Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Freewheelin' in India - Day 6: Feeling sick, and looking slick.

After a night struggling to switch off, and listening to Joanna Newsom’s usually soothing ‘Y’s’ album on repeat, I was woken by my jigsaw puzzle piece around 8am, only three and a half hours later than I’d finally drifted.

Sarah felt even worse than the previous night, so we slowly packed the pains in our back after an hour of pillow talk and checked out, leaving our bags there to collect later. The Sun had finally shown it’s scorching supremacy, burning down and changing the town, but unfortunately we were off on a train to Agra in a few hours.

We grabbed some breakfast in a nearby café and spoke to the proprietor about yesterday’s mayhem. The Indian Times newspaper stated that thirty people had died due to the storm and that a few buildings collapsed, injuring even more.

We went to collect our train tickets, then visited Baba’s again to collect the Emperor’s new clothes. The fit wasn’t quite up to scratch, so they took all three in, there and then, whilst we laid on the padded floor, under a cool fan. After an hour there, we left in order to collect the other shirts I’d had copied for me in the Main Bazaar.

Before we could get anywhere near we were offered Bong Lassi’s by some weathered faced old man on the street. I didn’t know what they were, but Sarah explained that they were the yoghurt-like milkshakes, with a load of weed mixed in. I asked if he had mushrooms and he said yes, so we followed him down more amazing mazes, towards where the crater was yesterday. After asking him of his location, I realised that he was actually the seller that we had been looking for the previous day. I said that we’d find him, but I didn’t think he would find us. Yet another sign that shows me that I’m on the right path, right place, right time and can create whatever I wish for with positive thought.

It took us ten or fifteen minutes to get back to his workplace, via more cow-filled back-alleys full of various colours, mainly brown on the floor and smelling deliciously disgusting.

Upon entry he gave me my first ever plain Lassi for free, whilst we discussed quantities and price. It was really tasty, sweet and cooling after our march through the melting mid-day heat. He came back to us with fifty grams of Mushroom chocolates and ten grams of weed for around £20, which I added to our collection of good, clean fun that we’d acquired.
We found our way back to my tailor and collected my seven new tops which I was really happy with. We then got lost in yet another back-alley mission, before finding our way with little time to spare, and grabbing our bags from Modern Vision Guesthouse. After a few days using only toilets, I had to crap in my first hole. ‘nuff said. Dropping our heavy loads in-front of a waiting auto rickshaw, we hopped on stating Varanasi train station as our required destination.

It occurred to me that I should stash our supplements better before boarding the train, so I took a sock from my backpack, and the weed and mushrooms out of my bag to hide. No sooner had I had my hands full of fun, did a uniformed copper jump on-board in order to hitch a ride. He turned back to check me out, and I coolly smiled and pretended I was looking for something uninteresting in my bag, pulling out my malaria tablets with an ‘Oh, there they are’ look on my face. He turned back, and I breathed a silent sigh of relief before slyly stuffing my sock with our secret stash.

We were in a rush, and although we never mentioned this to the driver, he drove like his wife was about to give birth to triplets and he needed one final fare before he could get there. He beeped constantly, nearly crashed every minute or two, and at one point forced a cyclist to swerve to safely after navigating a blind junction like a demon bull in a shop full of red china.

With a few minutes spare we were there, and ran with our heavy loads, up and down each platform with no clue as to where our incoming train would stop, and no one to help us. At the ninth platform with both of us ready to cry or combust, we were approached by the Japanese speaking Indian guide who was on our train to Varanasi. On that train he had seemed a slight nuisance, sitting on our sleepers chatting to the old Asian lady he was guiding and hanging around like a bad smell when we needed to lay in our bed, however this time his face brought with it a completely different feeling. Relief. Crazy how he found us when we were most in need, right time, right place once again. It turned out we were on the same train, but it was delayed. The old Japanese lady seemed happy to see me, even though on our last journey together I had whacked her arm after seeing it digging through our curtain in the dark carriage, thinking it was a thief poking around where our bags were. Turns out she’d climbed down from her top bunk and was just looking for her shoes.

We sat on the shit smeared platform floor with hundreds of waiting Indians. I wrote a few new poems into my book, one about finding comfort on the ground, which I was doing at the time, the other about shitting yourself, which I was hoping not to do, and following a few hours of waiting our locomotive rolled in.

We put our beds down, ready to rest right away, but I was feeling wiggy, what with the constant creepy crawlies that were congregating in our carriage. I’ve never been a fan of insects, except flies, as I’m the lord of them, but it seems they are a fan of me, my arms and feet tattooed with bulging bite marks that I can’t help but scratch the shit out of. I complained to Sarah that no humans ever  give me grief as they can tell that I’m a good person, whereas mosquitos don’t have the same skills of judgement, and seem to love the taste of my Mediterranean blood (kind of like the women in London).

After a while talking, having a snuggle on the narrow beds, and working out a plan of action for the following day, Sarah hopped into her sleeper to snooze. I spent a while scrolling through snaps of my beautiful friends, who are the greatest wealth I could ever have acquired, then sat with my feet hanging from the train’s side door smoking a Marlboro and looking across at the vast, dark landscape we were sadly leaving behind.

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