Goodbye and thanks for all the rotis


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January 21st 2009
Published: January 21st 2009
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Just a quick post for the last couple of days, as my plane to Bangkok is leaving in a few hours, and I want to "complete" India as it were.

It still has not really hit me that I am leaving this part of the world- after being in it for 14 solid weeks. Although I cannot imagine early morning Bangkok will be that different than a lot of India's urban sprawl- it is still Asia and there are still tuk-tuks and congestion and grime and urine- just in different quantities and prevalence. I am definitely going to miss India, despite having already got my return trip in the pipeline (I am thinking North of Delhi, and right into Kashmir if Obama and Hiliary works as much magic around the globe as hoped for) I still know I am going to miss the sheer crazyiness with never a dull moment travelling from place to place across the country. The culture, the people and the variety I think will be hard pressed to find anywhere else, and I am definitely not expecting to on this trip. I have fallen in love with the country- but it is still the behemoth of a leg that I have got out the way on my world tour. People keep telling me that the rest of my trip is going to be a breeze in comparision- and if I just decide to stick to the Thai beaches in the next couple of weeks, it will probably be a bit of a walk in the park.

Knowing myself (which is almost a flawed statement as I still don't really think I do) as far as travelling goes, I will probably seek a bit more adventure away from tourist central parts of Thailand so that these blogs will stay readable, or at least vaguely interesting. So I will endeavour to keep them up, if its just for the joys of printing them out come procrastinating from studying back down Walmsley Road and putting together some sort of journal.

Anyway, the last few days in Mumbai have been good, although I have been growing increasingly restless for Thailand and a change of scene. I have been staying in the very basic Salvation Army Hostel which has helped to nurse my rupees after so many were weaned away on the likes of house boats and tree houses. I also did a cheeky bit of paid work (500 rupees which is about 7 quid) doing a 14 hour day at the Bollywood studios. I had got quiet friendly with the "head hunter" for the films whose job was basically to ask foreigners, or more specifically white foreigners whether they would "fancy starring in Bollywood movie, free transport, food, we pay 500RS, good experience, very nice". With a huge commission of 100RS as a reward I was also employed as a scout/headhunter/star maker/dream weaver (Ok that last one isn't mine) to ask whitey's in the Colaba area if they fancy being a star. However I ended up settling down baited by a few beers with the first group I asked and failed to recruit anyone. Still, something for the stark looking CV eh?

Bollywood. We entered the rather grotty room marked "forigner" and got the whole kit-and-kaboodle in the wardrobe sense anyway. I wondered what they would go for with my dreads and black bandana I was already sporting (and have taken to nearly always wearing). Intentionally or not they turned me Bad-ass. Serious Bad. Ass. With boots, black trousers, flannel shirt and (wait for it) a leather jacket with cut off sleeves along with a week or twos stubble (aka scruffilys) I was set to tear up the studio-turned-night club in which the days filming was in. And that I very much did. Lesser men would guffaw at the mere thought of attempting to play left handed air guitar along to a Hindi-dance track. It just so happens that I am no lesser man. In full view of the camera I shamelessly strummed, jumped, sang (in the sense of moving my lips to Hindi lyrics that I have no idea of the words), waved and in the broad sensed of the word, danced along to the song over-and-over again getting my head arm, or foot into shot whenever remotely possible.

We had a lot of fun (on reflection, at the time there was A LOT of waiting around and boredom creeping in). Besides from other tourists, all dressed up in equally ridiculous night-club attire (where the Indians get this idea of what we wear I will never know), it was interesting talking to the local extras that do this for a job, and we found out the film Phhir will be released in June (made by ASA production and enterprise).

In preparation for Bangkok (I better role up if I am ever going to get that plane) I paid for a shave at a Colaba barbers.... which then became a full out facial cleanse and massage when he roughly wiped his finger along my cheek and showed me with a truly comically disgusted look on his face the dirt India had blessed me with. The shave was great done with a (new) bare blade, but the massager, a kind of adapted circular wood-sander was rather uncomfortable, particularly when he continually pressed it over my throat making breathing impossible due to the vibrations it rattled my wind pipe with. Anyway clean shaven should make things that much easier when getting through customs early tomorrow morning.

Elephanta Island got a look in, although after Ellora and Ajanta it was a bit of a let down. It also meant I have spent a huge 750 rupees in the past month in getting entry to caves. That is big.

Today I hit the Slum Tour, which for obvious moral reasons I ummed and erred about. However, I definitely felt it was worth it, as rather than rubber necking round every doorway to see poverty and exclaim "I cannot believe people actually live in such conditions, how terrible being poor must be" instead it was a fascinating insight into the industries and facilities within Mumbai's biggest slum with over a million inhabitants. We saw pots being made, Muslim's making Hindu shrines (Religious tolerance- where in 1992 people would walk around with bottles filled with Kerosene and ignite anyone with contrasting beliefs) and incredible metal and plastic recycling factories. The output is something like $650 million a year, but the conditions are still pretty awful, for example the kilns giving off so much metallic dust that it coated every surface in sight- you can only imagine what the surface of the man's lungs were like who had been working there for 5 years.

Now I shall go, unfortunately posting photos up from India and Nepal has been nearly impossible due to slow internet/ slow me. I will hope things will be different in that sense in Thailand.

Goodbye India xxx

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21st January 2009

YOU SHAVED OFF THE SCRUFFLIES?!?!!!!?!!!! This might be grounds for divorce.
23rd January 2009

Haha, Fear not Wifey, being such a manly man they are well on their way back. Get those photos up!

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