The next day, I somehow managed to sleep through the 5.30am call to prayer (the first time in my life I've ever managed to sleep through any kind of noise, ever) but was called down to reception before breakfast, as I'd organised to have my fortune told. I, like most people, am skeptical of this kind of thing but, having heard a lot about the fortune tellers of India, considered it another one of those things I should try whilst I had the opportunity.
The night before, I'd been asked to write down my full name, as well as the date, time and location where I was born. Using this information, the fortune teller would be able to work out the star alignment the moment I was born, and from this, map out the story of my life. I'm not sure what I'd been expecting, but I wasn't surprised to find an elderly, turbaned man with a grey beard awaiting me in the courtyard. What did surprise me was the small A4 portfolio he had with him, bearing my name in printed letters on the front page and containing a detailed breakdown of my personal characteristics and fortune within.
Now, I'm sure that everyone believes they're self-aware and objective, although the latter, if not the former, is physically impossible as a human being. However, I think I'm smart enough to recognise that it's easy to make false connections when someone is telling you something you want to believe - why else would religion be such a successful scam? It was therefore with a pinch of salt that I listened quietly to the information relayed to me by this stranger who claimed to have the power to see into my past and future. For the sake of intrigue, I will nevertheless pass on to you some of the information that I found most interesting:
'Her mental ability will be prominent and her brain will have both masculine and feminine trends of thought'.
'She will be interested in many different subjects - therefore she will be curious about all the knowledge and science of the world'.
'She will be skilled at liaison work, will be involved in mediation'. A born project manager? I hear you cry.
'She will be interested in singing, in music'.
'She will be self-critical and in other words she will destroy her own image'.
My biggest talents are allegedly 'awareness and curiosity'
My biggest weakness, 'liveliness or instability'
Between the years 2000 and 2018, my main struggle has been/is/will be with self-confidence. He kept stressing that I need to conquer this. It was a little spooky.
I'm a highly lucky person. Woohoo!
From 2018 to 2034 will be my 'golden years', where I'm the most successful and happiest in my personal life.
I will have many lovers (shh, all of you, no sniggering), but I will get married when I eventually choose to settle down. In the end, the path of stability will be my path to happen.
My most compatible lovers are Libra, Leo and Sagittarius, but I should be wary of Leo, as my relationships with Leos will be too passionate, and thus, self-implode. (Particularly spooky, that one, judging by two past experiences).
I'll have two children, both of them girls.
My lucky stones are emerald and diamond. For happiness in marriage, I should ask my fiancé to buy me a diamond ring. I kid you not, he actually said this (and I didn't manage to get it on tape).
It was a bit of a strange feeling to begin the morning this way and then proceed to go about my day as normal, but this is what I did. That day, we were moving on to Bharatpur, with a few noteworthy stops on the way. As ever, the journey itself was kept interesting by such sights as: a man bathing on the street, elaborate shrines and even a temple on the side of the motorway, and even some brightly-dressed women dancing in the street. When we got out to watch, they dragged Laura and me in with them, one of them even borrowing my straw hat.
We also stopped off at an ancient temple and an enormous well called the Chand Baori - not like any well you've ever seen, but the largest and deepest step well in the world. It boasts a staggering 3,500 steps and is 13 stories deep.