Friday, 30 May 2008

India Travel Diaries: Random Travel Tales

After the previous post, I have been meaning to give an update of the latest travel tales but the grueling schedule has kept me from doing so. Travelling from MP-Delhi-Bihar-Delhi-AP-Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi (excluding all the towns and the villages I went to) for 45 days makes you realize how much you can really miss home. And it’s still not over!


Because when you bump into walls, tables and beds in different hotel rooms, purple bruises pop up. And then you fall down the stairs and you knee gets injured and you hobble around with purple bruise and a swollen knee.


And then you come home to sleep in your own bed, wake up in the middle of the night and see the door is open and think someone has entered your hotel room and you need to scream and call the reception. Then realization strikes you that you are in your own home.

And then you ask to eat karela, tinda, lauki, tori and salivate at the thought of eating kichdi. Since you are home for a day or two, you can’t eat it all. So when you go to your next destination and stay in a fancy hotel and your colleagues go out to eat super specialty Far East Asian cuisine, you politely refuse and order kichdi for room service and it tastes like heaven.


In the middle of it all, in an obscure village in Bihar, the drunk ex-sarpanch and his cronies will threaten you and the current sarpanch will jump to help you and tell you to register a police case. So yeah, you start getting visions of you getting killed in a local village-politics war and the fact no one will come to know about it. And before that happens, you will have to think quickly on your feet, diffuse the situation, work quickly and get out of there alive!


The condition of the roads will be terrible, as if no roads exist in that particular district of Bihar. The potholes are mini craters and travelling for an hour and a half (one side) every day would mean that 1. Your food gets churned (and digested?) really fast 2. You get a full body massage 3. You intestines jump up to meet the brain, the pancreas gets lodged in the liver, the spleen decides to switch over and go to the other side of the body. So for the first time, you take a day’s rest before moving to the next destination.


In MP, you will go to a village where all the curious kids will surround you. And to beat the heat, you will stand under a mango tree laden with raw, green mangoes. Of course the kids will jump up and pluck the raw mangoes and eat them nonchalantly. Then they will ask you to eat, you will refuse but their bright smiles will melt you. The sour taste will hit you hard, really hard. And they will grin and laugh at you and you will join them and have a good laugh at yourself.

While in a village in AP, tribal men with spears will surround you and you will think that since you are pint sized and don’t have much meat, you wont make a nice meal for them. Since you can’t speak their language, you will have no way of communicating that thought. They will peak into your car and when you get down, follow you. That’s when you will spot your translator at distance and wave frantically at him. He will then come and tell you that these are village guards and messengers. It’s their job to know about any new ‘happening’ in the village. Then they will pose for your camera, get their pictures taken and you will shyly join them for a photo, inwardly relieved that you are not their dinner for the day.


Of course you will also get to touch a real tortoise and fishes and goats and cows and new born calves respectively in all the states. By day 40, the smell of cow dung won’t make you crinkle up your nose. In fact you won’t even notice the smell.


In the midst of this, bird shit will fall on your notebook. Which will be an ice-breaker for village kids in AP. Through sign language, they will produce water and a cloth to wipe it away. And in broken English-Telgu, they’ll tell you it’s a sign of good luck.


And in all the villages, the village elders will ask your age and wonder why you are not married as yet. Then they will be scandalized that you travel and work with men. And that you belong to a mixed caste. And they will nod wisely and say, “Yeh sab Dilli may hota hai.” It’s a very foreign concept for them.


You will meet a girl, the first from her village, to go and study MCA and with dreams of working in the IT industry. You will go to another village where a 20 year old girl is a mother of a one year old child. And in another, she is in a ghoonghat which covers her face and neck and she won’t talk to you at all.


While in Mumbai traveling in front of a slum, a child will suddenly jump in front of your car, the driver will slam the brakes, while the child will grab a pigeon and put it in his shirt. The driver will turn back to you and say, “He will go home and cook this.” you are not sure if you should believe him.


I still have a few more days of travel. More travel diaries might pop up if something interesting happens. Meanwhile, there has been a development on a personal-professional front. Pray that things fall in place for me while I keep my fingers crossed.



taureandude_23 said...

hey NG
its a sheer pleasure to read your travelougues:D wow 45 days of travel. yeah i know its damn hectic, but then i dont think you would have got to go to these places on your own. thats one aspect that can be a positive in professions sometimes. you really get to go to places where you otherwise wouldnt have even thought of. n thanks to you travels we kinda get a glimpse of rural India. in Bihar, MP, AP.

3rd para was quite amusing:D
Village kids are very enthusiastic. I remember how i fascinated the kids in my village were when i used to shoot with my camera. one little girl used to get superangry on me when i used to do abstract photography:D it was fun. and interacting with the kids in their tongue is sheer pleasure:d

the 3rd last para really gives us an idea of the contrasts we can see in our country. I feel a person who hasnt visited Rural India is in a kind of a cocoon. theres so much to explore there, and it really does change ones perspective on many things.

reg Mumbais kabootar boy:D o dont belive the cabbie. In Mumbai kids have a habit of taming pigeons. no wonder there are thriving Kabootar Khanas all around Mumbai, be it Gateway or Dadar etc.

chal dats enuff from my end:D n all the very best 4 ur personal-professional thing:D

take care

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hi TD!

The travelling has been quite hectic and I sometimes loath that I have to hop over from one place to another but I am glad to be able to do this… coz as you said… I wud never have got a chance to do this on my own and I love love love traveling thru the real India.. not the ‘insulated’ city hopping-travelling

The 3rd para incident is something I’ll always remember :D I’ve travelled b4 too and its never happened.. but then the max I did was 21 days… not like 45 days!

The village kids there are so different… unlike the i-know-it-all city kids… they are more forth coming and are mostly amused when you do city people things like drink bottled water or move away if a cow comes near you… but yeah.. its interesting… I remember every where I went…. they were really fascinated by my phone cam I had to take everyone’s pic coz they wanted to see it… the phone memory became full!

As for the situation of women and girls….The contrast is there to see… its very glaring.. I’ve seen women in southern Indian villages being key decision makers in their homes and then I went to central India where women have no rights :(

You know the Mumbai cabbie was so serious when he told me that :D I was like… what?? Are you sure and he nodded his head vigously!! Lol

btw.. loved the new photos on your blog.. will come over there an drop a comment soon...

You take care as well!!

Vrij said...

Wonderful diaries I must say.. I'm enjoying those.. and also wish that I was part of ur entourage.. I so wanna do these trips..

And I'm assuming that u visited Hyderabad during ur travails in AP.. but still u did not contact me.. cud have just left a comment that ur visiting... it would have been a pleasure to meet u.. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Kamesh said...

Hi N:)

Am visualising your experiences and how you have dealt with the incidents you mentioned..
You are having the experiences of a lifetime!!
Your posts make a good reading, but I can somewhat imagine what u have been through..
Return home and we will talk.. its been a long time.. and i haven't been regular too.

Yeh personal-professional development ka kya chakkar hai :D:D:D kuch kuch ho raha hai kya???

Jo bhi hai, my prayers are with u and here's wishing u the very best with everything in life!

Take good care of yourself!

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hi Vrij,

I am having the time of my life!!

in case we need a train expert or a dentist i'll defintiley remember you and make you a part of our entourage :D

I am sorry... I was in Hyd and was thinking of you but we were travelling to a lot of villages and left early morning and came back late at night.. it was crazy!!

Next time.. i'll give you a call... :)

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Kamesh,
I totally am!!!

I'll give you a call when I get anchored in Delhi... I am still travelling!! Am back to MP now...

Yeh jo chakkar hai uska announcement ek blog-post may hi hoga... stay tuned ;)

thanks a lot for the wishes :)

You take care as well!!

moai said...

Rasta dunya Hai?

Pramod said...

Awesome read!!!! Great experiences and I guess theres lessons for life in there somewhere!!!!

n.aka.zephyr said...

Salut Moai!
Comment ca va?

Haan.. rasta duniya hai :)

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hi Rp,
Thanks! Apart from work, I learnt a lot of things in this trip....

And the trip is about to get over ... i want it to continue :)strange na?

when i was there i wanted to be home and when i am almost home i want to be there...