My journey overland from West Bengal to Rajasthan has been intense, exhausting, beguiling, terrifying, wonderful. As the train rolls into Jaipur I am, if truth be told, running low. Not quite recovered from my fever in Allahabad, I surrender to the primal need for bourgeois balm and consolation, and check into a more than usually luxurious guesthouse for three days of hot water, culinary excess, and the decadence of evening silence.
After deep sleep on a cloud of pillows I wake to explore the pink city and capital of Rajasthan.
For most of the day I simply wander, lost in the bazaars of the Old City, and stop only to eat or drink or chat or stare at some new wonder.
In the heat of afternoon, I cool the soul with mango, pineapple, and strawberry ice cream at a sweet shop inside the famous LMB Hotel and watch the world pass by.
Next morning I set out for a day trip to the Amber Fort, one of the most popular tourist sites in all India, and justly so.
The fort hovers, like a mirage of sand and fire over Lake Maota. I reach the entrance on foot, passing others who arrive like Rajput princes or sunburned memsahibs by weary pachyderm.
Climbing high over the honey-red ramparts of the fort, it is easy to see why Rajasthan has became the death-by-selfie epicentre of India.
Jaipur is a city of wonders, many of which may be attributed to the will and wisdom of Jai Singh II, the warrior-astronomer who built much of this grand metropolis. My favourite is the exquisite Jantar Mantar, a set of swollen astronomical contraptions that delight the intellect and imagination in equal part.
In the age of Nigel Farage, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, one wonders where the warrior-astronomers have gone…