I am currently lying in "bed" on my first ever sleeper bus in India on my way from Udaiper back to Jaipur for a flight to visit my friend Mickey in Pune. Well, if you could call this "lying." Basically, I'm crammed into a bed that's less than 2 feet wide and 5 and a half feet long, made even smaller by the fact that I also had to fit my giant backpack as well as my daypack and my purse in here with me. I am literally bouncing four to five inches into the air every few minutes, and I am closed in by a sliding tinted window that's meant to be for privacy but really, I think it's the only thing keeping me from bouncing off my bed and into the aisle below. To top it all off, I decided to try and type out this very blog on my iPod between bounces, because I knew I had been neglecting you, my sweet devoted fans.
A lot has happened since we last talked, so let me catch you up. I spent a glorious week soaking up sun on Koh Chang, an island in Thailand. I did manage to try half a happy shake. I would have had a whole one, but the guy who picked them up forgot mine, so while another friend shared his with me, the guy went back on his scooter to get mine...AFTER chugging his. BIG mistake. My happy shake ended up splattered on the road, the scooter ended up smashed, and my poor friend ended up breaking his jaw in two places! Moral of the story: don't shroom and scooter. Half a happy shake didn't do much, but I did walk back to my guesthouse alone and caught the end of Sherlock Holmes with the Thai guys that live there, and let me tell you, in spite of everything I'd just seen (my poor friend was not a pretty picture), I was pretty damn happy to be watching what seemed to be one of the best movies ever, even though I'd missed the first hour and a half and the voices kept switching from English to dubbed in Thai, because of the lightening storm rolling in. Pretty damn happy to be watching Sherlock freaking Holmes, for Pete's sake!
After Koh Chang, I went back to Bangkok, picked up my visa for India, and a week later, flew to Delhi to meet Andrew, the guy I'd met in Laos.
Before I get into that, let me just take a break to brag that just now, I managed to unpack and repack my giant backpack to get to the warm flannel pj pants and long sleeve t-shirt at the very bottom, then change clothes, while bouncing like a popcorn kernel, all while wearing my trusty headlamp, because even though the air con in my bunk works all too well, the light doesn't work at all.
Now, back to Delhi...and Andrew. Well, it all seemed fine at first. We met up in Delhi where he had booked us into one of the shittiest of shitholes (pardon my French), but I didn't mind--it had a tiny tv and I found a couple cockroaches but no bed bugs. On the 3 and a half hours of sleep I'd had, he took me on about 8 hours of sight seeing, mostly on foot. I didn't want to be the whiny American so I powered through. Over the next week, we took 2 trains, 1 bus, saw 4 cities, at least 3 forts, and numerous other sights that I can't even remember because I was so freaking exhausted! I kept trying to tell him that it was too much, too fast and that I was going way over my daily budget, but he either wasn't listening or didn't care. By the time we got to Udaiper, the 4th stop, I had just shut down on him and had barely spoken a word in 2 and a half days. I mean, what's the point in talking to someone who won't listen?
To make matters worse, being a white girl in India is one of the biggest challenges I've faced on my journey so far. The first couple of days, I could make light of it, parts of it weren't too bad. Every little girl under 16, looks at me in awe and smiles like they'd just seen a famous Hollywood movie star. Men and women come up and ask if they can take a photo with me. Little schoolboys politely introduce themselves and then question both Andrew and I about our homelands. "Cause I'm a celebrity, woohoo," I would joke to Andrew. But it was the leering that got to me. I'm not exaggerating when I say that EVERY single man that we walked by in the first 3 cities would just stare at my chest as they passed us. The ones walking with their wife and children, the ones riding bicycles or driving rickshaws, the one's running food stands...EVERY single one, no matter how flattened and covered I kept them. At the tourist sites, men were constantly sneaking photos on their phones, some wouldn't even try to hide it. Working at at the front door of a strip club for 7 years helped me to ignore it for the first 3 or 4 days, but by about day 5 when we were out at night looking for a place to eat, and some man tried petting my back and shoulder while Andrew was busy gawking at some Bollywood movie theater (which also pissed me off because from the outside, it looked like any other freaking movie theater), I'd had enough. I lost it, bawled my eyes out, and ended up calling my grandma at home for the first time on this whole trip, to calm me down. She did her best of course, because she is awesome, but it was too late-- I was hating India and I was hating Andrew.
Let me pause again to tell you that our bus just stopped for a half hour break to use the restroom, smoke cigarettes, and/or stock up on snacks, I was the one and only westerner among the three buslloads of people and one of only about 15 women all together. Needless to say, I drew quite a crowed as I stood there smoking a cig, surrounded by at least 30 men, ALL staring...and whispering, laughing, and occasionally pointing. You'd think I was standing there naked as a jay bird, instead of covered fully by the long sleeved t-shirt and flannel pajama bottoms I so artfully put on earlier.
And with that, I must say, to be continued. It's 1:30 in the morning, I'm tired, and my iPod battery is running low. Hopefully, I have wi-fi tomorrow so I can publish this and brain power enough to whip up part two. I'll add some pics now of some of India's finer points, including nome other than than...the Taj Mahal! I love you all, and I promise to pick this up where I left off in the next few days.