Friday, February 25, 2011

On my way to Delhi, belly

I did not get that long sleep.
The little food that I got for dinner went through me at breakneck speed. Now, I admit that there may be worse circumstances to have diarrhea (like maybe camping in cold rain with a new girlfriend or something) but I really think that a sleeper-class Indian railway car has got to be one of worst. You just have to see the toilet.

Yes, my initiation to India is now complete. Having the famous Delhi-belly (albeit rendered in Varanasi) on that train felt like some kind of test or tapas.. My night was long and uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel too bad – until the morning. I just went to the toilet a lot. I wonder what those beggars, sleeping against the bathroom door, thought I was doing? At any rate, I’ll try to find a photo of a railway bathroom so you can appreciate it. Plus, the light was burnt out. In the dark no less! Well, I certainly mastered the art of the Indian toilet, anyway!

In the morning, I was sure glad that the train was almost done. At around 7am we were stopped in the middle of the countryside, and Hugo walked up the few cars to visit. He found me hanging out by the toilet, sweating a fever, and looking, apparently, green. He didn’t have to mention that while I was stuck sick with a bunch of abnoxious Indians, because he had bought the last-minute, more expensive tourist quota tickets, he was with a charming French girl and two cool Italians and they talked the night away. I didn’t want to get too far from that can, that’s all.

I’ll tell you, Indians are so, so different from Westerners in so many ways. It might be nice to consider that we are all similar but boy, we are culturally so different! I mean, in the West there is just no way at all that at 5 in the morning, people would think that it would be even remotely possible to start yelling down the row to your family and playing tinny music from your cheap cell-phone. They have no respect for personal space, or rather, perhaps no concept of it, sometimes. Serious! Just before 5am this man is yelling at someone in his family, and in a few short minutes they are bickering lively. And I mean lively. Even at 10am, most Westerners, regardless of class, are at least mildly aware that people are sleeping everywhere around them. It was very strange.

Right, well Hugo came back an hour later with advice to take Charcoal care of the Italian guy. I had totally forgotten that Sarah had given me some for precisely this scenario! I take one, and feel quite a lot better in less than half an hour later. Did you notice that this makes it at least 8:30? Yeah, the train was running a bit late – supposed to have been 12 hours, arriving in Delhi at 7:40. Oh well. I am feeling worse, but at least I am not running to the can for the constant amusement of the Indians around me.

I have now come to the irrefutable conclusion that popular radio Hindi music is absolutely some of the worst combinations of sounds to have ever tainted the air on this planet. Especially when it is coming from a cheap cell-phone speaker and you have a mild headache. Honestly, that is not an exaggeration. I have never, ever heard anything so bad as this stuff, and yes, I have heard some awful music. Any sense of percussion is utterly foreign to these producers. I sincerely think that they believe that to hold a note is a bad thing – changing pitches as fast as possible is what they are trying for. And the percussion section is 50 idiots with cheap tambourines bashing them against aluminium siding. Oh, and broken bells. Just take every annoying sound ever made and chop it up into quick, jarring beats. Just awful. I have to crank my earbuds just to displace it. I wake up an hour later again and bolt to the washroom. Hey – why am I still on a train? No one speaks English. I have no idea where we are or why. I lie down again.

When I wake up and it is noon I figure something is really wrong. But there is nothing to do but rest, be miserable, and wait. And wait. This is unbelievable. Finally, we hit the station at 2pm – a full 6 hours late on a 12 hour ride. How the hell is that even possible?! At least I am feeling a bit better, but weak still. We leave the train and join the mob pushing its way out of the station. I have passed some kind of test, surely.

So Hugo and I make our way to the subway – the metro – and go our separate ways. The new metro is beautiful and civil and makes me feel better. But you should see the security! You have to go through a pat-down and screen your luggage to enter the subway in Delhi! We can’t believe it.

I take my 21Rs train to where Mary-Pat from Gobind Sadan has told me I will get picked up by her driver and an hour later, and I driving into Delhi farmland towards the peaceful haven of Gobind Sadan.

Here, it is quiet, unpressured, vast, easy.

Hopefully I can hold some dinner and wake up to a new place.

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