India, 1986

He laughed too he did, that damned stranger with the beard. Oh yes, just like the rest of them do. Pointed me out to his friends and laughed at me. Me! I was made famous by discerning documentary makers from the BBC, you know. That means something here in India, you know.

Thar desert trek, MAdia the camel 0001.JPG

He was on me for four days, this bearded one, along with twenty rupees worth of hay, some firewood, two sacks of provisions and some of the cakes of demerara sugar that Hasan, my handler, gives me when I’m tired. I also carried the chillum (pipes) and bhang (hashish) which Hasan uses when he gets tired!

The stranger laughed at me, so I was extra-crotchety and gave him a really tough time as we spent 6 hours a day trekking across the Thar desert near Jaisalmer. I stopped when I wanted, I went slow, I wandered off to look for grass, I growled continuously. Oh, he did everything fine, just as Hasan told him. ‘Twist back his neck with the halter; put your foot there; get up now; pull on that rope there to get him up; make a ‘tcha’ sound….’. Yes, he did it right but so what: like all camels I am arrogant. And I’ve also been crotchety from an early age and I do what I want. And I was a star on the BBC!

They all took photos of me at the end of the trek. Why was it me who was hit by a truck at an early age? My lower jaw has been at forty-five degrees to my upper jaw ever since. I can’t chew so well. That’s what has made me crotchety; wouldn’t it you? Come to think of it that’s probably what made me a film star.