Monday, March 5, 2012

Catching a bus in India Local Style

The trip back to India from Sri Lanka involved all the usual horrors of budget booked on the fly can’t wait to get the hell out of there mood. Fleeing from Colombo at 3am, head lolling and rolling, drooling and half sleeping through immigrations double checks and transfers along the way.
With no plan to join the rush hour into the city of Delhi, I decided to go to a local bus stand to hop on a bus to Rajasthan.
It’s easy, said an Aussie mate, Just get a taxi to the bus stand and there are buses every ten minutes.
Except its not a bus stop any more with all the towering overpasses and new highways being built around that area, its a bus SLOW DOWN. Which means that the buses swerve towards people huddled by an insanely busy roadside. The conductor will shout the destination and then the race begins. You throw you bags through the bus window as you run, and then catch hold of something that is going to hold your weight and inch by inch grope your way to the door of the moving bus.
The first bus I managed to run down was only going to Jaipur which was only half the distance I hoped to cover and it was a local bus which meant the journey was long and bum breaking.
In Jaipur I hunted briefly for a taxi to take me to Pushkar but the rates were rapidly spiraling out of control as soon as those cunning Rajasthani saw the desperate tiredness in my face, In any case it’s full wedding season in India now and taxis are fully booked. So another local bus to Ajmer, drooling, head rolling, insanely tired and possibly delerious because I was seeing it with a great sense of fondness.
Then in Ajmer, a rickshaw to cover the remaining 12 kilometers to Pushkar. By now the battery on my phone is flat and unable to phone my friendly driver in Pushkar to collect me, I had to take my chances with the bhaindchord rickshaw wallah lurking in the dark.
Before we have gone one hundred meters we have crashed into two men on a motorcycle. There is a heated conversation, some slapping and I think this is going to take too long to sort out. I hail another rickshaw and climb out of the crashed one. But then the fight is over and they wave me back in.
Another five kilometers and they stop the rickshaw and pull out the seat. It is scorched and burning, something has set it alight from the motor underneath. They put out the fire and put the seat back in. The rickshaw refuses to start.
We let it cool down and try again. It coughs and splutters up the hill and looses its lights on the way down.
But in all that crazy exhaustion and madness I remained amazingly calm, because this is why I came to India in the very first place. She, like me, is still crazy after all these years!

Originally published on Heart of India, Wanderlust and Lipstick

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