09 February, 2008

gettin here: part one

The journey here...I left my house at 7pm on Monday, 4th Feb. I was not really sure how i was getting to the train station. In Mumbai you have many travel choices, all falling along the scale of expensive to cheap. I always want to say "fuck it" and go expensive, but then I remember "I choose this life I have to live it" and go cheap. I took a auto-rickshaw to the local train. Local train to Santa Cruz station then another rik to the long distance train station. The local train was unusually not crowded, which I took to be a good omen, normally it is impossible. The rik to the long distance train however took forever, one and half hours. I was nervous my train was to embark at 10p and it was 9:30 when I arrived. At the end the driver asked for more money, I just laughed and walked away. I had never been to this station before but was able to find my train easily. on the platform you have to wait under these signs that are labeled according to which train car you are booked in. under my car sign was a midget Muslim family...I though I had died and gone to heaven...if only one of those Mexican wolf guys had been there I might have spontaneously combusted. Sadly they moved to a different car when we were told to board. Tear. Unfortunatly my compartment mates where not as interesting. They sort of ignored my existence for about the first 20 minutes. A conversation started between the guys there and they kept pointing at me and speaking to me in Hindi, they wanted something. I called my Indian friend xerxes (the date) and he figured out they wanted me to switch cars so a family could travel together. Since i wasn’t enamored my with the folks in my car I was fine with the shift. I went to the other car. It had the warmth of a morgue. There were, as best as I could count, seventy five thousand crying babies and just as many old women in burqas. I went back to my car and announced to nobody imparticular "fuck that" and retook my original seat.

Each individual car is divided into 9 areas for seating/sleeping. Within those 9 areas is place for 8 fold out beds and eight passengers. In true Indian style my area had 12 passengers. While I slept at night a guy sat on the edge of my bed...all night. When I bought my ticket I requested upper berth...I asked repeatedly "is this top berth?" "I have to have top berth!"..."yes!" "yes!" "yes!" I was told...I had bottom berth. Also known as "the suckiest berth". You have to wait for everyone to decide to sleep because the shared seat becomes your bed. Around 12:30 everyone went to sleep. So me, the guy at my feet, and my 12 new best friends all turned in.

It got cold at night, everyone was freezing, I didn't think it was bad. We got up at 6am. They were still not really interacting with me...language was a major problem, nobody spoke English. I took breakfast, then a nap, then lunch, then the boredom set in...1 hour...2 hours...they crawled by. I couldn’t really read because the train is so noisy with people talking and hawkers selling everything under the sun up and down the aisle. I had an idea...I pulled out my notebook, numbered the page one to twenty and asked the one guy that knew some English to teach me to count in Hindi. It turned out to be just the ice breaker we needed...we all became fast friends.

The rest of the trip was not too bad for being 35 hours long. A guy in the next birth spoke English. He became our translator. They all asked about sex in America. It’s a topic that every Indian man asks about. They have this idea that you can just have sex with any girl you want and anywhere you want. It’s really crazy and sort of upsetting the screwed up views some have about the US. At around noon on Wednesday we arrived at Gorakhpur, where I would catch a bus to the boarder of India and Nepal. It was strange how sad I felt when leaving the guys from the train. On some level we had actually become friends. I also was aware that my sadness came from the knowledge that I was not just leaveing these new friends but my beloved India as well.

In town I was told I would have to wait for 2 hours to get a local bus boarder. Then I was approached by this guy that took people in his "hummer like" jump for rs.100. I jumped in a truck built for six with ten other people and headed for the boarder. Two and half cramped hours later I was in Sunuli. the town is nothing but the boarder crossing between countries. Crossing the boarder was strange. First the jeep drops you just far enough from the boarder that you have to take one of the waiting cycle-rickshaws. Then they drop you in front of the "disembarking" customs office, which is no more than a store front with a desk. With passport stamped as “exiting India” you walk down this busy road to the boarder. There is no signage to tell you where to go or anything, it's really confusing. There are people everywhere, pushing, shoving and you’ve got baggage to boot, not fun. I asked a police man and he pointed across the street and turned his back. I found the visa/customs office and my visa was issued with no fuss or muss. Back on the street you just keep walking until you guess your now in Nepal. I turned and gave India one final look and set about booking a bus to Katmandu.

Just before I boarded my bus a guy putting luggage on top of the bus fell off and lay on the ground in front of the bus with blood pouring from his head. I went around to the other side and got on; people grabbed his legs and dragged him away.

Alright so that's part one...internet place is closing, its 10:30pm and this is the night of Nepal’s New Year...the year of the rat!!!

1 comment:

Gary said...

wait! wtf?? did he get shot in the head?!!

i have to say, reading your posts reminds me of that scene in rules of attraction where that guy is like traveling the world and it's a series of vignettes and he's narrating really fast. yea, it's like that, i can totally envision everything.

now i have to continue reading so i can catch up and then go back and read about this date you're mentioning. but i need to know that it's ok to send you certain things. i wanted to surprise you with a "care package" with a bunch of fun things but i thought some of it may be too trivial for customs or whatever and i don't want to get you in trouble. particularly cds, and things of a gay nature. let me know.

anyway, i love you. i miss you!