Misery and Woe on the Backroads of India
The thing about any overnight journey is that involves a certain amount of luck. You're always rolling the proverbial dice, wishin and a hopin. The same way men in Vegas are praying for sevens, we pray for particular traveling companions. In train and bus stations around the world, we can be heard begging the gods...
Cooooooommmmme ooonnnn young female professional!
Biiiiiig moooonnnneeeyyy family with young (but not too young) children!
Ollllld ladies who knit and sleep quietly!
Sadly, this often seems to have the inverse effect.
From the very beginning, we seem to have been cursed with bad overnight journey karma. There was the infamous "2 old men with sleep apnea and a long loud night" incident. The "four friends and a case of beer in under an hour" evening. The "three old men slurping raw meat and talking at the top of their lungs when they awoke at 4am" journey.
Sufficed to say, it's been dicey. However none, none have compared with
what India had in store. I now submit for your approval, a tale of two bus journeys...
I. Working Title...No Patty Fingers...(maybe only clear to those that have seen "The Quiet Man...")
In January, I embarked on a journey to Hampi with a few friends. For those of you who haven't been, it's an amazingly beautiful town with ruins of the last great Hindi empire. Anyway, I digress...
Riding buses in India is an adventure because of the complete chaos. There's no real terminal or schedule posted. So far as I can see, the best way to find your bus is to walk around and show your ticket to anyone who will look at it. If you're persistent, someone is bound to point you in the right direction. Our bus from Hampi back to Banalore was delayed that night, but no one could effectively communicate that with me...so we spent hours wandering around, showing our bus ticket, only to be dismissed.
We finally crawled on the bus tired and irritable. We were three gals in need of a good nights sleep. Sadly...it was not to be.
I sat down next to a man in his thirties with a sneer on his face. He would not stand up to let me into the window seat and thus I was forced to crawl over him. He also insisted on placing his elbow on the common elbow rest. Perhaps most distressingly, he covered his whole body, including his face, with his blanket. Ominous, ominous signs.
I woke up about an hour later with his hand on my leg. In the spirit of good fellowship and best intentions, I assumed he mistook my leg for the elbow rest. I picked it up and placed it back on his side. An hour later, I awoke to the same state of affairs. I rather harshly shoved it back and went back to sleep. About an hour after this, I awoke to find my leg being...well...stroked is probably the best verb. I ripped the blanket off his head said, "EXCUUUUUUSE ME!" and threw his hand over. Surely, I had taken care of it. Humiliated him. Called attention to the matter.
But strangely, he didn't even look at me! Just rolled over, covered himself with his blanket and pretended as if I wasn't there! The man across the way chuckled and suggested I, "guard my treasure." Would that I could say "bite me" in Hindi.
Dear readers. Dear, kind, forgiving readers. I tried to stay awake. I tried to guard my treasure. But it was late and the bus was so soothing...I fell asleep. And woke up with his hands in between my legs. I kicked. I yelled. I screamed. I elbowed and hit.
My treasure and I were not pleased, I'll tell you that much.
II. Working Title...Two Americans and a bus full of Tibetan monks head to Dehli.
Sounds like the start to a pretty promising joke, no? I know there's a punchline to be found...just can't get the bat off my shoulders...
Your favorite bribers spent a week up in the Himalayas...Mcleod Ganj to be exact. The home of the Tibetan government in exile and a huge refugee population, it's an amazing place. Beautiful, serene, fascinating.
Just sitting in a cafe and having former political prisoners come around to talk to you and enlist your support...wow.
Prayer flags and the Titanic pose in the Himalayas:
Anyway, we took an overnight bus from Mcleod back to Dehli. Upon entering the bus, it would seem our prayers have been answered. After numerous journey with miserable companions who tested both our sanity and good will, the gods smiled upon us....and stacked the bus with Tibetan monks. We grinned at our good fortune and settled in for a pleasant night.
And a pleasant night it might have been...had it not been for a little thing called food poisoning. Having a solid head on my shoulders, I decided the best possible thing I could do before said 12 hour bus journey would be to consume a large cheese pizza.
I'm going to now give you all two important pieces of advice:
1. Before an overnight trip, don't eat dairy. Or meat. Or any food product that will likely poison you. You know what? Don't eat at all.
2. If you choose to ignore these sage words, please. At the very least...check to make sure the bag you plan to vomit in is free from holes at the bottom. I beg of you.
Once the storm began, I failed to notice said gaping holes. As I made my way to the front of the bus to ask for a pit stop, said vomit dripped. On me. On the bus. All over my bribing companion. There was dripage.
Lights were turned on. Damage was assessed. There were groans.
Though I must say. Under the circumstances, your friendly neighborhood Tibetan monks are by far the most forgiving audience a gal can ask for.
And so the night passed. With waves of nausea and sweat and fever. Covered in my own dinner.
Under such circumstances, one should be able to move past the absurdity. To see it as a reminder of the human condition. Of our own frailty and inability to control life's curve balls.
Unable to sleep, I should have spent the evening reflecting. Coming to great realizations about life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Past mistakes. Future hopes. The presence and/or absence of a higher power.
Sadly, pathetically... all I could come up with...
My love affair with cheese may be drawing to an abrupt end.