I woke up in Udaipur. All of the bus-to-bus action had clearly had its way with my standards of overnight accommodation. I slept, uninterrupted, for nine hours. I’m a bit of an insomniac right, so bein’ able tae dae a power of sleepin’ on a bus like that is quite something. But I was not in a good shape when we arrived at eight in the morning. I carried the weight of ma discomfort in ma rucksack and the strain of it on ma rough, stubbly face. I could smell ma own socks fermenting in ma shoes. Ma figure was cut from disheveled cloth crying out for a good scrub. Me and the Chilean Crusties didnae look quite so mismatched anymore. All I needed was a beard with sea shells in it and a didgeridoo on ma back and we’d look like a band of busking stains. By the time I’d pulled our backpacks out the back of the bus, they had about nine rickshaw drivers battling for our fare.
“Hundred rupees,” replied one driver, looking off into the distance, respecting us just enough not to look in our eyes when he tried to scam us.
“NOOOOOO! Ten rupees only” shouted Maria (I think that’s her name. The shorter, hotter one), shaking her head frantically.
“Ten rupees less” a voice from the back of the crowd offered.
“Eighty rupees” said another.
“No. No. Twenty rupees is final price. Final price.” declared Sophia (the less attractive one but with better English).
“Ten rupees less” the voice from the back said again.
“Fifty rupees.” said the initial bidder.
I was stood there in awe of their skills. I knew that these girls hadn’t wanted me to tag along because they found my style and panache to be an effective lubricant. They couldn’t speak English all that well and had assumed that having a clueless Scottish guy with them would help in cost cutting. They needed no help man. At least not from me anyway.
“Done. Forty rupees!” shouted Sophia as she clapped her hands and pushed her way through the crowd towards the voice at the back.
We all jumped into the wee rickshaw and told him to take us to Tony’s Planet’s top pick for budget accommodation. Lalghat Guest house. I went into ma pocket and pulled out ma iPhone and fired up the calculator, thinkin’ I’d rip the piss out of them a wee bit.
“So lets see then gurls, forty divided by three is………..fourteen point three three three three three three rupees each” I said with a wee smile.
“I no have change, only five hundred rupees” said Sophia.
I sighed. I thought that was a good joke. Maybe it was lost in translation.
“It doesnae matter, I’ll get it.” I said.
We got to the guest house and checked in. This horrible rigmarole with filling in your passport details and your visa number and your home address and aww god, I hate doing it. I go first while the girls confirm the price with the receptionist. One hundred and twenty, just as Tony said. They both gave me a glance, one last chance to postpone that sweet comeback wank in favor of an eighty rupee saving and a one-percent chance of a threesome. Sorry ladies, I came to India to learn how to be on ma own.
“Two rooms please” I say to the guy.
They give me the cold shoulder and sign the book. He gives us rooms one and two and a couple of padlocks. We shoulder the bags again and walk up to the rooms. As you would expect for about £1.50 a night, the room a was a fuckin’ jail cell. The bed didn’t have any sheets and the pillow was like a packed bag of sand. The floppy ceiling fan was slowly wobblin’ round and round, breathing its warm, stale breath onto the bed. An addictions worth of cigarette butts had been squished into the corners of the room. The browned switches had a thousand mankey fingers caress them in search of light. The smell of sour, watery shite lingered in the air, warning you to brush your teeth with mineral water. I spotted a little graffiti above the bed, which read:
“What are you in for?”
I exhaled and contemplated my two to three day stretch in this little cage of depression. I heard the girls happily chatting back and forth to one another. They seemed happy in their pit. One can only imagine the suicidal hotel rooms that their frugality had dragged them into so far. I closed the door and checked the time on ma phone. I almost hit the roof with excitement. I had a wi-fi signal!
Porn man. ALL the porn.
“I’ll catch up wi you guys later tonight” I shouted towards the hole between our rooms.
I had a massive smile on my face as I locked the door, snapped the latch shut on the decaying wooden windows, and skipped back to the old war hospital bed. I opened the Safari web browser and the words “youporn” leapt from my thumbs. That big sleazy smile of mine stretched across my face. This was the happiest I’d been in India, and I didn’t feel in the slightest bit bad about that.