Just got back from Body Blitz. I ran three times around the track and attempted some vigorous lunges and ab crunches (I thought they were something you dunked in a nice cup of tea). My face has turned a delightful shade of puce but, in a neat twist of contrast, the area around my mouth is drained of blood. It’s official. I am repulsive. Anyway, back to Inja. We are now hot in Hampi. Friday, 8 February. ‘People are so quick to smile here. Everyone wants to say hello, how are you. Even those who don’t speak English will give you a beaming smile. It’s a lovely warm gesture that makes me feel happy to be a human being. Today, we went to see some of the ruins on our bicycles – a precarious journey, as our bikes had no gears and our saddles played havoc with our sexual organs. We also had to negotiate a variety of natural obstacles: boulders, sand and fetid water – sorry, I mean the river. Sounds grim but it’s not. It’s part of the fabric of life her. Everyone washes in the river, themselves, their clothes, their pots and pans. Even the temple elephant performs his morning ablutions here. The Vitthala Temple was a fascinating place with majestic columns of ornate carvings featuring elephants, monkies and men and women in erotic poses. It was really hot so we took a coracle – a small circular boat made of branches and leaves, across the river to a village called Anagondi. Onboard were crammed 3 motorbikes and 10 people, which was a bit of crush. God knows how the ferryman, using only what looked like a large wooden spoon, got us across in one piece.  Anagondi felt like the real India. No tourists, just people going about their day to day lives. On the way in we saw a shrine built around a tree. This seems to be quite common. There are shrines everywhere and people make ‘pujas’ or prayers to everything, animate and inanimate. We even saw a man perform a puja to his tractor, waving incense around it and crushing limes under its wheels – no doubt he was praying it wouldn’t break down or have a head on collision with a cow. Back in town, we were eating dinner at an open fronted cafe on the bazaar (main street) when a procession passed by consisting of a shrine carried by four men, the temple elephant and assorted holy men and pilgrims. Tim and I both gave the elephant a coin in his trunk. He passed these into a tray held by his keeper and then lay a blessing on our heads with his trunk. This spiritual moment was only broken when I realised, having blessed me, the elephant was then about to trample me. Luckily, Tim was on hand to whisk me out of the way.’ more to come….