Thursday, July 21, 2005


A suitcase fell from the luggage rack and came down on my head. I have a black eye, a small cut on my hairline, and a bump on my head. I don't look mean and sexy. I look as though I've been beaten up. Still, passengers on the bus felt sorry for me and I gleefully munched on their give-aways for the remaining hours on the bus journey.

Bijapur's main attraction is Gol Gumbaz, a rather silly-sounding name for the mausoleum of a long-dead Muslim ruler, whose name I've forgotten to record. It's a massive structure, inelegant and bulky, but possessing one redeeming feature: the world's second largest dome. Measuring 38 metres in diameter, you access the whispering gallery via steps in the eight storey diagonal towers at each corner of the building.

If you talk to the wall, it will provide you with an echo ten times over. As you do, I shouted a few choice words at it. Pathetic. You ask yourself, 'what should I say?', and all you can think of is rude words. Why do I think this kind of thing is still amusing? In any case, my only other company at this height was a group of adolescent males; I'm confident they weren't muttering lines from the Koran ... and it was them, not me, who got a stiff telling off from the guard.
A good city for exploring on foot, I visited Bijapur's other attraction, the Ibrahim Rousa, a sixteenth century mosque-cum-mausoleum, and a bit of a taste for the Islamic architecture that awaits me in countries yet to be seen.

Best of all, the town has an important Muslim population. This means I can find and feast on meat easier than in other places. Scanning the menu, I went for a Meat Lover's Meal. Half a tandoori chicken and half a chilli chicken. I ate some salad to stay healthy. As I looked out over the rooftops and watched a few cows battle it out over the refuse, I gorged myself on flesh. My mouth burned for half an hour after, and I belched pure joy.

I'm slowly returning to my carnivorous ways. I like my veggies,, and this country is the greatest in the world for a vegetarian. But after months of spicy slush, I needed to sink my teeth into a dead animal. I feel better for it.

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