Monday, 6 January 2014
Indian Adventure, arrival
If hell exists it is an eternity of travelling. A perpetual roundabout of waiting rooms, airport floors and stuffy plane seats, garnished with air con and inexplicable buzzing noises and bright, nauseating lighting.
I think travelling on your own seems to heighten your senses. My own solitude was so unbearable that my brain decided to detect every slight noise or action and amplify it horrifically. The hissed arguments in harsh foriegn language, the squeak of people shoes on the airport floor and the rumbling earthquake of suitcase wheels charging like a herd of blind animals that tumble into you and run over your toes. I also became aware over the last 24 hours what an awful rush everyone is constantly in to get to their next designated chair, be that on a plane or at a boarding gate or on a shuttle bus, simply to sit and wait until the next mad rush to be the first to win the 'sitting in your seat that wasnt going anywhere anyway' game.
Of course mumbai airport was absolute mayhem. As I wandered hopelessly around the maze of an airport with no idea where to collect my ridiculously large bag or where to board my next flight I instantly got the feeling that everyone in India hates me. Everything I did seemed to be followed by the laughter of bemused airport staff like I was involunatrily trapped in an american sitcom... with an indian laughter track. With absolutely no help whatsover I finally found my next checkin desk.
Besides leaving the super-duper important plastic wallet that you mustn't lose as it has all your important documents and flight tickets in it at a cafe I dont think I did anything THAT stupid. Ok, that was pretty stupid. Luckily the man behind the counter had looked after it for me, so at least that's one person in India who doesnt hate me!
However I did actually make it to Goa Airport, which contrasted strikingly with Mumbai airport. In mumbai I had a man with a gun pace past me every five minutes whereas in Goa at immigration control the guy just half-heartedly waved us through.
After a tense period of time waiting for my luggage to appear I headed out into the smog filled streets and found my taxi man. A girl from Sydney and I were tumbled into an old jeep style car with burberry fabric seats and no seatbelts and driven full speed down a busy road full of beeping vehicles, with emaciated cows and schoolchildren walking a long the edge.
When we finally arrived at the Volunteer camp I didnt know what to expect. Luckily I have learnt over the past few years that expectations tend to lead to disappointment, probabaly because my expectations are ridiculous idealisms. The camp is very... basic.
The girl from Sydney had booked through an australian company so just as soon as I had arrived and met some new people, they were whisked away on a day trip theyre booked on. So far i'm the only English person staying here, and right this moment i'm the only person on the complex at all.
To settle my mind I decided to unpack my stuff into my home for the next eight weeks. Once I had successfully unpacked and placed all my items where I wanted to keep them, the camp manager told me to move to a different room as the fan was broken in the one I had been placed...
So an hour later I was fully unpacked again. Unfortunately my shampoo had exploded in my wash bag so i spent an hour cleaning all the bottles and the bag. Suddenly I looked down and saw a giant blobber of soap suds creeping towards me like a living thing that i tentatively tapped with my toe before trusting it wasn't some foriegn soap creature. Turns out there's a hole in the middle of the bathroom that must be connected to the sink and so all my shampoo I've washed down there has risen to life again out of this hole in the form of a giant sud creature, sliding towards me for revenge.
On the flight i finally finished reading Jane Eyre, discovering her conclusive decision to look after the blind, disfigured, amputated Rochester over missionary work as a teacher in India. As I laid on my bed reflecting on the past 24 hours I wondered if I too should have chosen differently.
However, as I look up now at the blue sky, and sway gently in my hammock, listening to dogs barking far away and the trains rattling past, I'm pretty sure I made the right decision.