It has been a few days since I’ve been able to update you guys because I left my phone and laptop back at Delhi. Over the course of 3 days, I’ve:
- Taken two of the most horrific overnight train rides, including bunking with 2 random Indian strangers
- Spent 5 hours total driving in a weed infested truck
- Ah finally…breath the fresh air of the Himalayan mountains
- Was attacked by a monkey trying to take a picture of it
- Rode a severely unsafe ferris wheel, maneuvered by a 10 year old
- Recited Hindu chants on the Ganges river; including flailing my arms and sporting the infamous red dot on my head
1. Overnight train to Dehradun: Where’s my room service?
I am not sure if everyone’s mother is alike, but seriously, try picturing your mom in this situation. So you’re set to embark on a 6 hour train ride to Northern India. I guess I’d prefer traveling by day, just because I’m a natural sight see-er, but night seemed to work best. Pair up with 6 of your friends and plan to sleep 2 feet either above or next to them. If I were to describe this experience, it would involve: claustrophobia, smell of stinky feet, snoring, and the tossing and turning of the train, WHICH in fact, there was a massive explosion on the same train route the other day, killing around 10 people. Luckily, I got top bunk out of three beds stacked on top of each other. I try to think positive, but there’s a part of me that just doesn’t think the sheets and pillows were washed..And so I drugged myself with sleep meds. If you didn’t think this was worse, try at 3 pm when you have to go to the bathroom, waking up in complete darkness and going into a hallway, not much bigger than 3 feet wide, where I was able to see dangling feet pushing out of the curtains. If you’re okay with tolerating dangling feet, try going to the bathroom (as a woman) by going into a 3×3 foot room with just a hole leading into the tracks. Trains do not pamper their attendees with toilet paper and soap. Occasionally, as I had to go to the bathroom numerous times, I’d have to pass some man either smoking or just staring at me go into the bathroom, so it made me feel extremely comfortable as I opened the bathroom door to attend to my king sized, tempurpedic mattress. I slept with sneakers on and refused to clothe myself in the unwashed sheets. I waited until the wee hours of the night for room service, but they never came to take my order of crème brûlée.
**Just a side note, if you didn’t think it would get any worse, try picturing arriving in your six man suite with two Indian already sleeping in their beds. So yes, on the train ride back, I managed to have to bunk with two complete strangers, with one seemed to just stare at us, and another woman who’s old mother refused to have her daughter take the top bunk. After much heated debate in Hindi by our Indian friends and this defiant mother, she somehow won the battle, and her daughter was able to sleep in the bottom.
As much as I could complain, the train was an amazing experience. I’m not sure if I’d travel on it again, but it made me appreciate the simplicities of life.
2. Hall of Fame: Indian bus driver
Out of the many people I have met here, I think my Indian bus driver may have been the most important people on my excursion to the Himalayas. In the US, flipping people off and screaming out of the window seems to be the norm of road rage. But when honking becomes the norm, and riding with 6 people to one motorcycle is considered normal, I don’t think there are many rules on the road except to man your own vehicle, and dodge people, monkeys, cows, and dogs. As I said, people make their own lanes. If you have the courage of passing two cars as a huge truck is coming your way, kudos to you, step on the peddle, and hope for the best. It was quite amusing sitting in the front. I tried making believe I was the driver, and every time, I would crash. Going from 50 to a dead stop in a matter of 3 seconds is the norm. I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride, except there was no guarantee that you would be safe. All of this was to the tune of heavy Hindi hip hop music. As much as I salute him, he seemed to be a heavy smoker, because he managed to infuse the car with the lovely smell of pot every time we stepped outside. I asked my Indian friend Anandhu if there were such things as road tests, and he basically said there wasn’t much of a thing.
Another video of a boy effortlessly trying to catch our attention. Quite funny, and I respect his devotion:
3. And over the hills we go..
One of the most breathtaking experiences of this trip was seeing the Himalayan mountains. As tired as I was when we traveled to Mussoorie, I kept on telling myself, who get’s to do go to the Himalayas? That was my impetus to continue instead of petering out in a sketchy hotel and pigging out on curry, daal, nan, and paneer. I don’t think pictures will be able to fully capture the depth of these mountains. Beautiful isn’t even enough to describe them. The Himalayas are majestic. The dense clouds that seem to wrap themselves around the peaks seemed to be asking me to explore the exotic— the unknown.
**I must get to packing, as I will be leaving India later tonight, but I will continue to elaborate on these 6 points over the course of the day..