Christ, Mount Abu, you’re a stunning looking little bugger, aintcha?! Seriously, it’s so idyllic here it makes you wonder why it’s not more popular with backpackers and foreign tourists, y’know, apart from the wild animal attacks and the muggings and that murder that one time. It’s certainly not a great place for a lone traveller on account of it being too fucking dangerous to do anything on your own unless it’s broad daylight and you stick to the roads and away from the nature parks so nothing with massive teeth tries to eat your face.
Getting here was a ball ache but I think that’s just my own personal experience, it’s generally not so much of a mission but I woke up that morning in Jodhpur in a shockingly bad mood. Like, someone could have gently shaken me awake and offered me a proper cup of tea and a cheesecake and I’d have punched them in the face. Then eaten the cheesecake anyway. Maybe apologised. Probably not. Unless I’d spilt the tea mid-attack in which case I might mumble a grudging apology and demand more. I’m a fucking charmer in the morning, me. If you ever need to wake me up for any reason, wear full body armour and bring a stick.
So when it’s some god awful hour in the morning because you have a bus to catch and you need a tuk tuk and the first guy you find wants to charge you ₹250 for a 4km ride, this won’t help matters. The issue being, I hate haggling. In my brain, haggling only has to occur when some cunt has tried to rip you off. I get that it’s the done thing here and I wish, I so so wish I enjoyed it and could play the game and do it with a laugh and joke, but I just get pissed off. Eventually, after he followed me down the road as I went off in search of a driver who, and I’m not proud of what I said to this poor guy who was just trying to earn a living, “wasn’t a fucking liar,” I got it for ₹100.
The bus itself was a private one with a shrine in the front window. About halfway between the middle of nowhere and bum fuck Rajasthan, it started to splutter and stall. Noooo waaaayyyy… Come on random deity in the window, do your fucking job! The driver managed to limp it to a roadside restaurant where about 90 minutes of doing stuff to the engine that appeared to involve spanners meant it could be steered around the corner to the nearest temple so the driver and the conductor could indulge in a spot of bell ringing, a tikka was dabbed onto the shrine and above the windshield and we were off again. Well something appeared to do the trick, be it some manner of god or the tools they were wielding earlier, because I was deposited on the main road in Abu Road which is the town at the bottom of the fuck off great big hill that leads up to Mount Abu. I asked a stall holder where the bus stand was, he told me it was 3km away and I should take a tuk tuk. I duly did so.
Finding the right bus was a piece of piss, at least it would have been if the conductor hadn’t insisted I get a ticket from the stand where a bloke insisted I needed to get it on the bus and by the time I got back there were no seats left and I was told in no uncertain terms I couldn’t just stand by the conductor who didn’t just speak English, he barked it. I slunk back to the stand to wait for the next bus, figuring that it was probably karma because I was a twat to the tuk tuk driver who’d tried to rip me off in the morning. They’re every half hour or so though so a lovely bloke with a red beard (I have no idea what dye Indians use but it’s resulted in a plethora of old people with bright red or orange hair) told me where and when to get a ticket and before you knew it I was heading up the winding, monkey lined road to my destination. Oh my dear sweet lord above. Or whatever force happens to be listening, I’m seriously not fussy, please just let me get there in one piece.
He tore round blind curve after blind curve up the road which appeared to consist entirely of hairpin turns. This was the first time I’d been in a vehicle in India where I thought, “Hmm. Y’know, I really don’t think he’s using his horn enough.” Usually you don’t have to worry about drivers letting everyone within a 7 mile radius that they’re here and are fully expecting right of way. But this guy, whilst driving in the traditional Indian style of slightly too fast whilst completely disregarding which side of the road is appropriate, didn’t seem to think the odd blast on the horn was necessary.
I closed my eyes and tried not to get sea sick.
Once we arrived, mercifully alive, I checked into a hotel listed in the Lonely Planet and by this point I was feeling terrible. Not physically, just emotionally and mentally drained. So I retreated to my shoe box of a room and put myself to bed in the hope that I’d wake up full of sunshine and rainbows the next day.
I did not. But fuck it, I wasn’t gonna lie in bed, stare at the ceiling and recall all of my failures. Mt Abu was gorgeous and deserved inserting into one’s eyeballs. There’s an awesome lake called Lake Nakki which isn’t actually full of crap and you can walk around the whole thing without being stabbed by anyone so this is what I did with a little detour to their most famous rock formation, Toad Rock, so called because it resembles a massive toad. Kind of. Providing you close one eye and squint with the other and have a very liberal definition of what constitutes a toad. You get some awesome views though and there’s a dude who’s set up a little shop by the toad’s arse selling crisps, juice and chai, the usual makeshift stuff.
Nah, I still wasn’t happy. I got an ice cream from one of the fuck tonne of ice cream shops and wandered the 3km up to the Jain Temple then tried to decide if I could be bothered bending all the way down to take my sandals off. “I know,” I thought, “I’ll go to one of these many restaurants and have a chai then see if I fancy looking at something religious or if I still feel like getting drunk on my own.”
I chose one, walked in, asked for a cuppa and the waiter said something to a guy who said something to another guy who shook his head. “Not possible, madam,” was the reply. You. Are. Shitting me. I can get tea up at the fucking frog thing on the hill or whatever it’s called but I can’t get tea at a fucking restaurant with a sign outside advertising tea?! I took it personally. I know I know, I’ve had enough therapy to know that it’s not rational but you try being rational when all of your brain chemicals are conspiring against you.
This wasn’t a bad mood, guys. A bad mood can easily be remedied by a Softy ice cream drizzled with three different kinds of E-numbers and a stroll around a pretty lake. This was more like the dark sadness that penetrates your core, spreads through your soul and deep into your mind, poisoning your thoughts. The kind of sadness that has you locked in your room, sat on the edge of your bed, ugly crying into a bottle of Kingfisher Strong for no discernible reason! I don’t even like, Kingfisher Strong, it tastes like armpit, but it does a pretty good job of numbing the braincells that are pumping damaging thoughts into your system. I’ve decided to be completely open about these days, the downsides of travelling when you’re plagued by the black dog, and not the cute kind that likes belly rubs and fetching sticks. Don’t worry mum, I’m fine, I just had a shaky couple of days. This day did eventually end a lot better than this, but I’ll but that in the next post with all the other stuff which is slightly more fun than the contents of my brain on a bad day.
Mount Abu, Rajasthan, India
Stayed at: Shri Ganesh Hotel