Montag, 28. März 2011

India by land

India is more than Goa, Backwaters and the Taj. While these places rightfully attract hordes of visitors day after day, it would be a mistake to travel inbetween by plane. The most impressive moments lie on the road. They are those encounters that are most unexpected and least planned for. Sharing a train department with an Indian family, using a Rickshaw to travel 120km through rice fields or taking the overnight bus hitting the ceiling whenever there is a pothole – experiences that are unforgettable. Inbetween Kanyakumari and Delhi lie more than 2200km. We travel mostly over night, by bus or train. One night we wake at 3am to realize the train has stopped. Heavy rain had lead to landslides, the trails are blocked. We have to get off and look for a bus. In the middle of nowhere, at this time of the night? But this is India, one hour later we sit in an old, overcrowded bus towards the beaches of Varkala. We drive through forests of palm trees, overtake Rickshaws and at one time even a man riding an elephant. Trains can be dirty and loud. Every now and then vendors make the round selling tea, food or newspapers. People stand in the open doors as the train rattles through beautiful landscapes in one moment and urban slums in the next. Riding on the trains´ rooftop is prohibited, fines of about 2 Euros are imposed. At one time we rent motorbikes to explore the archaeological sites of Hampi. We are stopped at by patrolling police and realize we did not carry our licenses. The officer asks for a fine of 5 Euros from each of us. Some minutes of negotiation later one of us pays 5 Euros and we all can go. The roads of India always offer surprises and so it is about travelling and not arriving. Forget about the Taj, forget about New Delhi. The exciting India lies inbetween.