Not to be confused with “Moron Gord in Jaipur”… ahem.
Well, here I am. Last nigth at 4pm I met my pack of French friends for beer and dinner and then I caught a bus to Delhi. I had SO much stuff with me but it was fine because after all I was just taking it to the bus and then sitting for 13 hours. It all fit in the overhead compartment, except my big bag, which sat in the back of the bus.
Now, that boded well for the bus trip, but assholehood intervened, to make the bus trip absolutely miserable. See, buses are designed for, well, I was about to say Indians, but let me qualify that: I think buses were designed for some kind of “average-sized” Indian from 30 years ago. So the space between the front of your seat and the seat in front of you is really quite small. Serviceable, as long as people don’t tilt their seats back, though.
But like in Korea, I always have the luck of being behind a damn 4.5 foot tall person who doesn’t need the extra room, who probably never even imagined sopmeone else having a problem with it; those are the people who invariably sit in front of me, and immediately tilt their seats back as far as possible. Now, in my case I’d bought two seats so I just slid behind the unoccupied seat.
Now, I’m not being a size-ist when I say this, but… the guy who finally clambered onto the bus to occupy that seat was only barely 4 feet tall, and that only if you count his turban. I’m not kidding: he was an Indo-hobbit. And at first, he didn’t tilt his seat back at all.
But after the rest stop, when we all got out to eat, I was one of the last to get my food, and thus one of the last to get onto the bus. Still within the time-limits, mind. I wasn’t holding people up. But when I got to my seat, I found both of these little men had tilted their seats to the full-recline position. I squeezed into the seat, and found I couldn’t even sit facing forward at all, my legs couldn’t fit. I had to sit sideways across the two seats, legs sticking out into the aisle. I banged on the backs of their seats, asked them to slide forward, and I cursed a lot in English and Korean. But they would not move, and so I was stuck in this tiny space. My only revenge was that the seat back was so low I could lean forward, hanging my arm over the front of the head and resting my head on it. That helped the calustraphobia a little, for a while, till it got too uncomfortable. But the Hobbit didn’t notice or care. I was REALLY freaking mad when, after we finally arrived in Delhi, the bastards didn’even tilt their seats back to upright position to let me out… they left the bus with the seats in the same damned position. Jerks.
After that, the 13-hour bus ride was finally, mercifully over. But then, the adventure was only halway complete, little did I know… Then it was just negotiating a taxi to Ritu’s house, which was easy enough; luckily I’d had her write her address out in Hindi for me a while back, and so we found our way after asking about a dozen different crowds of rickshaw drivers. Ah, it seemed like everything would be so easy after that…
When I arrived, Ani (Ritu’s brother) and one of his friends were having breakfast, and Ritu was up and about. Koko was soon awake and made me promise to come pick her up from school. Then Ritu and I caught up on what’s happened in the last few weeks, and I looked at the new draft of part of her novel. Chatterr, chatter, chatter, picking up Koko, and soon after I was off in the taxi to the train station. I didn’t see John as he was still sleeping, but I’ll see him in a few days.
Now here’s the thing: which train station? There’s one in Old Delhi, and one in New Delhi. The ticket didn’t specify which, of course… and I didn’t even realize there were two when I was given the ticket, so…
I could have killed the taxi driver. I asked him if he knew which station, and he INSISTED, 100% sure, that it was the New Delhi Station. Because, of course, it was closer for him. So when I walked into the station, at 2:20, and couldn’t find my train listed, I ignored the inquiries desk that had a lineup 30 people long, and just asked some men standing around the station. The whole crowd told me I ad to go to the Old Delhi station. I asked another group of men and they confirmed it, so I hired an autorickshaw driver. He promised me I’d make the train, 20 min only, and 100 ruppees.
Well, I made the train, but only because the autorickshaw driver’s death wish somehow was not fulfilled today. There was a traffic jam and he ended up taking some circle road, and I got to the station with 10 min to spare; five of which I sent arguing with the rickshaw guy who doubled the price of the ride. Finally I gave in as I was scared to miss the train and sure he and the two men gathered would flip out if I didn’t pay the full 200 ruppees; I guess also the “Aw, fuck it, it’s $2” thing kicked in, plus a realization of the time.
Got onto the train, it still wasn’t moving at 10 min after 3pm, and I read for a while — soem Don Quixote, in one of the more boring parts. Then, one old gyu climbed down from a full-made-up sleeping bunk, so I asked him if he intended to climb back up, and he said no. So up I went, and I think I slept about half of the way. Which brings me to being wired at 11:35 even with no sleep last night. Ah well.
Ah, by the way, Jaipur is a very intense place. The locals are REALLY pushy, and the animals in the street are quite messed up. The Israeli gyu I met and had dinner with told me he’d seen cows and dogs eating plastic bags, he figured for lack of edible trash. We walked past some kind of buffalo that was in obvious pain, and groaning and howling. All the hotels were booked up except one right next to the first place I tried. An autorickshaw guy strenuously accused me of not trustin him because I dismissed him instead of letting him take me from hotel to hotel in search of one with a vacancy. I insisted I could find a room for myself, which turned out to be less easy than I imagined… The guy at the counter of the first place I tried told me he had nothing for me, but was nice enough to call a bunch of other places for me to find a place, let me talk to the proprietors, but there was nothing anywhere. But I scored an okay room, in the end, passable at least for one night. I’m dying for a beer, but ah well, I’ll drop off to sleep soon and won’t knwo the difference.
Tomorrow morning I shall DEFINITELY book rooms in Agra and Fatepur Sikri. But for now I suppose I should sleep. So now, after a few emails I’ve written, I shall away to bed.