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We seem to be having an anti-India day today – our bad experience at this hotel has spoiled things somewhat. Early in the morning we got a room (no view or toilet but only 350 Rs) next door, and as we walked out of the Pushkar Palace the front man we had dealt with said “hello” to which I answered “goodbye” and dropped the key on the counter without stopping. They’d already got the first night’s accommodation up front, and now we knew why.

We went for another walk through the town (after a bad breakfast pancake at a rooftop place) but the wind had gone out of our sails at the moment. We sat in the quiet ruins of an old temple outside the town and discussed why we weren’t ‘getting in touch’ with India; perhaps because we had different preconceptions, maybe because of the people and the fact we haven’t really had the opportunity to connect with anyone; it’s hard to say.

Extremes, extremes. Tomorrow may be the exact opposite. We spent a few hours sitting at the sunset cafe reading – I finished Kipling’s Kim. It’s hard to get peace though, with the continual noise of cafe musak, cheap tape recorders blaring, drumming across the water, and busking Indians with whining string instruments and loud voices!

The afternoon was a great improvement, however. We walked through town looking at clothes and things, though K was more into it than me; I’m not much of a shopper at the best of times, so we decided to take some time apart – she went shopping, and I walked off around the outskirts of town. It was nice to walk around a bit on my own; a few kids said “Namaste” as I passed, and no one hassled me. Eventually I was back at the ruined temple, where I joined an old white-garbed and turbaned Indian and an Israeli guy who were sitting on the temple roof. For about ten minutes, after exchanging a few words, we sat in silence and contemplated the view, each smoking one of my cigarettes; it was a moment to be savoured slowly – shanti (peace), was the Indian guy’s word for it.

I shook their hands and continued on my walk around the lake, coming back to the Sunset Cafe where I started the book K bought: The Guide by RK Narayan. In an hour K met me there; she’d enjoyed a break alone also. We sat a read for a while as the sun went down and the drummer went at it again.

To our relief the hotel has a good hot shower, and later we had an OK dinner at the rooftop Venus Restaurant: mushroom curry, vegetable khorma, naan and rice. Along the street afterwards we bumped into Claire and William, and we’ve all organised to go on a walk up a nearby mountain tomorrow.

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