October 28, 2013
Alive - Edwin
October 29, 2013
Not a stitch of Halloween here.
I went for dinner at Manish’s house last night. His Mom didn't look too good.
I left, with little fan fare, at 6:30am this morning. I kinda got lost leaving Delhi. But - I asked directions and found the way. I wanted to get on to the Yumana Expressway. It’s a private toll highway. 150 Rs to get from Delhi to Agra. It’s all concrete with very little traffic. It was the longest sustained sixth gear Suu Kyi has ever been in, in India. 120km/h @ 5,000RPM.
Just after the toll booth there was a rest stop. I had chai for 20 Rs! Fixed price at a tourist stop. A new record high for me. There were lots of foreign tourists. Some groups in cars others in buses. I spoke to several of them. A lot of the foreigners took pictures of Suu Kyi and me. They could not believe what I was doing. If they only knew where I was going!! Very few foreigners know anything of the North East. Good.
Manish is going to get a kick out of this one. I think I surprise him sometimes with the amount I know of India, its people and inner workings.
At the turn of to Mathura [Krishna’s birth place] I went to opposite direction to a little village because I was hungry. I stopped at this little dhaba and had two roti, some type of channa dish and a plate of cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, chilies and onions. It was good. I asked the guy how much and he told me, “500 Rs.” “Fuck off dude, this is dhaba canah.!! 500 Rs?? Really? Are you crazy or something? I have been in India for two years now!!” I gave him 10 Rs for the roties, 40 Rs. for the channa dish and 20 Rs. for the salad. No baksheesh for you! He had the deer-in-the-head-lights look about him. Who in the fuck does he think he’s trying to fuck over? Really?? He was simply the cook. I turned to the guy who handles piesa, through up my arms and tilted my head to one side. “Baba!” He gave me a smirk and a head wobble. The cook, trying to save face, was trying to explain things to me. I get kinda loud during these situations. I want EVERYONE to hear who is cheating who and who is calling out the cheater. I put in my earphones, turned up some NOFX and walked away. He didn't follow. I hopped on, got Suu Kyi running and there he is again!! The foreigner he tried to cheat made a fool of him in front of everyone. I can get a nice [for me] hotel for 500 Rs. I eat at dhabas all the time. Other than restaurants that are sometimes attached to the hotels, I pretty much eat at them exclusively. I know the prices of shit. There are no menus a dhabas. You just have to ask what’s available. What a guy. I get this every once and a while. Never once has a foreigner eaten here before – guaranteed - but the cook/moneyhandler have obviously heard of Indians getting away with ripping off the tourists. Not this one. In Delhi, some guy trying to charge me 40 Rs. for a glass of OJ the other day. I made a big dramatic production of it, handed it back to him and walked away.
Rather than go to Agra I skirted around it and went towards Allahabad. Several hundred people were stampeded to death here during The Kumbh Mela last year. In 2007 [the event only happens every 12 years] there were about 70MN pilgrims.
After the canah I was getting bushed so I was on the look out for a hotel. This highway goes through all the towns whereas the expressway does not. I wanted a smoke so I pulled over to the side of the road where a bunch of motorbikes were. I clipped one bike with one of the saddle bags and it went over. The owner didn't say anything. I told him I was sorry and brushed the dust off of his saddle bags. It was so thick I could have grown potatoes. Pretty hard to do any more damage to that bike.
I drove into the next town to look for a hotel. It was a mistake. I saw a chai stall that only had one old man sitting at it and stopped for some chai. One chai [5 Rs.] and a crowd of 50 people later, I hit a cycle rickshaw leaving town. He ran into me. The other rickshaw drivers were giving him shit. Not for hitting the foreigner but rather he was driving stupider that the norm. Even amongst them there is a limit to stupid.
I am staying on the outskirts of Firozabad. It’s a nice place along the highway. I got it for 1,000 Rs. It was normally 1,165 Rs. They have a nice restaurant. I am still full of 500 Rs. worth of dhaba canna. Ha ha ha ha ah
Some asshole slashed my bike cover last night. Being nylon it rips easy. When I get to Gaya I’ll have someone stitch it up. At this rate I will be there in three or four days. Maybe I’ll head into Lucknow for a day or two. And maybe stop in Allahabad
I read in the paper the other day that there is going to be a shortage of onions in India this year. The paper read that Delhi alone consumes 1000 tons/day! It is a staple in almost every meal and there are about 27 to 30MN people in the city. But 1000 tones/day????
October 30, 2013
Got my 500 Rs./night room. It looked pretty good from the road so I turned around and had a better peek. Nice locked grass courtyard for Suu Kyi to sleep. This is most best.
I road her in put down the side stand – so I thought – and boom goes the dynamite. At least it was grass. I unloaded one side of her and picker back up on her feet. She is full of fuel and still surprisingly light. I have a good packing system under way. Much better than last time. Too Valium clouded. Not this time. I am here for my India.
Back to the room. I unloaded everything. It’s about 10 degrees warmer in the room. Carpet on the floors. Some of the worst dumps I have stayed in have the floors carpeted. I should have know. Flicked the light switch – no power. I told the guy and he said he would do something about it. Nothing yet. I need the fan to shoo away mosquitoes. I will not kill them – or anything for that matter. My petzel batteries are weak and the laptop is just about dead. I did have a nice cold shower. No towel, squat toilet and no TP. I have some. I air dried. Not my ass. When I was in the shower the guy dropped of a mosquito coil. Something tells me I am not getting the power to operate the fan.
I couldn't believe how many types of bugs I had in my room last night. There must have been a wedding or something.
This morning I duct taped the rip in her sleeping bag. I was going to get it sewn but nylon?? The tape is perfect. Rather than take a whole roll I had Cara roll an inch or so on to a pen for me before I left. I should have had her do more. Always thinking about Suu Kyi and the weight she has to pack around. A whole roll is too much. I would never use that much anyway.
I have lost about 10 – 15lbs already.
Let’s see – what didn't I see today. A dead person. Other than that everything else filled my mind. India – just when you've thought you've seen everything. It was a good day to die.
When the depression was full on, I would just lie in bed and think about my past adventures and where I had been. It seemed like it wasn’t me. Even the thought of doing what I have done in the past was so far away it seemed like it was a movie I had watched a long time ago [the same goes for climbing, backcountry skiing and mountain biking]. I reflected on this today for quite some time. I had the tears. I am watching a new part to the movie. Life is a movie. It’s good to be on the road again roaring through India alone with Suu Kyi. Without her this would be nothing. She is a bigger part on this than I am.
People looked shocked when I tell them the cost of getting her here. I could buy three used Enfields for just the cost of getting her here. Why? They ask. If you go into a nice jewellers or clothiers and have to ask the price then maybe you shouldn't be there. It’s not about the cost.
On the flip side people are amazed when I pull out a pack of biddies. I am a common man.
I saw a sign today that said, “Accident Prone Area.” 500m later there was a truck over turned on the highway. It was the third I saw today.
I stopped to photocopy some maps in a village. Three pages. All dog eared. I showed the guy, eek, doe, tin. One, two, three. The wanted me to sit in his tiny hot box cubical of a shop that had three other guys in it. And clearly no one spoke any English. It was 33.5 degrees outside. No thanks. I’ll stay out to catch anything of a breeze. And…..yes, he fucked it. Now? I have no fucking idea. No charge! I didn't say anything. Three pages!! All dog eared AND I pointed all three out to him. There is a job waiting for him at Indian Customs. He has the qualifications.
Power is on!! Have fan. No dial. Full or nothing. And full is full!! Strap that fucker to a plane. Ewww it’s smoky in here. It’s probably a gen-set so I should take advantage of the power while I have it. I had to tie up my hair the fan was so strong.
For lunch I had a good plate of dal and two roti for less than a buck. Better than the +USD$6 some fuck tried on me yesterday. I certainly don’t look like I just got off the boat.
I have decided to go to Allahabad instead of Lucknow. I will be there tomorrow. Maybe I’ll see some tourists. The white flavor. I can give puga here.
I formatted that fucking cock sucking SD Micro card for my GoPro and now the GoPro doesn't recognize it. Stupid. Maybe I’ll find another in Allahabad. I could have gotten some great pics today.
The only water I have is what’s left in my camelback. I should have bought a bottle before I got settled in. I like the new filling system. Well it’s new to me. I think it’s been on the market for years.
I stopped for some chai today and once again 50 people. I don’t mind it yet. I gave my first autograph today! Some young Indian kid. It was near the last truck crash. I got some good pics.
I have to start earlier in the day. I was on the road at 8am. The weather and traffic were perfect. Maybe 6am tomorrow. But for that I have to be up at 5am. It takes am hour to get dressed, pack, go over Suu Kyi, load her up. And give puja to her; for a safe ride.
October 31, 2013
Arrived in Allahabad around 12 and had a room at 1. Nothing new on the highway. It’s a toll highway but motorcycles don’t have to pay. National Highway 2.
I have a fuel leak on one of the fuel lines where it connects to the main tank. I will fix it tomorrow.
For some reason my journal is one day ahead of the actual day.
The hotel last night was actually pretty good. The best part was the parking. No one else was staying there. I got bite by a shit load of mosquitoes/bugs though.
The hotel here has WiFi in the lobby so I will get caught up on things.
There are a lot of Muslims in the area. I stopped several times and chatted it up. Everyone was really friendly. I find this to be the case with every Muslim I have ever met. In Kashmir I went over to an elderly man’s house for tea with him. I met him by chance on the street. Another time, after visiting the big Jama Masjid Mosque I was moved to tears after prayer and a group of Muslim asked me to come over and break fast with them. It was during Ramadan. It was awesome. I met the whole family including the daughters. Afterwards I had to find my way back to the hotel at night. It was in 2004 and quite a dangerous time to be in the area. I think there may have been a curfew too. I had to ask the men manning machine gun nests to ask for directions. I think it took me two hours to get back to the hotel.
My new tattoos itch like hell.
November 1, 2013
Four months and five days left. Bummer.
I worked on Suu Kyi yesterday. She was leaking fuel from one of the gaskets on one of the lines that join the two fuel tanks. “Less modifications the better”, is what a Land Rover expedition shop told me. I am realizing that now with Suu Kyi. It wasn't a huge leak but it took me 10 hours to fix it. It was a little something different to do than the usual. I had to remove the main tank. That’s where the leak was. When I drained the tank I gave the petrol to a taxi walla. He sure was happy. Petrol is about 80 Rs./litre and I gave him about eight litres. I fucked up and took off a few more parts off of her than was necessary. It all worked out in the end. I am glad I did the original conversion. I felt 100% comfortable doing the work. I knew it was a big job going into it. Next time it will take less than four hours. There won’t be a next time. But…….
I will be installing ALL the expedition parts on the Land Rover. The more I am around it, examining its mechanics and farting around with this and that, the more comfortable I will be doing repairs in the field. Psychology is 80% of the operation.
I had a small crowd on and off all day. Of course the hotel ‘boss’ tried to help me but he realized that he was just getting in the way. I have never seen an Indian admit defeat before, including the dhaba walla from the other day. Another guy, looking dismayed, when I had her apart, tried to tell me that no one in Allahabad was going to be able to help me. I winked and said, “Don’t worry my friend.” When she is that far apart she does look like she is completely stripped down and naked. When I just about had her back together there were lots of smiles from the hotel staff. I think everyone was worried. The hotel ‘boss’ even came out to help me at the end. Thanks???
I took pictures along the way just in case I had any questions on how to get her together again. Plus I have the shop manual on my laptop.
I about 10 minutes into it I was cutting off a zip ties and sliced my finger quite badly. There was blood everywhere. The hotels guys brought me some cotton baton from their first aid kit. I bet that’s all that was in there. I declined. I went up to my room, washed it, put polysporin on and bandaged it up. I did this three times during the ‘operation’ on Suu kyi. I carry a good first aid kit.
Today I am going to take a rickshaw over to Sangam. It’s about 5km’s away. It is where the Ganges and Yunama rivers meet one of Hinduisms mythical rivers, the Saraswati. In Hindu mythology, the gods and demons once fought a great battle for a kumbh [pitcher] containing the water of immortality. Vishnu got a hold of the container and took it away but when in doing so four drops where spilt; one here in Allahabad another in Haridwar and two more in Nasik and Ujjain. I have bathed and gave puja in Haridwar and now Allahabad. For protection. From the lump in my head. I hope the water isn’t too dirty.
In Haridwar the Ganges was coming fresh out of the Himalaya. It was cold as hell!!! Ha ha ha ha Cold as hell, he says. H ah ah aha ha. I still wouldn't have drunken from it.