Ruminations of a long, long train ride

With 83 days of traveling under our belt, and 90 days on Xiker’s visa, we are quickly running out of time.

We are currently enroute to Varanasi, on a train that is now running 4 hours late, to the last destination on our (nonexistent) Indian iternary. I say nonexistent because we never have a plan, and when we do, nothing ever goes according to plan.

There were so many places we had to skip, so many times we wanted to linger somewhere but had to continue on, all for varying reasons. Sometimes because we had a train ticket to use up, other times because we couldn’t get one and had to find an alternate route, and occasionally it was because the trip took much, much longer than supposed. Once, after one long sleepless night we got to Jammu only to find the road to Kashmir was blocked, but that detour led us to see the Dalai Lama so maybe it wasn’t an inconvenience after all.

Sometimes we wanted to hurry and get somewhere because of a holiday, and at other times we couldn’t get there because it was a holiday and half of India wanted to get there too.

We’ve visited more than 30 cities now, and in three months that’s kind of a lot–way more than in our two-month tour of Bolivia–but in India, that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. We’ve only mostly seen the cities that are on the main ‘gringo’ route, seen the must-see sights and only a little more than that. We loitered in the south, gamboled in central India, ventured shyly into the west to Jaisalmer, and veered north for two chilly weeks, but the entire east of India remains untouched, and much of the north and extreme west has yet to be explored by us either.

India is an entire world stuffed into one small subcontinent, and I love almost every bit of it. It’s dirty, it’s overcrowded, it’s smelly, and it is home to more than a billion people. Every day I see something that appalls me and I am reminded of how spoiled my childhood was (love you, Mom and Dad), and still every day I see something that amazes me and I realize how sheltered my upbringing was.

We go to Nepal in a few days. I’m excited despite my torn feelings of leaving India so soon. A new stamp in my passport, a new country with new people to meet, new cultures to learn, a different type of breathtaking scenery to take in (supposedly its not the smell that takes the breath away but the sights!)

Hopefully, should our savings and energy levels allow it, we’ll be able to come back into India in 60 days, ready to tackle it by the horns.

Like the old adage goes: its not goodbye, its see you later!

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