My bus trip from Udaipur to Mumbai.
The first time I visited Udaipur in India. I admit that I was a complete travel wimp!
Travel wimps are sad souls who want to see the world. Alas, they miss out on so much because they are too frightened to go where others dare to tread. They never take the local trains, nor do they board the out of date buses. These people mistakenly view Hostels as the worst possible form of accommodation. They have visions of dirty rooms with well-worn mattresses housing all types of creepy crawlies. Not forgetting that eating the local street food is a definite no go.
At that time I was a true T.W. Honestly, I was pathetic. I flew everywhere, spent fortunes on taxis and of course! You would only have seen me staying at smart hotels.
After I had been through Kerala, Delhi, and Jaipur, I arrived at the enchanting city of Udaipur nestled in the Girwar valley. It is known as the ‘Venice of the East’ and is. It is a genuinely small piece of heaven on earth. I would recommend that you visit this astounding place.
Due to me being a Namby-pamby. Udaipur was to be my last stop before leaving incredible India.
My first day in the city, I came across a fabulous little café that served the most amazing shakes and lassies. When I ventured inside, I met with a large group of Backpackers huddled together and were talking ten to the dozen. They invited me to join them, and within minutes they were entertaining me with all their amazing stories. They told me where they had been, what they had seen, who had had Delhi belly, and their next destination.
While I was lapping all this up, one of the girls asked me where I was heading after Udaipur. To which I happily informed them all that I intended to visit Jaisalmer. The fabulous Golden city so called because of its yellow sandstone architecture.
Another girl in the crowd looked at me very seriously and asked me if I had had the Rabies shots! With my eyes popping out of my head, I asked her, ‘why should I have had the rotten Rabies jabs?” She replied “Because Jaisalmer is rampant with Rabid dogs. If you are not vaccinated, you will not have time to reach Delhi before you die.”
Dear readers, you can well imagine, I was devastated! Unable believe my tiny ears. “Backpacker granny could die before to reach Delhi” The thoughts of a mangy rabid dog killing me, was just too much for this lily-liver to bear. There and then I immediately decided that no way was I going to the city of certain death.
Yes, I know, of course, I know! Such a numpty! What a beautiful city I missed.
The following day I was exploring the astounding sites when I came across an English couple who were traveling around the world. They were so friendly that I ended up going for a refreshing drink with them. The couple told me they were leaving that night and were heading back to Mumbai. They were going on the sleeper bus, and since I was now anxious to go, I decided to join them.
As agreed, we met at the local bus station in time to leave at six p.m. It was going to be a long night as we would not be arriving in Mumbai till nine a.m. the following morning.
At this point in the story, I need to tell you some small detail. When the English couple mentioned the sleeper vehicle, I had envisaged a luxury streamline bus with pristine sheets and pillows. Imagine my dismay, when I saw this narrow blue plastic elongated plank with a slight hump for the head. There was no linen, nor was there even a skimpy blanket.
And so the journey began. Ho Hey I was on my way.
Fortunately, John and Margaret, the English couple, were fantastic company. Amongst the passengers, there was a group of young Indians who had been working in the Lake Palace hotel and were on their way to another big hotel in Mumbai. Very soon into our journey we had all become like one big family.
After several hours the driver pulled off the road and informed us that we could get off to visit the WC and have something to eat and drink. Needless to say, I was very relieved since my waterworks were feeling pretty full. With my two friends in tow, we made our way to the toilets. OMG in all my life I can honestly say I have never seen anything so disgusting as those Indian loos. Have you ever heard of that old song "Tiptoe through the tulips"? Well, I can assure you it wasn't tulips we were tiptoeing over. I was very grateful that John had had the presence of mind to bring antiseptic hand cleanser. However, I have to say, that no way could I have possibly thought of having anything to eat.
The journey continued, and I was grateful that we were driving through the night and that I couldn't see a thing. The driver was going at such a speed I had accepted that I wasn't going to survive after all. I didn't go to Jaisalmer because of Rabid dogs, and now I was going to draw my last breath on an Indian bus.
About four o'clock in the morning when everyone was sleeping, the bus once again came to a halt. I saw an Indian lady start to get off, and presumed we had stopped for a visit to another crappy W.C. As I descended from the bus I saw that we were in the middle of nowhere. There were no cafes or stalls, and far less a toilet.
As I looked around, I saw that the driver and the co-driver were hanging out of the door watching me! Then they started to signal that I do what I had to do on the side of the road. I noticed that the other lady was doing precisely that. But she had a long flowing sari and could squat, pee, and stand up again, without anyone seeing her bits. On the other hand, I was wearing trousers. Oh dear me. I had the choice of showing my private parts to the two frog eyed Indians, or wetting my knickers later on in the bus. Well, I pulled my trousers, plus everything else down and gave the observing world the thrill of a lifetime.
The rest of the journey passed without much hassle, and we finally arrived in Mumbai. Where on arrival I told my colleges how I had been to the cleanest toilet in India.
I headed straight to the airport and went to the bathroom, no, not to wee, but to freshen up. It was amazing how dirty I had gotten. I was black from head to toe and looked like a chimney sweep.
Strangely they let me on the plane, and within a few hours, I was back in the land of smiles. As I walked along the streets of Bangkok, I kept thinking 'How wonderful it was to be back to normality."
My elation only lasted a few days, when I started to miss that crazy country and knew in no uncertain terms that I would return one day.
Perhaps I am a sucker for punishment. I really can't say.
India is beyond statement, for anything you say, the opposite is also true. It's rich and poor, spiritual and material, cruel and kind, angry but peaceful, ugly and beautiful, and smart but stupid. It's all the extremes. India defies understanding. Sarah Macdonald, Holy Cow - An Indian Adventure