After a banana leaf supper of rice, dhal, vegetable curry and pickles - all you can eat for Rs 20 - we went around the corner and down a flight of steps into the bar. The guys who had been there before had nicknamed it 'Misery Central'.
Light was provided only by a few dim bulbs over the bar. The rest of the room was in darkness. This was probably a good thing. There were 2 ceiling fans, which worked in alternation, depending on which one was squeaking more. The walls were covered in strange stains, but the colour was hard to discern in the darkness. The barman looked as if the will to live had deserted him years ago.
The choice of alcohol was between whisky - "Officers Choice" and beer - "He-Man 9000". We opted for beer. The barman plonked the dusty bottles on our table with the bottle opener and our glasses. That was the last we saw of him until we paid our bills. The bottle opener was so rusty that foam poured out of the bottles until we managed to prise the lids off.
We had 2 Canadians in our party and the conversation turned to 'Famous Canadians'. They were both strangely reluctant to claim Celine Dion - "She's from Quebec" - as one of theirs. Then we went onto nominations for "World's most Depressing City". I went for Rotherham.
We were kicked out when the barman turned the lights off. Although the difference was hard to spot. So we paid up and walked back up to the hostels under a moonlit and star-filled sky. It was only 10.30pm but that He-Man 9000 doesn't half have a bit of a kick to it!
Words and Pictures © Louise Heal 2008