In Varanasi, among the 2000 or so temples, is a charity-run hostel – Mukti Bhavan (‘Salvation House’) – where the guests come to die. The room tariff includes the wood for the funeral pyre. To be clear, this isn’t a centre for suicide. Not an Indian version of Dignitas, the Swiss one-stop-shop for euthanasia. The very old and very sick come here, when death is imminent.
Danger comes from unexpected places in India. Perilous roads, the ever-present risk of shitting oneself. We had a long list of potential hazards. But little brown Geckos were not included.
I’m naked. Well, almost. I’m wearing only a fig leaf. That’s the way it feels sometimes, writing this blog. Looking at my comfort zone through the rear view mirror. I enjoy it. But It’s exposing.
In a world of divisive politics, orange presidents and Brex-shit, we can at least agree on one thing. Garden gnomes are tacky.
As I turned the corner I came nose-to-nose with a decapitated camel.
When I woke I touched the side of my head gently. Dried blood. The pain was intense. Like a visit by the mother of all hangovers.
Wearing only a paper gown tied at the back, I climbed onto the cold radiography table. I rolled onto my side into the foetal position as instructed.
I learned the identity of the driver while still in the hospital. A 19-year-old former pupil of my school.
I was part-way through my secondary school exams (O Levels). The culmination of 2 years of study. These exams would determine my future academic and employment prospects. That was all gone.
The femur (thigh bone) is the largest bone in the human body. It takes 3 months for a broken femur shaft to repair itself. So, regardless of my other injuries, I’d spend 3 months in a hospital bed.