We zigged and zagged our way through narrow alleys lined with tall buildings, wandering roughly in the direction of UNESCO-listed Jantar Mantar. Gazing upwards we saw countless skeletons of brightly coloured kites tangled among the spaghetti of cables and wires, which hold all of India’s cities together.
Shunning the easy option, we struggle into walking boots for our trek to sacred Kechopari Lake. Legend has it that birds keep the water pure by carrying away any floating twigs and leaves.
I emerge through layers of sleep to the sound of shouting and something metallic rat-a-tat-tatting against our hull. It’s just after dawn, and we are anchored in the Red Sea near the border between Eritrea and Djibouti.
We ask them where we should go for the best view of Kanchenjunga. Jiwan tells us to avoid Tiger Hill, where the noisy domestic tourists from Darjeeling come by Jeep every morning. Deven insists we try the view from 10,170ft Tonglu: it’s closer (just) and clearer.
I lie back and look up. There is no moon. We have sailed far enough south to see Scorpius crawling across the sky in its dazzling entirety, home to my favourite star, the fiery red Antares, “rival of Mars.” Beautiful. A small shooting star switches on and off for a second: blink and you’d miss it. I make a wish. The night wraps itself around me.
“I’m up!” I shout through the hatch. It is 03:00 hours. “Nothing much happening,” says the skipper as he climbs down the companionway. “Keep a 360-degree lookout, stay in the cockpit and come and get me if you are worried about anything.” The usual mantra.