December 9th 2010
As I lay on my 312-rupee sleeper bunk in a crowded train car, I had some thoughts about my journey through India so far. Andy Mesa, one of my readers, put it best: Most travelers to India have a love/hate relationship with it. I am leaning more toward “hate” than “love”.
As I got on this particular train, the aisles were packed with people who have no idea how to coordinate with each other. It’s chaotic. When you ask (and hand signal) someone (and them not understanding English) to stand in an open area so you can get past, they will press themselves against the wall to their right, giving you half an aisle to get through, which isn’t easy when you have a backpack on your back and a daypack on your front, when instead, they could’ve stepped into the space to their left, leaving the entire aisle clear. I get irritated and in my mind, insult their intelligence, which is not right of me but in my moment of irritation, that’s what I felt.
As the trains are usually crowded and chaotic, I constantly check my pockets to make sure my wallet and camera are there. I haven’t had any problems through my travels so far but this time, moving through the packed aisle, I felt my pocket lighter. Luckily for me, I had instantly felt it and turned around and shouted at one of the young Indians who squeezed past me. He instantly raised his hands and I heard my camera fall onto the ground. I picked it up, gave him a look, and left. Not 10 seconds later, another Indian man took hold of him and called out for the police because the pickpocket had lifted a cell-phone from someone. Oh yeah, I tore a hole in my pants, in the crotch area, while overstretching taking a big step to get over some bags.
When I got to my bunk and loaded up my bags and myself on it, I realized something; it smelled really funky. I don’t know if it’s food or B.O. Is it bad that I couldn’t tell the difference between the smell of Indian food or B.O.? It was probably something else though.
Anyway, coming back to my love/hate relationship with India. Some of you may be wondering why I am traveling through India if I don’t “love” it. It’s a journey. And the journey must be undertaken to reach the destinations. Some say that things “are about the journey and not the destination” but in the case of my Indian travels, the desire to see the destinations help me to get through the long and torturous journeys. (Some kid on an adjacent bunk just looked at me funny as I sniffed my shoes to check if the funky smell was coming from ME…)