I’m still here at the Starvation Spa, determined to make up in the second week for the privations of the first. Cruelly, the Spa has one of the 50 best restaurants in the world according to some magazine or other, and the aromas had tormented me throughout the fast. But an odd thing has happened: I now want to eat fruit, salads, steamed vegetables, goat yoghurt, occasional fish. I bounce out of bed at 6.30 a.m., though I haven’t had a cup of coffee in two weeks. I’m all shiny. You’d find me obnoxious.

Aside from food, the other great delight here is the company I keep. On a one-week vacation, I’d never give up a precious day to spend with, say, a psychologist who’d lived in India for thirty years, or a professor of Criminology, or a landmine control activist, or a San Francisco software engineer (okay, maybe the latter). But with an open-ended year ahead, I can putter about from one to another, listening to their stories like a little girl at bedtime. I feel rich in people. And I’m starting to believe my life’s work lies in persuading others not to miss out on their own lives.