…it’s more where you’re going […]. At least according to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, who are usually right. Unfortunately Indians don’t seem to agree on this, so Spyro and me have to go through quite a few iterations of “Mister, which country?” every day. Funnily enough nobody seems to really care about the answers, unless they provide a chance to mistake “Austria” for “Australia”. Seriously, any more of this and I’m the first to scream “Oi! Oi! Oi!” at the next “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!” chant. Other popular questions include “What’s your good name” (I didn’t know I have a bad name too, I was told it’s called a “reputation”) and “What’s your profession?” (neither “nothing” nor “bum” seem to be acceptable answers by the way). So after two and a half month of this we became very good at nodding and smiling, ignoring people’s requests or outright lying to their questions. In short it’s like a boot camp for becoming a politician.
After this small rant – and I’m sparing you the ones on environmental awareness (“everything is bio-degradable if you give it a couple million years”) and the ancient Indian martial art commonly known in the West as “traffic” – I want to give you some information about our last destinations: after good old Varkala we made our way to Allepey to do a houseboat tour of the amazing Kerala backwaters, where we were amazed to hear that this place in India is one of the world’s least polluted areas. Unfortunately people seem to be aware of this irony and are working hard on remedying this confusing state, so make sure to go there soon. Next stop was the Bamboostix Island Resort, which is a beautiful and relaxing place. Alas nobody else seems to be aware of this, so we were the only guests at that time which made our stay a bit less interesting than originally hoped for. At least there was a carrom board and we could see the start of the monsoon in Kerala at night… Other highlights of our trip were the beautiful tea plantations around Munnar, Gokarna (hint: climbing/walking around the cliffs during the monsoon is not a smart idea) and all the beautiful climbing/bouldering spots around Hampi. Oh yeah, I kinda forgot to mention Cochin where we had a small but nice CouchSurfing meeting and Calicut, where absolutely nothing remarkable happened (the Bratislava of India so to say :p). The 10 days in Bombay where mostly spent hanging out with old and new friends (Paul, Jo, Blake and Mike), but we also got around to do an absolutely amazing tour of Asia’s biggest slum, Dharavi, which I heartily recommend to any Bombay visitor! I also managed to lose some weight there, mainly in the form of my wallet which spontaneously decided to get itself a new owner on a suburban train during the rush-hour (although civil war might be a better description). I only lost 150 rupees and my debit card (which thanks to Kerstin and other nice AUA employees got “delivered” to me in Delhi for free – thanks again!), a fair price for my first pick-pocket victim experience. Right now we are hanging out at Avi’s house in Delhi, and despite all the bad things we’ve heard about the city beforehand, it’s surprisingly cool so far. Granted that may have to do with the fact that “pizza man” Mike, Toni “Don’t freak, I’m a Sikh” Walia and a couple other cool cats decided to hit the city at the same time, but it’s a pleasant surprise nonetheless. Tomorrow noon we (viz. Spy, Claudio from Brazil, Samantha from the States and yours truly) are heading off to Kathmandu, one of my dream destinations ever since I saw “The Golden Child” with Eddie Murphy. I better see some snake charmers there, otherwise I’ll be a very very sad camper…
I can’t believe my first 2,5 month in India are almost over now, it’s definitely been a remarkable trip with a lot of unique memories (animals, strikes, riots, crowds, stares, weird people, weirder people, incredibly nice and hospitable people, you name it). “Incredible India”? Definitely!
P.S. Go watch Charlie Bartlett, it’s a great movie. And brush your teeth at least twice a day!