I’ve just sat down in an internet cafe along some dark alleyway in Varanassi, I was already feeling a little chirpier, and now, reading some online comments, I’m over the cheese moon.
Thankyou, from the bottom of that big soppy heart of mine.
But what a day. Phew.
This place is crazy. The colour, noise and chaos. Insane. And the way they drive. You wouldn’t believe it. You’ll be cruising down the road, checking in the mirrors and scouting up ahead when all of a sudden some maniac will put out from nowhere, heading straight at you, leaving you no other option but diving off the road and into the dirt.
It happened three times at least today. I think Dot’s going to need her knobbly sooner than I thought.
But you should see the carcasses on the side of the roads. Lorries and buses, crashed head on, and left in nothing more than bits and pieces. It’s sobering to ride past, it really is. I’m trying to figure it out, why they drive like this. All I’ve come up with so far is that they’re a confident, strutting nation with places to go. They’re proud and passionate, though not overly skilled at the wheel, which means that while they don’t give an inch on the road they don’t properly know how to take it either. That or they’re all aiming for Dot and me.
But they’re incredibly welcoming. Today a ride that should take five hours took eight, with the other three being filled with lots of Chai tea offered by hosts who want to welcome you to their country. In all the places I’ve been so far this is the one to give the biggest hug.
Though it did get a little heated with one guy who brought up the bashing of an Indian student in Australia. He hated all Australians he told me. And there I sat, thinking how much I loved Oz and tring to bite my tongue. But I couldn’t, trying to reason with him that there’s good and bad everywhere and that my experiences of the place were great. He walked off after that but he did still pay for the tea. Which seems to be the Indian way.
Even just stopping for petrol I was invited into the boothe for a water and a demonstration of the gun the owner had for defence. He didn’t fire it, just waved it around a lot. Then I left with a litre of oil I’d bought, stopping ten minutes down the road in the shade of a bridge to do the change. Only my ratchet snapped meaning the old oil had to stay til I can get a new wrench.
But Dot’s still doing fine. In fact she turned 59 (000) today, riding better than ever. The vibration’s largely gone and with the weight I shed back in Bangkok she’s happy crusing at 60km/h all day long.
Pace is going to be slow in India though. The heat, the traffic, the road conditions, they’re all a drain and today was the most tired I’ve ever felt arriving at a hotel.
I think I’ll have another day then carry on west. See you on the road.