My flight from Australia (via Malaysia) landed me in New Delhi, a veritable cesspool of a city. I soon met two cool Australian guys in the cheap guesthouse I was staying at. The two Aussies, Peter and Peter, invited me to join them on the roof top for a spliff. Wow, fresh air and space! I checked out of my sweltering room and changed for a bed on the roof top with them. In the morning one of them woke me and told me to look over the side of the building. Down below a hawk was fighting to capture a rat. When it had killed the rat, the hawk flew up to a ledge across from us and started tearing the rat apart for breakfast. Enough was enough. Time to bail.
Peter and Peter were going to Jaipur and asked if I would like to join them. I agreed, and we hired a driver to take us to the desert city of Jaipur. Jaipur is also known as the "Pink City" because quite a few buildings are built in pink colored sandstone. We checked into a nice guesthouse and met another Australian whom the two Peters nicknamed "The Mexican" because he was from the southern state of Victoria. The four of us hung out quite a bit, smoking hash constantly and exploring the city and outlying attractions. The best attraction was the old Amber fort where dozens of elephants lived.
Elephant and driver at the Amber Fort.
A few nights later it was full moon and the four of us decided to ride bikes 15 km out to the Amber Fort. The locals at our guesthouse warned us not to venture out. The "Dark Man" as they described the full moon, made people and animals kooky on this night. Indeed, the animals were already acting bizarre. Dogs howled, cows mooed, and packs of monkeys roamed the city streets. We set out despite the numerous warnings.
Several Indians riding bikes and mopeds began following "the four white babas" as we made our way through town. Our riding pack soon became an entourage of thirty curious riders. The Mexican was a spastic bike rider who panicked in the tight crowd. He cut off an Indian who locked handlebars with a scooter and sent several Indians tumbling. The Dark Man claimed his first victims. We kept riding. Faster.
Getting lost in the maze of Jaipur city, we stopped at a bottle shop for beers and directions. The usual crowd of gawking Indians surrounded us as we sat on the curb to drink our beers. Behind me was a beggar who kept asking for donations. I wasn’t paying him much attention, but he kept pointing to the moon. Humored, I gave him the last 8 oz of my beer which he guzzled in a half second flat. He indicated he was hungry (hand to mouth) and that he was a holy man (hand pointing to his painted forehead and the moon). I purchased another liter bottle of beer and for a laugh told the crowd I'd give the beggar 10 rupees if he could finish the whole thing in one swig. Someone translated, and the beggar proceeded to down the whole bottle without so much as a drop spilled. He was paid and made many prayers to the Dark Man much to our hearty laughs, especially as he staggered across the street with his sack of empty beer bottles.
The Dark Man takes no prisoners.
We never did make it to the fort, but before the end of the night the Mexican managed to wipe out yet another Indian bike rider. He said something like a bull almost gored him and he had to swerve from a pack of monkeys. Whatever. Arriving back at the guesthouse, the Mexican fell off his bike and cut his hand. Funny how the Dark Man works in such strange and mysterious ways . . .
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