We left the Bloomfield River at first light, in anticipation of a long hoof down to Cape Tribulation. First the climb up the escarpment from the River, then across the open forest plateau, before descending down into the full-on rainforest and along the track just in from the beaches to Cape Tribulation. Nearly forty kilometres, so we’d certainly need the full day.
A great day to be doing the walk, and we were sweating like pigs by the time we’d scaled the hill and were tramping across the plateau. Feeling good though, and seemed to be doing well time-wise. Continue reading NOT A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP.
DANCING IN AFGHANISTAN
Lapis lazuli lakes stepped down in lacy rapids and hanging waterfalls, before losing themselves in the sand and rubble deposited by the crumbling walls of the towering escarpment. Sunbeams of gold streamed through a cleft high in the ragged ridge, casting a dazzling spotlight on the adjacent rockface. The valley below my rocky knoll was veiled in a deepening purple, with pale blue mists distinguishing the higher ground and obscuring the lakes.
For many months the waters freeze over, and snow blankets the landscape; even in the height of summer, the temperature plummeted the moment the sun dipped below the jagged horizon.
Shivering as an icy gust of wind penetrated my inadequate clothing, I hastened down towards the three tents which comprised the temporary seasonal village of Band-i-Amir. A perimeter of rough stone walls formed a partial barrier against the weather and wolves, and thwarted the cruel wind, but canvas did little to insulate the tent and its inhabitants. Continue reading DANCING IN AFGHANISTAN
He was a beggar. Laxman. Just another of the hoarde of beggars who clustered around the Ashram, where they could always anticipate a good midday meal handout, and perhaps a few paise in alms from the pilgrims and devotees of Ramana Maharshi, who passed by in a constant flow.
Like many of the beggars, Laxman had not always been one with his hands stretched out in hope of generosity. He had a history too, of a life far less dependent on others; less humbling. Continue reading LAXMAN
I was absolutely broke, in India. Well, to be more accurate, I had just four rupees and a few paise – around forty cents – in my wallet, although I had several thousand dollars in traveller’s cheques. My problem was really only temporary, since as soon as the banks would open, my poverty would be past. Continue reading BEGGARS BANQUET
The day started badly. The end of April, inland south India. Hot. Very hot. With the temperature shimmering around 40 degrees at nine in the morning, and likely to rise by another five degrees by early afternoon, staying home in the relative cool of my shady garden was definitely the activity of choice.
Continue reading HANUMAN’S GRACE
Ramesh the cycle-rickshaw wallah: Mughal-style baked partridge for breakfast?
We arrived late in the evening at Agra Cantonment station. As usual, a mob of rickshaw drivers advanced on us aggressively, each demanding our patronage.
“Me sahib, madam – take me. I am strong and cheap.”
“No no, ji, he is a scoundrel fellow who will cheat you. You must be taking me!”
One fellow waited beyond the melee, apparently refusing to be a part of such indignity. I approached him and named the hotel where we wanted to go.
Continue reading AGRA – 1975