Money, Pen, Chocolate, Chips?

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February 17th 2016
Published: February 22nd 2016
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The alarm went off bright and early, and I got up knowing that we had a train to catch. The only problem was that I felt like total shit. I was lightheaded, weak, and something intestinal was definitely brewing. I dragged myself from bed and just decided that I had to roll with the punches. We took a rickshaw to the station and then waited a little bit for the train to arrive. Luckily, we had reserved some sleeper spots for this leg of the journey. I climbed up to mine and fell asleep straight away. When I awoke a few hours later, I sat up and felt very sweaty. I climbed down to sit next to Bev and she noticed I was pale. I went to the carriage latrine and squatted down to see what would happen, and nothing did, so I figured that was a good sign. I came back and sat by the window to get some air, which seemed to slightly help me out. It sucks being sick, and having to use public transport, especially in India. But I knew all too well that it could have been a hell of a lot worse. The train arrived at Jhansi station and then we had to take yet another rickshaw over the small farming town of Orchha. This town has existed since the 1500's and had plenty of temples strewn about. Although the main street was plenty noisy at times, and the streets were still trash of trash like most Indian towns, there would still be lots of peace to be found in just a few minutes of walking.

Of course, I wasn't in the best state at the moment, and you kind of have to expect that there will be times like this when traveling long term. So I sat on my bed at the guesthouse and tried to rest. And eventually the diarrhea came. Not too bad, but traveler's diarrhea is what I had. Couldn't say what caused it, considering Bev felt fine, but it wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. By the early evening, I felt a little better, and strong enough to attempt going out and walking around for a bit. We went out and walked for a few short minutes to some of the bigger temples. Bev got accosted by some young girls who were trying to have her visit their parents shop. These girls looked disheveled and were hustling as hard as they could. When they first saw us they all ran out and asked us for pens, chocolate, chips and some flat out wanted rupees. This is a very common occurrence with children unfortunately, usually in areas where they are more prone to seeing foreigners. It seemed sad, as they ranged from 5 to 13 years old, and were trying to make money on foreigners who were visiting their village. Bev lied and told them that her name was Sarah and they made her promise them that she would visit their shop the next day. Once we were able to shrug them off, we headed back to the guesthouse. I only ate soup that night. Didn't have much of an appetite to be honest.

The next morning I felt a bit better, although I had had a few episodes of the squirts during the night. We went to a nearby rooftop to eat some breakfast, and we could see a marriage ceremony taking place on the street below. It seems customary in Indian culture for marriage ceremonies to last between three days to one week. In this case the groom was seated on a horse and was surrounded by dancing family members and people playing drums. They carried on playing a rhythmic sequence of beats for quite a while. This is really what I love about this place, one moment you might be miserable and having the squirts and in an instant something amazing happens. The woman who was serving us food offered Bev some Henna on one of her feet, and then began working on an interesting design. She also drew an Om symbol on my hand along with my initial. Om is an important spiritual symbol in hinduism which signifies sound and entirety of the universe (different meanings also exist based on various schools of thought). After this we began walking towards the temples near the Betwa river, many of which appeared in ruins. A few farmers lived around this immediate area. It was a mostly quiet walk along dirt roads and between fields, except when a few kids would notice us and run up asking for some chocolate, or a bag of chips, or a pen. Bev did have a pen which she gave away, resulting in her no longer having any pens. I tend to give food to those who ask for something, especially kids, and never money because often this money won't end up being used to benefit them or may be used for malice. Ultimately, I was getting annoyed at constantly being asked for something, but reminded myself that this is one of the realities of traveling in a developing country. Since the day had grown hot, we returned to the guesthouse for a bit and then went out a little later on to explore more of Orchha. Many animals were found along the dusty streets and children were seen in dirt fields playing cricket. We explored more of the bigger temples and then watched the sunset as some Hindi music played in the background.

Amazingly, I was getting my appetite back now and was feeling loads better. We ate at a local place that had arguably some of the saltiest dishes I've had here to date. In this case though I figured more salt would be useful to me. After that we went back to the small main square and then went into the Rama temple, where every evening there was Hindu prayer ceremonies. I wasn't allowed to bring hardly anything in, including photography equipment, as would be expected. I was ushered in barefoot and walked past the Hindu priests who were blessing their fervent devotees and accepting offerings. Bells and hums could be heard. For a while, we just sat and watched a different people came in and performed their rituals. On the way out we had a few kids ask us for more chocolate and chips and everything else. Bev's friends found her and yelled that she didn't go to their store. She made up some excuse and got out of there. It was very fascinating to see and I made a note to read up more on Hinduism, only because there is so many more questions that come to mind every time I see a ceremony such as this. Back at the guesthouse I talked to a couple from the states who had been traveling in Africa for about eight months prior. Fascinating the trips people do. I went to bed fairly early, as we had another train journey in the general section.

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