DAY TWELVE… 33.37 miles (53.70 km)

Who would have thought a petrol station would be a haven of tranquillity? We are sitting in the cool, away from the road, and men have brought out their office chairs for us to sit on. We are surrounded, as usual, by a large crowd of young lads. Tim is holding forth, explaining where we are going, always of prime concern. It won’t be long before the photos begin. People always want a ‘selfie’ with us in for some reason which we haven’t quite worked out. But, for now, there is a small window where I can write in peace and enjoy my very sweet chai.

India Cycle Touring Gujarat
Petrol station stop… chai, chair, shade… what more do we need

4pm…. So, it seems that Diwali is not over yet. We endured a night of fireworks like being on the front line, which is apparently ’Diwali for the Gods’. Now, I learn, to my horror that there are two calendars in India, close, but not the same, and there is therefore another night of ‘Diwali for the Gods’ to endure. Another sleepless night feeling like the world is ending!

We had a short ride today, away from the dusty, non-descript town, past very dry scrubland where there were extensive excavations of coal. A terrible sight, both in the way that the land was being raped, but also in the conditions of the workers there. The only water they had access to, for washing was a slimy, filthy stream.

India Cycle Touring Gujarat
Roadside surface coal mining

We’ve landed in another Palace! Arm and leg job (6,000Rs or £60.00), but nice to enjoy time here. The Prince speaks very good English and is impeccably polite. He lives in the Palace too, and it seems from all the trays of titbits passing through the room I’m sitting in, that he’s entertaining. I’ve also noticed a very large rifle passing through too. Perhaps he is planning a little hunting ?