I feel a bit like I haven't been telling the full story through the blog in terms of what's been going on. This is mainly because I've had to do everything from internet cafes and time and expense are a factor. December involved a decision to get off the main highway and spend some time exploring the smaller villages and towns. On reaching a city called Bharoch I went to look for somewhere to camp down a small road. After pedalling down a quiet road lined with banana plantations and small farmsteads I realised i was next to a huge river.
I propped up the bike and gazed in awe at the wide Nermada river and palm forest disappearing in the hazy distance.I asked a man on a bike about whether there was a bridge further along but it was back in the town. I was determined to camp in that area rather than returning to the noise and pollution of Bharoch.
There was a sign with a large picture of a bearded man dressed in orange, I presumed a holy man. It was above a side road which I then followed down to a small temple. I asked about camping to a boy about 18 yrs dressed in a Doti (a sheet wrapped around the waist and legs) wearing a western style t-shirt with a print reading 'Las Vegas'. Accompanying him was a tall sinewy man wearing a shawl around the shoulders and a Doti with yellow paint on his forehead. I appeared to interrupt them doing a spot of gardening.
I was given a room and given dinner. I met the Swami who is the religious man occupying the place. A Swami is someone who is on the way to achieving spiritual enlightenment. Swami Lokarnand had a round handsome face and bushy black beard with warm peaceful eyes. He offered me to take a day of rest on which I agreed. He was running a program of meditation and yoga that week and asked me to stay and 'shoot it' as he humorously kept reminding me about. I became the resident photographer and travelling pilgrim (as I liked to think). I ended up staying 8 days. To be continued.