Bloody hell it’s hot. Forty four degrees today and Dot’s armpits are really starting to stink.
I can’t remember the last time I emailed, where I was, what I was doing, but in case it was over a week ago I’m now in India, Varanassi to be precise. It’s a weird, hectic city, made famous by its location of the banks of the Ganges river and the place where they burn bodies in the open.
Yep, I saw what happened when a foot’s toasted like a marshmallow yesterday. It was just there, with the rest of the body, on a bonfire by the river while all around another five bodies burned. It’s a religious thing of course, believing the burning by the river takes them one step closer to somewhere, someplace, hopefully better.
The strangest thing is that because the river’s deemed holy, every morning thousands of people come and wash and scrub in the filthy waters where sewerage is pumped and dead bodies dumped. Disgusting, at least at first you think, then us tourists sail past at 5am taking pictures of a man scrubbing his underpants and it makes me wonder; who’s sickest, them or us?
It’s a hard town though. Being a popular tourist spot, all the liars and deceivers flock here to rip us off. People approach and are always friendly, asking about your country and where do you stay, then they want you to buy hash or silk from their shops, which aren’t actually their shops but whoever pays them the best commission.
I sat on some steps talking to a girl yesterday and in the space of an hour we must have had twenty people come up and try and sell us something. Postcards, paint kits, chai, boat rides, opium, everything. And they don’t understand no. They think because you’re a tourist you can afford to toss rupees this way and that so they persist, endlessly until you have no choice but to tell them to piss off.
Yesterady one bloke wanted to give me a shave by the river.I said no and then but he still insisted on massaging my hand. It felt good becasue after all that time at the throttle my right hand is killing. He said ’20 rupees, sit down, I give you full massage’.
That’s about 30 pence so ok, I sat.
His mate goes to work, putting me in all sorts of positions. It feels okay and I think I’ll tip him. Then he asks if I’m happy. I say yes, to which he responds ‘then you pay 250 rupees.’ I jump up, incredulous.
‘I knew you were going to trick me some how.’ I said ‘I’m sick of this, all you fuckers do is lie and cheat. Get fucked, there’s no way I’m paying 250.’ (i know, I was a bit rude and wouldn’t usually talk like that, but I’d had enough of it, I really had)
‘Okay, 150,’ he said. I looked in my wallet. I had a one hundred note, a five hundred and a twenty. I was still raging. So I took out the twenty, slammed it on the floor beside him and said ‘you can have what you originally asked for and nothing more,’ and walked off.
There were about ten of them but none of them stopped me. I think they could sense I was raging.
Besides, Dot had my back.
Today though we both head by train to Delhi. My plan is to try and get this Iranian visa sorted out so I can, at my own leisure, saunter on, but it’s not going to be easy. I read of more British nationals being rejected which doesn’t bode well. I just hope they show us some pity and see we’re not like the other riff raff who want to wander through.
But I do have some good news, not only am I feeling much better after the rain clouds that loomed last week but also The People newspaper are going to do a nice little feature on the trip. So to are the nice folk Down under at the Sydney Morning Herald.
I’ve also got a few columns in a European magazine and haven’t a clue whether I have to translate or they do. ‘Life on the Road’, I think that’s its name.
So I’m chuffed, totally, as well as grateful for all the people who emailed after the last grey update. I was down last week and now I feel up, so thankyou, you did that.
Nathan and Dot.
x x x