11.10.2007 - 11.10.2007 35 °C
Thursday: It's our first full day in Delhi since returning from our tour of Rajasthan and Madya Pradesh, and we're taking it pretty easy. I spent 6 hours in an internet cafe near our hotel updating my blog, creating a travel map, answering e-mails and backing up my photos. Pretty soon it's evening, and we decide to drop by at "de Gem", a bar recommended by the Lonely Planet guide, along the Main Bazaar, the main drag of Paharganj, the backpacker region of Delhi.
It's here that we meet Graham, a 59 year old India-phile from the Channel Islands, and over the next four hours he would tell us his amazing story. A painter/decorator by trade, Graham has been visiting India since the early seventies.
In 1978 he simply started walking from village to village for a total of 8 years, accepting free food and accommodation from friendly locals! These days he limits himself to six month blocks spent mainly in Rishikesh, his favourite place on Earth. A self confessed hater of the west, he works just long enough to save for a plane fare plus several months spending money, and then he's off! With long gray hair, beard and weather-beaten face, you could say he was the archetypal hippie, a true "long-hair" who didn't sell out and go all "corporate" once the sixties were over. Further proof of his new age "credentials" were offered when he mentioned spending time in Byron Bay, Australia!
(The Byron Bay of the seventies, mind - not the newly gentrified, property-developed Byron Bay of today!)
I don't have much else to report as I'm not currently in tourist mode. Dean and I are at a crossroads in our trip - do we explore Srinigar and Kashmir in the north-west, head down south to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Goa, fly directly to Nepal and spend some time there, or take Graham's advice and chill out in Rishikesh, just like John, Paul, George and Ringo in 1968?
Probably none of the above - the easy-going charm of Thailand's southern beaches is starting to look more and more tempting. In the next blog we may have decided...