The longest night

On a ‘luxury’ bus somewhere between Udaipur and Jodhpur …

We had only just set off from the last service station twenty minutes previously – before pulling in again at an incongruous road junction flanked by cafés.  The bus had been late to arrive, we had spent half an hour at the service station at 12.30 am and now we had stopped again. It was going to take all year to get to Jodhpur.

There was something wrong with the engine and we were informed that in about an hour we would be able to proceed. Great! Along with most of the other passengers, I bundled off to take a pee and stretch my legs.

I was watching them fiddle with the engine when … it caught fire … which was quite alarming (especially for the people still sleeping on the bus who woke up to the intoxicating smoke of burning rubber wafting down the aisle). There was a mad rush as everyone dived on to retrieve their luggage … just in case the fuel line went up!  I too nipped on and grabbed my things which I was most relieved to have in my possession again.

The roadside cafés blurted out some terrible music which kept me from getting any real sleep as I lay on the concrete slab that stood at the base of a tree planted directly at the apex of the junction.

One hour had been a conservative estimate… four hours later we got going again down the tiny winding country lanes that linked the main Udaipur-Jodhpur road with the Mount Abu-Jodhpur road.

At ten past nine we finally arrived in Jodhpur. I was thirsty, tired (I had had only 30 minutes sleep at max), repetitive strain injury and whiplash to my spine. I had to pay 5Rs for the privilege of receiving my bag from the boot of the bus.

The vulture came – aka Rickshaws – I played it cool and calm and eventually decided to go with one who spoke good English. Big mistake. I specified to him a hotel called “The Blue House” in the far end of the city. He said OK and took me somewhere completely different. I politely looked at the hotel room that I was quoted Rs250 for but bartered down to Rs150. but insisted on Rs100 if I was going to stay.  So again “The Blue House” … he took me to another blue house – a more expensive one – Rs150 for a shite room.

“The other Blue House” I said nearing the end of my tether. He said it was on the other side of the city and was shut this time of year. I didn’t believe him and was getting a little tetchy. “Okay” I said and referred to the guide. “The Mayor” was much closer but the same price range as the Blue House. This commission-seeking Ricki was a real cowboy and had probably earned a fortune because he was a real tough nut. The next hotel was not (obviously) The Mayor – the rooms again were expensive.

I freaked-out at the Rickshaw and began to climb out in order to find a rickshaw who would take me where I wanted to go. He succumbed. The Mayor was by far the best hotel I had seen – and for Rs100. I called the Rickshaw an asshole-muthafucker before retiring to get some quality shut-eye.

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