How much weight can a pushbike take?

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Flag of India  , Uttarakhand,
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

After a really long hard day the day before, Erica is sick and fed up of trains and not looking forward to the day. It is time to pack our bags from Delhi and head to pastures new. A chance to relax and unwind and find a more relaxed India. Today we depart for Haridwar, and the Kumbh Mela. A Hindu festival that happens in this form once every twelve years. The day after tomorrow will be the biggest gathering of people on planet earth ever, and that is where we are heading. With the curse still in full force perhaps this cleansing experience will provide the opportunity to wash away the curse in the Holy River Ganges. For this Kumbh Mela the estimated attendance will be 70 Million people, yes that was 70 (seventy) Million People, amazing.

After a mean Veg Thali for 30 rupees we head off to the train station and the train is waiting for us when we get to the platform. Unfortunately our seats are not together and this time we are in Second Class (non air-conditioned). The train was roasting when we boarded at 2:45, no a/c no fans and open windows it was a sweat bucket. Lady E had been dreading another Indian train however was pleasantly surprised by this. The layout was much better, much less crowded with a table in the back of the chair in front etc. Her exact words were "I don't want to speak too soon but this is much better than yesterday morning and I can live with this!". That bloody curse.

Within 5 minutes the train was heaving and I mean heaving. The luggage could not fit on etc. It wasn’t the people that horrified Erica, it was the hundreds of cockroaches that were running around the floors, all over the seats, your feet, on peoples backs in front of you etc. She hit full panic attack mode and the whole train just watched this neurotic women have a full on fit. The nice man next to me kept picking them up and throwing them out of his window for her but she still wasn't happy. After about 2 hours the cockroaches seem to find hiding places but Erica still sat for a whole 5 hours scanning the floor, her clothes and her chair constantly, even when I would tap her on the leg to speak to her she would jump out of her seat thinking it was a cockroach. Funnily enough we managed to sit together which meant a group of 5 men got split up int a 3 and two single seats. They wanted to swap so we had the window so they could all talk, Miss neurotic had to have the aisle seat as there were more bugs on the wall so we resisted. I asked a lady behind to translate, I confused her terribly and two minutes later she confirmed her mother did not want to sit in the seat with all the bugs so we could not swap with her. I think something was lost in translation.

I got chatting to the man next to me via sign language about the crops and the villages, it all had a major whiff of the Chris Stephenson about it, much to Erica's amusement. They insisted we tried all their food (which I forced Erica to try hoping it would be drugged to calm her down). I then got out my camera to take some pictures of the landscape which my new friend took far too much interest in. We wanted to see the pictures and which pocket of the bag it was kept in, I then went a little paranoid and took my memory card out in case he liked it even more than he should have.

I also had in Chris Stephenson style written down all the stations and times on a piece of A4 and was advising my friends at each station how late we were. News soon passed around and I was the most popular man on the train with everyone passing around my bit of paper (Erica argued they were trying to crack the code of my handwriting but it must have been clear as everyone understood.

As the train pulled in to Haridwar carnage ensued as everyone grabbed their bags off the top rails. Opposite us a suitcase dropped on top of a mother and her small child which was really quite bad. An old couple approached me to tell me to be careful as there were so many pickpockets. The train station was mentally hectic and we headed straight out to try and get a rickshaw to our hotel that we booked before we came away. The only thing available was a cycle rickshaw so I asked eggsy if she fancied that as we hadn't been in one yet. We asked the man 'Ginger hotel', he responded 'Yes sir yes sir', Erica suggested he didn't understand so I asked again 'Yes I know it Sir'. We boarded the rickshaw and the man started to pedal. After about 10 minutes we had progressed about 20 metres into a back alley where the man decided to get try and push the bike as we were so heavy. He then stopped at the first hotel to ask for directions, the curse was still fully in force. The last think you want is to be stuck in dark alleys at such a major event no idea where you are , where you are going etc. It all got a bit much for Erica and the toys came out again, I responded by throwing all the toys back including my own. I looked down at one point and it looked like the metal of the bike tyre was touching the road surface.

We then walked for about 15 minutes completely lost at night in a strange place until we found an auto-rickshaw. On the back of a motor vehicle it took us 20 minutes to get to our gaff. When we arrived we were just in stitches about the poor guy trying to move a brute of a man a Lady a 20KG bag and a 14 KG bag using a one gear pedal bike. That's the great thing about Eggsy and I we can hate each other in such circumstances briefly but after the event we can't stop laughing about it.  On a trip like this you can NEVER lose your sense of humour.

At night Haridwar was beautiful, very Glastonburyesque in a way, all the campsites and tents lit up. Lights all across the rivers, campsites and ghats, the statues of Shiva lit up, it was really stunning and everywhere was so busy. We finally felt like we had arrived in India. I always imagined I would instantly fall in love with India, in Delhi I didn't, however she is starting to look beautiful.
We arrived at Ginger and decided to head to the internet bit to catch up on blogging, I suggested I would try and find someone that spoke English to talk about what is going on at the Mela. We entered the room and there are only 2 pc's. We said hello to the young man on the other computer, lo and behold he answered back in strong mancunian accent. Strangely enough he was from Manchester and of Indian decent. More strangely, after a while chatting we learned that he was here with his family who owned a wholesale fashion business 50 yards from where Erica used to work. Such a small world eh! Anyway he gave us loads of good information about the area and what was going on. Result.
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