Rickshaw Run – The fifth day.
Leaving Bhaglapur was one of the best things that we did today. Oh and shooting sunrise over the Ganges. Hotels really don’t understand much western reasoning. I think the weirdest thing is that most hotels aren’t quite completed before their rooms are put up at full price. It’s strange to us, but surprisingly normal here. There’s tax cuts for not finishing a building, so most places finish construction but leave a few key things like boardrooms or proper rooftops, unfinished.
It was the Hotel Charmayne Inn Bhaglapur. Sharing a building with a whitegoods shop. It looked swanky from the outside, but inside it was yet another collection of kitsch indian design and a low-rent budget. Camphor balls in the bathroom made it smell like a urinal, not-quite-complete tiling that was a little messy, but did the job. The thing I hate the most about indian bathrooms are the shiny tiles. They’re so freaking slippery especially when the act of showering involves filling a bucket, washing yourself with soap, and then tipping more hot water (or mostly cold) over yourself until you’re washed. This makes for an old-fashioned slip and slide on shiny tiles. Hope you like a split head. Because a lot of the country live in abject poverty, those who have jobs make sure that they keep them. In most of these “pricier” hotels, you’ll find you have a staff member that does the things – this person will top up your water glass, offer you a new piece of Roti when yours has been eaten, even if the basket of bread is sitting right next to you on the table. No, you can’t take it yourself, someone is employed to put it on your plate. Same if you’ve finished eating but there’s still some curry in the bowl, “You haven’t finished it, you can’t be full, here ma’am, eat more, what about dessert?” The only way to say no is to walk away.
Knocking at the door at 11pm. Everyone wakes from their slumber in a groggy state, knocking again. Nope. Not dreaming this one. Bevan opens the door and there’s two staff there, “Water sir?” They woke us up to give us another bottle of water, which we will probably pay for.
It’s like being a baby again, except nobody will be there to wipe your bottom.
Mostly you’ll find strange drainage issues, leaky roofs and light switches that don’t do anything. It’s a good hotel if the electricity stays on constantly. Every town in India usually sees the power go out intermittently. Usually you’ll be going about your thing, washing your hair in a slippery bathroom, working on your laptop, trying to get 5% charge into your phone, or in my case, riding the elevator – when the goddamned power goes out!!!
It was at this point my heart stopped. The elevator was big enough for 3 people, it was dark, there was no call buttons and the doors opened between the floors. My heard began to race and just as I started to feel the panic creeping in, the power comes back on and the lift continues to the ground floor. After that I make a promise to myself not to take any more lifts in India and use the damn stairs. At least they don’t rely on power to operate.
India is not without its share of crazy festivals, the orange-dressed Shiva’s had taken over the streets on their month-long pilgrimage to the Ganges to celebrate monsoon – or something like that. Nobody could really accurately tell us what was happening in English. Our hotel manager had mastered the word “yes” and so this was his answer to everything. These crazy orange-cloaked people, about a million of them – that’s how many crazy mofos are on the road driving like they have nine lives. They’re a very loud and proud cult, not only by choice of Pantone shade of their garments, but by their presence.
They drove down the streets of Bhaglapur with several trucks stacked high with sound monitors. A sheer wall of speakers pumping some kind of trance-ish hindi EDM and them sitting right beneath it, for hours on end. No wonder they’re deaf. The music would have been rather enjoyable if it wasn’t forcibly shoved in my ears along with the medley of truck and bus horns, bikes and cattle all contending for a piece of road real estate. It’s maddening and dangerous and requires the body to produce its own Red Bull in order to stay alert and watch your six.
When we finally got out of dodgy, we decided to take the road less travelled and less mapped. It was a left or right option. Right was on the map, as was left, but our road atlas only had left and google maps had right. We chose Right because the road was smaller, and there was less chance of being harassed by bus drivers whose only intent was to make us scared.
Because of this gamble, we ended up in some of the most serene landscape I have experienced thus far in India. Bizarrely, we found gum trees lining the road, palms and an expanseful landscape of rice fields and farmers grazing cattle. This went on for 70km or so, and by the time we got to the end of it, we had been hit by the same thunderstorm four times. Each time it pelted down roads and flooded the potholes. It was by now that our windscreen wiper had given up the fight and was merely a hood ornament designed to distract, it wasn’t serving a purpose. There were less trucks and heaps of crazy idiots stacked high on cars and dressed in orange.
It was a long day, but a mostly pleasant one. There were a couple of stories not really suitable for mentioning here, but in time I’ll release that if there’s enough interest.
There’s so many photos and yet so far to go. I’ll be definitely sorting photos for months after this trip.
The tuk parked at the ganges view with locals.
Under the shade of a tree after escaping the crazy towns.
Those orange guys shouting "walbum, walllllbummm, wallbum" or thats what it sounded like.
Chai is served in terracotta cups here. more hygenic and they throw them away. We kept ours though. They'll remind me of this city, always.
The open road and our glorious steed.
Chef cooking sweets
The Lotus temple, with thunderstorm.