Tag Archives: traveling

Journey to the West Country

I’m taking this opportunity to post some links to something I have been waiting to share with everyone on here for a while.

http://www.journeytothewestcountry.com/

One of my best friends Paul Lombard is cycling from Seoul, South Korea to Gloucestershire, UK. That’s 15,000 kilometers (9300 miles).

I am so unbelievably proud of him. I take pride in telling my friends here in America about it because it makes me seem better by proxy.

Aside from being a hulking workhorse, Paul is also a very talented writer and an extremely funny man, and his musings on the difficulties of spending so much time alone in an unknown land are simultaneously hilarious, heartfelt and often fairly bleak. I for one take a sick little pleasure in the frequent moments of reflection in which he stops for a second and almost buckles under the enormity of the task he’s given himself. But that’s only because I know well that he’s going to complete this task and come out of it changed for the better.

Paul is doing all of this to raise money and awareness for MAG (Mines Advisory Group) which aims to help to clear active landmines and eradicate the effects of them in Sudan. An extremely nobel cause, and one which Paul has a close affinity to.

Here are a few more photographs from his inspiring instagram feeds. You can follow him here at: http://instagram.com/journeytothewestcountry# – Please do so. His photographs of his food are actually interesting.

Paul and Nick, a mutual friend that joined him for an intense month in the Gobi Desert.

Paul and Nick, a mutual friend that joined him for an intense month in the Gobi Desert.

Godspeed mate. Stay safe.

x

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The Cricketer – Part One

                   

                    Govinda hid himself from view behind a tree. There were many trees on the fringe of the building site. They obscured it slightly from the view of the high-rise apartments that loomed over it. Govinda had chosen the most slender tree to hide behind. His small frame could almost be concealed behind it. His hands held the trunk like he would fall. His fingers fumbled the grooves in bark. His young, boned shoulders could just be seen on either side of the tree. Every now and again, he would carefully move a single eye out from one side of the trunk. He could hear his heart beating. He could feel his palms sweating. He was suddenly aware of the blood rushing around underneath those beaten, ill fitting clothes he found across the street. He looked down at the plastic bags and plastic cups and plastic packets around his feet. He heard the boys shouting and looked up. He watched the next boy stand up to the wicket. Govinda remembered that this boy was left handed. Every time that he had seen the boy, he had hit a six beyond the trees where he stood, hiding weakly.

He peeked out and watched the tall boy swagger up to the wicket. Four broken breeze blocks stacked high. His steps were slow, but long and smooth. He had a hole in each leg of his browning jeans. His dusted knees would spike out with each of those long, smooth steps. He wore a faded soccer shirt which hung from his shoulders and flashed the bottom of his flat stomach. The glued and nailed bat dipped and rocked, slung across his shoulder like a sword. He pointed vaguely towards the trees on the right side of the field where Govinda hid, without looking from the ground in front of him. Some of the older boys started to laugh at his old swaggering confidence. Two of the younger players frantically ran towards Govinda’s tree. He quickly cowered behind it. He poked a single eye out.

As the boy took to the wicket, Govinda studied the broad smiles on the children’s faces. Their half moon smiles shone against their sunned skin. Their heads wobbled side to side as they exchanged tactics, pointing and shouting towards the younger boys, arranging them like chess pieces. The wide fielders would stand idyll, hands pressed onto their thrust forward hips as they looked around. The bowler had started pacing to his starting block. He moved a little quicker than the batter. The wind blew a sharp gust and whipped the dust into the air between them. They stood twenty long, slow paces from one another, staring. Studying one another’s eyes through the dust. The bowler was around the same age as the batter but a little shorter. He wiped his slightly darkened upper lip. The batter stretched his lower lip over his soft, young moustache. The beads of sweat formed and dripped from his forehead, sliding around his fixed stare. He winked at the bowler, and smiled.

As he struck the ball into the blue sky, the dust burst up from beneath him. The red tennis ball stood out against the deep blue. They watched it float gently. As the ball stopped rising and began to fall, his team mates began to shout and whoop. Govinda just watched the sky. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes tightly. He turned and started to run. He ran towards the busy road. He could hear the steps of the younger pawns behind him. But he ran faster. He kept a half eye on the oncoming traffic, listening for the beeps. But he watched closely as the ball bounced and rolled into the ditch on the other side. A rickshaw slammed on its breaks as Govinda shot in front of it.

“You little bastard! Watch the road!” the fat driver shouted, beeping the horn again.

Govinda dived into the ditch and fished the ball out of the filthy water. He looked back. The younger boys had stopped by his tree. He watched them for a moment through the blur of passing traffic. They stood confused as this boy emerged from the ditch with their ball. Govinda glanced both ways, and ran back across the road.

“Hey! Give us our ball back!” shouted one boy as Govinda sprinted towards them. He kept running, he ran past them and out onto the field. Blood burst around every part of his body as he felt the rough sand under his soft, bare feet. The heat from the pulsing Delhi sun had warmed the sand. It scorched his soles. But he kept running. He heard the footsteps behind him get quieter. He gradually slowed, arced his arm and threw the ball towards the wicket as hard as he could. The ball bounced around ten feet short of the target. The older boys turned around as the ball bounced again. They saw a strange little boy standing on the field, panting. He was looking around at their faces. They watched as their pawns moved closer and closer to him. He was a skinny little boy. His trousers were damp up to the knees and his clothes were worn and full of holes. The batter looked to his friends and pointed the bat towards Govinda.

“Who’s he?” he asked behind him.

The boys shrugged.

“He can throw pretty well.” Govinda’s heart skipped a little. He stopped his smile from breaking through. “Who are you?”

Govinda looked down at his feet, burning in the harsh sand.

“Anit” he replied.

“Who’s your father?” the boy asked.

“He’s called Anit too.” The younger boys caught up with him. They surrounded Govinda and started to eye him up and down. Govinda looked through them, towards the older boy with the bat.

“I don’t know him. You live in the Jhugghi?” Govinda nodded. He looked at the slum in the distance. The dark, rumbling slum. This was the closest he had ever been to the Jhuggi Jhompdi.

“How come we don’t know you?” shouted the boy, swinging his bat slowly across the field, passing each of his friends.

“We just moved here. Two days ago. From Orcha.” The boy turned to his friends behind him and gave a light shrug. He turned and walked back to the wicket. Raising the bat high in the air, he pointed towards Govinda’s tree.

“You’re wide right. This one’s for you.” Govinda knew that he was just another pair of legs to chase his sixes. But he didn’t care. He smiled and ran back towards the tree.

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Photos From India: Behind the Taj Mahal – Huge Shadow

“One cigarette” he said, nodding to the packet in my hand. I pulled one out. I gave him my lighter. He held up a hand to stop me. He was holding a box of matches.
“Thank you kindly.” He blew out the smoke from the first drag. I looked up at the Taj Mahal above us from deep within the huge shadow it cast. I looked at the big wall in front of us.
“Does the Taj mean anything to you anymore?” I asked.
“My friend,” he started, looking up at the bright white dome above us, “it will mean something to me for as long as I carry this horrible thing.” He pointed to the automatic rifle by his side.
I looked back at the Taj and wondered if ever saw what I could see.

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Photos From India: Goa – The Beach

They all told me that the water wasn’t that nice.

“Honestly mate, it looks a lot warmer than it is” they said. But I saw them splashing around. I had been in a couple of days ago. I remembered that it was like a warm bath. But I didn’t say anything.

The doctor said it would be six months before I could run around again. I would just sit in the sun, trying to tell myself that the water was a lot colder than I remembered.

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Photos from India – Rajasthan: Little Girl

The old man smiled and wobbled his head. He watched the strange man with the little black box standing in front of his daughter. He looked up from the box and told her to smile more. The old man understood. He shouted to her. She started to laugh. The man looked back into the box and clicked, taking the last of those little laughs and locking them up, inside his little black box.

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7. Mare Buses – Part Four

I woke up in Udaipur. All of the bus-to-bus action had clearly had its way with my standards of overnight accommodation. I slept, uninterrupted, for nine hours. I’m a bit of an insomniac right, so bein’ able tae dae a power of sleepin’ on a bus like that is quite something. But I was not in a good shape when we arrived at eight in the morning. I carried the weight of ma discomfort in ma rucksack and the strain of it on ma rough, stubbly face. I could smell ma own socks fermenting in ma shoes. Ma figure was cut from disheveled cloth crying out for a good scrub. Me and the Chilean Crusties didnae look quite so mismatched anymore. All I needed was a beard with sea shells in it and a didgeridoo on ma back and we’d look like a band of busking stains. By the time I’d pulled our backpacks out the back of the bus, they had about nine rickshaw drivers battling for our fare.

“Hundred rupees,” replied one driver, looking off into the distance, respecting us just enough not to look in our eyes when he tried to scam us.

“NOOOOOO! Ten rupees only” shouted Maria (I think that’s her name. The shorter, hotter one), shaking her head frantically.

“Ten rupees less” a voice from the back of the crowd offered.

“Eighty rupees” said another.

“No. No. Twenty rupees is final price. Final price.” declared Sophia (the less attractive one but with better English).

 “Ten rupees less” the voice from the back said again.

“Fifty rupees.” said the initial bidder.

I was stood there in awe of their skills. I knew that these girls hadn’t wanted me to tag along because they found my style and panache to be an effective lubricant. They couldn’t speak English all that well and had assumed that having a clueless Scottish guy with them would help in cost cutting. They needed no help man. At least not from me anyway.

“Done. Forty rupees!” shouted Sophia as she clapped her hands and pushed her way through the crowd towards the voice at the back.

We all jumped into the wee rickshaw and told him to take us to Tony’s Planet’s top pick for budget accommodation. Lalghat Guest house. I went into ma pocket and pulled out ma iPhone and fired up the calculator, thinkin’ I’d rip the piss out of them a wee bit.

“So lets see then gurls, forty divided by three is………..fourteen point three three three three three three rupees each” I said with a wee smile.

“I no have change, only five hundred rupees” said Sophia.

I sighed. I thought that was a good joke. Maybe it was lost in translation.

“It doesnae matter, I’ll get it.” I said.

We got to the guest house and checked in. This horrible rigmarole with filling in your passport details and your visa number and your home address and aww god, I hate doing it. I go first while the girls confirm the price with the receptionist. One hundred and twenty, just as Tony said. They both gave me a glance, one last chance to postpone that sweet comeback wank in favor of an eighty rupee saving and a one-percent chance of a threesome. Sorry ladies, I came to India to learn how to be on ma own.

“Two rooms please” I say to the guy.

They give me the cold shoulder and sign the book. He gives us rooms one and two and a couple of padlocks. We shoulder the bags again and walk up to the rooms. As you would expect for about £1.50 a night, the room a was a fuckin’ jail cell. The bed didn’t have any sheets and the pillow was like a packed bag of sand. The floppy ceiling fan was slowly wobblin’ round and round, breathing its warm, stale breath onto the bed. An addictions worth of cigarette butts had been squished into the corners of the room. The browned switches had a thousand mankey fingers caress them in search of light. The smell of sour, watery shite lingered in the air, warning you to brush your teeth with mineral water. I spotted a little graffiti above the bed, which read:

“What are you in for?”

I exhaled and contemplated my two to three day stretch in this little cage of depression. I heard the girls happily chatting back and forth to one another. They seemed happy in their pit. One can only imagine the suicidal hotel rooms that their frugality had dragged them into so far. I closed the door and checked the time on ma phone. I almost hit the roof with excitement. I had a wi-fi signal!

Porn man. ALL the porn.

“I’ll catch up wi you guys later tonight” I shouted towards the hole between our rooms.

I had a massive smile on my face as I locked the door, snapped the latch shut on the decaying wooden windows, and skipped back to the old war hospital bed. I opened the Safari web browser and the words “youporn” leapt from my thumbs. That big sleazy smile of mine stretched across my face. This was the happiest I’d been in India, and I didn’t feel in the slightest bit bad about that.

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7. Mare Buses – Part Three

This was the first time I’d been tae the countryside in eleven years. That’s a long time for someone who generally hates cities. I could never convince ma cousin Sandy and the like to take a wee excursion up to the Highlands. They were always all like, ‘Nah man, all they fuckin’ stupit choochter bastards runnin’ aboot, nae clubs, pish weather, blah blah blah’ . You see, me and ma family were goin’ to a wee village called Achnafachel a couple of times a summer until I was about twelve. After that I started tae think that I was too cool tae sleep in a tent with ma parents. I loved goin there but things were gettin’ nasty at home. I’d go and stay with ma Aunty Mary in Blantyre and my folks would go away together and to try to glue back together whatever pieces of their relationship that they were prepared to salvage. I remember hangin’ about before they’d leave, packing everything into the car and they’d already started gettin’ on one another’s tits. I always hoped that they’d be pure happy on the way there, singin’ along with ma maw’s Rod Stewart tape in the car and re-kindling their pre-marriage romance on the idyllic mountain roads of the Scottish Highlands. I would think about them doing all of the things that we used do together. Fishing, walking, cooking, playing fitball, exploring. Everything would be the same, but I wouldnae be there. I always used tae think that they would be havin’ a great time gettin’ a chance to enjoy one another’s company without me. At that time they were havin’ regular verbal punch-up’s and I always felt like I was the root of the problems. I’d see pictures of ma parents before I was born and couldn’t help but notice that they looked happier when I just wasn’t fuckin’ there. Photographs of them smiling at each other, kissing in front of some decaying Highland castle or standing proudly next to their new gold Volkswagen Golf. Before me, they had more money, more freedom, their eyes were burstin’ with a hope and optimism that was completely redundant after I was born. But as I got older, I realized that they were never really happy. Cause despite what people try to tell you tae protect their own interests, photographs can lie. They were probably happyish for the first year, but after that it was consistently miserable. Ma dad regretted gettin’ married and havin’ a kid so young, and my mum regretted havin’ a wee kid with someone who was basically a big kid. I didn’t see any of this until they broke up. Ma maw started goin’ with an older widower with a couple of ready-made, microwave kids almost immediately. Dad transformed into an aging man hoor, shaggin’ every single mum in the scheme. I was just sort of forgotten about. Left in the middle just doing ma best to shelter maself from the fallout. I guess you can see my battle scars on the surface of my decisions.

*
The journey was, again, uncomfortable. The condition of the road was top drawer. But our driver was an animal, and possibly a certified space cadet. The traffic was fairly heavy and our driver overestimated the torque of his bus numerous times during the journey. He would pull out on blind corners to overtake three lorries in one go, getting interrupted halfway by an oil tanker grumbling its way quickly towards us, and swinging back in at the last second. But there was absolutely no point in worrying about the death. If he was going to kill us, I couldn’t stop him. Dwelling on it only made the journey more unpleasant. I was distracted by an information sign above the driver’s seat. It was all in Hindi and written in paint or blood or something. I assume that the phone number was who you call if your bus driver thinks he’s Danny Zuko. Although I was convinced I would cover the final miles of this trip in an ambulance, I started laughing.

The number was 01412369109: A Glasgow number.

I sat for a while and entertained the thought that the Indian Public Transportation office had outsourced their call centers to Glasgow.
“Awrite your froo tae the Injin Govermnt Publick transport office, yer speakin’ tae Anne Marie the day, how kin ah help ye? Whit? Overtakin’ oan a blind corner? He nivir did! Rite, well let me tell ya this by the way, he’s in it up tae his hairy wee baws, let me tell ye that son. Ah’ll just stick ye froo tae the relevant departmnt. Okay, aye, okay, bye.”
This scene kept my thoughts in my head, away from the traffic coming in the other direction, just long enough for me to doze off.

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7. Mare buses – Part Two

So, the bus. It was a bit nicer than the piss bus, but it was still an Indian bus. I was starting to think that I was going to develop Parkinson’s if I kept traveling the country on these fuckin’ things. I had a seat this time because I’d allowed myself to get all wrapped up in the girl’s mentality traveling cheap. They thought that ten quid was too much to pay for an overnight bus journey with a wee coffin for a bed, so they opted to sit upright for the whole journey, saving us a grand total of two pounds. That was certainly an error in judgment I won’t be making again folks. So anyway, I thought I’d get down to a bit of writing. I was startin’  tae feel guilty about no daemin much since I got here. I had an idea about some guy who lives somewhere in London for a couple of years, comes tae India and tries tae make it happen here as a photographer, falls in love and so on. Right, obviously that sounds shit, but when you strip anything down to its bare essence, it’s gonna sound shit. Football? A load of rich twats kicking a piece of leather around a pitch. Kurt Cobain? Some greasy skag boy who cannae sing. The Sistine Chapel? Some paint on a ceiling. I’m not tryin’ to compare my idea to any of those things, but you’s knew that anyway. I’m just making a point. It might no be as shite as it sounds.

I quickly realized that there was no way to write anything on these buses. The ricktor scale was at about a hundred and forty. As soon as I put the pen on the page we fell into a pot hole like a fuckin’ coalmine and I gouged a big line right up the paper. Could have been God’s way of tellin’ me that ma idea was pish. I tried to do a wee bit in Goa but I didn’t get the inspiration like. This time I felt like I had the fire, but it was raining heavily. I gave up on penning my masterpiece and decided just to look out of the window again. I normally hate doing that though cause it feels like I’m wasting time. But watchin’ the transition from urban India to industrial India to rural India is quite somethin’ man. All the bustle and modernization gradually fades out and is replaced by big bleak factories, pumping the country into this new age of wealth and catastrophe. The factories start to crumble away and you’re left with nothing, not even any debris from the industry. I sat looking out at the fresh scenery and had to give my mind time to adapt. I’d never seen sand so far from the sea, lush green plants without want for water, people so removed from the needless complications of the 21st century. It was incredible man.

But the maddest thing is right, the deeper you get into the countryside the less cows there are! I’d imagine that in every other country in the world, the cow-to-cunt ratio increases the further into the sticks you get. But in India there seems to be a trend amongst the cows to migrate to the cities and towns, like people. They come to the city in search of a better life for their herd and for their calves.  Some are destined for a life of poverty, nibblin’ bike tires and plastic tea cups, stragglers at the back of the city rat race. Others find that affluence in the dumping ground behind restaurants or in the tips behind flower markets. It’s a two sided coin for the poor old Indian cows. But as I got further into nowhere I noticed that the number of goats increases. Which is cool like. Another semi-exotic animal I can cross off the list I never made. Goats are actually a bit exotic for me. When you come from the east end of Glasgow and the most exotic animal you’ve ever seen is an Alsatian with a police officer tied to it, a goat’s a sweet fuckin’ treat. Like desert. I like their tits the best though. Cows have more rounded, shapely boobs but the wee goat’s tits look like those tubes that you use to decorate a wedding cake. Mad long saggy things danglin’ between their legs. Hilarious man.

So back to the bus journey. It had all turned into a bit of a zoo. The girls had caused quite a stir with the Indian men you see. They were the main attraction, like a couple of new-born Pandas. I was the zoo keeper’s dug. Nobody gave a fuck. Wee brown, moustached heads poked over the seats, tryin’ tae get a waft of liberated femininity and a wee peek at their white skin. They were the only females on the bus who weren’t wrapped in about four miles of cloth you see. An Indian man slid into the empty seat next tae me. The girls sat together across the aisle. He was in his twenties, long, lanky and frayed like old rope. The chewing of tobacco made his Tom Selik moustache roll around on his top lip.

“Girlfriends?” he asked, throwing a finger towards the girls.

“Nah man, sadly not. I just met them here like.”

He raised his eyebrows in the middle and slid his tobacco-stained bottom lip out in that, Sean Connery “interesshting…” kind-of-way. He looked over at them and then back to me.

“No girlfriend?” he asked, surprised.

“Naw, well aye, ah dunno. It’s complicated.”

His head stopped wobbling and he tilted it to one side, looking confused.

“Her name?” he said, pointing towards the shorter one.

“Ask her?” I said, not really understandin’ why he didn’t just ask her. I know it’s in the culture not to acknowledge women as being human beings sometimes, but if he fancies her (which he obviously does, judging by the rusty chewing tobacco drool that’s practically drippin’ onto ma knee) he should just ask her what her name is.

“What?” he said, leaning in with his ear but keeping his eyes locked on the blonde, blue and cream of the girls.

“Ask her.” I said again.

“Ah, Oscar. Okay.”

I just burst out laughing. It’s not his fault like, but it was fucking funny.

“No girlfriend?” he asked again. I decided that there was no point in trying to explain the complex romantic tragedy I was starring in, for the benefit of an Indian man on a bus. I didn’t update you’s on that situation did I? Anyway, it’s all a bit of a mess. I got to the internet café quickly in Bombay and had a Facebook message from her waitin’ there for me. The subject was ‘So…what’s going on?’ I sort of just sat there and looked at it for a wee minute, a bit shocked like. ‘What’s going on?’ she says. Christ on Christmas tree! Nice to hear from you love! Fuck me. Leave without saying anything, keep me in suspense and now we do this over a thread message on Facebook?! Why don’t I just make things better by proposing by to you on fuckin’ Twitter? Jesus, anyway. I’ve been thinkin’ about my last night in Glasgow town over and over man. The way she just floated in and floated out without saying a word. It was painful and confusing then and I don’t really know if it’s gotten any easier to deal with. I guess it’s still stirring up some sort of residual pain inside me, but every day it gets sort of less, even if I don’t really want it to. Anyway, this is what she wrote:

Hey!

How’s India? Having fun? Bet its amazing!

Nothings been happening since you left but its only been a week.

So, what’s going on with us then? I mean I like you and I would love something more steady to happen one day but…what’s going on?

Write me!

xXx

Right. What sense of my situation could I possibly draw from that cryptic, minefield of heartache?  As far as I could tell, she would like to be free to ride other guys in my absence, be it temporary or permanent. Is that what you got from that message or I am havin’ a wee self-esteem hemorrhage here? But what could I expect from this situation? We weren’t together for that long and I’m gonna be away for an as-yet undetermined period of time. That grey area of commitment to the common cause of fidelity is giving me a fuckin’ headache man. Cause I’m tryin’ to change ma ways, know what ah mean? The old me would’ve been straight in there with one or both of these Chilean girls and would’ve given her about three thrusts of thought before ignorin’ the feelings of deceit and concentrating on blowin’ ma load. But the new me, the changed, responsible, pays-his-council-tax-on-time me can’t move onto someone else until there’s some sort of closure. Don’t get me wrong, a wee bit of Latin lovin’ wouldn’t go a miss right now. But I came here to change, not to become a bigger shite bag. Arrrgh! That’s the thing with your conscience; it’s really only a good thing in the long run.

I didn’t write back to her.

“No kids, no wife, no girlfriend, no problems” I told the guy and he started laughing. He knew the score. The boy probably had about four kids and a wife exactly like her mother, burstin’ his gap every day. I turned away, trying ma best to let him know that I didn’t want to talk anymore. Nobody brings a book or an MP3 player onto the buses here so people just blether away to you cause you’re different from them. It’s like friendly racism. Tae the boy’s credit, he took the hint and went back to his seat. I got back to looking at Rajasthan grow.

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7. Mare Buses – Part One

The shame of unnecessarily pissing into a bottle and clutching its warmth to my quivering breast had soiled ma memory of Bombay. It was the last minute own goal that crushed ma spirits and was a lot to bounce back from. I decided to jump from one bus onto another and escaped to the desert land of Rajasthan.

I was pure psyched about getting up there. Goa gave me a wee taste for the quiet life away from the cities and I was keen to keep the rural party rolling on. Being born and raised in Glasgow is enough to make you loathe cities. Too big, too busy, too expensive, too hectic, too loud, too much. I needed that tranquility man, just tae take the edge off the culture shock like. The hour that I spent in the Bombay mix was plenty for me. If I ever thought that Glasgow was in some way insane, this was another level. Rickshaws swerving through traffic and cows, people whispering “hash, hash? Smoke some?” from the dark of alleyways, clouds of spiced steam bursting from every hole in the wall restaurant. Colors, sounds, shapes and emotions everywhere man. But the big difference between here and home, is that the poverty is actually real here. Genuinely hungry people. Not like that stuff that they try to sell to you as poverty at home. For example, not having enough dole money left after buying two grams of speed to get a name and number on the back of your Rangers top is not poverty. Being so hungry that there’s nothing left. Just the hunger and the begging to stop it spreading. That’s poverty. I dunno, it’s very different from seeing the hunger in Africa on the telly at Comic Relief. That’s just words and pictures and violins. You say, “Aww that’s a shame, someone should do somethin’ about that. Where’s ma purse? Is a fiver enough?” and then that’s that. Change the channel on the plasma TV with a clear conscience, supressin’ the thoughts that your money probably went towards the payments of the Oxfam website designer’s plasma TV. Maybe that’s a bit cynical. People don’t need to be discouraged from givin’ a few quid if they can afford to. But I reckon seeing it with your own eyes can make you a bit critical of the ‘good work’ done by Bono the Ballbag, Bob Saggy Geldof and whole charitable organization thing. I mean, after all this time, we’re still loaded and they’re still skint, basically.

Anyway, time to jump off the see-saw of cynicism for a moment and get back to my Indian adventure. The minty wee Chilean lassies had decided that Bombay wasn’t for them. “We…eh…don’ta want to stayee here aneemore. Is fucking bad,” said the shorter, slightly more attractive piece. I concurred, and we jumped a bus an hour later. None of us were into the growth driven, city swingin’, slumdog livin’ of Bombay. We decided to take the next bus to Udaipur in Rajasthan, some mad wee city with a bunch of temples that the Lonely Planet (or Tony’s Planet as I’ve started calling it) told me to visit. They were both taking a break from their architecture degree to fart around India on the old hardcore holiday budget of half a shoe-string each per day. That’s no really for me. I’m no an affluent guy like, but I’m not one of these people that’ll eat a bread sandwich for ma dinner.

“Tony’s Planet says that we kin get a room for next tae fuck all in U….Udai..pur. Udaipur. Like a hunner an twinty rupees.” I says to them. They just looked vacantly at me and started conferring in Spanish.

“Rooms you is..eh..are talkeeng abow? Wan hundred twenty rupees?” said the shorter one in her mad sexy Spanglish.

“Aye” I replied in my mad daft Scotlish.

“What?”

“Yes.”

They suddenly got pure excited like couple of junkies who’d found a pound. They start muttering figures back and forth to each other. And then turned back to me.

“So dazz forty rupees each!” she squeaked with a big smile.

“Eh….” I eh’d. Not to sound like a rabid sex pest or anythin’, but I was plannin’ on havin’ a bit of alone time, if you know what I mean. I didnae get any of that last night because my penis was too busy being rammed into a bottle and filling it with piss. The wee man had been through enough shame without pulling the head off him at the back of a bus. Udaipur would be my chance to have a wee bit of free fun on my own. And you cannae dae that in the same room as a couple of other people, particularly not if they’re female and especially not if you’re thinking about them while you do it. Poor form man. I don’t want to have to be squeezing in a cheeky Clydesdale bank in the communal toilets, or lying in bed at night, regulating their breathing to check they’re asleep before lifting my sleeping bag at the groin to reduce rustling. It sounds like someone running in a shell suit. No no no man, I’m pretty sure that some people would regard that tae be sexual harassment.

“Eh…” I continued, “Ah kind a need a room tae masel, nae offence like. Just need eh…some alone time.” They suddenly got all cold. They turned away from me, turned up their noses and turned on the Spanish. They were genuinely pissed off at me cause I wouldn’t join them in their bread and water lifestyle. I didn’t know what they were sayin’ but they were obviously ragin’ about how they had to pay more than forty pence each for a bed for the night.

But there was a bit more to it than that. I reckon that they knew the truth. I could see it in their eyes. I mean, I could just be a bit paranoid, but I think the thing that was really annoying them was that they had to pay fourteen pence each for me to have a wank.

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5. Leavin’ Goa – Part Three

We eventually get to the travel agent’s he’s been dragging me to all along. After all the talk of mind bending terrorist drugs and road side bombs, I had forgotten what the fuck I was looking for. I sat down in the travel agent’s and just sorta let them get on with robbin’ ma money. I coulnd’t even be arsed puttin’ up a fight cause I just wanted to get the fuck out of Goa. So ten minutes later I have a bus ticket to Bombay leaving in five minutes. I bomb it down the street with ma big daft backpack on, wobblin’ side to side and almost knockin’ people over. Just as I get to the door of the bus, these two wee Chilean lassies walked off the bus, bagless and rolling a couple of rollies. They were a couple of crusties like, but definitely very attractive under all that muck. They had those mad Ali Baba trousers and their hair was naturally dredding cause it hadn’t felt a shampoo lather since Santiago. Their faces were that black that they looked like they’d been in a coal mine for three months. I just sorta smiled at them and let them get off, show them that chivalry isn’t dead like. Well, I can’t pretend to be too gentlemanly, I did take a wee peek at their arses before I went up the stairs. I cannae help it man.

This nice, air-conditioned coach was a lot better than the vibrating tool box I rode here on. I had a wee coffin thing that I could lie down in and close the wee door. It was like I was packing maself. Turns out that these wee Chilean girls had the coffin next to mine so as soon as the bus started we struck up conversation. Their English wasnae great but then, neither was mine! We did our best tae try tae communicate but you just end up havin’ the same conversation.

“Where you from? Nice. I’ve always wanted to go there. Where have you been? Great. Yeah, I heard that place was really nice. Yeah, uh huh, yeah I loved it there, so quiet. How long are you here for? Right, yeah, I’m gonna be here for another month and then ….”

You get the idea. Same shit over and over again. But when an attractive albeit grime caked lady is involved in this conversation with you, you tend to up your up your game and pretend it’s the first time you’ve been through this shit. That does sound a bit ignorant of me but you know, I’d love it if now and again someone just approached me with something that wasnae some shite small talk. Asked me how ma first pet died or if I’d rather have feet instead of hands or penises instead of fingers. Just somethin’ a bit more interestin’ you know. But we’re all here for the same reasons though and I’m just happy havin’ people to talk to, even if we are always saying the same things.

After the small talk I just shut my wee coffin, opened the window and had a fag. Watchin’ India pass-by is really somethin’ man I’m tellin’ you. The people, the traffic, the animals everywhere, everyone just hangin’ around and getting on with their business in what I was beginning to learn was a very relaxed pace. Every time we got stuck in traffic, which felt like almost every four feet, people would be pure wavin’ and smilin’ at me, just like that. If you did that in Glasgow, boys’d loose their minds! You can’t just stare and wave at random people in a place like Glasgow. Here though, in India, everyone’s treated like a brother they never knew they had.  People want to know your story and you want to know theirs. It’s hard tae put the things I see intae words. I’ll get better at that, I promise.

Anyway, back to the journey. So, obviously, I’m a Scottish man right. I wasn’t born wearing sunglasses. I was born wearing wet socks. India is a hot country and Goa is one of the hotter parts of India. I am not accustomed to sweating without exercising so I was just kicking about in a vest and jeans. I’m thinking more about function than fashion here darlings so please forgive me. But I was hot so I just got stuck into my vest. This however didn’t prove to be such a good decision come the dark of night. I’d got on the bus and thought I’d be too hot if anything and left my sleeping bag in ma rucksack in the back. I only realized that this would be a fairly massive error in judgment at about eight o’clock, when it was far too late to sort it out.

Cause it gets cold here at night man, like turbo Baltic. Ma coffin had a slight gap in the window which let air rush in. Now this was a god send and a much appreciated design flaw during the heat of the afternoon, but I began to curse that bastard crack in the cold of night. It was just whistling through and spraying me with icy cold air for the entire journey. The hairs on ma arms were standing on end and my nipples had gone like pool cue tips. I started contemplating suicide. Not seriously considerin’ it like but you know, gettin’ those casual thoughts, ‘ah could just end it all and everything would be so much easier’. I reckon most people get those thoughts every now and again.

Back and forth I tossed and turned trying to endure this exhausted nightmare. I had done my hip in on the beach in Vagator playing football with some young Indian lads. First time I played in ages. I had trials for Hamilton Accies mind, so I’m not a bad player. But we were dickin’ about, someone kicked the ball up in the air so I jumped for it. I tried tae dae a mad overhead bicycle kick but just ended up getting tangled up in my own lanky limbs and falling into a heap on the beach. I hit the wet sand with a huge belly flop slap and nearly put maself in a fuckin’ wheelchair! So this hip was hurtin’ me every time I moved. And on top of that I’m tryin’ to avoide draft like Vietnam. I almost felt a tear in my eye but I couldnae be sure if that was cause of the cold or because I thought I was gonna lose my nose tae frostbite. As far as yours truly could tell, there was only one way to survive. I ripped off the curtains from my little window and draped them over myself in a desperate attempt to maintain a decent body temperature. These things were no bigger or thcker than cheap, Poundland dish towels. Not exactly the insulating system I was hoping but it was certainly on a par with nothing, if not slightly better.

So there I was trembling like Michael J Fox’s trifle inside this wee mad coffin box thing in a bus in India. I was lyin’ there beggin’ ma brain just to shut down for a wee while and bring this torment a little quicker to its conclusion. Just as I’m beginnin’ to dose off, I start burstin’ for a piss. Like right out of nowhere man, I suddenly need to skoosh somewhere. These roads are like the surface of the moon by the way, so every bump that we went over or crater we fell into was makin’ me need to pee more! I could feel the warm pish sloshing around inside ma bag. My jap’s eye wept a spicy yellow tear with every bump. It was fuckin’ horrible man. The worst part is though, there’s no lavies on these buses so you have to just wait for the driver to decide that he needs a piss, or…you can piss somewhere else.

Now I’m no saint right. I’ve relieved maself in places I shouldn’t have and I’m ashamed to admit that yes, a bus is one of those places. I opted against lying on my side and pissing out of the window because on those bumpy roads it was obvious I would end up covered in piss. The only other option was to pish in a bottle. Now this should pose no problems as I’ve been to T in the Park and anyone with a nose on their face and a gag reflex in their throat knows that an Irn-Bru bottle is better than a festival toilet. I scuffle about in the dark trying to find an empty bottle of water to pish into. I find a liter bottle and reckon that’s probably an adequate enough volume. But I drink the remainder of another one and have it open and at the ready just incase. I kinda had to sit on ma knees, crook my neck and hunch over to get my angles right but I managed to get everything lined up and ready. Whenever I pee in an unusual environment or situation I tend tae get that wee delay, where you can’t quite go. It’s usually just in public toilets that this happens but I suppose you’re also prone to the old phantom pish when you’re trying to pee into a bottle on public transportation.

Finally, I just couldn’t hold it anymore. It was like an eruption. Ah could feel it start from inside ma body. An overwhelming feeling of relief came over me. If the situation hadn’t been so tragic it might’ve felt euphoric. After a few seconds I realized that the feeling of relief wasn’t comin’ from emptyin’ ma bladder but it was comin’ in through ma hands. The roastin’ hot pish was warming my hands up so much that I didn’t feel cold anymore. It was wonderful. I forced every droplet of urine oot ma pipe until the bottle was almost full. And then, gently holding the bottle with one hand, I scuffled around in the dark again for the lid, a most important necessity when handling a bottle of piss on a bumpy bus, found it and screwed it back on incredibly tight. That bottle was never meant to be opened again.

Folks I had to stop after a few moments to asses my life and particularly this trough that my path had brought me into. I lay there in a bus bound for Bombay with two small burgundy bus curtains draped over me, clutching onto a container of my own piss to my chest like it was a hot water bottle.

That was a low point, even for me. I didn’t give a fuck though because my body was warm and my bladder was drained. And with that unusual feeling of contentment and suppressed shame, I slowly fell asleep,                       only to be woken up about five minutes later by the sound “tsssssssssssssst” and the whole bus grinding to a halt. I rubbed ma exhausted wee eyes and almost got blinded by the light coming through the curtainless windows. The bus had stopped at a service station. This meant that everyone could get off for a piss or get something out of their bags in the back, like a forgotten sleeping bag for example.

I was ragin’ man. Pure ragin’.

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