Monday, April 04, 2011

I Have Arrived in McLeod Ganj

"Things that bother you
Never bother me
I feel happy and fine!
Living in the sunlight,
loving in the moonlight
Having a wonderful time!"

Livin' in the Sunlight,
Lovin' in the Moonlight (1968)
by Tiny Tim

Hey, it's me. I survived the positively polar 12-hour bus ride from the Tibetan Refugee Colony in Majnu ka Tilla, Delhi, to McLeod Ganj without turning into a comically-postured me-shaped block of human ice.Would you believe that there are air-conditioned buses which head there as well? I wonder what's the passenger survival rates on those runs are like.

The one I took was near the bottom-rung of the fare-scale because I'm hardcore like that. The seats were cramped and you can't recline the seats very far back. It's the sort of Indian bus which you expect to see in a Discovery Channel special where it's filled to bursting like a third world clown car with the excess passengers and their goats holding on to dear life on the luggage hold topside - but lucky me, my bus was half empty.

An elderly Tibetan monk garbed in the standard-issue maroon-and-saffron robes took a shine on me while I was waiting for my bus outside the refugee colony. He looks like a slightly better fed version of the current Dalai Lama and he told me that if I ran into any trouble, I should look him up. Or at least that's what I thought he said. He spoke to me in Mandarin, not mistaking even for one moment the mark of my heritage upon my face, and here I was thinking that I have one of those undefined Far Eastern mugs. The reason that I have reservations about being identifiably Chinese is that if it wasn't for China, the refugee colony wouldn't even exist in the first place. Oh well, at least all the Kashmiri hoteliers here thought I'm Korean or Japanese.

I have hard enough of a time understanding Mandarin as it is spoken in Malaysia, but faced with Mandarin as it is spoken in China (confounded further with a layer of Tibetan accent), it was as good as ancient Greek to me. Actually, I think I might have an easier time understanding Greek, having spent 5 years studying medical gobbledegook. I think it's out of sheer Buddhist patience that the monk didn't just throw up his hands in disgust after having to repeat everything he said to me at least ten times. I'll probably never see him again - I've already forgotten his unpronounceable name.

Sleeping was a kind of hardship on that bus due to poor ergonomics, but it was still easier than doing it sitting in an AirAsia economy seat (take that, Tony Fernandes). And I thought it was a good idea to wear freaking Bermudas to the Himachal Himalayas.I managed to wriggle out of my thin, cotton T-shirt and slip on something warmer, but the shorts had to stay on. Just in case any of you are worrying; both my balls made it safe and sound, thank you very much.

I'm fasting for freedom at the moment in solidarity with the languishing Tibetans of Ngaba and I expect to break it at 5:00 PM later today while the myriads of cosy cafés and inviting restaurants littering the town are giving my resolve a run for its money. Fasting for anything is a pointless gesture that will achieve exactly nothing, much like intercessory prayers, live sacrifices and communing with nature spirits. And no one's going to give a shit if you only stop eating from eleven to five. How is the Chinese government going to react to this? "Oooh, you not eat for six hours? We totally see error in our ways now!"? If you want anything done, do a hunger strike. Imagine the press it'll generate once the first starving striker dies. Anyway, I'm only doing it because I'd take any excuse to stop making deposits to the Bank of My Fat Ass, if only temporarily. The lard has got to go and to that end, I've walked so much in Delhi that blisters mushroomed out of the soles of my feet. I asked the receptionist at the Wongdhen House (where I stayed overnight at Majnu ka Tilla) for the directions to the nearest metro station, and she advised me to take an auto rickshaw there instead. Naturally, I took that as a challenge.

Is it weird that I'm feeling pleased about the blisters? I feel like nothing can pull me down right now.

My phone is dead at the mo, and my camera nearly so. I need to go shop for a universal power adapter so I can juice them up again. I'd need a local SIM card too, if only because it would to enable me to resume pestering the Long-Suffering Girlfriend™ with my pestilential thoughts. So, cheerio.

P.S. Do comment generously, whether you're a regular or have been reading silently all this while. I'm travelling alone, and it'd be nice if I get my minimal dosage of human contact through this tiny aperture - because bugger me if I'm going to chat up random travellers who think they are better than everyone else for having seen the world and shit.

This much closer to the sky,
k0k s3n w4i


McGarmott said...

You forgot the nice Tibetan man's name already? You totally need me for the next trip me, man. I'm a stickler for remembering people's (foreign-sounding) names and enjoy learning little bits of their language on the spot.

Also, most random travellers aren't the obnoxious or boring kind, right? In my (limited) experience they are often very interesting people who are often very helpful too. Of course, I haven't been travelling in India ...

SIlent Reader from Adelaide said...

I find random traveler interesting thou....They tend to open up a little more than they usually do. Do be careful of schemers (speaking from experience)

Phoebs said...

you should have brought me along :(

Terri said...

Yeah what Pheobe said. You're the one who wanted to travel all alone so now you gotta suck on it >=3

Liz ^^, said...

"You are not aloneeee~" Sing for you (one line la xD) MJ-style okay? Hope that cheers you up some ! Have a ball !!!! :DDDDDD

Glo-w~* said...

prison *cough* I mean housemanship is coming so travel, run, walk, see, smell, touch as much as you can ^^ then come back safely~

~*caryn*~ said...

i'm going there soon. in may. totally impromptu decision. thought my dad was against the idea of three girls traipsing to an unknown land. but he said, "go la, before you start work. who knows when you'll get holidays after this." guess even my old man knows of the prison sentence that is housemanship.

nicoletta said...

Seems like you're having the adventure of the lifetime. But glad that you managed to find time to update your blog. I honestly thought I wouldn't be hearing from you until the end of the month. It's clear your readers miss you; you can be wicked funny sometimes.

PS: When I was in KL in January, I spent a lot of time jumping outside the walls of Tony Fernandes' house trying (and failing) to get an inside view of his huge mansion of a dwelling.

k0k s3n w4i said...

McGarmott: i consider it rude to butcher other peoples' languages, so i rarely attempt to speak them. one of the things which bothers me most is foreigners attempting to greet me in broken mandarin while i pretend to be impressed - so naturally, i think it's discourteous of me to inflict the same torture on others.

Silent Reader from Adelaide: ever since i arrived here, i'd have talked to an irish bloke, a pair of belgians and a huge bearded hungarian man who walked with me for three hours on a hike down a mountain. they certainly are very open. i plan to write about the latter two actually.

Phoebs: as if you can come =d.

Terri: hey! i asked phoebs to come but she didn't want to. she thinks the holidays i go on are hardships.

Liz ^^,: oh, i'm having nothing less than the time of my life here :P

Glo-w~*: i can't make any promises about coming back safely.

~*caryn*~: to india or specifically where i'm at now? this means you cleared your finals right? 'grats!

nicoletta: oh, i am! i keep a travel journal in which i write daily. if i think any entry is worthy of publication on my blog, i would. and when i get back, i'll start doing the same with photographs. be ready to suffer through months of travelogues, haha!

~*caryn*~ said...

to north india, and yes most likely dharamsala :) hopefully, my trip will be as magical as yours.

k0k s3n w4i said...

~*caryn*~: i think the most important thing to bring on any trip is the right attitude. it's hard not to have a great time when you do that. anyway, feel free to ask me anything if you've never travelled in india before :)