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Bodhgaya, Bihar, India

The power keeps cutting out. Every day several times a day. The guest house has its own generator but it’s so noisy I wish they’d just leave us without power. And for the people who live nearby it can’t be very nice. They have to listen to the noise but don’t get any of the power. And it was the same for me until this evening. They didn’t have my floor of the guest house connected up to the generator supply. I think I’m the only one on this floor.

This is a noisy place I’m in. Today I lay in bed all day with a headache, listening to the sounds of building work going on: hammering, sawing, drilling.

I went out this evening, once the sun had gone down, and bought some aspirins though they don’t seem to have done much good. The kids descended on me again, asking me to meet their teacher or give them money. I said a very definite no and heard one of them say: You not nice man. You go back to England. But a bit further on I met the kid with the nice bike who was friendly. He told me they’re not nice boys. They are cheaters. But with him being nice I couldn’t tell him to piss off and he walked with me to the restuarant where I was planning on having the same special tomato soup that I had last night. He sat down at the table next to me, and then two other kids sat down opposite. One of them asked me to buy him a cold drink. I agreed I would buy each of them a cold drink if they promised to stop asking for things after that. It didn’t work. They were asking for food, for English coins (pound coins) – I’ve met so many coin collectors in India. Paying the bill in the restaurant I was warned to be careful of those kids. Don’t buy them school books, he said.

I went back to the Mahabodi temple for a quick walk around the perimeter. Many monks, mostly Tibetan I think. A few western buddhists and a few Japanese. Around the inner temple some people were sitting under mosquito nets. A group of monks was chanting chants. I sat on a wall and overheard a conversation between a monk, Thai I think since he was dressed in orange, and a westerner. Some Indians joined them and also listened in. Then one of the Indians went over to the monk, knelt down at his feet and asked him a question. The monk answered his question, without seeming at all shocked by this guy’s reverence. I was half expecting him to say:

Get up, man. I’m not a god, I’m only a monk.

But he didn’t.

There was a guy on Sudder Street who did that to me. He crouched down and kissed my feet. I asked him not to but he did it again, muttering some kind of blessing. I encountered him again several days later whilst waiting for a takeaway. He had a box of food which he offered to the woman I was sitting with. She gave the box back to him, several times, and then told me that apparently he was a succesful businessman but he had a nervous breakdown and now, whenever he’s given something, like food or money, he always gives it away to someone else. Maybe being rich in a place where you’re surrounded by such poverty is the kind of thing that could cause you to have a nervous breakdown, unless you’re the type of person who believes you are rich because you deserve to be rich, either for deeds done in this life or in a past life. And if you believe that then you have to believe that the people who are ppor deserve to be poor.

Many fat Indians travel in rickshaws.

I’ve not noticed so many fat Westerners in India. There were quite a few in Thailand, but maybe India is not a place that fat people are attracted to. Here, fatness and wealth appear to go together. The kid with the nice bike I was talking to today is quite podgy, and I get the impression he is more wealthy than his skinnier friends.

The generator’s still going. All the buildings around here are in darkness. Kids on the roof of the house opposite are running around playing hide and seek.