III: Internationalist

Left glitzy Biaritz a few days ago, my plane climbing over the sea with the twin-spired cathedral of Bayonne glittering heavenwards in the distance. I landed in Dublin, staying with Mike, a cool guy I met on my mission here a couple of years back, whose band came to play at our JockStock festival on Glenda’s dad’s land. Also with me was, of course, Glenda. It’s quite poetic that before I fly to India, & after my trip to Roncesvalles, she meets me in Dublin. Full of PMT of course, but that’s the story of my life!

So we spent a couple of jolly days in Irish transit before my journey to Delhi began, watching an emphatic Burnley victory away at Norwich in a Dublin pub with a few of our inbred Norfolk cousins. This has given me a positive buzz for the tour. Next up was a Hare Krishna festival just a few streets away in the vibrant Temple Bar District. There was Indian dance, some amazing swordsmanship from an Estonian devotee, followed by two twins perfuming the most masterful (& painful-looking) yoga I have ever seen! Then came the speaker, who could waffle on about reincarnation & karma for hours, but thankfully spared the pin-dropping audience after forty minutes, when the mad dash for the free curry turned into a Hare Krishna rave! By the way, the Krishna’s don’t advocate eating meat, getting drunk, gambling & casual sex – so that’s me out then.

Glistening from this brush with Indian culture I said farewell to Glenda & walked the seven miles to the airport. En route there were several vantage points which afforded a splendid view of the Dublin sprawl, with the sea to the left, & the two giant, red, upturned tablelegs that mark the Docks. Behind stood the misty Wicklow hills & to my right the central Irish plains stretching as far as the Atlantic.

Flying back to evergreen England & Stanstead, I had found two weeks of travel had sharpened up my instincts, & the train jump into London was a doddle. Spent the night at Duggie’s (cheers pal) before meeting Charlie for a few beers down the heavy bass-bars of Brixton. Turned up steaming at Heathrow on the last tube, caught a couple of hours of sleep, then caught the first plane out that the morning. The flight to India took me first to Milan for a spot of pizza-fuell’d transit, with a blanket of fog crawling & hugging the fertile plains of the Po.

Eventually we were dropping into Delhi – another galaxy of stars in another corner of the universe. One crazy, cow-dodging taxi ride later I was booking into a hotel for less than two quid. It’s not exactly the Hilton, with a bucket for a shower & an army of ants dragging away the crisps. Anyhow, it was only for one night & later on I’m off into Rajasthan on a night bus. But first I am hiring a rickshaw for the day to show me the sites & see how much it will cost to get my mate Charlie’s teeth fixed – its five grand in the UK & just gotta be cheaper out here. The last time I was in Delhi I was recovering from a bus crash with a dislocated shoulder, feverish with salmonella & with palm-sized mosquito bites on my legs, but today I am healthy, four years wiser, & well up for whatever this madhouse of a country can throw at me…

Delhi
5/10/2006

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