The Making of Sharpe's Peril

Last Update: 19 Oct 2008

Having served on Sharpe's Challenge, I knew exactly what to expect from India.

Leaving the aeroplane at Delhi, the 40 degrees C of heat hit me and my travelling companion (Charley, the 2nd AD on Sharpe's Peril) like the exhaust from the take-off of a space-shuttle. Due to delays at Heathrow, we were twenty minutes late on arriving on a scheduled flight and with only half an hour left to get the next connection to Khajuraho but transferring from International to the Domestic Terminal was easy - I was met by a fixer and his pal (the simple transfer of a £5 note and a cigar to his pal - he'd never seen a cigar before and the tip was more than he usually earned in a week) saw the suitcases quickly thrown into the back of the car and off we went, recollecting my Indian from last time "Jaldi ! Jaldi !" (which means Quickly! Quickly! in Hindoo - you don't add Please as this detracts from the imperative coming from a sahib) as we did have a financial transfer to accommodate along the way.

To cut a long and tedious story short, we made it five minutes late so I persuaded an official to hold the aeroplane for my companion claiming his car had broken down - but we duly boarded and arrived at Khajuraho on time.

The first stop - de rigeur - was at the Film Production Office to report our arrival, drop off all the items brought over and receive our local accommodation orders. Within fifteen minutes in arriving at the adjacent hotel - through a thirty minute conversation with the barman, Om Prakesh (usually a good repository in India of the most useful advice) - I began to learn the things about Khajuraho you don't read in the film-brief or the tourist bumpf.

Equipped with this local knowledge after 'tiffin' (gin and tonic or tea and biscuits) down-town Khajuraho was my first stop that night to seek sustenance via the ubiquitous 'rickshaw' - a three-wheeled man-powered bicycle for those not in a hurry to get anywhere so most use the three-wheeled Indian contrivance known as a 'put-put' (a motor-scooter fitted with an accommodation behind to carry two persons).

I wore my Tilley hat and this proved to become my personal identification in all future proceedings in Khajuraho. Within a week (as Adam of the 95th Rifles may imply in his report on I was on first-name terms with most of the 'useful' population of Khajuraho.

Three weeks from the end of filming, we were experiencing daytime temperatures averaging 42 degrees - and once or twice, 45 degrees. This photograph was taken as 'proof' - the thermometer was left out in the sun for ten minutes and the plastic casing badly warped. It's an acquired taste as Indian 'white beer' (non-alcoholic) is quite salty but once you get used to it is a quite refreshing drink in this weather. I often took to sleeping out on a charpoy during March as when the air-conditioning came on in the rooms it nearly blew you out of bed …





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