Photos, Buses and the Mad Monks.
Went to India Gate today, and the Presidential Palace. It’s a much nicer side of Delhi over there, and we found some grass to sit on by the river, where we noticed a group of Indian students sat quite near looking over. They were being silly with each other so we laughed, and they laughed at us laughing, and then 2 guys came over and invited us to go sit with them. We looked over and the whole party were staring over in silence, waiting to see if we would, so we said yes and got up and they all cheered! It was so bizarre, and half of them jumped up to let us sit on the rug they had laid out and they passed us boxes of Indian sweets and got us to pose for photos- I felt like a celebrity! Then further down quite a well dressed looking family sent the father over to us to ask for a photo, and he was all shy and coy… and THEN the /police/ called us over for one- they were all sat outide a van and waved us over, and I was already wary of the police since the first day… so we were like shiiit, and kind of sidled over , and they were like ‘sit sit, were are you from! Picture, yes?’ We must have been stopped about 6 times all together, but it really didn’t get old.
Also went out for a beer the other night with a Californian girl we met, which was really nice, but the drinking scene isn’t massive over here… we managed to find a small bar in Delhi which sold a couple of types of beer and played Hindi Musicals full blast.
I left Delhi feeling quite fond of it, after going on the metro and meeting those students and seeing the upper market side of the place I felt like I’d learned a lot about it. I even developed a kind of I’ve-been-here-for-more-than-two-days-and-I-know-your-game-so-don’t-hassle-me-and-don’t-try-to-take-me-to-the-government-effing-tourist-office-AGAIN- sort of swagger. Because seriously, every rickshaw driver, and even just randoms off the street, have ended up trying to drag me kicking and screaming to this ‘government’ tourist office who have already told me bare-faced lies on my first day and put the fear of God into me. And now it seems they have some kind of city wide scam going. I reckon that’s what went on with the police the other day, why they beat that guy up. They call them ‘touts’ and they get comission for bringing fresh meat to this massive scam.
At 9 ‘o’ clock last night I was supposed to get a bus to Nainital, and at midnight it finally trundled into the coach station… I was told it was a tourist bus, which technically it was, but tourist bus here doesn’t mean what you would expect apparently. Apparently they are state run public buses, and after 15 very slow, tedious, and cramped hours later we finally arrived at this mountain village by a lake, which looks like it could be Switzerland! I read up on it and it actually was a european colony in colonial times. I then checked into a deluxe hotel, private room, en suit, TV and lakeside view for the grand total of 1 pound and eighty pence… I have a veranda and everything it’s ridiculous… the only downside is that I’m pretty sure I’m the only person saying there which is kindv creepy… I am almost certain there will be a catch. But I’m leaving tomorrow to find the secret hidden land of Kanda that requires three goddamn epic public bus journeys to get to… I should have been there today but I’ve had such a nightmare trying to find anyone who’s even heard of it.
The bus last night was extremely daunting, as it was entirely made up of the Indian sort of middle class I guess, and two Tibetan/Nepali Buddhist monks (not sure which but almost certainly something like that). At first I thought thank God at least they’ll be nice, as everyone else seemed really mean, and they did smile at me once but then sat in front of me and absolutely took the piss with the reclining seats. I wanted to smack their bald heads together by the end of it. Once we’d gotten well into the counrtyside things started looking tropical, like orange roads and mud huts on a green background, and men dressed head to toe in white fabric riding horses aongside us, and women in bright saris carrying baskets on their heads. And lots of really threatening looking monkeys who seemed to be in charge of the small shanty towns… during the night we stopped at one and I could just hear lots of hissing and growling and then see lots of monkey silhouetes prowling the tin roofs…
Anyway, then there was a monsoon, so we had to drive even slower, but I was glad the driver was being sensible. Suddenly, one of the monks jumped up, asked the driver to stop and hurried outside- I thought he’d gone to be sick or something, but he just sat down in the wet long grass and prayed… then he got up and started wandering around in front of our bus chanting and raising his arms about, I think maybe he was blessing us..? Anyway, it was freakin wierd, and then this friggin monk carried on chanting in the bus for the entire journey waving his arms about at random intervals.
However, in the morning I was feeling better about the journey as I could see so much scenery, and the monks behaved themselves with their chairs, and I started to reaise that the bus wasn’t being unfriendly to me because I was a tourist. In fact all they were doing was not acknowledging the fact that I was a tourist, which was just strange after being treat like a famous person in New Delhi. They were all being off and unfriendly to each other, I guess just like English people on buses. The more I thought about it the more I felt privaleged to experience daily life like one of them and not on a pedestal.
One thing, a bit out of the blue, I wanted to mention was how strange it is to see so many men here holding hands, and hugging etc- you never see displays of affection between couples but guys are really relaxed about it. And the other day we saw a group of them sat on the grass showing each other the clothes they’d bought! Which was really funny. And one last thing which I for some reason want to express to you, is that the peeing situation has reached extroadinary proportions… I can get through 5 litre bottles a day, as well as juice, the odd coffee, coke… and pee like once or twice if that… can you imagine all that liquid I’ve sweated out! I mean don’t, its disgusting, but Christ, now that is hot.