The nicer of the two

Monkeys, bloody monkeys. Everywhere in Bundi, black faces and red faces. Two tribes. According to the locals the red faces are the the baddies and naughty they were. So much so that when visiting the palace at Bundi you are given a rather large stick to keep them at bay. You may remember the post called 'Stupas and Steps' I don't like monkeys at best. So visiting the palace wasn't the most relaxing memory I'll take away with me. What I will remember, however, are the beautiful and pretty well kept, in relative terms, murals on the interior walls. Ornate depictions of Palace life. Royal processions, peacocks and shivas everywhere. The palace itself was again, I'm sad to say, terribly run down, mostly closed off and residence to an army of bats but gave beautiful views across Brahmin-blue Bundi.

I will also remember new friends we made. Kristy and Rich from Perth. We spent lovely evenings with them talking about our travels and life at home. Rich was addicted to flying kites, with a lot of enthusiasm!

Along with our friends from Perth and a couple from Sweden we went on a Stone Age cave painting tour into the "jungle" as Kukki our eccentric guide called it. I'd liken it more to the countryside myself. The others found it very interesting. I wasn't in the mood for scrambling around so took it easy and watched the vultures in the distance soaring around the cliffs. The scenery was quite beautiful. We headed down to the bottom of a waterfall and fought more monkeys. Great. Then we stopped at some villages to make chapatis and have fun with the locals, who proudly showed off their homes. Much more my cup of chai than descending into caves.

Duncan deftly making chapati

Leaving Bundi for Mumbai/Bombay on the night train was an experience. We'd booked our tickets a couple of weeks in advance and were at the top of the waiting list - from experience this had never been a problem, on the day of the journey we would always get bumped up as people always cancel last minute. But not this time. 4 hours before departure we were still wait listed and rather worried so decided to head to Kota station in the hope that something could be done.

After a particularly hairy drive to the station, on arrival our fears were confirmed. We hadn't got seats on the train and our tickets had been canceled. We were lucky to meet a very friendly station master who explained yet further intricacies of the Indian rail system to us. We were to purchase a 1st Class Ordinary ticket and when the train pulled into the platform search for the TT (conductor) and literally beg to get on, and if we didn't get on that one we'd wait for the next and do the same, and then the next etc... So we sat and waited for 3 hours for the train to arrive. When it did we literally had to run with our backpacks on backs along half the length of a VERY long train to find the TT. Along with two other men we begged, we surreptitiously offered money, we pleaded, we fibbed and said we had a wedding to go to, and after he had said no, he suddenly said yes! We all jumped on, elated, and followed him to the staff quarters where we sat for about half an hour while he checked the train for empty berths. We shared this time with several cockroaches and a chatty paper merchant heading to Bombay on business. Finally the nice TT came back and led us to our very comfy berths in the same carriage but a few compartments apart. It was a very plush train for Indian standards, the Delhi to Mumbai middle-class express! I shared my compartment with some friendly people who we chatted to all morning before arriving in the amazing metropolis that is Mumbai.


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