Dammit dammit dammit I’m sick with the flu AGAIN! Yep, it started hitting me again at Ajanta. I’m still able to get around (with effort) but it tends to take the shine off things! I have no resistance to sickness here; probably because the food we get has been so leeched of vitamins and minerals. We’ve taken to repeating a mantra of the food we’re going to eat when we get back – “crisp white wine, fresh crusty bread, prawns, cheese, paté, smoked salmon…” Yum yum yum. God I’d hate to be doomed to rice and dhal for the rest of my days.
Anyway, another early start to catch the 7am local bus to Ajanta, which took about 2½ hours. Ajanta itself reminded us a bit of Jenolan Caves territory, with the caves cut into a cliffside facing a horseshoe curve of the river. Lots and lots of touts (one got onto the bus at Ajanta village and chatted to me, getting my name, before telling me about his shop), and very packed with Indian tourists. It was hot and crowded and I rapidly began feeling terrible. The caves weren’t as impressive as Ellora, but the remaining painting fragments were interesting. Queueing up to see a few of the caves rapidly wore down our remaining patience. We were glad to get away by the end of it.
After some mucking around we (K and I; we’d lost Nir by this stage) got a jeep with another Indian couple to take us to Jaigaon for 200 Rs. The man offered me some betel nut, which has a sort of aniseed flavour. Jaigaon was a one-horse hole of a town, with sleazy looking ‘permit rooms’ where men go to surreptitiously drink. We found a helpful hotel owner though, who helped us through the task of getting our ticket to Bhopal (the ticket reservations computer wasn’t working and the people there were the so-often-encountered sullen, unhelpful, lazy slobs). Eventually we got 2nd and 3rd on the waiting list for 2nd class sleeper, however.
We dumped our bags in the clean, but institutional-looking, hotel room, killed a few mozzies, and then went to a nearby restaurant. Bumped into Nir again there, and an American guy who’d been at Ajanta. Of course no dinner till 7pm, so we made do on masala dosas and vegetable pakoras and Pepsi.
Early night – with me feeling sick as a dog.