From something I wrote concerning Jaipur,1979
In the hot Rajasthan towns perched up high in their wooden kiosks with sheets of newspaper and weighing scales set up beside them, locals sold Indian weed and opium. Illegal drugs like smack and alcohol were the domain of the taxi-drivers. Amphetamine was available at the chemist. Gee and I, though, were so enraptured by the Indian sights and sounds and smells, and so exhausted by the Asian heat, neither of us bothered much with any of that stuff, preferring instead to drink yoghurt and fruit juice and keep up our energy levels with gooey Hindu sweets. We wouldn’t use the taxis to begin with because we wanted to actually feel the pulse of the street, but sitting behind the poor skinny buggers pedalling their old bone-shakers with all our weight behind them made us feel pretty bad.
‘Maybe we shouldn’t do this,’ said Gee.
‘Yeah, but then it’s their trade isn’t it,’ I said. ‘What else will they do?’
After one ride the young raggedy fellah who’d pedalled us round town in the hot sun to a chemist to get iodine refused to accept our money. He chased us down the street calling us we knew not what but could guess from the looks of the other Indian passers-by. Something along the lines of You cheating motherfuckers, how dare you come over here and treat us like so much cheap shit. Then as he waved the rupee note in front of us we realised that it was worn and crumpled. Obviously as far as the pedi-cab fellah was concerned a crumpled worn-out note wasn’t worth as much as a crisp new one. So Gee slipped him a twenty and he nearly died on the spot.
Another time a fellah gave us a lift with our bags at five in the morning to a coach stop before hardly anyone was about and really, in the cool Asian morning mist with the big white sky and wide dusty road all to ourselves, Gee and I realised just how pitiful the whole spectacle was. The poor sod in front of us had a gamy leg and could only really push down with one good foot and going up any sort of incline at all – and there was one particularly long if gentle one – we must have slowed down to about one mile a fortnight. The sheer lack of progress, the tortuous slowness, heightened our perception of what was actually happening.
‘This isn’t exactly The Beatles, is it?’ said Gee. ‘Maharishi-style.’
‘No, I said. But, still, it’s quite enlightening.’
I suggested we get off and walk, but the fellah turned round and tried to smile through the grimace caused by all the effort of towing us along with his one good foot. We made it to the coach stop eventually and handed over the four rupees and felt that maybe the combustion engine for all its faults was really not such a bad idea after all.
‘…and felt that maybe the combustion engine for all its faults was really not such a bad idea after all.’
Hmmm! The Jaipur city air in 2019 is now so heavily polluted on account of the endless flow of combustion-fuel driven vehicles that we decided to curtail our visit since it was only making my lung condition all the worse, even following a course of anti-biotics purchased in Jodhpur (which means the next blog post will come from Bharatpur sooner than intended).