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It didn't take much persuasion for me to drop my plans to visit Bhuj and Junagadh in western Gujarat; the chaos from the cyclone has sparked fears of epidemic diseases (which are being denied by the government), but whatever the risk of cholera, there's no doubt that the electricity, water and transport infrastructures are in al sorts of trouble, and I figure I could always come back another time.The journalist in me wants to investigate; the traveller in me never wants to see another bus ride like the last one. An overnight luxury bus from Diu to Ahmedabad and another bus bound for the north of schedule in just 24 hours, jumping across half the country in just one day having only dropped 45 per cent of the expected rain by this point.I had imagined that I would meet young people pouring scorn on the idea of arranged marriages and wishing for western liberalisation, but I have yet to find someone who doesn't equate the West with marriages failing.
I couldn't have picked a better spot because, according to my guidebook, there is precious little going on in Mt Abu, and that suited me fine.
And for once this tourist market is entirely Indian, and the differences between it and other more westernised tourist spots are interesting.
The first thing you notice is not just the friendliness of the people, but the way in which they are friendly.
And they're a funny bunch; no matter how long I travel round this country, I can't get my head round the Indians on holiday.
Seemingly biologically attached to each other, you see an Indian holidaying alone; they always come in huge groups, whether with family or friends.
It must be a lucrative business; honeymooners are hardly going to visit Mt Abu and not want some recorded memories, even if they're too poor to buy a camera, but you'd never see this in the West – it'd be as attractive a business proposition as a contract to sell fridges in Greenland.