16. November 2002 10:24
india part 2
As I teetered in my seat on
the bus, trying to remind myself that I am, in fact, not feeling
ill, I was just dumbfounded by what I was seeing. I'm listening
to these successful government workers laugh and talk leisurely,
while our bus weaves in and out of a sea of cars, rickshaws,
water buffalo carts, loose cows and camels.
And for those of you who have never been to India, their highways
are a mixture of paved and dirt roads that have 3 lanes, though
no one uses them as a guideline. The bigger the transport,
the more 'right of way' it has. Oh, and a lot of intersections
don't have anything to tell you to stop... even when there
are hundreds of people on the highway (some are on bikes or
on foot too, walking through the cars when there is a pause).
As they are chatting about where they are going to vacation
next, I am focussed on the sudden crop up of various shanty
towns (tents, tarps, and cardboard) that are a stone's throw
away from the curb. Entire families living in... nothing but
pollution and dirt. Then I saw the 2 year old on the side
of the highway, all alone, to have his bowel movement in what
seemed to be the designated area. (that was a moment of 'where
the hell am I?).
Unreal. The pollution is overwhelming at times. I feel like
I have smoked 2 packs of cigarettes some mornings (no I haven't
had any). My inhaler is my best friend today.
So much has happened and my mind is goo. We hired a cabby
to take us around all day. He was a dapper Indian man with
a classic handlebar moustache and smashing green turban who
didn't speak a word of English. THAT was interesting. But
we saw some marvellous things and when he wasn't being a stoic
scary driver, he had an appeal to him (for instance, he thought
it was funny how I handled the men who surrounded our car
with items for sale).
I had mentioned to Penny that it was only a matter of time
before people started to ask for a picture with the blonde,
and it happened seconds afterwards. I had a good laugh, until
I too started getting invited into snapshots with young men,
people's children, married women... you name it. "Look
honey... white people. They must be rich or famous, or at
the very least, a rare thing in this part of the world. Lets
have them pose with our children".
I still am calculating how much I could get for Penny.
I'm going cross eyed here. Let me get my head straight. There
have been some spectacular things, but I am bogged down by
my first dreadful day of Delhi nonsense that started with
our driver being late, and missing our train to Jaipur, and
then getting stuck at the train station area (starts with
a P...but I cant remember it) which is the WORST section.
Trying to find a place to stay, having not 1, not 2, but 3
people try to pull classic scams (pretending to call a place
and let you talk to them so they can tell you there is no
room, but really calling a wrong number or their colleague,
for example; as well as places that claim to be government
run but they aren't - you realize this when they start to
And Penny and I did really
well (I was impressed), but being in such an aggressive part
of town has psyched me out a little (today was the first day
someone actually reached out to grab me on the street. I can
take the verbal hassle, but having someone come at me freaked
me out. Mind you, I won back my power when I saw another guy
try to block Penny in the street, and I came straight at him
with my shoulder, sending him spinning out of my way to avoid
the full blow). NOTE TO FRIENDS AND MOTHER: This is the first
time we've experienced this, and overall, everyone is harmless
and even very helpful.
(sending email again)
Next Mail: india : 3rd and last instalment
travelogue is part of the subside travelzine