Filed under India Trip

The Man from Three Rivers (Munnar)

I started this poem after catching a hair-raising bus trip with Storm from coastal Kochin up to Munnar in the highlands in Kerala, India. It’s supposed to have the meter of the Man from Snowy River – in case that wasn’t evident from the title… See also this post from the trip

The Man from Three Rivers (Munnar)
There was movement at the station as the people milled around,
A beggar shook his cup in mournful tune.
The rubbish danced unnoticed as it fluttered from the ground
And rising sun saluted hazy moon.

The Munnar Man stood poised to write in History’s book by hand,
Every muscle in his torso set to rock.
Pensive in reflection, slowly masticating paan,
Six hours, twenty seven read the clock.

So many days have come and gone, a score of years at least,
Since raging Sanjay Gupta left his mark.
3 hours 43 he took to drive his metal beast,
From old Kochin to hinterland Munnar.

The people say it can’t be beat, with the traffic on the run,
With every thing a passing chance to hit.
But he knows that his bus is fast and skill is matched by none,
He’s whittled down the margin bit by bit.

So the people clambered upwards for a place in future glory,
Or else a death in some unknown ravine.
And last aboard the ticketman, who’ll feature in this story,
Shuffled forth collecting gold and green.

Blazing through the outskirts with his horn and screeching tyres,
Reaching speeds that only dawn allows.
Crashing through the odours of the streets and pavement fires
Dodging rickshaws, buses, cars and cows.

So to the hills he races with his lurching beast restrained,
The curves a blur for all of those onboard,
Soon will come the moment for which he’s ever trained,
The record his for now and ever more.

Round and round the corners as the bus would ever climb,
Hitting potholes, drifting left and right;
Right before the summit came a ‘clunk’ in space and time,
And for a tick the beast he drove took flight.

But nothing could deter the man on this his day of fate
3 hours 41 had come and gone,
When ladened bus with ghost-white folk did pass through Munnar’s gate
And stop outside the crowd in winter’s sun.

“Hurrah!!” He yelled “I’ve done it!” and he turned around with speed
Looking for the ticket man to say
“Congratulations Munnar Man, my watch fulfills the need,
Of proving that the record’s yours today”

Alas, it was this moment when he saw it was for sure
That the ticketman had sent his quest astray
And in this fellow’s absence were the taunting open doors
For you see he’d fallen out along the way…

{Baboom Cha}

Pappadams and Deliriums..

We had been warned by nigh-on every traveller of the potential inconveniences that awaited us in India. None was as pertinent as the threat of Delhi belly, sure to be encountered by every traveller to the sub-continent. Apart from a few minor discomforts and belly-wobbles during the first week of our trip, we had experienced none of the perils that were ‘surely’ awaiting us.

Another week and all was well; even slightly more adventurous dabblings in cuisine went unpunished. And then, after accepting a meal of vermicelli and home cooked sauce from a home-style hotelier, it commenced. Storm was first to be stricken down; her fortitude slowly eroded by a six hour bus ride over bumpy roads and persistently high temperatures. At our destination – the lovely canal-bounded town of Ernakulum -, she could stomach no more than tomato soup at a local restaurant before collapsing, bedraggled and exhausted, into bed. I would follow into fever and diarrhea soon enough, and for the next day or so we would rush frequently (and fortunately not concurrently) between the toilet and mattress.

So what is the point of this post I hear you ask. Well, as we lay there, feeling as though our innards had been scooped out like ice-cream, I would gaze glassy eyed at the ceiling. And who would appear before me? None other than my best of best friends, ye ole’ Lleyton Hewitt. Storm failed to see the connection between a few pieces of peeling paint and that most iconic of Australian sporting stars. But I could see the resemblance, and I present the evidence to you now…

Lleyton Hewitt Lleyton2

Do you stand amazed and bewildered? Or has my vermicelli induced delirium simply remained with me to this day?

Well and home at last…

It was a wonderful trip with all the sights, smells and colours that people had promised. I must admit that I’m not altogether unhappy to be home, what with quiet, space, silence, music and a sedentary base-of-actions. That said, I will be keen to pick up my pack again soon and get trekking or vanning.

Thanks to the people who responded to my correspondence; it was nice to know that some folks enjoyed hearing random tales from the subcontinent. The only thing that remains to be said is I now have a decorative Sitar sitting in the corner of my room, the reasoning being that even if it’s never played it will still look cool in any abode. And for $240 all told, it was too hard to pass up.

Bahut Maja Aya!

It’s like a miracle..only backwards

I could hear…now I’m deaf…
I could see..now I’m blind…

There are three things I really won’t miss from these parts.

1) The propensity to beep: at all times, at all oncomers, even at a distance of less than a few feet. Luxury cars seem to have the most brutish horns; horns that are so strong that you eardrums run cowering into the further crevices of your skull.
2) High beams at night: why? No-one knows. But they all do it…Always.
3) Rubbish: Unfortunately, it was an all too familiar sight when Storm and I passed a beautiful waterfall of around 100m on the way to Munnar surrounded by litter and rubbish. The trains and their passengers are particularly bad offenders; one man took an apparent pleasure in taking my plastic dinner tray from my hands and dropping it with a thud beside the tracks.

Anyways…enough whinging from me…

Well the trip just keeps getting more authentic

Yep that’s right, Storm and I have been stricken with Delhi Belly. It was only a mild case of fever and diarrhea – well I guess it depends how you define mild – but it did necessitate a trip to the local hospital to procure some medications. As Storm was too unwell to perform the task, it fell on to my unsteady shoulders to trek by rickshaw across the dusty and melodramatic lengths of the bustling streets of Allepey, in draining heat and raining humidity..ok…ok enough whining… to get 2 lots of Norfloxacin for our restive collective bellies.

And although we lost a day to the pitch of fever and grating angle grinder, we are now happy and medicated on the shores of the Arabian sea once more. Storm’s face as we drifted along the backwater canals yesterday, however, was something to catalog for when people challenge the intensity of our Indian trip in years to come. “Yeah man….we did it rough”…

So three more days and then it’s back to Oz. Having recently completed Shantaram we are both ready for the sights and sites of Bombay before cramming in some shopping with the last of our rupees and jetting home…

James

It’s like an amusement ride…only cheap.

And not 100% safe. As we sat and sipped our mago lassis this afternoon I heard part of a conversation drift over on the breeze. “Passed a bridge…bus had gone off…15 metre drop…. many dead…”. I have to say, Storm and I weren’t altogether suprised. It must be something in the water over here, but every bus driver we meet seems to be on a vendetta against life and stillness. G forces have stepped up a notch to H forces and high speeds seem to be the norm on curvy mountain passes. One bus that passed us yesterday nearly lost control on a straight stretch of road when it swerved vehemently to avoid a spluttering rickshaw.

So we’ve decided ignorance is the key and we’ve stepped in line and taken our ticket in the large deli counter called life. I guess when the number’s up…it’s roast chickens for you. Continue reading

Anger Management Problems? Become a Bus Driver!!

This is just a quick summary of our most recent goings on as this internet cubicle only seems to have an air supply of around 8 mins.

After having undeserved luck on our first train trip, we should’ve expected some approaching inconveniences. The 1 hour train delay might’ve indicated a large number of people entering and exiting carriages. The fact that trains were fully booked until the 25th might have alluded to the fact that things might be cramped. The occurence of Indian holidays might have pointed to difficulties in upgrading…but we were determined to get into Kerala at (almost) all costs. And we paid our dues… Continue reading

Slowly ticking off the 1000 quintessential travelling experiences

Bed bugs…tick

Sleeping on the floor (near the toilets unfortunately) of an indian train…tick

Laughing at the lameness of some of supposed “attractions” (Echo Point case in point)…tick

Having my shirt sleeve eaten by a goat…tick.

to be continued…

It’s like Paradise, but dirty…

With the wedding festivites complete and my friends ceremoniously married, there was finally some time to relax and play ‘Indians’ with friends over a quiet beer. One final buffet dinner to give thanks, laugh and chat before the newlyweds and associated honeymoon troupe flew to Himachal Pradesh in the country’s northwest… Continue reading

100 Days Up!

Well 100 full days of sobriety have passed, with little incident, and only the occasional transient alcoholic craving. The momentous occasion arose during dinner on the 12th of April, when one would have found me holding a semi-frosted glass of Kingfisher premium toasting with friends and with Storm – who had born the full brunt of my whinging and pining.

And then to the ensuing buck’s party, with shots of tequila and another 6 beers. It appears as though I’ve fallen off the wagon (or Auto-rickshaw) with a thud…

So Cheers from Goa as the sun is about to set over the ocean…I love it when that happens…