I haven’t had a drink for a month now so when I went around the corner to my local to meet T. I was curious to see how a glass of my favourite wine, Shiraz would go down. Well, what a disappointment. It tasted oddly fusty but even T. agreed that it wasn’t quite right so it wasn’t my chilli-tinged tastebuds that were having trouble adjusting. Anyway, some friends of T’s arrived and they got stuck into the Tuaca, but, recalling my last experience of said poison, when I threw up in my friend’s car, I desisted and stuck to the orange juice. I quite like this abstention. It makes me feel very virtuous – almost like a virgin. Anyway, here’s more of India. We’re leaving Gokarna, on our way to Hampi which is a night’s bus journey west of the coast. Thursday, 7 February. ‘I’ve never been on a bus with sleep compartments before. It’s a bit like sleeping in a coffin, albeit one with a window onto the outside world. It was a long night and a very bumpy and consequently sleepless one. Bear in mind that I was sharing my ‘bunk’ with Tim and, not content with hogging most of the scant space, he was also snoring and breaking wind at regular intervals. At 7am we got caught up in a roadblock. Two lorries had collided a mile or two ahead of us. Our driver tried to find a back road and we ended up in a tiny village which was just coming to life. A giggling mass of children clamoured around the bus. We got off for a chat and a chai from the wooden hut which served as the local caff. The kids all spoke a little English and when I told them my name, they all repeated it and laughed. Well, as you can imagine, one thing led to another and before long, about 20 children were chanting my name at the top of their voices like I was some Hindu deity or the Indian equivalent of Britney. Anyway, soon we were off again, stopping only once more at a ‘transport caff’ to have a drink and use the loo. It was very grim but strangely charming. There must have been a hundred lorries parked outside, all gaily painted in bright reds and yellows and their occupants were milling around, enjoying a cup of chai and a gossip with their mates. I befriended a group of them and we had a right old laugh. One guy, a tubby individual with a rather fine moustache, was keen to show me his impersonation of a duck. Of course, that sent me off into hysterics, which only made everyone else laugh. Tim joined us and when he started to roll a fag they were mesmerised. Everyone here seems to think it’s ganja! We arrived in Hampi an hour or so later and were immediately pounced on by a clutch of young men wanting to find us a room. Hampi is the size of a village but it’s a huge religious site for Hindus. It’s almost Biblical in its dry, barren landscape which gives it an other-worldly atmosphere. There are ruined temples everywhere, dotted around the hills amid huge, smooth, sandy boulders. From the broad avenue that lines the valley and makes up the town’s hub, there’s a 360 degree visita of stony hilltops. The town itself is a higgledy, piggledy labyrinth of two story houses with shops selling everything from German bread to books, beads to buckets. It’s very geared to tourists. You can use the internet, rent a bike, have a massage, get a tattoo – and everyone wants you!’… more to come.