Robin Hood Meets Alice in Wonderland

Trip Start Jan 31, 1996
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of India  , Rajasthan,
Saturday, January 31, 2009

We were walking along a dusty Jaisalmer alley-like street when Ellen suddenly felt faint. Then she gave me this peculiar look and said, "My name is Alice."

The next thing I knew we were both sliding down a long grassy chute and wound up in wonderland.

Perched on a hill above the city with its warren of cobble, narrow sandstone streets sits the fairybook fort of Jaisalmer. Built in 1156 it has ninety-nine bastions. And just like a Queen and her King, we're staying in one of them. Our oppulent semi-circular room with its metre thick walls at Hotel Rajmander doesn't have television or WiFi, and it shouldn't; we're occupying 12th century space. From the front of our rooftop terrace there's desert as far as the eye can see. Turn around and the fabulous Maharaja's Palace is before our eyes.

A follower more of Robin Hood than Alice in Wonderland when I was young, I sometimes see myself as Sir Robert of Locksley, walking along the lower fort wall. I look up to our bastion and there's Ellen, my Maid Marian. She smiles as I, accompanied by a quartet of eunich minstrels playing flute and mandolin, break into romantic verse. Other times I'm Little John quarter-staffing dangerously on the lip of the bastion with Will Scarlett. Often in the evenings I'm bald, fat Friar Tuck, quaffing a tankard of ale alongside Marian and her dear friend Barbara of Hirst as they sip lemon and ginger tea brought back from far off India. The fort, or castle, as I've come to call it is mine. I've driven off the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and helped Richard the Lion Heart win back his throne.

 It's revisionist fantasy, but it's my fantasy, and after spending two weeks in India I'll do as I damn well please.

Sitting atop my bastion I'm suddenly jolted back to reality as another bloody Indian fighter jet zooms past. We're a hundred and twenty-five kilometres from the Pakistani border, and like posturing dogs these fly-bys are both disconcerting and a nuisance.

Ellen and I have our own calf. After a hearty breakfast where we order more than we can eat, we smuggle toast, egg and rice down to the little fellow we affectionately call Jasper.

The other day, down in the city where the peasant people live, Ellen and Barbara saw a dog eating a rat. I wanted to tell them about the rat I saw eating a turd, but it might have been looked upon as one-upmanship.
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