Published: April 25th 2011April 25th 2011
Kye Monastery Spiti Valley
On top of the world. September 2010 during the ride (Royal Enfields) to Leh and Spiti with Mark Takefman.
This time in India began for me 15 months ago. And now it's time to leave (already?).
On May 2nd I will board a train from Bhubaneswar (where I have been living and working for a year) to Mumbai with Gladys (Royal Enfield Bullet), stay with my good friends Raj and Marg there, and fly out on May 7th.
Not to Australia: to Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain. I will stay with Carolina in her house in Canet d'Adri (Girona). I decided that I just wanted to get out of the ever intensifying Indian summer and, of course, I had the huge desire to get back together with Carolina sooner rather than later. We have many plans for the next five months, including walking the Camino, visiting some friends in southern France and in Switzerland, and going to Morocco. Not to mention exploring Catalunya and beyond in Spain itself. But apart from that, it will be great to just veg out at Carolina's house, muck around, and 'be' for a while.
The plan (it was John Lennon who said "living is what happens while you are making plans) is to then return to India in October. Gladys will be waiting
January in Kerala
in Mumbai and we'll ride off for a 3 months tour (at least) through Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrachund, Utter Pradesh and back to Orissa. Then we'll see (depends on whether we can get a six month visa for Carolina or not to match mine. Spaniards usually only get 3 months).
The longer term plan is to return to Australia in early 2012.
I think I am ready to leave India for a while. I notice my tolerance levels declining around the place - getting short with people over the usual frustrations encountered when you don't know the local language and where people's behaviour seems so annoying (when really it's more about you not knowing the local language and not sharing the same cultural expectations). I did write a short story on this, which I include here for your possible amusement. My behaviour is atrocious of course - but that's the point!:
The Ready to Leave India Index (RLII)
Paul had been in India for 15 months.
He was now scaling his behaviour against the internationally recognized “Ready to Leave India Index” or RLII, whereby one could know with some certainty that it was
With Bikash (worker at one of the community based organisations I have been advising in my year in Bhubaneswar).
time for a break.
The Index is a clearly defined set of behaviour descriptions which attract points, whereby when one reaches 15 index points, one has passed the threshold of tolerance and comfort in India, and it’s time to leave.
Yesterday Paul had an interchange with two innocent bystanders from whom he had requested instructions on where the building he was seeking was located. The first man simply shook his head. This was fine. He didn’t know, so from Paul’s point of view it was great that he made that clear. The second man pointed vaguely down the road. Paul said “OK, but do you mean in this road or beyond, and on the left or right, and how far?”. Of course Paul knew that he was having a meaningless conversation with himself, as neither man spoke English. The man pointed again with a slight wave of the arm and a characteristic wobble of the head.
The first man then decided he did know and also started waving his arm in that general direction. Paul blurted “You don’t know do you? You told me you didn’t know a minute ago and now you still don’t know”. Then to the second man “And you don’t know either. So fuck you” and off he went.
For this effort, Paul reckoned he scored 8 full points on the RLII.
Then today, Paul attended his local bank branch to find out where his replacement Visa card had got to. Twenty days ago he had reported his lost card and had been told “It will reach within 10 days”. He was very calm and collected as the woman behind the desk started searching her files and records. He even took it calmly when told he may need to come back tomorrow with a passport size photograph (again) and fill in a new application.
On the way out, the parking attendant tried to charge him 5 rupees for parking his bike in front of the bank. Paul let loose with “Listen, I am a customer of THIS bank. THIS bank charges me fees to use their service so that they can also make money from MY money. I am NOT paying a fucking parking fee OK? So stuff you” and off he rode.
He had refrained from saying “fuck you” and so this effort was only pegged at a healthy 6 points on the RLII. His cumulative total was now 14 points.
So there he was – just one point short of an indication that it was time to leave India. He contemplated this fucking typical situation. To be 93% there and be just one bloody point away. That’d be right. “Fuck this” thought Paul.
That response earned him two points on the RLII. He was on his way.