Wednesday, 2 May 2012


We left Delhi after two days with a driver named Mohan Singh, bound for exploring India's prized state of Rajasthan. First stop; Bikaner.

The nine hour drive to Bikaner didn't quite go as smoothly as I'd of hoped-in every way. Poor roads meant bouncing over pot holes and gravel most of the way, 38c was traded up for 45c, and I woke up with a mild (if not very debilhitating and painful) instance of 'Delhi Belly'. The first toilet stop was a squat so heaving with flies I couldn't bring myself to use it, and following that the less said about toileting today the better-let's just say it wasn't fun.

What was fun....

1. Hearing the phrase 'Holy cow' being used in context; when a cow took a wander out into the street and Mohan Singh swung to miss her, saying to us 'looking it's a holy cow'.

2. The following quote, again curtosy of Mohan Singh who was busy trying to explain something to Abby- though quite what that was noone can be sure; "the male peacock is very ugly feet and legs. So the female peacock when she is looking at the ugly feet she is crying and then eating the tears so is very good for making the baby". I should point out though that there is more to Mohan Singh than strange anecdotes that don't quite translate; and for the most part his company is quite marvellous.

3. On the journey (our first in India) we saw camel carts, donkeys, horses, goats, small towns, rickshaws, army trucks, straw trucks, busses so packed people were riding on the roof and even a cobra. Never a dull one on an Indian road.

4. When we got to Bikaner our hotel was beautiful. We argued a little with Mohan Singh over our choice of dinner (he wanted the hotel resteraunt we wanted local-we won) so then ended up in an extremely local place; a table on the street with a man cooking chipatis and cheese curry. Our presence there caused enough of a stir to warrant a gathering of locals to sit and watch us eat-one man filming it on his nokia. Alas I didn't put on much of a show as my immodium was just about holding out but Abby necked her cheese curry with fine finess.

The 'RAT' temple:

After a reasonable nights sleep we had breakfast in the hotel reseteraunt and then went to see the 'rat temple'. Now, due to a slight issue over accents, both Abby and I were fully prepared to see a 'red temple', and had no idea whatsoever what lay in wait. Upon reaching a rather decrepit looking temple building we were asked to remove our shoes; standard protocol nothing to cause alarm here. The first hint of a ring came when I noticed the other tourists were all wearing special blue socks and whilst I did look and wonder why, Mohan Singh was keen to usher us in quickly so I dropped the matter from my mind and happily sauntered through the gates (of no return mwahahaha). Inside was something I can only describe as being straight out of a horror film. Cultural purists look away now-I'm not planning to describe the place as anything less than gruesome for the sake of feigning an open mind... So it turned out that the 'rat' temple was just that-a large temple filled with, serving, and deifying, rats. Rats everywhere you looked, rat feeces carpeting the floor, hundreds upon thousands of them crawling all over each other in wretched groups or scurrying around with lumps of free 'sacred food' hanging out of their mouths. To the side was a large kitched equiped with filthy pans where the rats were piled up at the edges licking away-apparently they get first dibs before it is then fed to the people-and this brings extra luck! A vat of milk in a huge oversized wok lay just outiside the kitchen and was proving a real hit with the holy rats-much to the delight of everybody else. And the centrepiece of the temple seemed to be a cage with a white rat, where people were eagerly queing to bow before it-because white rats bring good karma. I don't know about that, but I certainly gave my feet a bloody good thrice over with an antiseptic wipe when I hobbled back outside positively traumatised.

Much more satisfying was our next stop at Junagarh fort. I didn't get an audio guide or bother to find out a thing about it (again cultural purists look away now) but it certainly was pretty!

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