I’ve been sleeping for the better part of the day until I’m painfully awakened by my dad coming home from work. It’s one of those deep, sticky sleeps where consciousness stabs you right between the eyes and the last thing you want to do is move around. I returned from India twelve hours earlier and feeling much shittier than I did before my last connection from Newark. Eventually, I’m able to stumble upstairs into a dreary evening – at a time that has been my morning for the past 10 days. At last, I hop into the shower to get the travel off of me and am kind of amazed for a moment to actually see the water turn a light brown…
All the work is done for the trip right now and we’re driving down to South Bombay to see a slightly more picturesque view of India. I’m really starting to feel sick now from a little scratchiness that was felt in my throat after last night’s last buffet. I don’t feel like looking around outside as we travel down Bombay but can help it when we reach the coast. It’s not really that beautiful but it is striking in its openness. No mass of bodies hurrying everywhere, no autos or rickshaws and the gray clouds from their pollution, no buildings that look like they have been thru an engine’s oil filter; just wide open space, very hazy and with only limited visibility.
I see the main sights in south Bombay; the Gate of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel. The gate is under repair so one whole side is scaffold and the taj was cool but all I could really think of was the mounting pressure in my bladder. Chad and I walk around the gate to get a better view and instantly a skinny Indian in white cloths and carrying an assortment of things stops me. He throws candy in one hand and flowers in the other then proceeds to put a dot on my forehead and wrap a saffron cloth bracelet around my wrist. I told him I have no money but he doesn’t really seem to care and just heads off to another person. He really wanted me to eat the candy so I faked it with some sleight of hand and let out a “Mmmmmm” to appease him. This is definitely touristy but it’s a welcome relief from the slums and shanties I’ve been in and out of for the past few days.
We head down to the open air markets and do some shopping for crap that is pretty similar in all markets such as these all over the world. I get some trinkets but mainly just film chad as he draws crowds from the enthusiasm he puts into haggling with the salesmen. At one point he starts crying like a giant baby huey to get the price that he wants – which actually works – and when finding out that he has succeeded, lets out a big “BOOYAH” and fist pump.
I would like to go to all-third world countries with Chad.
I’m back in the hotel now, packing up everything, which I realize that I hate doing. It’s much more fun to unpack and look at all the things you brought with you instead of hurriedly packing things up and realizing that, dammit, it doesn’t fit and where the hell is the rest of my per diem (this actually happened – $100 went poof like Soze) and should I leave these shoes here because of all the human waste I stepped in?
Then suddenly, after a beautiful sunset and check-in at customs – I’m on the plane headed back to America going over everything I experienced on my first trip to India.Here are some bullet point highlights that I had to leave out for fear of irreconcilably lengthy entries:
- Hiking up a big hill in the country side and nearly passing out from the pollution in my lungs.
- Watching the whole poop, water bucket, left-hand wipe process on an early morning drive out to the country.
- A little story involving misdirection that I will have to tell in person.
- Trying my hand at cricket and getting shown up by a skinny aussie girl.
- The great malaria pill debate.
- Spending 1800 rupees ($90 approx) on breakfast and dinner every day.
- The insanity of the food that I ate. Especially the desserts.
- The many new friends and acquaintances I made from India, Australia and elsewhere.
- The sheer number of jokes and moments of crazy belly laughter had with my crew; specifically keeping Chad Harris from using the toilet in a moment of terror and him paying me back on a long bus ride when my bladder was going to burst over the bus walls.
- The utter chaos that is India in every form – from traffic to government to bollywood to airports to everyday normal conversation. There is seemingly no structure to anything that happens in this country which I loved and despised at the same time. India is the land where chaos reigns supreme.
I’ve been back for 3 days now and struggling to get over this nasty infection. I had a similar case in Cambodia but not near as bad this time around. Hopefully the sickness lessens each time I travel somewhere exotic and build up immunity to the various hiv’s of the world. I’ve uploaded all my photos and now begin the arduous editing process, adjusting the colors and deleting the ‘dogs’. I’ve set a record pace of watching 3 movies a day as I cough up phlegm and India (one particular nasty egg yolk lookin’ @&*! was disposed of this very morning).
It was a good trip but it felt really good to come back home this time around. I actually looked forward to civilization and cleanliness while trying to imagine what it would be like if all my neighbors dropped their morning steamers on the sidewalk. I have a hunger to travel which is slowly but surely being filled and a realization that I need to see more of my own country as well. I love St. Louis but dream of what life is like living out west among some nicer landscapes. Anyways, this is for another entry.
So, as I watched the dirt from India mix with the water from Missouri and swirl down the drain, I smiled to myself having completed another adventure and being able to cross off one more country on my list. I feel ready for the rest of this year and whatever God may have destined for me. But for today, I’m happy with writing down my memories and taking life easy. You should be taking it easy as well.