Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Feels Like I Have Never Been Away....(Or, Only in India!)

I flew back to Delhi on 17 September - nearly 2 months to the day after returning to London. It was as if I had never been away from India!

Marc met me at the airport and we spent the day fairly quietly in Delhi, catching up and passing time before catching the sleeper train back to Rishikesh that night.

All the Indian quirkiness was still there - the press of the crowds on the pavements and the road, the noise, the smell, the filth... Now add to this a torrential rain storm (the monsoon should have been over 8 weeks ago...) and nightfall coming earlier and just as we were trying to get to the station. We were drenched before we found a taxi... but out of the rain and with plenty of time to catch the train (ha! We are getting the hang of this India thing... leave loads of time when travelling, everything always takes longer than you think it will...) we sat back and relaxed (well, as much as you can in an Indian taxi) while our intrepid driver headed off into the dark of storm, peering through fitfully-working wipers.

About half way to Old Delhi Station, while in a higgeldy-piggeldy queue at traffic lights, a traffic cop stopped and tapped on the taxi window. What had we done? Was he checking for road tax, insurance, MOT? As if these things exist in India!?! The roads would be a lot quieter if they did!!!! No, the cop wanted a lift - so he just hopped into the front seat and off we went! We had not gone very far on our journey when we passed one of the ramshackle public buses. The cop wound down his window and flagged down the bus. He then left us, got into the stationary bus and continued his journey home.... I was trying to imagine the same scenario happening in London - a PC stopping an already occupied black cab, joining the current occupants on their journey until he passes the 73 bendy bus to Seven Sisters. Leaning out of the window, he waves down the no. 73 between stops, leaves the cab without paying, jumps on the bus and heads home. Unbelievable!

Rishikesh has not changed either! Home is still Green Valley Cottage - but there is a new addition to the family! Marc has been looking after an abandoned puppy, named Bunti, for the last few weeks. But more of her later.

Still on the subject of 'only in India.....' . The first morning, while on the way to breakfast, there is a terrible smell with a trail of fetid water running away down the hill. A blocked drain - Yuk! Is Dynarod available? - no one needs them! Do it yourself plumbing is the order of the day!

The fun and games on the roads remain unchanged... It's disorganised chaos as a bewildering selection of rusting, delapidated cars, motor bikes, buses, tuk tuks, hand carts, tractors, lorries, bicyles all jostle to be first into a blind bend or a tiny space on the road through the town. The results can be nerve-wracking, either as a pedestrian or as a passenger and are also usually ear-splitting (an unimaginable cacophony of horns and bells accompany the revving engines). Occasionally, the results can be horrific. This is a bus, just visible through the jungle, which came off the road in the early hours of one morning this week. It ended up at the bottom of the ravine by the foot of the slope leading to the Clean Himalaya workshop.

Not suprisingly, some people were seriously injured - but we did not hear of any fatalities, thank goodness!

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