Your country, Madam?

Trip Start Jun 13, 2005
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Flag of India  ,
Monday, June 27, 2005

It's me against India today. It started with a bad night's sleep - I was woken in the wee hours by a mouse running over my head. If that had been the end of it, I could have gone back to sleep, but then the critter started rustling a plastic bag in my daypack. I slapped the floor next to me and it scuttled off, only to return two minutes later. I switched on my torch and shone it on the mouse: I swear, it looked at me, had a quick think, then continued rummaging in my bag!

I was up at 5am, on the road at 6 and in Gangotri by 10.30. Chundar, the hotel-man who would be there "anytime" to release my stored backpack, wasn't there. When he arrived, he allocated me a large room for half an hour until my smaller room was vacated.

I've been up since 5 and walked 14km. I've been in the same clothes for three days. I need a room and a wash - and this guy wants me to unpack myself into a room for HALF AN HOUR and then move again.

I tried to weigh up the best option: sit around outside for half an hour or go looking for another hotel. Neither was particularly conducive to my foul mood, and I suppressed my irritability as I explained to Chundar the complete pointlessness of a room for half an hour. He disagreed and said it was "no problem", increasing the potential for a completely irrational hissy-fit on my part. As this scene unfolded on the hotel balcony, one of the other guests, who'd been enjoying the entertainment from the sidelines, approached me and said, "Your country, Madam?"

I've been up since 5. I'd already answered that question a dozen times by 8. Now I'm standing with my bags around me, arguing with Chundar about half an hour in a room and you, dear sir, pick NOW for that question?! For God's sake couldn't it WAIT?!

"South Africa", I muttered.

An hour later, installed in the correct room, I was hanging my laundry over the balcony railing, minding my own business and feeling tired and grim, when another guest rushed toward me from the room next door and said, "Hello Madam! Where from?"

Oh for *@#*'s sake.....

Deep breath.... "South Africa".

"Sorry madam?"

"SOUTH AFRICA!" I yelled over the roar of the Ganges. The underlying message in my tone and my body language could have got through the skin of a tachyderm, but noooooo......

"You travel alone?"

"Yes. I LIKE to be alone."

"Aah." He stood around for several more minutes before I was saved by his wife, who emerged from the room and dragged him back indoors.

Later, drinking coffee in a crowded restaurant, I offered to move over for a man looking to sit down. Big mistake. "Your country, Madam?"

Breath in, two, three, four.... and out, two, three, four....

"South Africa".

"Aah, my country Nepal".


"You go Gaumukh......?" I was already out of my seat and paying my bill, swearing to spend the rest of the day safely behind my bedroom door.
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