Very early next morning I left the monastery where I was lodged, determined to reach Vulture’s Peak.
I jumped over a low fence around a solitary lot, still in the darkness before dawning, and a barbed wire scratched my ankle (I didn’t give it any thought).
After walking the whole day in that rugged terrain, I finally got to the base of my desired goal, but a burly policeman halted me.
“Dangerous, dangerous, too late,” he repeated watching me from his six feet tall. “The mountains are infected with Naxalites.”
The Naxalites are a Maoist terrorist group, but I was more worried by the mustachioed Indian policemen than by the terrorists. I had no other choice than to return, back to Rajgir, without achieving my goal for a second day in a row.
A family riding a cart decorated with floral garlands and pulled by a donkey offered me a seat in their curious form of transport. The driver (and guide) was explaining to us the history of the ancient ruins that lined the road, such as the pond where the Buddha used to bathe, or a jail in which a prince imprisoned his father to usurp the throne.
Upon reaching Rajgir, I couldn’t help a shiver of anticipation when I realized the lot I had traversed in the morning was a cemetery.
I woke up at midnight with bad cramps and drenched in sweat. Would it be the scratch at the cemetery, or the fat red mosquitoes that had slipped through the lowest part of the net and ate their fill whilst inside, or the buttery sweet I downed in a street stall last night, or all together, the case was that an intense diarrhea—the famous Indian one that doesn’t spare any foreigner—got hold of me.
Every ten minutes throughout the night I was compelled to rush to the toilet outside the room. I lay on bed with no more energy expenditure than drinking bottled water, reserving all my strength for the race I knew would have to give at any moment. Tens of purges after, all that was leaving me was dyed water. I ended up really clean, in and out.
Would I be finally pure enough to be permitted to have access to Vulture’s Peak?