We left Hampi early the next morning, taking pleasure in disobeying our orders to return to the police station for a further reprimand and – perhaps – a proper, scheduled and supervised beating. I have occasionally wondered what would have been in store for us if we had returned. Perhaps my potential attacker had sobered up from his power binge and would have been in a half-way reasonable mood?
Still, I realise how lucky we had been. Suppose the child-policeman had actually been more senior and capable of properly asserting themselves? We might well have been in trouble before our night photography begun. Suppose, again, that the child-policeman had been present at the station when we had piled out of the van? That certainly would have made matters worse.
We took an early bus over to Hubli, where I enjoyed a phenomenal Dhosa before jumping on another long, hot bus ride over the Karnataka countryside. In time, the Western Ghats rose up before us, projecting us briefly back into the cooler cloudscape as the roads became muddy and the scenery green. At one point, our bus pulled down a set of power cables that stretched over the road, which snapped in a silent, blue flash out of the windows above us. After pausing briefly to survey the damage he had caused, the driver drove on, leaving the severed black wires dangling off the telegraph pole.
In time, we emerged, at the far side of the mountains and trundled towards the coast. Finally, sweating and dirty, we saw the sea again for the first time in a fortnight. We had arrived in Goa.