Disaster! I was all keyed up & ready to hit the road to Udaipur this morning, but a bicycle problem has delayed this. As part of preparing the bike last night I thought I would just put a little more air in the tyres, even though they didn't really need it. As a consequence, goodness knows how, it resulted in my rear tube stuffing up - the valve came apart from the tube. After much effort (the bloody tyre beading is really tight) I fitted my spare tube, only to damage this in the process with the tyre levers, as I discovered this morning when about to pedal off - the tyre was flat. Hours later, and with the assistance of several blokes from a motorbike shop I managed finally, I hope, to have some success in getting the tyre to remain inflated (the American no-glue patches just wouldn't stick properly). Happily I managed to remain reasonably upbeat about it all, although there were several flashes of dread ("oh no!", "what am I going to do?", "how will I continue my travels?", "what if it can't be fixed?" etc.) as obtaining a replacement tube in Mt Abu is not possible.
Yesterday I had the most amazing hairdressing experience. My beard was getting a bit long so I thought I'd get a trim at the local barbershop - a small shed with 4 chairs & 4 hairdressers. I was ushered into the corner chair & the barber began his work. After largely finishing the beard he asked if I wanted "the blade" applied to those parts of my face that I shave. I could hear the bristles crunching as he scythed his way through the stubble. He then asked if I wanted a face massage. When I said "yes, why not", he produced an electrical appliance that looked suspiciously like an orbital sander, although thankfully the disc was smooth rather than made of sandpaper, and applied it to my face, along with various creams, lotions & sprays. The noise & vibration in concert was an extraordinary, even indescribable, experience, especially when he applied it to my ears. He then asked if I wanted a head massage - "yes", I weakly replied - and he proceeded to beat a rythym out on my head with cupped hands (the resulting concussion is probably what led me to damage my bike tubes last night) and squeeze it hard - as you would if you wanted to know how much air there was in a football. The whole process was extremely invigorating. I was tempted to ask if he did buttocks also, but wasn't confident that he'd quite know what I was asking him for. All this cost Rp 60 - less than $2 AUD. I'm gonna have this done again - perhaps I'll try a haircut next.
So as I wandered Mt Abu this afternoon with a day to kill, I was approached by a tailor whose request to visit his shop I had declined yesterday. He's agreed to make me a duplicate of one of my 2 shirts that's nearly worn out (in fact, a number of things I brought are starting to wear out or have broken), and reverse the worn-out collar on the existing shirt, by 8pm tonight, and all for a very reasonable price (Rp 350). Good for him, good for me.