Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Freewheelin’ in India - Day 21: The beginning of the end

We said farewell to the comfortable bed and hot shower and packed in preparation for another night on a sleeper train back to New Delhi, the wheels were now in motion for our journey home. We checked out by mid-day and had breakfast at the poolside, where we got chatting to a Liverpuddlian traveller named Michael who’d been travelling alone for a good few months. He was a gas engineer on oil rigs, which pretty much made him a made man, and man, he had it made. He told us how he’d work for a few months a year, and the rest of the time was paid vacation, which basically meant they covered all the costs of his travels. Feeling fulfilled I wished Sarah and Michael goodbye before catching a ride back to my tailor Praveen’s store to collect my jacket. I tried it on, but wasn’t keen on its vertical double border, as I was under the impression it would be a single strip and cover less of the coat. He took it back for the tailor to rectify, along with instructions for two white business shirts which I decided to have tailor-made to go with my forthcoming three-piece suits back in Delhi. I was told he would deliver them personally to my hotel at 4pm, and I left to do a brief bit of gift shopping.

I was approached by a shop-keeper who said “Do you know Danny DeVito?” I said yes, and he replied “I’m his Indian brother”. I did a double-take and realised he was indeed a great likeness to our favourite Penguin, before being swept into his store for another round of business. His likeness did him well, if he’d looked like Bob Hoskins I’d have been less enthused.

I went back to the hotel and swam a few laps whilst getting to know Michael, sharing tales of life travelling and back home being beasts. Turns out he is friends with some big swinging dicks of the drug trade back in Liverpool, young guys in their mid-twentys who were already swimming in millions of pounds worth of dirty money, well, dirtier money, that shit is stained with the blood of many men before it is even created out of thin air by the Devil incarnate. He told me of a friend who is a chemist and makes his own pills to sell, along with a special batch of 250 or so for friends, which were like popping the power of every superhero rolled into one, then being thrown into a nightclub like the Tazmanian devil. I told him I’d be in touch.

Michael made a move and Sarah and I had a light lunch whilst waiting for Praveen who was running late. He arrived just before we needed to leave and Sarah unhappily looked over his work, which she wasn’t that impressed with. I was happier, but agreed that it could’ve been made even better had he listened to her instructions properly the previous day. We bid him, Alex and the waiting staff farewell and jumped into a rickshaw. The driver said “Hey flower power, you want any smoke?” but I declined before asking if we could smoke now. He said yes, so I sparked up a joint that I’d rolled for some pre-thirteen hour train ride relief as we zipped through traffic, and arrived at the station with time to spare and still half a spliff. We finished it whilst being mobbed by some poor little street kids who looked post-apocalyptic with their get-up and grubby cheeks. We passed out a few coins then boarded our train which was on-time and waiting.

Typically, I had gotten ill just before having to go home, so I’d be returning from sunny India with a cold. ‘How very British’ I thought to myself as I flooded a roll of toilet tissue with my dripping hooter, whilst the train rolled us closer to our final destination. There wasn’t much in the form of entertainment, but our trusty deck of cards kept us occupied for the first two hours, playing Shithead and Blackjack for money, which again saw us end up happily all square. All of the best relationships are based on equality. We spent another hour or so doing arrow words, then by 9pm most of the people around us were readying for sleep and turning off the cabin lights, so we were soon reduced to darkness, as shadows scurried all around us. Sarah lay in my arms and we spoke for hours into the night, letting each other further into our respective histories as we laid brick and mortar, building a strong base for our joint future to thrive.

After a midnight kiss in our carriage, Sarah jumped up onto the top bunk that I had made comfortable for her with blankets and bedding, and hung her hand down for me to hold a while, until we were both rock-a-bye’d like babies on the train-track tree-top, and fell asleep.

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