From Dhaka we travelled by bus for thirteen hours and reached Kolkata by evening. Just before boarding the bus, I was convinced I was going to throw up in the waiting room, quite possibly on the feet of the Bangladeshi poet Seth was chatting to. I held it in but felt rotten for two hours. In Kolkata we washed up, fed, got a great nights sleep, then flew to Mumbai early the next morning. Bad turbulence had me reaching for the sick bag, turning green and desperately holding back the vomit. (Damn food of Kuakata! I have lost three kilos in the last week!) And here we are in Mumbai, on our last day in India.
Despite having an excellent time, Seth, to some degree, feels less enamoured of India than previously. I don't think you can study his discipline - political theory, ethics - and not find India troubling. It makes sense. For my own part, i will always be a romantic, and a romantic finds so much to love about this country. Leaving this place is always difficult for me.
Practically, it's always a mad rush to buy all the Bollywood dvds and soundtracks we think we
might want over the next year or so. We've spent the day hanging out drinking falooda (rose water, strange fruity-pips, ice cream, milk and vermicelli... yum...) in the Sea Lounge, and later we'll take in the Cafe Ideal and Bollywood night at Enigma before heading to the airport. It's all good. But the feeling of the last day, for me, is always sad-happy, and strangely lucid. Loving India, as a foreigner, is a complicated relationship. It's an unrequited love because the country, obviously, cannot love you back, and as with most romances, one participant (India) is a total enigma, a real bugger to figure out. I'll never fully understand it. And of course there are things about the place that piss me off that i won't miss at all, as with anywhere. Yet it's hard not to feel a bit pensive as we leave. I don't know when we'll be back. I don't think it will be for a long time.
However, I can't brood for long. In ten days i'll be heading off alone to face my biggest travel challenge yet. North East Asia beckons and in order to be as physically and mentally prepared for the pilgrimage
Badly Burnt, Part Two
As promised, the evidence of my Crash Bandicoot face burn; the most ridiculous i have had to date. This photo was taken in Hampi (Lotus Mahal in background.) I am glad to say my face is now looking a bit less like one of those fruit salad sweets.
as i can hope to be, I can't be daydreaming much in this last push of preparations. I feel quite intimidated, like a tiny blackbird sat on top of a mammoth's egg. (That's a really weird image. I just wrote it off the top of my head. I know what i mean, but it's bizarre. Did mammoths even lay eggs? Doesn't seem likely. And what have blackbirds got to do with anything? I'm leaving it in as a tribute to the obscure.) But to have something so massive to look forward to, attempt, plan for, is exciting.
So, bye for now India. It's not the worlds worst problem to have, is it, to like a country so much you don't like to leave it? And, when I love to travel so much, to be lucky enough to spend the whole summer doing so is a fine position to be in. So I believe my licence to whinge has expired.
Top Five Bollywood Songs of Summer 2008! (The ones we've heard endlessly...) :
1. Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindagi from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
2. Pelhi Nazar Mein from Race
3. Hare Krishna Hare Ram from Bhool Bhulaiya (still!)
4. Deewangi Deewangi from Om Shanti Om (yes, still!)
5. Chaliya from Tashan
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