08 June 2006

bombay to kathmanduuuuu

mixed luck in the cards these days:
the night before we left, the monsoon broke in full and we were frolicking in the rain on a shady waterfront and my friends lost two wallets and $200 (of course)-- i knew that nice icecream man had evil eyes.
then we got to the train station and found out there were only two seats on the train for the six of us. we boarded anyway much to the dismay of the elderly man with a waxed handlebar mustache who was presiding over our section. 3rd class is not a class of space or comfort; when boarding i had an unprecedented moment of horrifying claustrophobia/fear that i would be trampled.it's something like a mosh pit, only with a time limit because the train doesnt stay at the station long and everyone knows this.
the first night i shared one berth with a (fortunately) dainty belgian lass of sixteen, but 24 inches between two people isn't really conducive to comfort, especially because the spoon would have been awkward. second night i shared with will, but he is violent and obnoxious and much larger..i had bruises and cramps in the morning. the others slept on the filthy floor but looked blissful in comparison. 
we traveled all the way to gorapor (ill amend the spelling later) some fifty hours on the train altogether--and most of it was through vast stretches of farms and ancient towns that remind me of all the small towns i have seen all over the world. i would sit in the open door of the car with my feet hanging out and see the kids playing ball in the dirt, women gossiping over laundry, old people sittin in the doorways dishing out wisdom. people in nearly every stage of life (though no births were witnessed)..i saw an ornate coffin being lowered into mud on the side of a vast dry river. plains, desert, jungle, sky, rain. we sampled fruits of every possible color throughout. the train. it moves slow enough to see everything, it rocks like a woman's hips on the tracks and lulls one into a calm state that would not otherwise be possible (considering the crowded noisy filth of all of the humans crammed in). trains are the superior way to ride.        
once we were sufficiently dazed by day two on the train, handlebar mustache relaxed and we may have even seen a smile, though it remains to be known. also with us was a young woman, her old husband and their two toddlers, boy and girl. the youngest, the unfortunate girl, never looked too happy unless she was defecating in the aisle-- at which point her face lit with glee.
we got off finally late at night in that terrible shithole gorapor; checked into a shady hotel and then proceeded to the most terrible meal in recent memory.
Gorapor, for having one main street, is impressively filthy. the 'restaurant's' proprietors were obviously trying to maintain this tradition to the fullest extent possible. but, it being one am, and us being exhausted, we nonetheless relented. the waiter was so drunk that communication or ordering of any kind became impossible and we were forced to go straight to the cook; fortunately he was standing a mere meter away over a large collection of black pots caked with decades of animal greases. when they brought out the naan, a cockroach (to their credit, it was only the size of a quarter) scurried from under it and to the safety of the underside of the table. since I only saw it out of my peripheral vision i pretended it was my imagination. rachel's nauseated face said otherwise. we then force swallowed the skankiest (to use a term of the brit traveling with us) beer that has ever passed my lips in an effort to kill the probable millions of ecoli/giardia/etc we had just ingested. 
we woke up four hours later still alive YES! and took the worst visa pictures i have ever seen and then found a sweaty bus to the border. at which point the young Belgian discovered her passport was no longer with us. will went with her back to gorapor and eventually delhi.
but the rest of us strolled across to nepal, with the beasts and the buses and bicycles. the nepli immigration officers were delighted with how awful my picture was and demanded one as a souvenir. 
next we flagged down every passing vehicle, asking a ride to kathmandu. i told rachel to show some leg but she refused and so we were forced to buy bus tickets from these very nice young men. Don't worry, it only 9 hour ride! once we were on the bus and it got crowded and other nice young men began pointing at our seats, their tickets, and screaming at us, we surmised that the nice young men at the border had fucked the nice young men with the tickets out of their seats. 
we stopped an hour later and the not so nice anymore men who were forced to sit on the floor placated themselves with copious amounts of nepali wine. the busride then became increasingly rowdy. we made new friends with the men in front of us; one of them asked if the ipodwas a mobile? we said no, music! and they demanded a listen. soon we were charging through the night on the windy roads with billy idol at full volume and their vocal appreciation of our fine american pop was ever-impressive. then the most epic and beautiful lightning storm ive ever seen--silhouettes of the trees on the mountain tops were  illuminated every 15 seconds or so, and also the frightening drop just outside the window. 
12 hours later, we arrived in the glorious, GLORIOUS city of kathmandu, had some tea, and began our preparations to storm the hills.        


carl otis winslow said...


carl otis winslow said...
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Mz. McGoose said...

I wanted to cry reading this because I can hardly believe that you get to do it all.
Don't forget me in the wonder.