Stuff I Remember from the Village and My first Indian Train Ride
I just remembered a funny incident from the village- well not /funny/… it was creepy as hell. I was coming back from Bageshwar alone after Sadhu-Spotting and the shared jeep dropped me off miles away so I had a good 45 minute walk, but it was a nice afternoon so I didn’t mind to much. Anyway, at the top end of the village there was this litle stall, a bit of a way out, and a family were sat on a bench outside of it. The little girl called me over and told me to sit, which isn’t that strange in India, so I did. Then she was like ‘you give me english tuition?’ And I thought ‘well that’s forward but why not…’ Apparently a Canadian volunteer had done for 6 weeks previously and the girl was showing me their work books, so I thought it would be okay. The next day I turned up with my phrasebook, ready to teach some English, but I’d gone earlier than agreed as I didn’t want to be caught in the dark and she wasn’t there. The father showed me into a small room round the back of the stall, and I felt quite bad as they were clearly quite poor- the furniture was made of stacks of bricks topped with a plank- and he brought me some tea while I waited.
About half an hour later the girl came in and said I was too early and she had a maths lesson or something so I should come back tomorrow- so I went home and mentioned the whole incident to Mr Verma and he was like ‘oh no no, you mustn’t go back there!’ And I said ‘why?’ and apparently the father is a dangerous criminal who’s been in prison many times… I said ‘what for??’ and Mr Verma said ‘killings!!’ Killings?!? Now, I think it should be noted for the record that there was probably some kind of communication breakdown here, because I can’t imagine the Indian authorities letting loose a man who’d committed numerous killings. What I think is more likely is that he’s a bit dodgey but Mr Verma wanted to make sure I wouldn’t go back there, so thought he’d put the fear of God into me, and it bloody worked as well- I didn’t go back but it was annoying as I’d left my phrasebook.
I also remembered seeing a funeral procession from the staff room verandah at the school which was interesting- at first it looked like a march of some kind and everyone seemed quite upbeat, singing religious songs etc, but then I noticed this stretcher covered in a red cloth. I looked at the English teacher and he just said casually ‘oh it’s a dead body,’ and changed subject…
Anyway, I’m in Udaipur now, just arrived this morning, the train was sheer bliss compared to the bus (although since then everyone keeps telling me sleeper class is horrible, I think I’m just easily pleased). Was dead proud of myself for navigating the train station and getting on the right train, even though it was ridiculously easy and I’d have had to be a complete idiot not to. The 12 hour journey cost me 4 pounds and I had a bunk to sleep on in the same carriage as some policemen, so I felt nice and safe, and there was air con, a toilet, and a man who came up and down selling tea for like 6p. Some randomer sat opposite me bought me a cup for no reason- no hidden agenda or anything, I said thankyou and he just smiled and went to sleep! There was also a man in a blue turban in the next carriage who just beamed at me eevrytime I passed for the toilet. I was in such high spirits I took a picture of the policemen like a stupid tourist… they had guns and everything.
We pulled into a station at bang on 7am, so I got off assuming it was Udaipur but when I looked at the sign it said something completely different, and the train was already rolling away! I nearly had a heart attack thinking I was stranded in some obscure town in the middle of Rajhastan, and wandered through the station in this state of panic for about 20 minutes befre I noticed a big ‘map of Udaipur’ on the wall..
I like it here, it seems much more chilled out than Delhi, and no one’s tried to scam me yet and I’ve been here a whole 2 hours…