My third day on the subcontinent found me waking early in Jaipur after a 24-hr train ride from Mumbai filled with hollering chai vendors and passing visions of lonely peacocks perched atop fence-posts. In the fresh light I bought samosas filled with cumin and potatoes from a man wielding a giant cast-iron wok, then sputtered to the edge of town in the back of an autorickshaw.

After passing through a huge archway of sandstone I found myself winding up a cobblestone switchback as devotees to Ganesh passed me going the opposite way, carrying holy water from the shrine I would eventually reach on the other side of the mountain. They chanted as they threaded their way down into Jaipur through pilgrims and meandering cattle, singing songs celebrating the end of a month dedicated to Shiva.


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