In Jodhpur, I didn’t manage to find a couchsurfing host at short notice, so I booked myself into the Govind Hotel. It’s just a couple of hundred metres from the railway station, and the manager offered a walking pick up straight off the train. However, they’ve had problems in the past with the station authorities not believing they’re picking up guests with prior reservations, and threatening to prosecute them for touting for business on the platform. So the manager described the procedure: I tell him my carriage number and he will wait outside it, wearing a blue t-shirt. When I get off, I should look for him but not talk to him. When he sees me, he’ll briefly show me a piece of paper with my name on it. Then he’ll walk out of the station, and I should follow behind him at a distance until we’re clear.

I could have found the hotel myself, but once I’d heard about the John le CarrĂ© style procedure of the walking pick up, I definitely had to go for it. The contact went precisely as planned, and we were undetected by the railway authorities as we exchanged a subtle nod on the platform and escaped through their net to the street outside and the hotel.

I was only in Jodhpur for one day, so I had to make the most of it. I signed up for a tour of the Bishnoi villages, organised by the hotel, to cover the morning, and then planned to walk into the old city and see Meherangarh Fort in the afternoon.

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