Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sounds of India, part 2 : Train stations

Here's the incoming train that was taking us to Cancona in Goa. We went general:

At Hubli junction someone tried out the pressure washer. We were annoyed by the unnecessity of it:

In Mumbai we went to see the famous Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. This is right outside:

Sounds of India, part 1

Made some films during our first stroll along Gokarna town, fascinated by all the sounds. Later on I will most certainly post traffic films, stay tuned!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Streets of Pondicherry

At junctions, key behavior for vehicles is to drive without slowing down while honking all the way through.

Speaking of honking, most autos have got a rubber horn that says oink oink, instead of a normal one. The sound of Pondicherry: oink oink

The street of Pondicherry are provocatively clean.

Seems you can get by speaking french here. First thing that happened when we arrived at 6.30 in the morning was that the auto driver didn't want to take us to the beach and Alliance Française where we had (rightfully) thought Dumas guest house would be situated. Instead he took us to a guest house a few blocks up and refused to leave. We showed him the map and told him to go where we wanted to. This is where the french-speaking begun and he woke up the manager of that other guest house. For some reason, I don't know which, he wanted me to talk to him. In french, the manager was angry to have been woken up and I said we wanted to go to the beach. But it is expensive at the beach, he said. "Err, well ..." I said. "We want the Dumas guest house". But that costs 2000 a night, he said. "Err, well ..." I said. After convincing them on our relative wealth, the auto driver finally took us to this nice place.

And just now, Bobo saw a kid sitting in the front of a motorcycle, staying on by holding his driving father's ears.

We spent only two days in Bangalore a bit too little and a bit too much. Will mostly remember the smell of going through polluting traffic in an open rickshaw and the loveliness of Hans and Adrianas terrace. And the fruit covered porridge breakfasts!

The Bangalore stay ended in an exhaustive adventure where the auto driver left Jenny and Adriana at the right place for going with the bus to Pondicherry but Bobo's and mine left us 1km away. This we didn't know at first and noone really understood where we were going when asking around. So the two of is ended up running back and forth, going through the same alley thrice and crossing three and four lane roads like hundreds of times. This is when we really had use for the skill to shouldering an Indian. Yada yada yada, we made it to the bus in time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Streets of Bangalore

There are pavements here but noone walks them (experiences lead us to the conclusion it's because it smells worse along the walls).

It was in Bangalore where we learned to cross heavily trafficked roads safely by simply put your shoulder next to an Indian who is about to cross. Or, in difficult cases, stick to a crossing rickshaw.

At a fruit stand I saw this massive gooseberry, thrice as big as a Swedish one. When I asked about them he gave me one. Photo proof of it's bigness will come. Taste was bitter, sour and when I chewed it, it sounded as if a bit an apple.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

18.9.11 17:12 Hampi, Shanti Guest house

This place is so nice and relaxed and we're really enjoying every bit of it, with a swing outside our door and everything (lying on it right now, relaxing, the other's on the patio) but oh my god the food here's not really good and worse, service is SO SLOW you wouldn't believe it. Lunch took us approx. 3h whereas 2,5 was waiting for the drinks, food or for them to letting us know there is no penne (but spaghetti). Because it's low season (at least I hope it'll change) there is only one cook and that's just crazy because we're quite a bunch here and that's not just us seven.

There is also this Israeli people here who today at breakfast/lunch were approached by a man trying to cast some of the (not so middle eastern looking) guys for a film setting in Chennai where they would play American soldiers (!). He came here to look for Israeli guys because they are good with weapons due to there long and recently finished military service. ... Yada yada yada, finally after some long and entertaining haggling the least reluctant guy decided not to go, it seemed a bit to weird and long of a trip. But like yeah ...

Anyway so today we wanted to leave this side of the river quite early, to be on the right.side for tonight when our train leaves and also to avoid eating here and instead at The Mango Tree in Hampi (near all the temples and such). Yesterday we had the best momos there and some incredible ginger lime lassi. Unfortunately the river rose to much so there are no "ferries" (quotation marks will be.explained by pictures as I come home/upload them) today and we will have to go the loooong way around, which is 40 km longer. We'll be going to Hospet soon, in a jeep we found on the village street here. As I said we're seven and we would probably need three autos (rickshaws) to fit us. So finding the jeep was a blessing (inshallah!).

15-16.9.11 Palolem Beach in Goa

[Hans and Adriana had been in Palolem, Goa the weekend before meeting us in Gokarna and they wanted us to see it and for us to try the fish at the beach restaurant. So we changed plans and left Gokarna already on Thursday. Palolem was really nice, we stayed in a really cool place and waves were really high but when looking at my notes from that day, I begin to wonder what Goa really does to you. The notes are short, rudimentary and hardly readable. When reading them I also remember being totally slow in the brain. Must have been the one beer I drank, an exception, as we have been very sober during this trip. Every menu is full of fresh non-alcoholic drinks, our standard is lime soda sweet AND salt which is perfect for regaining salt balances after hot day. Anyway, Goa was full of Germans/other Europeans and I bet is a bitch at high season. Here are my notes:]

15.9.11 15:45 At Dropadi bar
Waiting for lunch just want to say: pretty low odds on meeting someone we know here ...


15.9.11 22:56 Bhakti Kutir
This place is so nice but there are SO many mosquito, had some free time before dinner, wanted to spend it outside, on the nice clay porch but ... had to go hide under my mosquito net. Still off season, Goa feels very touristy, lots and lots of Europeans and yeah ...

Leaving for Hampi tomorrow.

Monday, September 19, 2011

14.9.11 night time; Namaste yoga farm, Kutle beach, Gokarna

The no 1 most definite most useful item I've packed that I'd never thought of myself: flashlight (at the moment, writing, I wish it was a head lamp). From around 7:30 pm it's pitch black outside and here in Kutle beach there is practically no "street" lights and on top of that electricity is on/off. Right now it is off for the 6th and longest time tonight (Oliver, the German manager at this place told us they (whoever produces the electricity here in seaside Karnataka) sell the electricity to Goa because they will pay better).

I'll wait showering until tomorrow morning when sun's up.

I will soon go to bed but first some writing and my night cocktail (Resorb) on the porch. It's windy and almost chilly but not quite. Humid and gentle is what it is.


22:20 pm
We're getting up at 7 am tomorrow, going for breakfast at 7:30 at the beach, our favourite and sort of nearest restaurant Namaste Rock Café. We had planned to stay here in Gokarna until Friday but decided to go to Palolem in south Goa for one night before heading for heading towards Hampi.

We're trying to catch the 10:30 train from Gokarna to Palolem, or Cancona which is the nearest train station. Actually the train station where someone almost fooled us into getting off last night when we were on the train here!

The thing was we were supposed to arrive here at 4 am but the train conductor informed us at 3:30 am we were one hour late so I went back to sleep (I had only slept for like one hour before that also). But then, at 4 am some other man, god knows who, with a paper that said "Gokarna Rd 28,29,30" (our seat numbers) rushed to Bobo and told him to get of in a hurry 'cause it was time. Bobo woke us both up, we all tried grabbing our bags, Jenny hadn't gotten her shoes on. I took two bags, ran and got stuck in a door. Bobo had gotten off and as the train started rolling again the conductor, who was also on the platform told him (I suppose quite surprised) to GET ON AGAIN, as it was 40 min 'til our stop.

Well, that was in Cancona. We will give it another try.

14.9.11 18ish Namaste Yoga Farm, Kutle Beach, Gokarna

When arriving here in Gokarna (after thoroughly but mysterious instructions we got from Hans) in the middle of the night/early morning (we saw people going for work but we hadn't really slept properly on the train so for us: NIGHT), we heard this aquatic noise, thinking it was a nearby waterfall. It was not. It is the loud noise from the Arabic sea, humungous waves creating the sound of a water power plant. I am sitting on my porch right now, listening to it and the only thing competing is the incoming monsoon. Louder.

Oh the waves: We swam in them yesterday (The Arabic sea!), they were high as kites and made me tumble. Also, in fact, getting salty water up my nose cleared it. I breathe so much easier now.

13.9.11 1:12 on a train towards Gokarna

One thing that strikes me is the absence of western culture and the absolute presence of Indian such. This is my first time outside of Europe so I hope that my instant naive findings will be excused. About Europe, having travelled around a bit has shown me different places and what at first glance could be accused of being astonishingly great differences in culture. Really, they're just facets of western culture and are all climbing the same ladder.

I don't know what I expected but one thing that has surprised me (n.b. "surprised" as opposed to "disappoint") the most so far (26h since arrival) is the renounce of western aspirations. Most women wear saris or other indian type of clothing and all of the musical ring tones we have heard on the train (and they were many!) has been Indian music.

Children's school uniforms though; shirt and tie, neat and all but not similar to what the parents who were holding their hands through Mumbai traffic were wearing.

13.9.11 00:55 On a train (south of Vijayadurg)

Oh my god so something fell out of my pocket and down the Indian toilet, at full speed. Luckily it was a pack of handkerchiefs. I've got plenty, snoring as I am.

12.9.11 15:50 MUMTIME; On a train (leaving Thane station)

So, traveling by train in Europe, I have among other things paid attention to different kinds of soap solutions. Grinder, foam etc. Just went to the Indian train toilet, well ha, ha! No, really I am happy about the hole in the floor "indian toilet" rather than sitting where ...

Saw a lot of rats in Lokmanyatilak Train Terminus, and stray dogs, including a limping puppy escaping the big ones who were barking. Like, omg it was cute! It escaped through an opening in the tin wall.

Children were begging for money and food by poking us. A man sitting on a rolling board poked Bobo but luckily enough he didn't tap me nor Jenny. We gave a kid some coins but even after that she wanted to have my newly bought samosa that I were en train de manger. Staring, begging.

We're on a train now yeah. For the next 12h. Bought chai when we got on, didn't buy anything else. Will hopefully be able to buy food (biryani?) later.

Oh yeah, and this: Walking the LTT platform in Mumbai trying to find, well, a station building or ... whatever: it is full of people and then: another western traveller/backpacker, so we meet in a mutual ... "hello".

12.9.11 10:40 MUMTIME; Hotel in Mumbai, near the airport

So far, it hasn't been too warm, due to hotel A/C I guess. Normally freezing most of the time, arriving in a moist warmth was very welcoming.

We stayed at quite a fancy hotel this first night, well tempered and with a 24h restaurant (!) The real challenge (?) is coming soon I guess, as we're getting out of here and on a train to Gokarna. Will not change clothes yet but gonna wear this piece of cloth 'til it's completely marinated in me. Anyway we're only traveling. The man next to me on the plane (N.B I'm not referring to Bobo but to the man in the other side of the aisle [this comment was added on Bobo's request]) smelled of S-W-E-A-T so why can't I? And as I said: no sweating for me so far.

Time for a shower!

11.9.11 5:05 CET 20:35 MUMTIME; On a plane

I remember a nursing rhyme or if it was some kind of pun but essentially it ended with you pronouncing Canada real weird, sort of stressing the second a. Anyway, so I'm going to this region in India where they speak Kannada. Reminds me of home (the Gothenburg jokes you see ...)

Actually, writing this I'm on the plane to Mumbai and we'll land in less than 1 1/2 h. My lips are dryer than they ever was so I'm really.looking forward to moisty Mumbai. Let's just hope I won't regret that wish, soaking for the next two weeks.