Friday, November 11, 2011


By Fiz and Kathleen

A hellish bus ride south from Pokara, that included a loud argument with the bus drivers (which we lost), and a ride on top of a jeep, brought us to the border crossing to India.  From there us and our travel companions had two options either we make do with the mediocre accommodations, with no information of the bus timings in India, or we could cross and hope for better beds, with India’s idea of a bus schedule. We opted to cross.

The hotel should be casted in a horror flick set in India.  The place was creepy.  We walked in just before dusk and when we walked inside it was pitch black. We wandered in bumping into walls and the first person carrying a flashlight was a family of Indian tourists.  Some one brushed past us to go kick on the generator.  The din it raised shattered the silence of the hotel.

The room had that, accidental overdose kind of d├ęcor that’s so popular amongst cheap stays in Asia and we left the light on all night to prevent cockroaches from appearing.

Food was another issue, there were no restaurants in Sunali so we settled for cold deep fried sandwiches and samosa and chai from a tiny street vendor. We ate in what we later realized was their bedroom/living room/ kitchen.

Let me pause for a moment and explain “ we”. There was the two of us, a young German couple and a solo-woman from Taiwan. We didn’t really talk, we weren’t really friends but for two days and two nights we found food together, took busses and trains together and slept under the same roof. This is called safety in numbers and it the unspoken agreement is, we all go together and no one gets left behind. This is one of those rules of the road that I really love, it reminds me of epic travel adventures, meeting people in taverns and hazarding the road together. It cool that it still exists. Once we reached our destination we split ways, no contact information necessary.

That’s the way the road works, you meet people, some you love some you hate, many in-between. You exchange stories often more openly than you ever would at home, you talk politics and bitch about world events and you above all try to impress upon one another what you country is like.

Amongst other English speakers we usually try to find all the possible differences between our language. I know that sounds contradictory but there are so many kinds of English and though we all speak a common tongue we don’t always know what the other person is saying.

Then there are the regional differences, people like nothing s much as to point out where exactly they are from in the English speaking world and why, this is especially popular amongst Americans who I think get tired of being lumped together when we are sometimes very different. “Noooo, that’s what they say in Georgia not North Carolina” or “ I’m from Massachusetts… no not Boston.” “ Ohio is nothing like Minnesota” ect.

Fiz started this post, but I’m finishing it in a very interesting place, a government lassi shop called the Blue Lassi in Varanasi while he goes and has a sitar lesson. I was told that they have wi-fi here, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this yet. Its very surreal to be typing away while I’m sitting next to an eclectic mix of tourists and locals. Occasionally a cow wanders past, or a funeral…. There’s lots of those here. The other day we were in here with some French tourist we were chilling with when all of a sudden we hear this strange puttering noise. Two men pushing a cart came into view, on the cart there was a contraption that looked like an engine with a large exhaust pipe spewing white smoke. “oh no!” yelled one of the customers in genuine dismay as the staff ran to cover the doorways with totally ineffectual plastic.

Within minutes the streets, the shops, and our lassi spot was filled with noxious white gas. I took my bandana off and doubled it up as a mask. “ What is that?” somebody shouted… in truth we don’t really know but what we could gather from the waiters was “antibacterial/ anti-mosquito”…” trying to stop malaria”…. Great. Then they came back again.

If I ever wondered before what a bioterrorism attack would be like, I guess I have a better idea now. It was pretty scary even if it wasn’t going to kill me( immediately). There was nothing you could do it just happened so fast. Oh India, thou art so interesting….

Still its good to be back, hard to believe this is my third time. Four years ago if you had asked me I never would have guessed that this land and its people would become such a deep part of my life. My understanding of myself, life and especially Fiz deepens every time I come here, a great big unfolding, messy colorful, splendid, dirty, terrifying and delicious mystery. ( and OMG I wish the dude next to me would stop slurping his curd!)

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