Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Circle Completed

It's the last day in India and I'm trying to steel myself for a 20 hour stint in the Frankfurt airport. It's will be too cold to go outside in the clothes that I've got, and too expensive to stay in a hostel for half a night and catch an early morning cab back to the airport. If anyone has advice on amusing things to do in the Frankfurt International Airport, please share.

After leaving the comforts of Goa, I headed to Mumbai. Going to Mumbai wasn't originally in the plans, but after reading Midnight's Children, it couldn't be passed up. The city itself is such a character in the book. Salman Rushdie writes so beautifully and with such detail that fantasy and reality mix completely. It's difficult to know where reality starts or stops. The spell cast by the novel is my excuse for saying that the highlight of my time in Mumbai was seeing rows of brand-new concrete tetrapods lining the sidewalk of Marine Drive near Chowpaddy Beach. Small detail captured in the novel, or book come to life?

I'm gonna read the book again while languishing in Frankfurt.

Today was a great day and the perfect way to end seven weeks in India. On the express train to Delhi from Mumbai, I was in a berth above Nic, fellow backpacker and lover of Richard Scary picture books. We kept each other company on the train, and hoped to meet up in Delhi. Today we took a local bus 15 kilometers south of the city center to visit the Qutb Minar ruins. It was the start of the fun.

The bus was crowded and the conductor kicked two men out of the ladies only seats so we could sit down. That was unexpected and kind of nice (for us). We paid our fare and watched the city go by out the windows. A few minutes later the conductor and a man behind us got into a big shouting match. It got louder and louder. I hoped it had nothing to do with us. Nic thought we were in the free and clear. Then we saw people pointing at us. Oh dear. The conductor came over to us and held out some money. He didn't want to explain. A woman behind us told us that the conductor had doubled the fare when he took our money. Passengers on the bus had ganged up against him so that he would return the money. We said many many thanks to the people around us.

Later we returned to the center of town and we gave a hard time to all the touts who came our way. I was Maria from Mexico and Nic was nameless non-English speaking person. We hadn't established her name or identity. I was her spokeswoman. Sometimes it's necessary to play these games to stay sane because simple politeness doesn't work. Yesterday I was polite to a man outside a shop and in return he harassed me and then followed me around downtown Delhi. I finally lost him by running out the back exit of a highrise building.

So tomorrow, to Germany, where no one will follow me around. And then on to Zurich, Switzerland to hang out in that airport for a few hours. Eventually I'll arrive in Istanbul, Turkey. After three weeks or so, I'll catch a ferry over to Greece to finally be reunited with Chris. Only 28 more days to go.


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