Sunday, February 06, 2011

Notes from my Indian Notebook (1992-1993)

Hazy Scene of Delhi

As the flight nears India I notice that the Indians on board the plane grow in numbers and rudeness. Soon I feel like I'm the minority and then it hits me. I'm off to fucking India. But there's no need to panic as I'm trapped on this shitty Russian plane. Then we touch down and the 24-hour journey is over. I've reached India.
            As I step out of the plane into the hot, smoky, diesel filled New Delhi evening, the sky smearing red, I can tell just by the smell that I am out of my comfort zone. Welcome to the East. And then I try checking out through the Indian immigration: A block of 50 non-Indians all trying to to pass through a gap of 3 feet, after some guy checks your passport. The English, Aussies and Germans queue patiently and the Russians and French just ram-jam their way to the front, or at least they try to. The English et all will let them think they are getting through but then at the last moment we apply some pressure in a very linear fashion, shutting out the opposition trying to break through…. Anyway I make it out of the main doors into the 9-o-clock hazy darkness of Delhi, half expecting to be stormed by a thousand beggars, but only a few are clocked lying quietly by a wall. I get into my pre-paid taxi and into the swarms of traffic, everyone beeping, boys on vespas swerving near for a good look. By this time it’s been 48 since we’ve had a good 8 hours sleep in a real bed, and it’s all getting a little too much to take in. The driver can’t find the house. I start to panic , but eventually we arrive at A 1/10 Vasant Vihar, and are greeted by a hob-nailed booted baton wielding Group 4 security guard, as where we’re staying is at some diplomatic doctors house – a friend of my old man’s. ‘No one here!’ he barks at us. A servant arrives and I show her the letter from her master. As we are not expected, we are shown into the garage and given a couple of garden chars to sit on. Four hours in the garage, tea, water, fag after fag, they’ll be here soon becomes our mantra. The guard strolls up and down eyeing us suspiciously, tap-tapping his red-wooden baton in the palm of his hand.

Delhi-Jaipur Video Bus

Typical scenario: no sleep the night before, arms ache head’s blown. We take a rickshaw to Delhi bus station to be followed around by a mad woman beggar, begging tugging and board a luxury coach already needing a piss. It’s 5 ½ hours to Jaipur, mostly with the Bollywood video playing at full volume, no bass only mucho hissing treble. All along the road are huts for the lorry drivers to stop and wash and eat and drink. Pass a few guys lying on bare metal bed frames smoking the ganja in large hookahs, but all the time dying for a piss. We bomb past a brand-new 5 star service station and stop up the road at the worst shit hole you can imagine, but it’s a relief to rock a piss and on the way out of the toilet I see the guy from Moscow airport again.  I buy a samosa to find it’s filled with a slice of white bread. Home from home, like. 
I keep nodding out nodding off and when we get to Jaipur we find out that there are no seats on the busses to Pushka, Standing room only for a 3 hour trek. We meet a rickshaw driver called Freedom and he becomes our guide to Jaipur. We know he’s as lairy as fuck and shouldn’t be trusted but we’re enjoying the ride and appreciated the insider’s knowledge. Everything chills out for a bit and what seems like a totally shit-hole ram-jammed with beggars and buggers, turns out to be a nice place and it seems a pity to leave, but we want to fly Air India from the mud hut airport to Goa. The pink city rushing.

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