I am the worst traveller in the world. My body hates moving town, let alone country, so moving continent brings down all manner of repercussions. Madness is one of them.

For donkey’s years I’ve bought into the Tibetan superstition of cutting your hair only on auspicious days. The Rigpa calendar has kindly provided lists of when those days fall, and generally I wouldn’t think of plucking an eyebrow without consulting it. Until last Thursday. I hadn’t lost track of time (not unusual) or anything like that. It was, after all, only the second day of the Tibetan new year, and amongst my circle of friends and acquaintances, it would be quite difficult not to notice the turn of the year. So I have no excuse.

At the time the madness struck, I was cleaning the bathroom. It’s one of my rituals after a trip, to clean everything I can lay my hands on, and it usually happens during the second week. (The first is devoted to sleep.) I wonder sometimes if I’m a little like the cat that pisses all over his territory (do she cats do it too?) but in reverse. I stake my claim by dusting and hoovering and polishing.

So, there I was, cleaning the sink in the bathroom, when I noticed my reflection in the mirror and for the fifty millionth time, cursed the appalling haircut I wrote about some time ago. However, instead of sighing and continuing to scrub the Kalk from the taps, I opened my side of the bathroom cabinet, found my hair-cutting scissors and hacked off a good three inches of badly judged layering. And it felt great.

Only then did I think about what day it was. Would I be lucky and have chosen a good day for my spontaneous shear? Of course not! Instead, I have sown the karmic seeds for being a victim of slander. And I’m telling you this because as a result you may well hear really bad things about me in the next few weeks. I thought I should warn you.

In the meantime, here are a couple of photos I took on my last day in Varanasi. It was the only time I saw an Indian woman who really couldn’t have cared less about baring her flesh. It’s a dream now, of course—the trip, I mean, not her bum—and one I hope I experience again this lifetime, although perhaps without the constantly runny tummy.

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