Milton Keynes

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May 12th 2008
Published: May 12th 2008
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It's decided Patna is the Milton Keynes of India.

As a city it seems to exist only for itself, it's got nothing to appeal to an outsider there are only a handful of restaurant and no cafes. (I wanted to sit somewhere cool and just have a drink, I had to settle for a burger bar in a weathered shopping mall) It seems to hate pedestrians, not unusual in an Indian city but in a very Milton Keynesian way; the roads are all straight and long, intersecting at crossroads, with no pedestrian crossing points. At the weekends the roads go similarly dead and quiet, not as dead of course, even a Cotswold hamlet musters up more activity than Milton Keynes. There is absolutly nothing to see as a tourist (I was warned of this, but I stubbornly stuck to my itinerary), I went to the Gandhi Museum today it's quite small but I'm sure it would have been quite interesting were it not that it was all in Hindi. Now I am not in favour of having everyone speak English but what civic group in the world is unaware of the concept of tourists. They had one of Gandhi's dhotis, I think, but it could just as well have been one of his dishcloths for all the enlightenment I got from the museum.

I also tried to go to the Patna Museum which looked quite good from the outside, but the outside was all I got to see, on Mondays many things are shut. This is also true on Sundays, Indians like to have days off, as well as days to strike and have religious, government, national and state holidays. I would go tomorrow but I really want to leave Patna, so I'm going to the station tomorrrow morning and will try to buy a last minute ticket to Gaya.

I also want to leave because of my hotel. It been the first place I've stayed in that's been awful, so probably a learning experience for the weeks to come. A useful fact if you are thinking of coming to Patna: (and after reading this I hope you are not) book a room in advance. When I arrived on Sunday morning everywhere was full, I asked at ten different places and only found a room at one, kind of a bad sign. I had to relinquish my passport to be photocopied by someone the manager pulled off the street. The manager himself, while I am not a personal believer in stereotypes, screamed conman. My room at first glance looked pretty good, with a clean bed, shower and a fan. But after I'd settled in I noticed the peeling paint; the fact the shower was intermittant, the fact my bed was actually 6 planks on a frame that could be felt through the thin dirty mattress covered in a single sheet. The worst thing was that the lock on my door didn't lock. The loop through which you put the padlock had come loose in it's holder and could easily be pulled rendering the padlock useless and allowing anyone who tried into my room, so I have to lock everything in my bathroom. I was sort of okay with this until last night when I saw a rat easing its way through the grill into my room. It then tried to nest behind the television. My furry friend and I then played a fun game of "Chase The Squeaking Bastard Into The Squat Toilet And Then Flush, Flush, Flush, Ratatouille Be Damned". It certainly coloured my evening. Then today, not 2 hours before when I'm writing this now, there was a loud banging on my door and when I opened it two plain dressed large men entered my room demanded to see my passport and showed me a police badge. I was then interrogated about when I'd arrived in both Patna and India. After I'd told them they left promptly without a word. I hope you understand why I'm eager to leave.


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