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Monday, April 12, 2010

Hyderabad - Bangalore

Thursday afternoon I left the house. I was free. I had no plans. In that moment I didn’t care that I had no clue of where I was staying that night. All I wanted was to get on my way. I realized that this was the first time for me to be out my own, without a detailed plan as to where I was going, since getting to this country. This was a different way to be in India. It would be a challenge, of this much I was aware. But I’d be fine, as long as I took each step at a time, and knew my general direction, I was certain the details would all fall into place.

Leaving Hyderabad (where the yoga house was) was a mission. But I managed; just by putting my trust in strangers, taking assistance from policemen, asking 100 times how to get to certain places and finding ways to set up where my next overnight stay would be. For Thursday night it was the bus where I’d be sleeping. I was happy to get a ticket at such short notice. I was at peace...

This was my first overnight bus journey in India by the way, and an experience not many travelers would recommend but definitely something I was happy to finally undergo. I met the kindest people and felt so at home – more so than I had at any stage during the yoga story. I laughed so much when taking-in the whole “process” of getting the journey underway; it was top-notch entertainment! We were waiting on the bus, it almost 2 hours late and the drivers still didn’t make any effort to speed things along; they were installing the television, cleaning the windows, getting fuel, having dinner, talking amongst themselves and even took their time to have a “body wash”!. I was loving every minute of what I was seeing. The journey to Bangalore took 14 hours. The manic style of driving was something that would usually make a passenger nervous, scared and fearful of their lives with every swerve the bus makes, every honk of the horn and slam on the breaks. But I let go of the nerves and enjoyed it as much as possible. I slept not so much. And when there’s no sleep there’s also no proper end to one day or start to the next: the days start rolling into each other and it always feels so strange.

At 8.30 we reached the city. I had no clue what I was doing. I suddenly dreaded the next step. I had a few options I was considering. All I knew was to get to the railway station, and see how soon I can get another ticket booked to keep making my way down south. I wanted it to be as soon as possible. But I was tired, I was sweating, I was hungry. Since my last yoga class, which was only 24 hours ago, I had been through so much and hadn’t had any time to get over it all. I was still running on the same “energy” which had left me, shortly after the class had finished. But life was evolving, it waits for nobody and I wouldn’t have been able to press pause, even if I tried. Or could I? Yes I could. By again, putting my trust in some locals, who met me when I got off the bus. They got me a taxi to a hotel near the station. I didn’t care of the cost at that point. I needed a shower and some sleep and some peace to keep up with things. I booked myself in for 1 night. The owner was an arrogant *** and I wasn’t really comfortable there, but I had a shower (which was a bucket of cold water..) and a bed. I then had the rest of the day (which was still on Friday) to sort out my ticket for the next leg of the journey which was from Bangalore to Cochin, and it had to be on Saturday night. It was another mission. In my exhaustion it would have been so easy to let everything I was surrounded by, get me down: the sleazy looks, the dirty looks, the amazed looks, the snide remarks, the sniggers behind my back, the wrong directions in which I was being pointed in, the heat, the traffic, the vastness of this unfamiliar big city. But I forced myself to be unaffected by this crazy place. This was not going to get the better of me! And it didn’t. It took me all afternoon to sort, and I actually did meet some really nice people in the process of booking something that usually would be such a small and easy step to take, anywhere else. But I wasn’t anywhere else. I was in India, and this is how things are. Simply accept things as they are and deal with them! And always Smile to lighten the load – and take to relax the muscles in the face, because when you frown you use 74 facial muscles and only 14 when you smile!!! That thought alone, put a smile on my dial.

I had the most relaxing night. I actually sat and watched the most television, for the first time in ages. It was so nice. The following morning, I had to check out by 9am. My bus wasn’t leaving until 6pm. So I had the whole day to fill. I wasn’t in the mood to go exploring. So I dumped my luggage at the cloakroom in the station, and hung out all day. I was just like the rest of the “waiters” at the station: I was hanging around with nothing better to do, just to avoid spending an unnecessary amount of money and so I was filling my time with watching and observing and of course, being watched and observed.

It was getting to be so tiring: knowing that every move I make, no matter where I go or what I’m doing doesn’t go unnoticed. (all travelers can relate to this I’m sure.. especially girls.) I have a coconut on the side of the street and there are at least 20 pairs of eyes focused on me. I walk into an eating joint and at least 30 pairs of eyes look. But I can’t meet all of their gazes, as much as I would want to; I want to because I’ve realized with the return of a stare, they soon stop but 30 pairs of eyes, it‘s too much. Then 20 comments regarding “the girl who just walked in alone”, are being whispered to their neighbor and they are either appalled at the sight of her or they are simply amused. To show I don’t care, I smile, especially to the women, and I tell myself that they don’t mean to be rude, it’s just how I’m perceiving it. This attitude takes away a lot the pressure I can sometimes feel, but it takes a lot of energy at the same time; which is something I didn’t have too much of.

Saturday was the waiting day. I met some interesting people who made me feel happy and grateful for where I was and what I was doing. There was the boy selling tea who was maybe 10 years old but had the presence of a 20 year old, then there was a man who claimed he was God and was searching everywhere to complete his mission. He helped me out though, which made one step of the journey a lot easier than it otherwise would have been. Then there was a jolly fellow who told me about his trip to Finland and then high-fived me after he felt how heavy my backpack was and realized I was actually able to lift it. It was so funny. I couldn't wait though to finally get on that bus, and out of Bangalore..

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