It was late February 1995 that my brother and I walked up 250 million steps to the top of a mountain, to see this large statue of Nandi, the sacred Bull, on the way to the Chamundeshwari Temple in Mysore, India.
As sun started to set, I took this photo and we began the long walk down. Before long, an elderly local gentleman, obviously well-used to this flight of steps and the altitude, caught up with us and stopped to ask us, “No stick?”, brandishing his stick to illustrate his point.
“What do you need a stick for?”, we asked. “Lepers”, he replied.
My brother and I laughed at the thought of our being beset my maurading lepers, and I had a vision of fighting a gang of them, in a scene resembling a Zombie film, with bits of their limbs falling off as we defended ourselves.
“Not lepers”, retorted our new friend. “Leopards!”
“What use would a stick be against a leopard?”, I asked him. He eyed our hands, empty except for a bottle of water and the ubiquitous Lonely Planet guidebook.
“Better than nothing”, he replied, scornfully, and resumed racing down the dark mountain.
I’ve never run down a staircase so fast in my life.