Continued from Varanasi Day 3.
I went to bed pretty late at around 1:30AM since I didn’t get back until after 12. I woke up at 3 in the morning in my dark room. I felt alone and lonely in a foreign land with the smell of shit that permeates all. The pitfalls of being a single traveler. I don’t think I could be one of those travelers that I meet on the road who travel for months or years by themselves. I say that, and yet I find myself on this trend of traveling by myself for longer and longer periods of time…
It’s fascinating that there is this subset of people in society who are constantly traveling. I can go for years living in Austin without meeting any one of these people because they are constantly on the move. Where do they end up when they stop traveling? Why have I not met them in Austin? They are everywhere when I travel, but absent from my life back in Austin.
Sunny day today, the day I leave Varanasi and head to Jaipur. I woke up, packed, and found that all the lonely feelings had vanished along with the darkness of night. No floating corpse was sighted today. I looked.
It had rained for the past 3 nights here in Varansi. The rain filled the Ganges, and the rain water washed away the sins. The rain not only washed away the sins of the people, it also washed away my reliable and fast internet connection. The rain covered all bases, because now I can’t update my blog to commit sins of vanity.
Lots of people on the move today, and almost all are backpackers. This guesthouse was recommended by Lonely Planet. I think in the future, I may try to stay at more places recommended by Lonely Planet instead of Tripadvisor. The Lonely Planet places tend to attract a younger crowd like me.
The internet finally starts working, and this is the first email I get. As you can see, my connecting flight from Delhi to Jaipur had been canceled and I was only notified less than 12 hours before takeoff. I flashed a smile, and will proceed with the day as planned. Yup, you heard that right.
I had bought my Kingfisher airline tickets months in advance. Then a week or two before leaving Austin, I started reading news articles about all the financial troubles that Kingfisher was having. The news kept on getting worse, and I was unsure whether they would fold before I took my flight. I bit the bullet, purchased another ticket from Jet Airways for the same route. $111 for Kingfisher and $277 for Jet Airways. Not a cheap Plan B. I’ve been trying to cancel the Kingfisher ticket for the past 3 weeks online but have been unsuccessful
Anyhow, while in India, I checked the news once in a while and things were getting really shaky for Kingfisher. They were having trouble paying for fuel, and had to cancel a lot of flights. Then they canceled my flight the day of and now I am glad I had foreseen this and prepared Plan B. Even if they fold and I don’t get a refund, I am OK with that. I took a hedge and won!
When I prepaid for my guesthouse online, they had included an airport transfer in the price. While I waited down at the lobby at 11, I was notified that I would be riding to the airport with 2 other guests from the guesthouse. The front desk offered me a partial refund of 150INR for having to share a car….Errr, that was unexpected. I just assumed that I’d share a car.
Made it out of town, into the more rural roads. I shared the car with a couple from San Francisco. They are also headed to the airport, and in fact, will be on the same flight as me heading to Delhi. They had been in India for over two weeks and they have one more week before leaving. They came to India, but they are not going to see the Taj Mahal….Errrrr, WHAT? They didn’t want to see it because they didn’t want to do a well known touristy thing. I told them that logic is equivalent of going to Paris and purposely not going to the Louvre because all the tourists go there. Flawed logic. I hope I had convinced them enough to change their plans and see the Taj Mahal. It’s only a simple day trip from Delhi.
The security gives you zip ties to ensure that no one goes through your stuff. I am also sad to report that I found a small tear at the bottom of my backpack. It looked like the tear happened from wear and tear during transportation. I’ve only been on 4 flights and this has already happened. Sigh. I love this backpack, but, I am finding that it is not as durable as I had hoped. Some may call it battle scars, others may call it ill designed. Either way, my plan is to patch it back up, and make it even better than new.
I laughed. This reminds me of the whole idea behind One Laptop per Child. India doesn’t need to promote recycling when it needs to promote throwing away trash in a trash can first. Just like how a dirty poor child in a third world country doesn’t need a laptop, but instead a library of books. Go on, aloof wealthy privileged assholes(I am one, and I am allowed to make fun of myself), keep on ignoring the basics and promote your utopian society.
I had to go through another security check once I landed in Delhi. I had a bottle of water with me, and as I went past the metal detectors, the guard motioned to me to take a sip out of my water. I did. That was all it took to convince him that my bottle of water was not an explosive liquid. Then my boarding pass was checked and rechecked multiple times.
There are often redundant checks for everything in India. You buy a ticket to see something, and 5 different people will ask to see your ticket. Really, not a great system. One, it’s annoying, two, it actually breeds incompetence. No one is held accountable because they point fingers at others when something goes wrong. If only one person is responsible for the checks, then they know it’ll come right back to them when something goes wrong. This is one of those things that W. E. Deming taught the Japanese auto industry on how to manufacture with quality and consistency. This is part of the reason why we buy Japanese autos, and not Indian ones.
I got past security and went to an airport lounge for some free wifi.
I sat down, looked around, and the first thought that came to mind was that I was back in civilization. Varanasi seriously feels like a third world country(in many ways, it does resemble a third world country) compared to the Delhi Airport.
There she is. I hope the hole in my backpack hasn’t gotten bigger. I have this terrible mental image of the whole thing bursting open while getting thrown around. Everything scatters on the ground, the airport workers look at it, and just throw the empty bag onto the cargo hold sans all content…Well, that didn’t happen.
I sat on the flight next to this Indian girl around my age. She spoke English very well and had gotten her masters in England. She had just come from Nepal for a friend’s wedding, and mentioned that her 500 and 1000 INR bills were illegal there because of all the counterfeiting in Nepal. So, she couldn’t get any of her money changed in Nepal. Then I asked her about Indian weddings, and she said that she’s attended weddings with 6000 or 7000 people before. Holy Shit! I can’t even imagine what that is like. She also gave me some recommendations on what to do and see in Jaipur and Mumbai. Sweet!
Right when we got on the road, I immediately noticed that Jaipur is a lot cleaner than everywhere else I’ve been in India. The traffic isn’t nearly as bad either. Oh yeah, I also don’t see shit stacked mountains high everywhere.
My driver tried really hard to sell me on the idea of hiring him all day the next day for 1300INR. I said that I’ll have to think about it. We drove along some more, then he pulls over and asked me to wait 2 minutes. What? Why? He pointed outside the window and said that he had to go to the wine shop.
My driver flies out of his door, dashes across the parking and fights himself a spot at the counter. They were literally halfway through with closing the metal shutters. It’s 8 and it’s closing time for selling alcohol. He comes back with a bottle of whiskey tucked under his arm. I congratulated him on his successful purchase.
When I got into Jaipur, and into my hotel room, I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in Vienna. Very odd comparison, I know. When I left Prague for Vienna, I had left a group of friends, and I was back to traveling on my own. Vienna was a clean and very mellow city for me. I feel the same way with Jaipur. I have a feeling that I will not be making new friends here, just like in Vienna. It’s just what my intuition tells me, so we’ll see if I am right.
To be continued at Jaipur Day 2 Part 1.