I apologise for the use of swear words in this blog but sometimes they are necessary! :)
F has just left and it is still dark. Time to get my shit together. Finish packing, contact lenses, brush teeth, check room, leave. I have got half an hour to walk through the jungle, through a rice paddy, along an old road through the village to get to Gokarna Bus Station to meet M who is arriving from Hampi who has hopefully already met F and we all catch the 6-45 bus to Karuna, Kerala. Right.
Arrive Bus Station..
See L who has also arrived for bus, having already missed his bus the night before and ending up sleeping in a shop where we had dinner with two super cool Indian guys who cooked for us and I bought some baggy 'clothesies.'
Still with me?
It gets complicated.
M nowhere to be seen, Hampi bus no where to be seen, no clear answers from station bus chaps. F gone to look for him whilst L and I guard luggage, drink Chai and watch the local people hop on and off local buses. Cows and calves wander in and around the station, women in full Muslim dress, men in loin cloths, people husking on the floor.
Bus to Keruna arrives, me and L load all the bags onto already packed local open sided bus in a rugby scram, bus is about to leave. Unload all luggage and help elderly barefooted and slightly mad Indian lady with bags of vegetables she has left on the station in an a panic. Carry heavy bags stuffed with green leaves to bus for lady and she frantically waves her arms around saying something in Indian as we load her vegetables for her onto the step…
They are not hers! Someone with a tiny English calls through the window. ' Not hers!'
Oh. Take bags of veg off bus to much local amusement!
F arrives with M …… He was dropped off at 4am and has been sleeping on beach on F's Crash Mat under the full moon….he is Knackered …. been travelling all night.
Decide to get another bus to Mangalore….. load bags …get reasonable seats near driver, 6-7 hours on bus. Siting next to a lovely little pair of Muslim Indian girls and their Mother sitting with me and we play driving the bus and tickling. Get given snacks but they are dry and strange so pretend to eat whilst surreptitiously transfer into pants pocket. Damn Hot.
Arrive Mangalore, feeling relatively OK and happy. Ask a dozen different people about a bus to Keruna with F and get a dozen different answers. Amazing atmosphere. No Westerners anywhere and a lot of interest in us, lolloping around. We kind of gather that the bus is at 5-30pm 4 hours….….. Go for Chai and share a Tali. In Hotel (- restaurant in Indian - just food) Chai man waiter is charmed. We sit and drink sweet hot Chai and chill out for a bit….…..Move around the station a bit …… Train is at 4-30pm platform 12. Attempt a game of back gammon. M attempts to shut his eyes but gets told ' he is not allowed to sleep on the bench by tight trousered Indian station guard with a shed load of self importance and a canny smile. He has a long thin stick. Chai man appears ... he wants to marry me.... He says he loves me too much and keeps shaking my hand with hot sweaty tickles in my palm. Don't want to marry him!
Bus has broken down. Another bus coming in an hour…. 5-30. Bus arrives 6-29 on the dot, the rot is being to set. The journey from entertainingly excellent but hardcore Hell begins.
The bus journey is like nothing you have ever experienced before. Kamikaze Indian driver…. our lives have no value. Its dark, the roads are terrible, pot holes, dust, traffic, trucks, flashing lights, heavy horns, roads…dust, blue lit metal bus, open sided except for metal shutters if you want them, like human cattle being rattled around in a truly Indian experience….. Now this is a journey to rattle all of your senses and leave you vibrating. Forget 'Die Hard' and Bruce Willis…. this is the real deal. A near to death experience every three seconds on the front row. The driver continuously charges obliviously around the flammable gas truck in front ignoring the 3 rickshaws and heavy truck lights coming right at us, the huge pot holes, the pedestrian pilgrims, the dark bends. Most of the time he slams on the brakes and has to pull back in and our lives continue but often he charges ahead despite what is in front.
10pm - Stop in dark busy dusty small town for refreshments, all the locals jump off for chai and we prize our stiff and vibrating bodies out of the bus to stretch …. feel dizzy.
Nowhere to go for a pee so I have to quietly squat behind a car keeping my head down and in the shadows as much as possible. Heavy traffic trucks scream past.
Fall to sleep for a weird hour rattling around on bus. Dirty, tired and homeless. 11pm. Arrive Keruna, the armpit of Kerala.
A couple of local clowns offer to show us accommodation, we end up walking around the city without great communication, three of us knackered.
Having walked about 2k in a large circle we quit goose chase through empty car parks and shitty dark alleys. Have communication meeting. Find rickshaw. Manage to explain to driver about needing guest house.
Arrive, hostel 1 - full and empty at the same time. No room at the INN!
Hear of another hotel … need a bed now. Bad Calma setting in. Feel really dizzy. Arrive in overpriced Indian guest house with sparkly lights and formal front desk. Enter dark damp dingy room with small double bed and damp window seat, the smell is overwhelming, a mixture of mold and sewage. The only thing missing is dead fish.
Don't feel great at all. F don't feel great at all. M exhausted. Despite cold sweat, complain about room and have conflab with Indian guy about broken handles, lights, toilet, damp, stains and price. Mention International standards and try to look as I really mean business, sweat running between my boobs. Get discount. Return to damp window bed and try to sleep. Wake up. I am sick. Hold red plastic jug between knees, let go. Go from hot to freezing in waves. Breathe in the dank shitty overpowering smell of old dirty drains. Puke.
There was nothing nice about this.
Lie back down in stinking haze, damp in my brain. F follows the same moves but by the time she returns I am asleep. M starts snoring, mosquitoes are biting.
Wake up. Its nearly Christmas.
We have to turn things around today. This hotel is sucking our good cal ma.
Today has to be better. Don't feel to bad considering. Everybody still smiling. Everybody still alive. Everybody together.
Aghhhh an Indian Christrmas! And it gets weirder!
Festive feeling it Lou....
HAPPY CHRISTMAS ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
With very best wishes and love Louiji X