November 11, 2001 GMT

I make small talk with the lady on the roof terrace in Delhi. “I am travelling with a lama” she says proudly. She stretches a sheet between poles: “He doesn’t like the sun”.

“Right”. I have heard of a guy doing it with an elephant; his book is in the travel section at Borders. An Andean quadruped would be easier to feed I guess. “No trouble getting him up the stairs?”

She furrows her brow “No. Of course not. He’s very fit”.

“What does he eat?”

“Same as me”. I remember that the Incas didn’t have the wheel, but they did have a very developed system of trade and exchange based on the animal. I tell her this, and her calm demeanour drops for a moment. She seems to sneer and then turns away. I go downstairs but there’s no sign of it.

It’s a day before I realise it was llama she was saying.

Packing the bike so the train can take the strain

Time to question myself again. What is this all about exactly? I am sitting among a thousand vehicles in a undisciplined mass trying to squeeze through a bottleneck caused by an overturned cart that got hit by a speeding bus avoiding a bunch of wandering cows; and the paper said 35 degrees-but that means what, maybe 45 here on the tarmac in the exhaust fumes?--and the humidity is 90 per cent and the sun is right overhead and my brains are boiling but taking off the helmet would be worse and I really should have hydrated more before leaving, and that guy in the 4WD is going to run right over my left foot if I let him, and how the hell am I going to turn right across three lanes which has eight vehicles across it? I would like to say it was some kind of a test, that there was a point to it, that award stars, marks out of ten and a prefect badge are given at the end. But it’s not. Life sometimes is just plain hard. Indian life is particularly hard. I am just glad I don’t have to live it outside of vacation time. And, when I find today’s journey to customs is in vain I haven’t the energy to get annoyed.

Posted by at 11:34 PM GMT

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