My hostel is called Moustache Jaipur. No idea why. It’s relaxed, has a great rooftop open air restaurant and a reception area full of soft futons that look like if you sit on them they will ooze the oily grime from a thousand backpackers’ sweaty bodies. So, I know it’s a solid backpacker hostel. In my dorm I meet an American girl who’s been travelling the world for 3 years. She’s managed this by staying in people’s homes in various different countries doing jobs for them in exchange for free accommodation (via a site called HelpX); she is off to Reykjavik next to help a mother with the school run and the cooking, and she’ll be there for two months.
On the roof terrace that evening I meet some hilarious people and go out drinking with them. Bars are hard to come by in Rajasthan (there are several dry states in India, and although apparently Rajasthan isn’t one of them the vibe is very much a sober one). We eventually find a bar in the basement of a intimidating, brutalist-style building. The bar is huge – like a school gym – and extremely dimly lit with uniform tables for 4 laid out in rows. Myself and a German girl called Tanja are the only two women out of about 50 people. It has a very prohibition era feel – but literally, not like cool Hoxton cocktail bars: it genuinely isn’t clear as to whether they are allowed to be serving booze.
Being a drinker of only wine and cider doesn’t serve me well travelling – the wine is poison and the cider non-existent. So I drink gin and soda all night, smoke about 370 cigarettes and feel desperately pukey the next morning. I pray that the American girl leaves the dorm before this descends into a re-enactment of The Exorcist …aka an Emily Bratt hangover from the very depths of hell… It doesn’t thank Christ, and I pull through.