Sunday, 24 March 2013
A blog I wrote in India in 2006
“GIRLS – GIVE THE LADY BACK HER GOATS AND LET’S GET ON WITH THE WORK”
That has to be the oddest sentence I have uttered in my whole life and one that I imagine I will never repeat again! But that’s India for you - a country where everyday something more weird, more wonderful, more funny or more amazing than the day before can happen. This afternoon after work we travelled into the nearest town to find internet access and to get some essential supplies like chocolate and coke, eh, I mean water and medicines. Our form of transport was what the locals call a rickshaw. A more accurate description would be “pallet on back of bicycle”. Four of us to each pallet, 15 rupee (30 cent) for a return journey per person. Beat that Dublin Bus!
Off we headed “en convoy” waving at the locals along the road, and receiving plenty of hellos and big smiles in return. Very quickly we had a little entourage behind us. The local teenagers followed us on their bicycles. They are extremely friendly and delighted to get a chance to try out their (very formal!) English – the leader of the group introduced himself and shook my hand while still cycling along! We arrived in Maslandapur and located the internet shop by miming using a computer. Unlike Kolkata, where most shopkeepers have excellent English, here we have to communicate using a lot of hand signals. Rubbing your fingers together indicates “how much” and they then write the price out for us.
The internet shop had one computer! And it was out of action! Apparently this was due to the electricity power cut today – it goes off for a period on most days. “Maybe tomorrow” we were told. Methinks we can give up on any emailing until we get back to Kolkata next week!
A little bit of haggling and a few purchases later we were ready to return home. I have noticed that Miss Murphy gets the best prices in the shops and I have resolved to follow her haggling style in future. Female charm at its best. A little flutter of the eyelids goes along way, I reckon. Our chauffeurs were waiting patiently in the dark to bring us home. Bicycle lamps lit and when I say lit, I mean LIT! They have a little candle/oil wick in a lantern attached to the front of each bike. As we travel along in single file it looks like we are part of a “Lord of the Rings” film – a group of hobbits making their way across Middle Earth.
None of the other bikes on the road seem to have any illumination. And believe me there are a lot of bikes on the road – the bike being the main source of transport between the villages. I was wondering to myself “how on earth can they see each other” and it turns out that the answer is they CAN’T!!! One brave Indian man tried to undercut one of our rickshaws and with a kerfuffle of wheels, brakes and chains the poor man and his passenger went tumbling into the ditch. We all pulled to a halt and five minutes of shouting (but not much else) ensued. Eventually, one of our drivers broke things up and after a few last under-the-breath mutterings we were back on our way.
We will now have dinner and settle down for the night in preparation for another hard days work tomorrow. The food here has been fabulous – thanks to Mrs Grace. We are going to hide her passport so that she cannot leave us on Saturday! If the old saying “Early to bed, early to rise…..” is true we will be oh so healthy, wealthy and wise by the time we go home. Millionaires even! Rupee millionaires unfortunately!
Off to bed, but first, just in case you are wondering what the story is with the lady and the goats, here is an explanation. A village lady with two kid goats the size of kittens wandered on site yesterday. For five minutes all tools were laid aside and work was called to a halt as the girls ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’, petted and held the little goats. Twins! Katie and Lydia mark II!!
It’s the little things like this that makes India so special.
INDIA. CARLSBERG DON’T DO COUNTRIES BUT IF THEY DID…………
These are the only photos I have to hand. I must dig out more.