Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Jul 15, 2012

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

The ride to Delhi was one hell of an experience. I will never again be fooled by the travel agent's promise of a "deluxe" bus with "pushback" chairs. The knackered chairs pushed back so far and left such little leg room, that at one point the greasy head of the man in front was actually resting in my lap. After moving to the empty back row, dozens of Indians boarded and I had the pleasure of an inquisitive little boy squashed up beside me whilst his sister made herself comfortable on my lap.

A few hours later we all heard wretching followed by putrid smells wafting from the seat occupied by a frail looking woman in the middle of the bus. Her son was on the back row with sleeping baby in arm so I grabbed baby to assist matters. The pot holed road and non-existent suspension blessed us with a 7 hour journey something akin to a dodgy fair ground ride. I was amazed we weren't all knocked out by the roof of the bus. Sleeping baby remained in my arms until Delhi and on arrival, awoke with a beaming smile. I bid her and the inquisitive kids goodbye before haggling hard with a psychotic looking auto-rickshaw driver who had a bloodied scarf tied tightly round his head. Oh well, I thought, Ella was only the entire length of the city away...what's the worse that could happen?!

As it turned out, nothing and I joined Ella and Kuhn in a quirky flat in South Delhi owned by her eccentric Dutch friend Peter who was in Holland at the time. We spent many hours making cardamon, almond and banana porridge, and wandering about the flat in a languid fashion admiring Peter's art collection. Occasionally we ventured out into civilisation and one afternoon picked Ella's cousin Abi up from the airport. She had flown in for a 3 week holiday. First stop was Lodi Gardens, teeming with parrots and colonial grandeur. Masala dosas were next on the cards and every day for the following week. Oh dear, what would the yogis say! Tom joined us after his Julie ordeal, two thirds of the way through his 10 day brown rice diet. I had previously managed 2 days on the same diet but as you can imagine, brown rice with soya sauce and mint tea on the side do become a little bland after 24 hours. My tastebuds were screaming for more excitement. If it weren't for them, I may have succeeded...bloody tastebuds.

Abi and Kuhn spent a considerable amount of time trying to book train tickets to Ahmedabad but the problem is there aren't nearly enough trains to accommodate the billion plus population. It's necessary to book at least 6 months in advance on some journeys to ensure yourself a bunk in a sleeper car. Unless of course you are a foreigner from the West - with that title under your belt, anything is possible.

Eventually we bid farewell to Delhi and clambered on board the overnight train to Ahmedabad, capital of Gujurat province. I fear we may have acquired some poor Gujurati's tickets at the last minute as two men had to make do on the floor below our bunks, but they didn't seem too bothered and were very friendly.  Even so, Tom and Kuhn took it in turns to keep a watchful eye on our belongings.
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