Sunday, 3 February 2008

BlackSLOG Rajasthan Vol.4

India, the lost world, or probably would
have been if I’d been left in charge of it….

I'm not entirely sure what happened to me this holiday but I seemed to go through a spate of losing everything. Mrs B would probably claim nothing new in this, having experienced years of finding my keys in the fridge or wet towels in the dining room. In fact, I think she secretly gets a bit worried if I leave the towels in the bathroom, but just won’t admit it to me. The worrying thing on this holiday was the intensity and regularity of the losses.

First I lost the two Gig Memory card for our camera. Not an unused card, oh no, but the one that held over 500 pictures of India that we had been busily taking. I ran around like a headless chicken, emptying the bags and checking the camera case at least 5 times. Mrs B then checked the camera case and agreed it was not in there. She then turned it upside down. Just at the moment that I exclaimed "Don't be silly it's not a magic case!" the SD card came tumbling out onto the table in front of the whole group. This left me with a feeling of great relief, mixed in with a huge dollop of embarrassment. I'm just glad that I had not worked up past the emotion of "stunned disappointment" on my way to full-on "toys out of the pram" tantrum.

Next the spare battery for the camera went walk about. It was in the camera case but made a bid for freedom when I was forced to do some Indian folk dancing (1 aside). I had seen the battery just moments before and was determined to keep the investigation low key, especially after the incident with the magically reappearing memory card. So I was surreptitiously trying to incorporate an inch by inch search of the sand that we were dancing on by cleverly, or so I thought, building it into my dance routine. The fact it was dark and I was using a torch somewhat scuppered my attempt to keep it on a “need to know” basis. My reputation as a serial loser of items was starting to build momentum. My attempts at keeping the operation clandestine were further hampered when one of the little Indian entertainers excavated the battery from the sand and went into celebration mode worthy of scoring the winning goal in a cup final. By the time I had paid him enough hush hush money, the campsite, town and half of Rajasthan seemed to be aware of the loss and subsequent find.

Then came the loss of my Ipod (2 aside). I was sure that I had left it beside the bed when we went out riding for the day and only noticed it was missing when I was packing to move to our next destination, later that night. I unpacked and repacked my bag twice and checked every nook and cranny of the room at least three times. I even did that pathetic opening and closing of cupboard doors, just in case the Ipod reappeared while the door was shut (it didn't). I then unpacked & repacked Mrs B's bags a couple of times for good measure, before my constant rustling finally drew Mrs B back from the other side. Far from being angry, Mrs B picked up on my distress (I guess it was the pathetic whimpering noises that I was now making and the rhythmical banging of my head against the floor that gave it away) and additional, more organised, packing and unpacking of the bags and search of the room now took place. After a couple of hours it was obvious that the Ipod was no longer with us. I trudged down to the 24 hour reception but it had closed (they had probably popped out to sell an Ipod). So it was off for a rather restless night of non-sleep, as I imagined my Ipod being sold into slavery and forced into playing Indian music for the rest of its very short and sorry life (3 aside). In the morning, I reported the loss to the receptionist, who was particularly ambivalent about my loss. It was only when I reported it to Krishna, our tour guide, for insurance purposes that the hotel started to take it seriously. Our room was searched again. Nothing was found. The hotel manager went through our bags - nothing. Thank god I had not “borrowed” the towels and bed covers or that nice marble desk top that I had my eye on. I filled in a lost property report and made my way to the coach where everyone had been waiting patiently for an hour (possibly a little less patiently for the next half hour and with positively gritted teeth for the final 15 minutes of waiting.) 20 minutes into the coach transfer, at the start point for the day's cycling, Krishna received a phone call from the hotel. A miracle had occurred and the Ipod had appeared in the cupboard under the TV in our room. Yep, the one that had been searched and re-searched over a dozen times by at least 5 different people. Rather embarrassingly, the coach returned to the hotel. I can't be sure but when I picked up the Ipod from the manager, one of the porters was limping badly and looked like he had acquired a couple of black eyes in the time we had been away from the hotel. The upshot of all this was that, although we completed the 82-kilometer ride for the day, it was considerably darker at the end than it should have been. This turned out to be a good thing though, as it allowed me to slip away unseen from the group until they had washed, rested, and most importantly of all put down the rocks they had been collecting along the way....

Now personally I do not feel the final loss was my fault at all, but with my holiday track record I can see how the group could come to the conclusion that I was possibly responsible for the loss of the Taj Mahal (4 aside). We arrived at the point where it should have been but could see no sign of it. The Policeman in the group, Mark, immediately started an investigation but failed to find it..

I can’t believe it, someone’s managed to nick the Taj Mahal

In an attempt to placate the distraught party and to make up for their enforced waiting, during the miracle of the magically reappearing Ipod incident, I designed and created a model of the Taj Mahal, in human form, for the group to treasure.

The Taj in Human form, including the world’s press. All that was lacking was Lady Di…..Sanjay was definitely over-acting and over-embellished the lean of the front minaret

Sadly, the fog lifted, exposing my efforts at recreating the Taj as falling a touch short of reality. In hindsight, I should have used more and much better quality materials. A Princess Diana look a like in front of it, would have helped with the illusion, but sadly, Clive could not fit into the dress we had.

If only Clive could have fitted into that Diana dress, we would have had the world fooled……

I know it looks like a cheap backdrop but that is honestly Mrs B and me in front of the real Taj Mahal

Interestingly enough the group proved to have a very short memory and somewhat surprisingly entrusted the tip money for the guides and drivers to me, no pressure there then.

All that Stretching finally paid off and Q managed to prize open his wallet…..


(1) When I say forced, I mean that the dreadful sound started and I stormed the dance floor, jumping about in a misguided attempt to distract the band for ;long enough to stop the awful racket. I failed miserably but too late the battery made for the exit, probably through the embarrassment of being associated with me.

The shuffle search dance, very energetic but ultimately proved fruitless Return to text

(2) Of course it had to be the new 160Gig video one, not my old photo one, which I had brought along as an emergency backup, for just such a situation. I feel it fully justified its place on the trip, as it soothed my tortured soul through the shock of losing its film-playing sibling. It stopped me from going into the total melt down that separation from my music for any prolonged length of time, results in. What can I say? Some people drink and others take drugs to get them through the rigours of life. I happen to do music. No one really suffers, except Mrs B on the odd occasion when the music gets played a little loud at night and disturbs her slumber. This is very rare though, as it is normally easier to wake the dead. Besides, the dead don't require tea to make them fully functional.

Some people feel that I would probably function better on drugs and alcohol, I’m afraid to say what you see is what you get……

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(3) I'd give it about three to four weeks, possibly less if there is a lot of sitar music involved. That's better than the five hours of tortured existence if a Cliff Richard fan got hold of it. It's just as well Cliff never got into Indian music, the Ipod suicide rate would have reached pandemic proportions with a life expectancy measured in seconds.....

Krishna, our guide, attempts to cheer me up by predicting the expected lifespan of my missing Ipod, when subjected to Indian music, sadly it didn’t have the desired affect ….

(4) Even a philistine such as myself could tell that the Taj Mahal is one of the most romantic places on earth. Sadly, almost two weeks of curries (much of it vegetable based) morning noon and night started to take its toll. Mrs B could not work out why I kept sideling away, supposedly to take photos

Well, wouldn’t you if you had survived on a diet of vegetable curry for weeks on end…?

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