Trains, bedbugs, rubbish and appreciation.

I am a Monty Python kind of guy.  You know, “Always look on the bright side of life”.  So that is why I was so thrilled being in a transit lounge in an International Airport. The alternative? I could still be in India, or more specifically Kolkata, where I just came from.

If you love India, or feel some strong patriotic ties towards the country, please do not read this. India is known as the country of choice when a person wants to find some spiritual enlightenment, a deeper meaning of life and more of that mystical blah blah blah.  (Julia even made me sit through a movie about it for almost two hours!! See how much I love my wife.) The only enlightenment I got from my visit, was my own realisation to be extremely grateful for whatever bitch slap life gives me. ANYTHING is better than living in India.  It doesn’t matter how much of an asswipe your boss is, or how excruciatingly annoying your neighbour might be, when you return from India you WILL be grateful. Be prepared to want to hug both people in question. India doesn’t really change you spiritually, it only changes your perception on life.

Please, before judging me, let me run through some of the highlights excperienced during my visit to India to shed some light on my state of mind.

I spend four hours on a train from Kolkata to Jamshedpur, and back again.  Train travel takes on a whole different meaning in India. Arriving at the station, the gang of Noise, Odour and WTF wait patiently to ambush your senses. There are so many people you might feel disorientated. Then there is the kingpin, Mr Odour. OH MY GOD!! It is a mixture of garlic, urine, rotting food, curry, spices and sweat.  Or what I am sure zombies would smell like.  And it oozes out everywhere and hangs like stubborn fog, grabbing on to your nostrils with sharp claws and worming itself down your throat. It will test your gag reflex.

Travelling first class on the train only means you don’t have to share the cabin with anyone else, that’s it. The unwashed linen and curtains of the cabin will make you sneeze unvoluntary until the equilibrium of dust is equal between that of the cabin and that in your lungs.

Passsing by the countryside, there is no picturesque moment of bliss. I have seen movies on India, showing mountains and lakes, but that is bullshit. Why? Because all the rubbish consumed on earth ends up scattered in India.  It is everwyhere, and most propably due to the abscence of dustbins. There is not even a hint of waste management, and it decorates the streets, railway lines, public places, grass lands, forests.  Just papers, cans, plastic as far as the eye can see. And just to twist the knife of disgust, stuck in your belly, you can watch a rat or a pig or a cow sniffing through the debry to find something worth eating. This would be Al Gore’s worst nightmare.

The secret in preventing sickness in India, is obvisouly not to get bitten by anything. Work for me… The other preventative measure is to stitch your mouth closed before taking a shower. One should ensure that no water enter your system. Not even one droplet. The concentration of Delhi-belly is so high in the water, that brushing your teeth with anything other than bottled water, will put you on the toilet seat in nine minutes flat for the duration of your trip. Expect intervals of 2 hours, with half and hour recovery periods.

The food is hot. Not “Wow that’s a charming curry-hot”, it is, “Are you friggin kidding me-hot!” The food is so spicy that once a spoonful is in your mouth, your asshole will contract immediately, instinctively trying to protect itself for what’s coming in a few hours. The spices WILL attack your stomach lining, and in defense, that organ will discharge all the acid it can to esnure digestion takes place whilst the food is still travelling down your throat, or more commonly known as heartburn. Just to be clear, one has never had heartburn until you had it after an Indian dish. I would place this challenge in the same category as bungee jumping or going for a prostate exam. Something as simple as scramble eggs turns into demon food.

Then the traffic. It consist of new cars, old cars, tuc-tucs, trucks, bikes, motorbikes, donkey carts and basically anything else with wheels; known to man. We were covering 3 km in three hours, which I was told was pretty good. I was thinking: “Compared to what? Standing still?” I knew my standards were too high, but when we finally reached the source of the traffic congestion I lost a part of my mind. I didn’t say anything but develop a twitch, which I hope with therapy will go away. It was a flippen cow, standing like an overconfident Idol winner two lanes wide on one of the bussiest highways in the city. For the record, I know why they don’t want to move the cow, it resembles some kind of deity they worship. Has to be some spiteful version of Loki.

Spending the last night at a five-star hotel, yes I travel in style, we sat outside talking on the veranda. My one arm was resting on the upholstery of the coach. I started to itch, only to discover much later that the bottom half of my arm was being chewed off by a rogue gang of bedbugs or fleas, or some unknown parasite. I was fortunate to save my arm, have it not been for some cream a lady had with her. The worst part for me is I still had to sleep in the same hotel. I decided against posting the photo because this website is not called Bloody disgusting, and when my kids read this I wouldn’t want to scar them for life. I will report back when I start growing a third nipple, thus proving the bites were NOT harmless. So far nothing.

So there it is, some of the reasons why I just can’t wait to return to this unique country. There is definite logic in the marketing campaigns of the tourism board of India, branding it as a country where one can experience extraordinary sights and sounds. It is a country that will stimulate your senses, widen your thinking, expose you to new worlds, but let me warn you, that is not necessarily a good thing!

So if you think you have a less than favourable life, appreciation of your current existence is just one airplane ticket away.

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