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The Joy of Travel part 3

Delhi Belly and beyond


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Back in Varanasi Meghan and I are both sick and are leaving to get on an overnight train to Khajuraho…

A loud and bumpy rickshaw ride brought across the city to the busy train station. Every inch of floor space was occupied by travelers who had spread out blankets on the cold concrete to sleep. Our 11:30pm train was delayed and re-scheduled to arrive at 12:10am. At 12:15, a train that was not ours pulled up and before it even came to a stop the platform was alive with swarms of people flowing from the 2nd class cars. It was an intense mob scene and where Meghan an I were on the platform was quickly overcome with people. I quickly slung both of our bags over my shoulder and retreated to an empty spot along the back wall of the platform. In the midst of all this our train had been switched to a different platform as it was arriving. I did not hear any of this over the static white noise that pretended to be a loudspeaker. Somehow another foreign tourist from Switzerland spotted us and told us about the switch. We hustled up and over the tracks to the new platform just as our train was arriving. The false promise of bumping up in class quickly fizzled out as the conductor was nowhere to be found. After running the length of the long train we boarded moments before the train departed. Somehow during all of this, the sickness that was still in my body was not affecting me, if it had we may have not made it out of Varanasi that night. We boarded the train to find a party going on in our cabin. In a space set for six there were at least 10 young guys that were all fired up. We waited patiently for them to get settled and when it did not happen I decided to just jump in and make our presence felt. This is one of the benefits of traveling in a country full of small people. When you need to throw your weight around you usually have the most. I pushed my way into the cabin. Cleared about 5 guys out of the way and packed our backpacks under one of the seats. Next it was on to their luggage. I informed them that we were pulling the bed up and to kindly move their crap. This was met with little resistance and before you know it we were both horizontal and hopeful to sleep. This did not come so easy. At first the guys wanted to talk, ask were I was from, the usual routine. Then they wanted to buy American dollars from me. They were all on a visiting Badminton team that had just won a tournament and were loudly celebrating. I gave in and almost forgot about how tired, frustrated, and sick I was while they all passed the one dollar bill around starring at it in wonder. As soon as I laid down my sickness returned and I could hardly breath. As there was not enough headroom to sit up this created a problem. Saliva was filling my mouth, I could not breath through my nose, and I felt like I was going to suffocate. With all this it was very difficult to fall asleep and my mood and health deteriorated. I was able to find sleep until I woke in the middle of the night needing to go to the bathroom I realized that my sandals were missing. While looking all around I noticed the floor was also all wet but did not really think twice about it figuring I had spilled my water bottle or something. Frustrated I gave up and wedged my feat into Meghan’s sandals and went to the restroom. Later that morning when we both finally got out of our beds we realized that my sandals had been stolen in the night and the wetness on the floor was actually vomit from one of the kids on the badminton team. This alone would not have been all that bad if it was not for the fact that our backpacks had absorbed most of the moisture and were dripping wet with stinking vomit. In utter disgust we wrapped up our bags up in the rain covers, something we should have done in the first place, and carried them off the train by the handles, as the harness was soaked. Unfortunately we were still 4 hours by local bus to Khajuraho. Feeling completely worked at this point and at the point of giving in to India, I accepted the first offer for a rickshaw at twice the acceptable price and let the guy carry my filthy bag. Before long we were at the bus station with tickets purchased and ready to go. Little did I know the ordeal that awaited us or I would have laid down whatever the cost of a private car. On the bus we were in the second row which was good for the bumps and the bends but my legs were to long to fit into the seat so I had to sit at an angle with my legs into the aisle. This became a problem as the bus stopped and picked up more and more people. I have been on many overcrowded “chicken” busses in all of our travels and usually I take it for what it is and usually have fun with it. This was unbearable. There was a sense of urgency amongst the passengers when the bus got really full and people were really fighting for position and pushing hard to get on and off. The fact that my legs were stuck out in the aisle in the front of the bus meant that as people shifted around each time the bus stopped, and it stopped a lot, my legs were in the way. Regardless of how little room there was and how crushed I already was people would push harder and harder until they got buy. Combined with the sickness, the night on the train with the puke and stolen sandals, this put me over the edge. When I was about to explode some young girl gets on the bus with an infant maybe a few months old. She is right beside me and is getting crushed in the aisle. The kid is wedged in between indifferent men who don’t notice or don’t care that they are practically suffocating an infant. I got up and offered her my seat when nobody else would and she quickly sat down without a word of thanks or even a smile. At this point some old woman took the opportunity to chisel her way in between me and the seat with every jostle of the bus and bend in the road. I did what I could to fight back, and I really felt like I was fighting back, but I was not going to push some old lady out of my way. After a few minutes the bus stopped and the girl with the baby got off and the old hag threw herself into my seat! She did not give me one look to ask permission, acknowledge she swiped my seat, or thank me for making it available. I always give my seat up to people who need it more than I do but this royally pissed me off. Fortunately we were not that far from Khajuraho and when we got there I immediately laid down and did not leave the room for the rest of the day. Instead I sat in a small room brooding over my frustrating day and night. My suffering was intensified by music that was blaring through the windows and walls from a town fair across the way. This would go on all day and into the night And I was very close to pulling the plug on India and fleeing to the cool wintery embrace of Colorado. Little did I know at that point of almost giving in that India would open up to me and draw me back in the days to come.

Posted by pmunson 09:46 Archived in India

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Nice to hear fro you...I just wrote a long letter and lost it to computer space..just before i was going to send..Write it again later..I 70 just closed bothe dirrectins at glenwood springs do to major rock slide..take care of oneanother..luv rdc

by robin chandler

Whew! Glad things turned around for you! This is a real horror story! I read it aloud to our houseguests...Karey Edele and 3 youngsters....she said it was "gripping"...they were all totally engaged while I read it!

by Judy Munson

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