We pass a magical milk truck which temporarily leaves holy cows with half tanks.
But after usual water stops, they arrive at the temple full, defying western laws of thermodynamics.
I learn to move over to sit in the right rear in the British right-steered ToyotaLand Cruiser to avoid the road’s center’s if and when we crash.
Afraid to snooze, I backseat drive every turn of the wheel and push on the brake and gas, contemplate prayer or being driven to liquor.
Yet the road is flat and straight and two lanes, I’m told a good road, a reason to see the sights instead of flying or taking the train.
So why complain, just wait for the packed bus on the harrowing narrow windy Himalayan single lane corroded roads on the way to pray with the Dali Lama?
Steady Imharim navigates a curve and swerves to avoid a blue truck that’s smashed into a bloody red dead beast being feasted on by vultures.
I left Agra in a black mood, seven hours later survive to arrive in dusky pink sand-stoned Jaipur.
The poorest of the poor sleep on the center divider.
Seeing a tourist car triggers the adult masters to push their filthy and mutilated kids out to beg for rupees worth two cents.
Imharim says it’s all just an act, no human can be this low, the government helps those in need; I murmur inside, that’s what They say about my homeless clinic’s clients back in ritzy Palo Alto.
Booking a nice last-minute room in high season is a feat: the only place left is an up-upscale “treat,” the Historical Suite in Rambagh Palace.
Once a mango orchard, then the thousand-year dynasty maharaja’s summer home, now a high-end hotel, like what the old English royals do these days to pay the bills.
Upon entering, a lei of yellow marigolds and blue carnations is place around my neck and a red third eye Tikka is smudged on my forehead.
The sumptuous chambers are fit for a king or two or three, somewhere between the size of a tennis court and a professional baseball diamond.
Twenty-foot high ceilings with chandeliers, carved wood panel walls, plush handmade blue and red carpets, fine paintings of the maharaja and maharaja’s family, exquisite statues of favored polo ponies and elephants, pot after pot of roses, massive potted plants—all overlooking immaculate lawns and polo fields.
A faithful Indian Army honor guard, all in tan and wearing berets, salutes an arriving VIP.
The so-called hospitality basket is a blue-painted bowl of mangos, papayas, red pomegranates, bananas, melons, pears, oranges, and apples.
Next to it are four exquisite little cakes, various cheeses, bread.
Although alone, I feast on high tea, using the ornate heavy silver dabbing my mouth with linen napkin as if I’m a faithful servant with the Queen of England next to me.
A handwritten invitation to Jerry Sarnet invites me to the Polo Bar, followed by a barbeque on the lawn at eight.
Although no one’s here to see, feeling that I’d be more comfortable at a Day’s Inn — I am quite embarrassed and guilty.
Turning down Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, I vow Hindu sadhu-like this Shabbes to fast along with Moslem Ramadan, to read and write unshaven in silence for the next two days until it’s on the road back to Delhi.
At night, I sleep alone on the edge of a bed that literally would accommodate a large harem – if I didn’t admit to being gay.
I need my flashlight to wend my way to the red and blue tiled bathroom. Have faith, surrender.
~ Gerard Sarnat