We crossed the border. It was harrowing. Agreeing to purchase some onward tickets south to Varanasi we received them on the Indian side in a tiny shop fronted by the Indian equivalent of Del-boy. Glancing at the price on the tickets we reckoned we were paying the chancer far too much commission (as in triple the price of the ticket) so tried bargaining with him. Next thing we knew he was shouting, “I’m not your slave!” And trying to grab all our money and tickets off us. Marcus attempted to slip some of our cash out of his pocket, which is when a large mechanic from down the road filled the doorway and inquired why we were touching his boss. Some smooth talking and rather large compromises later we had evaded their threat of the police and slipped ourselves on the bus, wallets emptier but faces intact. Welcome to India.
From the bus we caught a sleeper train where we had been allocated a “box.” Thankfully the box contained beds and a fitful nights rest ended with the sights and sounds of Varanasi. My opinion of India was about to change. This place is magic.
The old streets don’t have space for traffic so I think it’s less hectic to get around than other major cities. Saying that, cows regularly pin you to walls, touts have offered us anything from drugs to boat-rides to head massages and yesterday I was confronted with a number of open crematoriums. The Hindus rather like the Ganges it seems, and a number of them stagger to Varanasi for their final days before popping their sandals and being burnt on pyres right next to the river. Strangely it wasn’t as horrible as I expected. There actually seemed to be a bit of a party atmosphere.
We’re heading to Agra soon, to see some curry house called Maj’s Tahal or something. Luckily we have the tickets bought already so no swindling this time round.
Oh, and we washed elephants in Nepal. I rode one and it squirted water all over me with it’s trunk. If you ever want to feel five again I highly recommend this.