Jim stays close to the bathroom, a meander through scenic countryside, and some fully elastic underpants.

Day 146 & 147: Mandawa, India. We’ve wrapped two daily blog posts into one today, largely due to a bout of Delhi Belly which kept Jim attached to the hotel bathroom yesterday. And which meant, not a great deal happened.

Jim’s condition was likely due to him accepting the hotel manager’s kind offer of a bowl of his special ‘vegetable chilli recipe’ the night before. The watery vegetable dish was so hot it’s questionable whether it should be consumed by humans. Which however didn’t put Jim off – he scoffed the lot. Lil had one teaspoon quickly followed by a litre of water in a vain attempt to eradicate the fiery pain. Jim, undeterred, says he’s hoping for another serving tonight. Devil for punishment, and all that.

Thankfully Jim had recovered by this morning and we were able to venture out to complete our walk east and north of Mandawa. We walked about 5km around town and out to the outskirts, where we wandered through a lot of sandy rubbly land, dotted with trees and small buildings, some for animals and some for people. The scenery is achingly beautiful. We also saw lots of birdlife, including some very regal looking black and white Hoopoes.

We received a lot of stares as we walked out through town. The concept of two people going for a walk, for the sake of going for a walk, seems to be lost on people here. A guy with a donkey and a wooden trailer pulled up on a dusty track, gestured to his trailer and asked “You want Indian taxi?” We said no thanks. In any case the poor donkey would probably have collapsed if we’d both climbed onto the trailer.

For a small town, there’s an incredible amount of mosques, temples and shrines dotted around the town, and yet more on the outskirts. Some of the shrines are simple little open fronted alcoves, others are gazebos within existing structures decorated with colourful fabrics, flowers and bunting.

We also found another five wells as we walked in and out of town, none of which seem to function any longer. They’re pretty fascinating.

And of course we saw an awful lot of goats and cows – there must be at least as many animals as there are people in this town, perhaps many more.

More kids came up to say hi and ask for ’10 Rupees, 10 Rupees!’. One little guy came back to follow up his request with ‘please, please please!’. It’s tough to say no, but if we give to one, we’ll have the entire town full of kids (and probably a lot of adults) following us around asking for money.

We stopped for a coffee at the Haveli where the guy refused to take coins the other day, saying ‘they only take coins in Jaipur’. As we mentioned in that day’s blog post, people here seem to make the rules as they go along. Today the guy was more than happy to accept coins – he even suggested we should give him coins, as he didn’t have sufficient change in notes.

The Leaning Tower of Aquafina

After searching in vain for a restaurant that Trip Advisor says is in the middle of town, but Google says is in a neighbouring village 25km away, we stopped for another coffee – you can never have enough caffeine. This time a delicious milky masala coffee made at the side of the road.

The coffee cart is the central hub for a bunch of guys playing cards on the raised verandah behind. They’ve been there every day since we arrived in Mandawa, and no doubt will be there long after we go. The coffee was a sixth of the price of the Haveli, and 10 times as good.

While we were sitting on the nearby steps sipping coffee, we spotted an awesome ad above the shops opposite for Dixcy Scott underwear which promises ‘Fully Elastic, Fully Fantastic’ underpants. We’re not sure of the relevance of the sumo wrestler guy, unless they specialise in very large sizes.

As we walked back to the hotel, another guy called out to Jim “Hey it’s Ali Baba!” Jim decided he’s now a little over it, so our next stop was at a tiny general store to buy some disposable razors.

Sadly, when we got back to our hotel, we received the news that Jim’s dad has passed away after a long illness. So we’ll be starting to make our way back to the UK over the coming week.

Assuming tomorrow’s replacement credit card delivery arrives on time, we’ll leave for Agra on a nine hour overnight bus trip tomorrow evening. Which finishes our trip around Rajasthan and lines us up for returning to the UK via Delhi. And perhaps before we leave, Lil might buy Jim some Fully Elastic, Fully Fantastic underpants as a souvenir.

More then.

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