The Journey Home Begins.

Two hours South of Jaipur and I guess this is what is known as rural India, not seen a road in ages yet the villages are still passing by. We crossed a huge plain with occasional low hills, sometimes topped by old falling down forts, not the ones in the guide books. The ladies in their saris are bringing in the wheat harvest, by hand, sickles and things, where are the menfolk I ask. The conductor brings round tea and sandwiches, a late lunch. Incredibly sweet tea, rather dull sandwiches. There is so much of nothing to see out of the window. Mile upon mile of wheat, stretching into the far distance, what a bread basket this is, and think what a combine harvester could achieve. All too soon it got dark and there was nothing more to see. My companions, a couple from Mumbai, shared their dinner, how nice, they seemed very proud of their daughter in law’s cooking and immediately phoned her to tell how much the westerner enjoyed her home cooking, it was very good in a simple and basic fashion. Then the train dinner came round, oh dear, not very appetizing.
I had a few hours sleep, constantly aware of the speed we were going, very very fast. This is the Jaipur to Mumbai Super Express and it doesn’t stop too often. The horn blares constantly, the sound of the rails changes as we cross bridges and viaducts, I am aware of all this while sleeping but most of all it’s the speed. Being thrown about on my bunk, practically hanging on.
The last bit of the journey was down from the Rann of Kutch (always wanted to say that) along the coast, marshes and salt flats, stagnant pools and oozing rivers, not very pleasant. Now in Mumbai, confusing, I know, half the people seem to refer to it as that and the other half say Bombay, I personally prefer the latter, I sounds more historical. Into the station and out onto the street where the taxi touts are legendary, they were. No exaggeration I must have had ten or so clamoring for my fare, fortunately I had spotted a sign to that old stand by, the Prepaid Taxi Booth. Shedding hustlers I paid my two dollars and twenty five cents (125 Rupees), and out we went, easy. Fabulous looking architecture to look at, will I have time for a wander. Hotel and checked in, mentioned birthday tomorrow and was given a top floor room with a sensational view of the Gateway to India and the harbor, as my Mom says “If you don’t ask you won’t get”. So now by pool recovering from the eighteen hour train ride and four hours of sleep.
That’s it then, some two months on the road. I have not reached any profound conclusions about my sojourn, maybe it will all swim into focus at wheels up tomorrow on BA 198 to London’s Heathrow Airport and then I can spend the flight having some sort of regurgitation. I can tell you this right now though, nothing, no amount of planning, no amount of book reading, movie or documentary watching or going to classes can ever ever prepare one for India, it’s simply too big and varied. I remember I remember when I first moved from London to San Francisco all those years ago it probably took five years before I felt comfortable and not like a tourist. I could order breakfast like a local, take the bus, ride the subway, make change, drive a car, take interest in local news etc etc, and that was just in San Francisco. Kerala, Goa, Rajisthan and Mumbai are as different as SF, NYC, Texas, Utah and Washington State. Maybe I should have just focused on one small piece of India and stuck to that for five weeks, but, would it have made any difference at all ?
I doubt it, five weeks is not five years,
I am exhausted but exhilarated.
Last night in India, sad, but looking forward to seeing family and friends.
More from the plane.

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Another elephant in the parade in Jaipur.

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Two lonely Rajisthani forts.

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The bed on the train.

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There it is, the Gateway to India.

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And lastly ! Saw this on the side of a truck today, it spoke to me.

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6 responses to “The Journey Home Begins.

  1. You did it. “Well done you!”.

  2. Congratulations and well done. As Father would have said”a splendid effort”!
    We have shared it all with you and it’s been absolutely fascinating.
    Can’t wait to see you tomorrow and I would personally like to thank Barbara who has been a great support with her interesting comments. Thank you Barbara.Hope we might meet one day!
    Lots of love and safe flight home.
    Mother and Maurice

  3. Barbara Godden

    Love that sentence! ‘ There is so much of nothing to see out of the windows’ Brilliant. However it sounds like you saw more than we did on our trip from Chicago to Dallas and you had a bed to sleep in! I know it’s not over yet but I really have enjoyed following your journey. Thankyou Joy, but really don’t need to be thanked, I’ve enjoyed it! I hope we meet one day as well, from your comments to Tim you sound like a great woman! Safe journey Tim and if you can make a visit to us here in Louth you’d be very welcome!

  4. Wow It has been a great achievment for you and a joy for all of us following this journey, just remember the wonderful chanting when arriving at Heathrow.
    Safe journey and speak to you soon.Vicky x

  5. I can’t believe that you’re already leaving India! We’ve all been so engaged in your journey and now what? What a great birthday present you gave to yourself. May it be just the beginning of a new and wondrous outlook! Thanks again for sharing with us all along the way!

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