Friday, 4 November 2011

Freewheelin’ in India - Day 18: Loco-motive for murder

‘Fucking fan’, I said to myself as I awoke to see it slowing to a standstill at 7.30am. That music was pumping again, rolling drums sounding off tempo and a boiling hot room aren’t two of my favourite factors for a decent sleep, but checkout was at 10, so I laid there as long as I could bear it before getting showered and ready to leave. I had no more clean clothes, so I bought two new casual lightweight tunic shirts to roll around in, collected our train tickets to Udaipur and got a new leather-bound notebook bought for me by Sarah, to replace the near-finished one that I’ve been writing poems on the go into. I’d been craving a day to relax by a pool in the sun, and have a swim, so we jumped into an auto rickshaw which took us to Jagat Palace Hotel, which was a really expensive place Sarah had found that let you use their pool for a fee. It had great gardens with swings and beautiful, well maintained rows of flowers which seemed to be getting constantly watered by one of the large number of staff at hand.

We ate lunch at the poolside, as the burning sun beamed down on us at the hottest part of the day, and got speaking to an American couple who recommended a nice hotel in Udaipur, after I told them how I wanted to stay in a nice place for the last night or two. I spent the next three hours listening to The Beatles and jumping in and out of the pool for laps every five minutes until it was time to shower and leave for the next dreaded train-ride. The hotel had booked us an expensive lift to the station in Ajmer, but it was worth it to have a nice car for once, instead of having beeps blasting your face off whilst fearing imminent impact in the Tuk-tuks.

Sarah was adamant that we cut costs so to save the equivalent of £2, our tickets were booked in the general section, one of the lower class areas. I don’t think that ‘lower class’ could accurately describe the reprobates in this carriage, these cunts made the floor seem high, they were that low. I realised this right away, when a guy was practically climbing over women and children’s faces to get a seat that probably didn’t belong to him anyway. Everybody adopted this mentality and it was a gross display of humanity, watching everyone fight their way on instead of patiently boarding in a civilised manner. I was strong-arming everybody that was coming near to crush my lady, whilst spitting disgust at what I’d just been thrown in to, a pit of hungry wolves, and to make matters worse, we realised that we were sat separately on opposite ends of the carriage.

Once I got Sarah seated, I made my way back through the bloodbath to find four people squashed onto a narrow three-seater bench, two of whom were in my seat. I was near breaking point by the time I got there, and asked them to move, which they luckily did. Unfortunately, they only moved into the space right in front of me, so I had these two sweaty dudes standing right in my leg space, practically on top of me, whilst every other row remained free from intruders standing between the seats. It must have been as my row was closest to the door that they wanted to be there, as there was no other explanation, even though that’s not much of a reason in itself, there’s over an hour in-between each stop. To add insult to injury, there was another older fat guy leaning over my seat, with his chubby fingers constantly touching the back of my head every time either one of us moved. It was really grating, so after the fifth time I turned back to signify it was bothering me, but it continued until I finally turned again and asked the guy to stop touching my head. The surrounding guys laughed, talking in Hindi about me, the wormy looking, bald bastard that had been in my seat saying something to me, with my response being to put my hand bang on top of his head, saying “I’m going to leave this here for half an hour, let me know when it becomes annoying”. They all laughed some more, as did I, half cracked-up from the humorous side of the happenings, the other half cracking under the pressure of it all, whilst also constantly having to look towards the far away area which my lady was sitting in, worried that she’d also be enduring all kinds of problems with the perverted and immoral ingrates that unjustly inhabit an otherwise innocent body.

I haven’t fully switched in as far back as I can currently remember, and didn’t want it to happen here, so I turned to my trusty ‘other method’ of overcoming anger, and wrote a poem about what was peeving me. It helped for a while, until the same guy decided to antagonise me again, forcefully kneeing my long legs in order to give him an extra millimetre. That was it, he made me lose my cool, and that ain’t cool! I told them to move somewhere else, pointing to the other rows saying “LOOK! LOOK! NO ONE THERE, OR THERE, OR THERE, BUT YOU TWO BOTH HERE ON TOP OF ME, LAUGHING LIKE THIS IS FUNNY TO YOU”. The other guy in my personal space told me to calm down then said something in Hindi which amused the others and infuriated me. I responded “I’M A HUMAN BEING FOR FUCKS SAKE, YOU DON’T TREAT PEOPLE LIKE THIS”. I heard one of them utter “This is India” and replied “THAT’S NO EXCUSE, YOU’RE A BUNCH OF FUCKING DOGS WITH NO DIGNITY, YOU GIVE YOUR COUNTRY A BAD NAME”. Almost instantly a translucent white light broke through the red mist, like an angel entering Hell in order to retrieve a misplaced soul. I looked up to see Sarah, unaware of what was happening and delivering news that the guy next to her had offered to switch seats with me. I jumped up, with the two cretins pushing towards my seat before I could even leave it, and followed her back through the ocean of bodies, to the other side of the carriage where a rotund old chap asked me to show him to the seat. I fought my way back into the dark depths with him, told my enemies that it was now my portly pals place to sit, and swam back to my mermaid.

Heaven seemed a lot better than Hell, but it still wasn’t perfect. Too many seekers of seats that are spoken for seemed to cause trouble up there too, and soon after my arrival I witnessed another epic argument between two Indian men which made me feel a lot better about my earlier outburst, as I was disappointed that it happened, but it turns out that it’s a common occurrence. We’re all just primates, after-all, you cram us into a narrow cage for too long and we’ll start fighting to get out.
My love for babies continued with a cute little chubster named Krishna, initially freaking him out with my big grin, before playing peek-a-boo to make him laugh whilst the surrounding passengers looked on in amusement. He was with his mother and grandmother, whom I’d helped with putting her bags up and passing things to her a few times, and they shared their home-made dinner with us, which after a few hours of riding and rioting, went down like Goliath to David’s stone.

After a stop another fight ensued between two old boys, one of whom was trying to claim a seat as his, without a ticket to confirm. At one point during the ruckus, this white haired wannabe fat cat pulled out some ancient I.D. which looked like either an army, or rail company card perhaps, but it didn’t hold much weight with the other guy, or his friends. They kept kicking off with each other, across my chest, as I sat in the middle smiling. The fat cat was persona non grata amongst everyone for a long time, sitting smarmily in his seat until an inspector came, and made him move into a different carriage.

I wrote for the rest of our journey into the night, as baby Krishna slept on Sarah’s leg, and we arrived in ‘India’s most romantic’ city, physically and emotionally drained and ready to crash. We asked our rickshaw driver for Gangaur Palace, he tried to take us to his Dad’s hotel, we kindly declined. We checked into spacious, comfy room 305, which set us back £5 a night, and smoked a bed present on the balcony before I read Sarah pages from my book of poems, and some diary entries. Inspired to continue, I continued, and my time slipped away with every click of a key.

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