My Photographs: Top 5 Jaisalmer, India.

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1Jaisalmer Old Town, March 2004. I can’t quite believe it’s been thirteen years since I arrived in the Rajasthani town of Jaisalmer. My travel mate Allan and I were instantly charmed as we set off on our first wander. Set on a ridge of golden sandstone at the edge of The Great Thar Desert, the entire place felt like something out of a storybook; a giant fort town home to a beguiling network of narrow twisting lanes and finely sculpted buildings.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Jaipur, India.

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Ashiyana Guesthouse, March 2004. My visit to the Rajasthani city of Jaipur was one of the most frustrating experiences of my two-month trip around India. Everything about the place proved to be a long, hot, aggressive, hassle-ridden struggle. Even finding a place to bed down was hard work for my travel buddy Allan and I. Embarking on a wild goose chase around the city; we eventually found refuge at this private guesthouse, but only after the owner threatened to call the police on us because he thought we were Israelis! But in the end, thank god for small mercies, Ashiyana Guesthouse turned out to be a decent enough place and our prickly host mellowed out a bit towards the end, even agreeing to pose for this picture.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Agra, India.

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Train from Delhi to Agra, March 2004. The train from Delhi to Agra took just three and a half hours, by far the shortest journey of my entire Indian adventure. And the trip flew by faster still when I found myself seated opposite this bright-eyed, bushy-tailed duo. Working in Delhi as criminally underpaid call operatives, they were heading home to Agra for the weekend and seemed thrilled to meet me. Bespectacled boy was a big cricket fan, but despite my admission that I didn’t follow the sport, insisted on peppering me with queries I couldn’t answer (“How rich is Ian Botham?”). As we pulled into Agra, I did the photographic honours and presented them each with a 50p coin, plucked from a little bag I’d prepared for such occasions. “God bless the queen!” cried checkered-shirt-boy, giving his gift a passionate irony-free kiss. And off we went in our separate directions, never to meet again.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Delhi.

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Paharganj, March 2004. Just west of the New Delhi Train Station, this frenetic backpacker ghetto is a real assault on the senses, especially for the uninitiated. Wild street dogs, legless beggars, scampering shoeless children, relentless touts, shops, cafes, guesthouses, DVD shacks, mobile phone huts, restaurants, travel agencies, food stalls and Internet cafes; it was my first day in India and I didn’t know what had hit me. To read more about my first impressions of Paharganj, check out my short story Poor Me!

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Forty Eight Hours – a short story from India.

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In March 2004 I was 25 years old. With not a care in the world, no particular place to be and zero commitments to speak of, I packed up a rucksack and headed off to India. The future lay sparkling and I thought it would last forever.

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“Samosa… pakora… vegetable cutlet! Samosa… pakora… vegetable cutlet! Samosa… pakora… vegetable cutlet!” The man paused outside our carriage door with a hopeful smile, a wide tray of the aforementioned snacks hanging from his scrawny neck. ‘‘No thank you’’ said Lisa and with a subservient nod he was gone, though we both knew he’d be back again before too long.

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Butch Cassidy & The Cashew Kid – a short story from India.

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In March 2004 I was 25 years old. With not a care in the world, no particular place to be and zero commitments to speak of, I packed up a rucksack and headed off to India. The future lay sparkling and I thought it would last forever.

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My travels around India had been highly eventful from pretty much day one. I’d had miscellaneous objects shoved into my ears in Delhi, found broken glass in my bed in Agra and been dealt an absurd amount of bad luck in the soulless claustrophobia of Jaipur. There’d also been romance and camels in Jaisalmer, comical James Bond nonsense in Udaipur and fine dining and cocktails in glitzy Mumbai. Not to mention The Bus Journey From Hell in between.

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Octopussy – a short story from India.

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In March 2004 I was 25 years old. With not a care in the world, no particular place to be and zero commitments to speak of, I packed up a rucksack and headed off to India. The future lay sparkling and I thought it would last forever.

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‘‘Hey, you want Bond?’’ asked the goofy man, shoving a paper menu into my hand. ‘‘Yes yes… shaky shake but not stirring’’ he continued, directing his charms towards a sniggering Lena. It was the third time in as many minutes that we’d been approached by a restaurant tout championing delicious home-cooked dishes, ice-cold beers and around the clock screenings of the classic James Bond movie Octopussy. In fact, just about every restaurant in town offered up exactly the same deal.

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