free as possible! I brushed my teeth and had a shave. It was the first time I had been without shaving foam and instead was relying on a brush and shave-stick - white crayon-like thing that you rub onto your face and then work into a foam with the brush. Fuck me if I could get a foam going - but I managed to get rid of my facial hair, which was the important thing. Called room-service for a couple of Pepsi's - I was still parched. It was then that I began to suffer from severe stomach ache [...]

Midnight in Bombay Airport

By |1997-06-14T00:00:38+01:00June 14th, 1997|Strasbourg|

So officially, this was it, I was in India - no going back. The arrivals hall was more of an arrivals room with various service booths crammed down the left-hand side. To my relief one was a Thomas Cook Bureau and had an unnaturally short queue. There was clearly nowhere to sleep. I queued behind two Arabs that were there (I knew they must be Arabic because the money they were exchanging.) Then suddenly to my surprise - two more Arabs joined the queue in front of me. "Hmmm" I thought, "it must be much like getting a beer in a busy London Bar." But I wasn't going to lunge over the counter and wave my wad at the lady in the booth, if you'll pardon the description, I thought it better to try and catch her eye (more my style). Also, I needed to keep an eye on my trolley and I wasn't going to let go of it for a second. It worked! I was served before my two assailants and smugly pushed over my Travellers Cheques. [...]

Friday the thirteenth

By |2020-01-16T08:25:03+01:00June 13th, 1997|India|

4am, 52 Green Avenue, Northfields, London. Having spent the night packing and chewing the cud with Adrian, I had had little sleep. Not much more than two hours in fact, but I was exhausted and slept deeply. Squeeze elbowed me into life and got up to make some super-strong coffee for the first leg of my trip: a three and a half hour drive to Manchester Airport. For which, I had hired a nice little Nissan Micra. Supplied to me by Alamo, Marble Arch for around fifty pounds. One strong-sweet coffee later I was ready for the off. Squeeze got dressed and came outside to bid be farewell, carrying a cafetiere of coffee to pour into the flask so kindly donated by Wolfgang. Whilst doing up the cap on the flask I managed to spill the majority of the coffee down my shirt - not a good start to the day. Formalities over with Squeeze and I had an emotional cuddle before I, bleary eyed, got into the car. I waved for as long as I could before having [...]