One-Way Ticket to Nirvana

Ooh, listened to a podcast with Tony Robbins and an extremely fawning Russell Brand while flying back from Delhi yesterday, following the unexpected news of the death of my mother-in-law.

OMG, what a load of tosh, all this ‘success’ business.

How embarrassing.

Listen, all anyone has to do is follow their own inclination and be good to others. Everything else is baloney.

To hear these guys going at it with all their swear words and bonhomie and back-slapping was extremely nauseating. All that ‘taking control’ and ‘unleashing the power within’…to do what: make excessive amounts of money and be adored? Please!

Listen, I can provide anyone interested:

ONE-WAY TICKET TO NIRVANA

Please note:

No return available

Terms and Conditions Apply

For departure details click below:

Books by Glyn F Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available from Amazon and bookstores around the world

Reincarnation

Reincarnation must be understood if human conditions are not to remain incomprehensible. By recognising the transitional process of reincarnation which occurs throughout the universe the individual realises how and why they exist as they do.

Each human life-cycle covers an average period of 144 years, during which time various changes can and do occur, depending on which the starting potential of the next earthly cycle begins. In theory, living a perfected life the human being would not physically transition before this time. In practice, each person self-destructs and has occasion to dwell on a non-physical plane of existence before being returned to earthly life once more, thereby creating further possibilities for attaining perfection according to universal law.

Which is precisely where karma comes into play.

There is no ‘good’ and ‘evil’. There are kind acts and there are harmful acts. The former benefit at least one other person while the latter harms at least one other person, either by omission or intent. Then there are multiples thereof. This is not difficult to understand or put into practice, since common sense examples abound from personal to national and international acts.

Karma is predicated on these principles. There is no universal revenge involved, only a desire for harmony based on a cause and effect scenario which continues until the perpetrator of acts carried out knowingly or otherwise accepts there are certain outcomes which follow.

Of course, a knowledge of what comprises the universe enables the individual participant to make informed choices.

For a start, the universe is created by a force called Love, which emerges from Eternity and sub-divides into positive and negative elements which then manifest and are maintained on various levels of existence until destruction occurs. Or perfection ensues and a fully developed harmonious entity reunites in Eternity. With regard to the human soul, this outcome is experienced on earth as Peace Profound, and is the ultimate state sought by the knowing mystic. No other state or method is comparable. And when this condition is attained there is no further need for another earthly reincarnation to occur.

Books by Glyn F Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available from Amazon and bookstores around the world

28 Years of Love & Freedom

Twenty-eight years ago today I married the most beautiful woman that I could ever have hoped to meet. Despite everything – and there has been a lot – we have stayed the course. Together, we have been able to bring into this universe two of the most wonderful and adorable human beings that it is possible to imagine. They are nigh perfect. Between nobody else would this have been possible. What need have we for silver or gold?

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Anne & Glyn 1991

Going back to that day in Finsbury Park registry office just a few months after having first met on a plane taking us to the old Sheremetovo airport in Soviet Moscow, how could we have known we’d be celebrating this day twenty-eight years on high up in the Himalayan mountains of India? We didn’t even know how we were getting to the registry office from the Islington flat that morning until Anne’s sister’s boyfriend stepped in. Thanks again, Dave. And thanks once more to Sue and Paul for witnessing the event.

On a more serious note, our honeymoon was planned for Morocco but in the intervening period our government had allowed the country to be brought into the Gulf War at the behest of the Americans, and now that the slaughter of the Iraqi people had begun, flights across the Arab world were being cancelled, including our own flight to Rabat. Instead, we booked a flight into Spain and caught the ferry to Tangier. As a result, we were about the only Western foreigners in the entire country and traveling down through the Atlas Mountains by public transport from the coast to our intended stay on the edge of the Sahara Desert is a story in itself.

Our marriage day with its modest reception at a north London restaurant and the honeymoon experience in Morocco pretty much set the pattern for what has been a shared adventure during our life together.

When we were married that day twenty-eight years ago, we could only believe that the world around us would open up and evolve into a more harmonious place. The Berlin Wall had come down and there were reasons to believe this ought to be case. Our children would be part of an inspirational generation of young people who would form a society in their own freedom-loving, non-prejudicial image, following on from the social gains of the sixties and seventies. You only need go back to the images, read some of the literature and listen to the music from around the world during those times to see what I mean. And then the conservatives with their falsely-promoted and previously discredited monetarist policies took hold, the CIA and other western-based secret services including the UK’s Secret Intelligence Services MI5/MI6 were given free – if concealed – rein, and the gnarly old establishment and armed forces re-established their control over the immediate social order while deliberately creating unrest across the globe for personal gain, restricting democracy, putting into place their own dictator stooges around the globe, making enemies of peoples for whom there ought to have been no enmity, placing personal wealth before equality, and setting out on a course which has led to imminent destruction of the planet Earth either through over-exploitation of its resources or their pointlessly destructive wars.

Our love-filled marriage and raising children has to be appreciated against the backdrop of an ever-worsening erosion of basic freedoms throughout the western world, as our so-called elected leaders lead our countries into perpetual conflicts with imagined enemies and use such conflicts as an excuse to clamp down on free expression.

In the meantime, peace-loving and truth-telling people have been condemned as threats to the hegemonic world order – which they surely are, since this world is increasingly built on destructive lies.

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Anne & Glyn 2019

Throughout this attack on the structure of our daily lives, for nearly three decades our marriage vows have remained strong, our love – far from diminishing – has increased over time, our children have gained in confidence and knowledge, and we still share the belief that this world we inhabit has the capacity to become a place where all peoples from whatever background can be allowed to come together and live in peaceful co-existence. Despite the war-makers.

The time for war-mongering may yet be drawing to a close, and those individuals who seem more intent on forming death-cults and bringing misery to the masses of freedom-loving peoples in all regions of the globe ought to know that they will be found out and that when that time arrives they will be exposed for the frauds they are. They will then be banished to live out their discredited, lonely lives in the nether regions of the planetary experience they are constantly forming both within and without.

A future post will look at how a handful of people centred in a little community up the road from the guesthouse where we are staying – and will be celebrating our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary – actually went some way to making this future event happen. Even now humanity is reaping the fruit of their endeavours.

Books by Glyn F Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available from Amazon and bookstores around the world

Assange (updated)

In the light of events now taking place around the Ecuadorean embassy in London concerning Julian Assange, I am republishing this post. It concerns the manner in which the public has for years sleepwalked into a situation whereby one man has to shoulder all the responsibility for exposing the lying, war-mongering, planet-destroying elites around the world.

I had discussions with workmates – your normal white, middle-class liberals – about Julian Assange being illegally detained and what it meant for an open-truth society, and all they could do was attack the guy by saying his organisation’s leaks had put lives at risk. Where had they got their information? From the BBC and Guardian newspaper. In other words, they are just the sort of careless dupes who have allowed the current situation to arise.

I implore my ex-workmates and anybody else around to make recompense for these wasted years and get up there to defend Assange and the right to reveal TRUTH to the world.

Back in 1982 I began working on a novel about a young man who blows up an exclusive club in London to demonstrate his hatred of the neo-liberal agenda and attendant neo-con policies: the contrived ever-lasting wars, austerity measures, pro-elite/anti-social laws, and so on.

The novel was supposed to be a wake-up call about what was happening in capitalist societies – a warning of what would inevitably occur if monetarism and right-wing ideology was followed through.

My only surprise concerning actual events since then is that such an act of individual violence has not taken place. This suggests that people on the whole are very generous with regards to the intentions of their leaders, or that the public’s passivity knows no bounds. Perhaps it illustrates people’s innate goodness, I don’t know.Question_Cover_for_Kindle

The only acts of individual violence regularly witnessed are committed by those who have been deranged by social, military or religious pressure.

Mainly, as ever, the violence continues to be carried out by authorities on behalf of the state, either on its own citizens or in foreign countries.

This situation cannot be allowed to continue.

The whole world is under existential threat as a result of the violent policies being pursued in capitalist societies. Either war or environmental catastrophe have the very real potential to destroy the planet upon which we depend for survival.

Thankfully, more and more people are waking up to this prospect and recognising from where the real threat to their well-being emanates.

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Note from Naggar

Two-and-a-half years later, here I am – in Naggar!

On a wet, January morning back at school after the seasonal break, I discovered that I had a 1-1 lesson with a Russian woman for the first English class. Anyone who is a teacher knows that such lessons are generally more intense and demanding than teaching a group, so I wasn’t really best-pleased at the prospect.

I was still hungover from the festivities.

And then Svetlana appeared and we got on very well together and before I knew it we were discussing Russian artists and she was suggesting I might appreciate the work of Nikolai Roerich, who I then discovered had set up home in the Himalayas with his family back in the 1920s.

That January morning was when I decided that I would visit what had now become a museum and cultural centre.roerich

I couldn’t go that year, but planned to visit the following April, when the mountain weather would be getting warmer. We booked the guesthouse in advance and had the travel visas in our hands ready for posting to the Indian embassy when a phone call said that my dad-in-law had been taken to hospital.

Naturally, the trip was postponed.

Skip forward another year and the stand-alone trip was to be incorporated into a year-long adventure taking in other places including Himachal Pradesh.

This trip then had to be re-structured once again and so we arrived in Mumbai at the end of January this year. Since then we have travelled through Rajasthan and a section of Uttarakhand, before the weather conditions have at last made it possible to locate this far north and this high up.

And so what started out as an apparently miserable day of work on an English winter’s day which just had to be endured, actually turned into the catalyst for a trip to the roof of the world.

Think of that next time you feel like taking a sickie.

What a place it is, an endless-seeming flow of snow-topped mountains with pine-covered slopes and icy-cold water cascading through the heat and rocks down into the fast-flowing Beas river up along the valley. The orchards are coming into bloom and their dainty white and pink blossoms dot the terraces and lower slopes and the men work with their shovels to scrape away the grass and weed-growth surrounding the blue-painted trunks of the fruit trees. I’ve got my own colourful little topi to perch on my head in the morning and nightime cold, but feel a little stupid wearing it during the day among the paharis as we rock along the winter-damaged roads in the battered old suspension-free buses that cost hardly a rupee to travel on or sit in dhabas eating powerfully-hot thalis of lentil dhal and rice.

At the guesthouse where we are staying I have come upon a copy of ‘Shantaram’ which was recommended to me both before leaving for Mumbai and while drinking in the bar that gets a special mention within its pages. It’s a story that’s awash with poetic language and strong imagery that I would have certainly loved in my younger days of avid reading. Even now, I suspect I’m going to get along with it pretty fine. I hope so. The nights are still long and cold up here and I need something to occupy my waking thoughts as I lay snuggled up safe and warm underneath the heaviest bedspread imaginable until the first sunrays of the Himalayan morning.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

Release from Rishikesh

Waiting outside an ATM booth in town, a person about my daughter’s age, also British, came up and we got chatting.

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Source of the Ganges at Rishikesh

‘I hope this one works.’

‘I’ve got fifty rupees, and I want to buy a bracelet.”

‘My wife took all our cash. She’s gone on an ashram retreat.’

‘You didn’t want to join her?’

‘I was here forty years ago.’

‘With the Beatles?’

‘That would have been fifty years ago. Not Rishikesh. Just India. Bumming around.’

And, so, of course, this got me to thinking back to around that time.

Indeed, there had been no spiritual dimension – intended or otherwise – on my trip to the subcontinent back then. An opportunity had arisen for me to go there, and I took it. Most of the time was spent under the influence of cannabis, opium or Dexedrine. That’s how it was back then. Accounts of the Beatles’ stay with their retinue at the ashram down the river suggest exactly the same thing.

All that changed a year or two after my return to England when I became nauseated with the whole lifestyle. Not only did I change my appearance and sell all my music albums, but I also destroyed all my photographs along with any other reminders of my past self. I wanted to become entirely new.

Every day began at dawn with meditation followed by hours of writing. Then came a hike through the woods whatever the weather with accompanying contemplation of nature. A period of language-learning before dinner was followed by reading and an early night which never-failingly resulted in eight hours of blissful sleep.

After many years of this routine the sought-for event occurred in three spontaneous stages: the Creative Force revealed itself, pure Spirit flooded my entire being, and the Holiest of all the historical teachers appeared before me and filled me with Peace Profound. All in One.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

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Seems like I could have saved myself a lot trouble…

I’ve got to tell you this town is just as venal as any in the world. As a traveller, with the exception of street-food and mineral water, there is no service or object that you do not pay more for than does a local. In other words, it’s a rip-off. The white people going around in their pantaloons and kaftans and dreadlocks and so on seem to happily ignore all this, preferring instead to see themselves as some kind of elevated and lofty spiritual souls. It really is cringe-worthy. All the visitors of my age seem to be on Largactil. It’s one thing being laid-back and going with the flow, it’s another to be apparently brain-dead and wholly uncommunicative, as though afraid of being found out for the fraud that you actually are. Viewing them, they seem to be living out spurious notions of how they believe mystically enlightened individuals ought to behave i.e at slightly one remove to all the benighted beings surrounding them. God knows what they are like back in their home environments. Equally preposterous, I imagine.

At least I got to experience Holi Day and for the one and only time during the trip was able to see what is a deeply conservative, caste-based set of people lightening up and enjoying themselves.

That’s some relief.

Now, if we can just find somewhere devoid of nasty, polluting traffic…

Himachal Pradesh, here we come!

Bulletin No2 from Bharatpur

It’s funny how that 50 Rupee note comes to be worth £50 as you search for it in your jeans pocket – “I know I had it there earlier,” – or haggle with the auto-rickshaw driver about the cost of the journey to your destination. It’s actually worth 50 pence at current exchange rates. But that’s the sort of thing that happens as you adjust to a foreign currency in another country.

Value for money becomes a very relative thing.

Actually, only for the first time since we set out on our year travelling abroad are we living within our daily set budget of £30 a day (currently: accommodation: £10, food & drink £10, sundries £5).

Going through the Balkans cost a lot more than projected, with campsites of varying quality always setting us back at least £15-20 and food/drink/fuel dearer than anticipated. Not even in Bosnia or Albania were we able to live for less.

While the sinking Brexit pound Sterling made staying in Airbnb or basic hotels in Portugal and Spain much more expensive than originally planned.

And this is another point: although certain costs may appear lower, it may not be connected to the local economy. It may just simply be accounted for by the quality of the object or service on offer.

For example, nowhere in the UK (or most of Western Europe) could you possibly encounter the kind of budget-priced room you are presented with in India – small, dark, irregular power supply, inconsistent (or no) running hot water etc. So that it is virtually impossible to make any kind of price comparison. Similarly with the food: £1.50 for a typical thali of chapatti, rice, dal, pickle is just about right. That’s all it is worth by any standards.

Enough about money…(although I have to say £5 for a bottle of Kingfisher in Mumbai was pretty steep [high local tax], whereas here in Rajasthan you pay much less…plus Indu’s vegetarian cuisine from her little kitchen is delicious…and every rupee well spent…)

*

And so a second week in our mauve-and-yellow painted room at the Jungle Lodge in Bharatpur near the Keoladao avifauna park draws to an end. When we arrived a couple of days early at the beginning of March in order to escape the frightful noise and pollution of Jaipur it was to thunder and rain. Since then the sun has shone solidly and the creeper spread over the balcony is putting out feathery shoots. By the time we leave for Haridwar I expect a lattice of green to be protecting the next guests from the heavy afternoon sunshine.

The hours have been languid, with passing travellers making a regular appearance and sharing tales of India together, and being looked after all the while by Ashok and Indu, always taking our meals in the restaurant and sipping cold drinks on the veranda. “The epitome of happiness,” was how our son described a photo of me sitting bare-chested and using the laptop outside our room.

IMG-20190307-WA0001 With my beard and glasses, suntan and greying hair, I look a lot like images of Hemingway when he was poring over his texts in Cuba (see what you think). Certainly, life has never been easier.

In a few days we head north towards Himachal Pradesh, as had always been envisioned. What has been changed is that we are going by way of Haridwar, on the Ganges, before travelling on to Rishikesh (as mentioned in an earlier blog).

DSC_0182Oh, one last thing on the subject of money. Since our age qualifies us for a discounted rate, the train fare for both of us from Bharatpur to Haridwar (over 300 km) is less than £4 (₹400). Then again, it’ll take twelve hours from start to finish. Like I say, money comparisons are not always clear cut.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

 

Bulletin from Bharatpur

This lodge, in a row of six owned individually by Ashok and his brothers, is the calmest place we have found since our arrival in Mumbai over a month ago. The garden is a veritable oasis away from the surrounding busy streets, and during the course of the day we can lounge on the terrace and take it all in, while Indu’s restaurant is open to us all the while. It’s so lovely here that I am feeling particularly lucky (and indolent, as Anne goes about earning money to pay for the trip through her translation work).jungle lodge

Ashok announced last weekend that he could feel winter had come to an end. When we arrived the sky had been cold and grey and we woke to thunder and rain and we hadn’t wanted to get out of bed overmuch, although that quickly changed once the sun had risen a little, spreading its warm rays through the greyish, northern Rajasthan mist. Then a hot shower was followed by a breakfast of porridge and hot buttered toast with a big pot of tea in Indu’s place.

That rain-spattered night we had been invited round to the home of a local family and nearly froze as we were collected and deposited on the back of two motorbikes.

Day by day, though, the temperatures increased, so that we were a little worried the migratory birds which had been held back by the unusually inclement weather might decide to fly off in adherence to an age-old internal command. Thankfully, a trip to the local bird sanctuary assuaged our concerns.

Far more irritating than the rickety old bikes, build-up of heat and worries about any absent avian life was the attention we continually received from adolescent boys away from school, always on the lookout for foreigners to tease and share selfies. This particular day was a state holiday in celebration of the supposed marriage of Lord Shiva to Parvati and entire villages from around the park were out to ask for nuptial blessings at the local temple.

People continually ask me what differences I can see from my last trip in Rajasthan four decades ago and all I can come up with is the increase in traffic – and a lot more tourists. Actually, the rise in the former has blighted this trip somewhat and we are hopeful our next destinations set in and near the Himalayas will be less noisy and busy.

In anticipation of our arrival at Rishikesh (where Anne has just booked herself in for a week-long ashram retreat), I downloaded the Beatles ‘White Album’, containing as it does songs composed during the Fab Four’s stay with the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi.

Apart from the well-known classics like Back in the USSR and Revolution, the collection had a ring of self-indulgence and I was reminded why I had never been a big Beatles fan to begin with. I’d been looking forward to deconstructing the songs and inter-twining them somehow with the India trip (much like I have done with The Doors LA Woman album, in a story from the DOSTOEVSKY’S PLACE collection, set during a stay in Russia), and in some way – and in the same manner – make allusions to the human condition. Well, you can’t fake it.

What did come out of this listening process, for me, was this information :-

abbey road

The next Beatles album Abbey Road was released in 1969 (i.e. fifty years ago, the ‘White Album’ came out the previous year) and was only displaced briefly from the number 1 spot by the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, and then eventually with Led Zeppelin II. I mean, just look at that list of three albums! Somehow, their emergence together says a great deal about the kind of energy that was being generated around this period of time.

However, a trawl through the works of fiction of that era did not really correlate with this revolutionary spirit. Which tells me, equally, that the literary world has almost always lagged well behind the production of meaningful popular music, the exception coming with the emergence of the Beats in post-war America.

Quite why this is, I can only speculate. I mean, reading isn’t really that hard a process, just so long as you have the right sequence of words before you. Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut came out back then and is proof that literature can have a similarly positive effect as accessible rock music.

That is the spirit that I have tried to imbue within my work – and that is the spirit that will eventually make this world a much better place to live.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

(Just yesterday evening we were told a baby girl had been born to the daughter-in-law of the local family we visited – slightly before time!)

Journal from Jaipur

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.

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Rickshaw-wallah and me, Jaipur 2019

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.

DEATH AND THE DEAD (VIP, 2018)

‘…and felt that maybe the combustion engine for all its faults was really not such a bad idea after all.’

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VX4/90, South Bucks 1979

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).

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world

Post from Pushkar

How to put this?

We arrived in Pushkar yesterday, the very first town I stayed in during a trip to India forty years ago. In many ways, I had been greatly looking forward to being here again – one of India’s most sacred spots – expecting the occasion might be the highlight of our extended journey through Rajasthan. Especially, I was excited about climbing the sacred hillock rising out of the Thar Desert up to the Savitri temple where…

Well, I’ll get to that.

We hired a car to take us the two-hundred kilometres from Jaipur to Pushkar on account that the hassle of using the public transport system for this particular part of the journey would not have offset the minimal saving in cost.

Our previously booked room was in a haveli – a traditional townhouse from Mughal times – situated pretty much at the entrance to the old town. To tell the truth, I could barely recall arriving last time, so frenetic had been the bus ride from Delhi.

   Near the Thar desert we stayed in a nondescript roadside hotel overnight and next morning caught a cab to the bus station. We managed to book the fare to Pushkar okay but when the bus pulled into the bay suddenly a whole mass of people charged forward. The crowd were carrying everything, bundles of clothes and chickens and even goats under their arms.

‘Effing Christ!’ Gee yelled.

‘Quick!’

I grabbed Gee’s holdall and threw it with mine through an open window.

‘Make a dash for it!’

While Gee fought with the rest of the passengers at the front of the bus I wriggled my way through the window. I got through and told an Indian who had sat down beside our bags to clear off. Other Indians too had to be held off until at last a bedraggled Gee made his way up the aisle.

‘Bloody hell! What was all that about?’

The ‘de-luxe’ room at the haveli was a bit poky but the spacious dimensions of the building’s interior and open roof space just about compensated, and a stroll round town left us feeling totally calm. A so-so meal on the rooftop did not diminish our spirits overly and a good night’s sleep ensued.

But then this morning…

The room really did feel poky – and dark, with insufficient natural light to fire up the brain’s neurons. Not even a rooftop breakfast of pancakes and fruit juice did the job.

So I asked the owner/manager if he had really assigned us a ‘de-luxe’ habitation. He suggested we might prefer a ‘super de-luxe’, which turned out to be slightly larger but noisy because of its position over the street – and we moved room again.

So not a great start to the day.

Set upon the hillock now is a cable-car service, or there are stone steps lined with macaques. We took the latter. At the top there appeared to be two square concrete buildings, the cable-car station and something else. Maybe the temple was situated behind them.

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Up, up, up we went towards the sky and took off our shoes as required at the stairs’ top.

And then into the building, an anodyne and featureless structure both outwardly and inwardly within which was a shrine dedicated to Savitri, spurned goddess-bride of Brahma. In and around the building were a few Westerners and a few Indian families making a pilgrimage.

Compare this.

   To start with we had to walk on loose sand, then some rocks were placed to help, with a rope banister. On top there was a set of wooden steps to complete the journey. The climb took an hour or more and was pretty tiring in the Asian heat. At the top though there was a tremendous view of the expanded village and lake, people-dots and camel herds. A climb up a wooden staircase led out onto the temple parapet.

‘It’s even better!’ said Gee.

‘Look at that plain!’

‘We’ll have a good smoke of the Kashmiri, and really make it an occasion to remember.’

While Gee was busily sticking papers together a group of nomads from the Thar desert came out onto the parapet. They stood and watched him as he lit up, so he offered one of them a toke, which was gently declined. One came over and offered him white temple sweets. He took them and the nomad motioned for him to open his palm again. This time he dropped a small gooly of rolled opium into it. The only thing they had in common – the semi-retired young Western muso and the nomad of the Thar desert – was that they were equally human.

‘Did you see it, Matt!’ Gee said after the nomads had left the parapet. ‘The look in their eyes!’

– Death and the Dead

Such is the difference forty years can make; and, I have to say, the difference is all external.

This evening we are sharing a meal with the two friends we made in Jodhpur, at their haveli across the road.

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After we may visit the ghat on the lake where Gandhi and Nehru’s ashes were scattered, since, as I said earlier in the post, in actuality the place where we are staying is among the most sacred – if not the most sacred of – sites in the whole of India.

Except that’s not quite how it felt today.

Books by Glyn Ridgley are published by Valley Independent Publishing and are available at Amazon and bookstores around the world