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Rajasthani Rumble

My first diary entry concerning Rajasthan states, ‘I am writing this while sat on the toilet at Vino’s Guest House, Bikaner. My own scent is joined by that of the camel’s drifting in through the window.’ Intestinal affairs had once again taken a turn for the worse, and I was beginning to think an underlying illness was causing recurrent sickness, a hypothesis which was later proved correct. I feared this latest episode had begun the day before on the train from Delhi. A large Indian lady opposite us reclined on her bed, and as the train swayed her numerous bellies followed suit, visible between the fabric of her rather revealing sari. She had a hacking cough, which in all honesty sounded terminal, and attempted to remedy the situation by rubbing tobacco on her gums and chewing home made breath fresheners. She offered me one of these biscuity, brown pellets, from a tupperware which seemed to have developed jaundice; an unexpected gesture of altruism which caught me off guard and I accepted. The resulting experience was rather like chewing soil infused with rancid aniseed.


This act of rash consumption may well have been to blame for the following days events. We had spent the afternoon walking through the tight, dirty streets of Bikaner, and I was feeling progressively more queasy. Unless I begin convulsing, Hazell generally believes I’m crying wolf, so we continued and eventually stopped for dinner at a roadside Dhaba. The mango juice I attempted was one step too far, and suddenly I became dizzy and rushed towards the road asking where the toilet was as I bent over double. A young man guided me next door to a Daramshala, pilgrims rest house, but alas, I could hold on no longer. I projectile vomited all over the neat garden entrance as my unfortunate companion pointed desperately towards the conveniences. I relieved myself further from every orifice, only to find I would have to contend with a lack of toilet paper.


As this circus act unfolded, Hazell was enjoying her chapattis completely unphased by this now regularly occurring event. She settled the bill and strolled next door to rescue me, where she had only to follow my snail trail of vomit. However, a communication breakdown ensued on enquiring where the toilets were, as a young man replied ’left’. ‘Perfectly reasonable directions’, I hear you cry, and I am inclined to agree. Alas, you have likely neglected from your line of reasoning one crucial fact; the instructions were to be processed by the cognitive powerhouse residing between my girlfriends ears. Having spent many years with Hazell, I have begun to comprehend at least a fraction of the warped kaleidoscopic image that masquerades in her mind as reality. This being the case, there wasn’t a trace of surprise as she informed me she had spent the last ten minutes running up and down the main road yelling ‘Carl!‘. She explained, ’the man told me you had left.’ ’I was in the toilet’, I replied. ‘Well, I got upset because I thought you were mad at me for not believing you were ill. I thought you left in a rickshaw.’ I was feeling better for my recent purification and reassured her that I’d never run off, to which she replied, ’you missed out on some really good chapattis though.’



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