Jake Gordon

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

22 February 2001

On the 19th, I had a train booked from Puri, on the East coast of India, where I’d been staying for a week, to Mumbai/Bombay on the West coast. When there, I was planning to stay a night, then get a plane out to Singapore the next day.

Well, to get to the station, I had to get a bus, about a one and a half hour drive - the first bus (and only bus) I got in India. Alright at first, it was a ‘luxury’ bus, which basically meant it had some soft stuff on the chairs. Got on the back of the bus where there was some room, and put my bag on the chair next to me, and started wafting my t-shirt around because it was quite hot. Then, on piled the locals, and I had to move my stuff to below my chair and on my lap. Then more people got on… and then more. By the time the bus started to actually move, I was cramped in the corner of the bus sweating like a pig, sticking my head out the window to try and get some air.

The journey wasn’t that bad, and like on all journeys I started talking to a local. “What’s your name?… Where do you come from?… What is your job?” - it just gets boring after about the seond time you get these questions. Argh! Well, like always, the friendly conversation ends with them trying to give me their phone number and/or address and then I’m supposed to contact them. I dunno, maybe I will someday when I’m home, but I’ll probably just forget. Half way along the journey there was a bang by the side of the bus and then some woman started shouting, then there was a big brawl outside, and it turned out that we’d rammed over a woman with the bus. After a few minutes of shouting and pushing, the bus started moving again. I thought there was going to be a bust up - but it was all vocal and a bit of pushing, and the woman didn’t even look hert - no blood at least.

Got to town, and after a cycle-rickshaw got to the station. I’m not going to bother talking much about the train journey again because I’ve done that before - but what I will say is that it’s extremely hard to sleep. The noise is defening, and then at 4am, when I’m finally starting to get to sleep, the stupid baby below started crying and they turn the light on, and don’t bother turning it off again - bastards. Then some guy keeps walking up and down the isle shouting “Kof-eee, kofe kof-ee, kofe kofe kofe kofe ko-feee” - obviously he’s trying to sell coffee, but noone wants the damn stuff, so why doesn’t he give it a rest and let us find him if we want some? All this before it’s even light outside as well. It wasn’t very pleasant when the baby opposite me started shitting in it’s nappy/rag either - you just heard a kind of blubbering sound, like a wet fart, and then the smell just hits you. And, it seemed to me, the woman just kind of wiped the rag around, then hung it out the window that I was trying to look out of (and get some fresh air).

Finally arrived at Mumbai station at 4.30am, and then I just waited there until dawn, which unfortunately came later (at 7am) than I expected, which was quite boring. Went to a hotel I wanted to stay at for the night, and the stupid cab driver didn’t have an idea where it was, and couldn’t read a map, and didn’t know the road name. I mean, what does he do all day? It’s not like he’s never been there before, like me, and I was having to tell him exactly where to go. My directions weren’t all that good with all the crap he was telling me, and I ended up with a half hour walk with all my bags to the hotel - only to find out it was booked up, but they did let me use their shower, which was bliss! After that, I phoned the airline and got the flight put forward to midnight that evening, and then got another stupid cab to the airport.

Got to the airport at 11am, after two nights on the train, and very little sleep. Thought I might sleep in the airport a bit, but instead I got speaking to a 60 year old bloke from the Rotary Association who’s just been to Gujarat to help with the earthquake tragedy. Interesting conversations, and somehow I managed to waste my entire day doing nothing, so that I could get the plane at midnight.

By the time I got into the departure loung my eyes were involuntarily closing, and I lay in a very comfy chair/lounger there and almost fell asleep - before going through security checks and into a far more uncomfortable area.

Plane was nice, but I sat next to boring people - I hoped to sit next to one of the girls or boys who I’d seen and talked to a bit, who’re also travelling and stuff, but instead I got two oldies. Just tried to sleep - but had to have the food as well. I think I got about one hours sleep, maybe two. Arrival at Singapore wasn’t too spectucular because I was dozing off on touchdown.

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by Jake Gordon, some rights reserved