X: Nearly Home

Boy, it’s been quite a mission since waking up to my last Indian dawn. Between my hotel & the bus stand at Bharatpur lay some Maharaja’s national park – 5000 ducks shot in one day kinda thing – & a quick shimmy over the wall gave me access to its serenity. Most of the birds haven’t arrived for the winter yet, but I saw a few owls & green-feather’d things being stalked by the odd drooling jackal. After a serene potter about I hit the bus stand by 8AM & was soon on a bus to Delhi. The road was bumpy as fuck & on several occasions I was flung into the air, bucking-bronco style, disturbing the nest of mosquitoes that made its home on the bus. They say that a mosquito never strays more than 90 meters from where it was born, but five hours later we had all travelled 200K & reach’d the seething, beeping cauldron that is the Delhi ring road. The bus dropped me off to see a dog shivering prostrate with distemper – never a pleasant sight & a reminder that I should remain cautious for my last day in Delhi. Walking through South Delhi was rather a pleasant experience & being far away from the tourists & touts my view of the city has changed completely. The traffic & buzz was immense, but one sight I think will stay with me always. Two noble white oxen, a bull & his cow, were casually strolling down the wrong side of the road, gliding like two swans on water, totally oblivious to the imminent death-on-wheels that constantly approached them, which then veered away at the last minute. I also stumbled across a lovely park full of cute bambi-esque deer, where even the stags had fluffy antlers! There, I joined in a game of cricket with some Indian kids, who used bricks for wickets, getting to bat for as long as I wanted. To make things interesting I offered a couple of rupees to anyone who could bowl me out, which added to the excitement.

By now the sun was setting & I had realised my initial estimation of a 15k walk was actually a 30k walk & I still had another 12 to do. The friendly smiles of the Indians were turning, in my mind, to devious grins of thieves & vagabonds, but luckily there were buses going just where I wanted – tho’ sardine cans may be a more appropriate term. Anyhow, a few rupees later I was at the airport & sat in a fine restaurant gobbling down fish ‘n’ chips & a beer to get me in the mood for home. The plane set off at 3 am, but one valium later I was waking up with breakfast in front of me an hour from Milan airport, with the sun just rising. A quick transit later & I was back over the Alps, over France & the Channel before zooming through British airspace. It was a lovely morning & the Channel seemed to form a golden frame to the beautiful shade of English green. I felt quite patriotic coming home, & as we circled the metropolis I noticed how neat London was, with its straight roads, gentle curves & verdant parks -all a far cry from the ramshackle chaos of India, which seem’d just a dream by the time I set foot back on my native soil, with not a cycle rickshaw in sight…

London
9/11/06

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