So, I’m finally on mi todd, swallowed up by the subcontinent by the Bay of Bengal. Back in Hampi Charlie’s felt too settled to move on. He’s found a hut for 50 rupees ran by this cheey chillum-toking baba – in fact the place is called baba cafe – who sits on a matress in the caff all day smoking said chillums. Charlie’s also furiously writing two books – his life story & an account of his trip to India. I dont blame him, the place he’s staying it is gorgeous, right by a river & one of the bouldery hills. Thus happy enough that he’s in safe hands, I’m now embracing the rest of this country & find myself properly alone for the first time in a good, good while. Its like someone lifted me up out of Edinburgh & a coupel of cyclones later plonked me in Vizag – Visakapatnam’s nick-name.
Just over twenty four hours ago I was in Hampi, contendly waiting at Smiley’s place, before being inundated by 15 young uns from Halifax & Leeds. The Roses banter was friendly enough, but a yorkshire lad did start to raise the banter levels the longer he had to wait for his eggs – are you waiting for the chicken to lay them, followed by a rude comment as to my county persuasion. In fact, it was a decidedly busy session, for the poilce were yet again in town – this time witha couple of JCBS knocking down any restaurants & houses that had been built withouout permission. During this I was told that the boat to the other side of the river (& freedom) had been cancelled for the day – stranding me on Hampi island. However, it came & with a few warm hugs & ‘happy journeys’ from the locals I was on my way. I collected my ticket from this travel agents – which had happy jounrey written on it – & was wished a happy journey by the seller. The ticket was 300 rupeees, But I’d had to pay bakshish to get the last seat on teh train a week ago. I didnt mind, because it took me where I wanted to go – the other option being a two week wait & a crappier route.
I then caught a bus to Hospet – which halted once when this oldish woman was trying to blag a free ride, & a loud argument ensued. Keen to continue, I bought her ticket (13 rupees) & we were happily trundnling along when there was another screech to a halt. This time the bus had knocked a guy off his scooter. He was proper dazed & confused, with snot coming out of his nose, but a few bottles of water over his head & he was compus enough to begin an argument with the bus driver. Then we were all shunted off the bus onto another one & finanly we made Hospet, where a big board above the station wished me a ‘HAPPY JOURNEY’
It was while waiting for my train to Gunttukal (where Id change for Vizag) that a very funny four hours began. There was this cute Israeli girl – a 24 year old called Gal – who I approached, as one normally does when surrounded by Indians in a case of “i’ll watch your bag if you watch mine.’ I said Id also ‘protect’ her from any cheezy sleezy men. Anyhow, & quite hypocritically, something happened on that train, a wee spot of cupid I think, & found her gazing at me with this big brown dreamy eyes. The indians around us thought us man & wife & after a while it actually felt like we were. Once at Guntakkal, we were stood on the bridge over the platforms, the sun just setting, & making out like crazy. Sensual spontaniety at its most romantic, yet i felt a wee bit hyporitical as her protecetor had ended up hitting on her. We had two more hours together. My train was heading east & hers was heading west to Mumbai & her flight tpo Tel Aviv. Unfortunatly the railway retiring rooms were closed (we were both up for it) so we found a bench on a quiet platform & hung out. She was a great kisser by the way.
After one last kiss to the sound of engines & cacophonic tooting I left Gal & I got on a sleeper train to Vizag. For 17 hours. The experience is worth doing & is an absolute neccessity in India. Theres plenty of food being touted up & down the aisles, from Ice cream & samosas to full lmeals & packets of sweet cherries, with the beggars not far behind – the blind, the limless & the decrepit. There were also two ladyboys who did their weekly ‘shopping.’ They turn up with an agressive clap of the hands & basically demand money off the men – which they invariably get. Apparently they are only allowed to do it on fridays & saturdays – something for the weekend I dare say.
So Im now in Vizag the so called ‘city of destiny. ‘So far its nothing special – but ive only seen the train station & a couple of streets. However, I’ve got the feeling its gonna be a great place to hole up & explore for a few days! Heres the wikipedia link…