I have been off the net for some time, even before leaving for mumbai, between my screen on laptop dying, moving, hence no net access for a bit, I was not my usual net addicted self.
Have had sooo much fun traveling with my brother Mike & his sweet girlfriend Aliya, we split up after pondicherry - they were headed to Chennai then hyderabad to see a friend of aliya's - I stayed back in Pondicherry to see Karilyn and paul off on their rickshaw ride, then since I was going to catch a bus the same direction decided to hop in with them to their first stop.
It was fun to travel with them for 1/2 a day. We had planning this trip for 8 months or so,then after my broken arm they found a sub, janikka, but at the last minute she decided not to go - so there was space and paul and karilyn decided, even if I could not contribute by driving (all the starting, clutch and gear shifting is in the left hand/wrist which I broke) that my company was valuable and for the moral support. Makes me feel good to be wanted, but I am also lookng fwd to get my cast off on monday when I am back in mumbai - so perhaps after I get that off and mike and aliya have left, i will meet them in varanasi - towards the end of the adventure, need to check on my finances first and plan my US return.
would be great to see the other parts of india in that northern section i have not seen - will send try to post photos of the pimped out auto soon - you can see the blog link - www.karmakab.blogspot.com
I am going back to mumbai a diff route through goa, mike left a bag there and a friend from the guesthouse ran to the train stn to pick it up so will go back that route to get back and a day and 1/2 laying on the beach : ) I will meet mike and aliya on the 4th or 5th in Mumbai before they leave on the 7th. I hope to be able to show them the village i work in nareshwadi, will see how we all feel, after all this travel we may be too tired for the 3 hour journey to the school. Want the students to meet mike and aliya, they are such a delight and fun! (ha! all, the students and mike and aliya!)
My brother mike certainly knows how to rough it in regards to accomadation, but it is great to travel with him. He is so easy going and resoureful. He found us rooms (all three of us stayed the night for about $5) near the natl park, when we were told nothing was avail. for the night - it will probably be one of the most memorable experiences of the trip, finding the natl park, all the buses, trains and taxis and just trying to find food.
In such small villages restaurants close early, or run out of food. We at some rotis (like tortillas) and sambar (the south indian version of the basic lentil soup dal) and they did make us something between an apam and dosa (crispy pancakes made from a batter of fermented rice). Was simple but filling!
then the overnight bus ride we pushed ourselves and made it into pondicherry, i thought it was 4 hours, ended up being 6! and we had the MOST uncomfortable seats on the bus due it being so full (well, perhaps the man laying on the floor was worse off, but at least he could stretch out the whole way). The 3 of us were bounced a couple of feet of our seats several times throughout the night, with the pot holes and speed bumps the driver took as a challenge rather than suggetion to slow.
Aliya and i were dreaming of a hotel my friend janikka sent us a link to and said she had booked for us for our 3 night stay in pondicherry, it look like the most luxurious place we had stayed the entire trip, modern decorations, clean comfy beds - and although the most expensive (750 rupees = $18/night) we were willing, rooms were fully booked around the new year time we were told. Well, as we arrive at 4am our hopes quickly fizzled, Aliya said - "this does not look like the hotel on the internet" not a bit - but turned out to be comfy even with my stained sheets with holes. It did have TV & Air Conditioning!
So after riding with paul and karilyn (she just called and told me they had aleady broken done once this morning and were repairing a flat tire at the time she was calling! ha!) about 90 kms (it took about 4 or 5 hours, we broke down once and the machine kept stallling - the new engine could not go beyond 35 kms per hour) I caught a bus, thru much chaos, there were 1000s of other people also getting buses - and i really did not know where in chennai i needed to go, so had to ask 20 diff people, the buses were packed, diffiult to fit on with my big travel backpack - besides not knowing the name of places.
There was an isreali couple wanting to get to the airport in chennai. We just about hired a taxi for $30 - huge amt of money due to the shortage of transport, was holiday, new years day so many people had come to the beach and also decided to leave around 9pm, time I was leaving.
After befriending some guys from Sudan (students here in india) Ended up finding the correct bus for about $1.50, then hired a rickshaw to get to the train stn to get to my 11:30pm train - then had to run around to as the ticket collector if there was any beds avail (overnight train to reach bangalore at 5am) because train was sold out apparently and i had bought a tix for general at 11pm when i finally reached so at the tix collector's mercy.
Got on the train with guy from Indian airforce, then finally an hour later talked to the TC and found a bed that was free!! so slept and arrived in the morning to Bangalore. Then i wanted to catch a 6am train but b/c so tired, waited in 15 minute line to get my tix but could not find the correct platform : ( so stood by when i finally found train and watched it pull out, it was going just fast enough i did not feel safe jumping for it, at least wtih a big pack on my back and my arm in a cast.
So booked an overnight bus and spending the day in bangalore, good i guess, i can catch up on my emails. i had just hoped to be heading back sooner and getting my traveling over with. I rented a room for the day so i could shower, now will catch up on net, maybe get a pedicure and take a nap or see a movie before my 5:30 pm bus.
The adventure never ends, but I love it!!
Happy New Year to all - may you have a year full of health, happiness and growth!