We’d missed the bus.
What an irony, with only a single human’s fingers-and-toes-worth of days remaining before returning to London where missing the bus is practically the only thing you ever do.
But out here it’s no biggie. Shanti, dude. Something’ll come along and it’ll all be fine. Everyone’s so blissed by the sun, sea, sand, smoke and various hippy action that we felt no disappointment at all as we began moseying up the hill towards the village. It was about 8 klicks back to Kudle (say Kood-lay) Beach and our lodgings, but we were sure to snag a rickshaw on the way, whether we liked it or not.
Sure enough, five minutes’ walk through the village and there was a slight, frail guy next to his rickshaw offering the world for tuppence. I wasn’t much in the mood for bartering after a day’s exploring the cliffside beaches, but you know how it is – you have to keep up appearances.
“How much to Kudle?”
“One hundred rupees.”
“One hundred? It’s a hundred from back there at the bus stand! From here, ummmm, eighty.”
“No no, hundred rupees.”
Shake shake shake. Ah well, time for bad cop. I smiled and turned to Siri. “Shall we just walk then?”
We made as if to leave – now or never. “You sure, not eighty rupes?”
But a blink was all it was – we were stuffing ourselves in the back of the auto quicker than you can say ‘Bargain’.
Second-guessing time, as we clattered over the monsoon-ravaged roads like a cart with hexagonal wheels. Did he have the meaning of seventy wrong? Or the meaning of eighty? Had the sun fried his brains? Had the sun fried my brains? Should I have held out for eighty?
In the event, no-one ever found out. We reached the drop-off near the beach, handed over seventy rupees, waited for the driver to check through the sweaty notes and smile at us. He obliged. We smiled back and wandered towards the huts.