Wanted to be on a bus at 9 with more than enough time to get Haridwar and its holy river sunset candle ceremony but that got delayed from the previous night and when I woke up I had no desire to move. I even thought about lazying around for a day but I knew I had to get moving. Packed up I left the hostel far later than I had planned. Up I felt like I still had a shot at getting there on time. Unfortunately I chose the wrong option between what my Lonely Planet Guide said and the countless research I came up with online. First I made the correct decision to head to Kashmere Gate for the main bus station on the northern part of Delhi before having a change of heart mid-transit that saw me switchback on the metro in the direction I had come and continuing past to the eastern suburbs of Arandar. Sadly my original assumption had been right all along and so I had to take a long city bus ride to the correct bus station. A tout tried to encourage me to go on an A/C bus from the eastern bus station but I was determined to travel as cheaply as possible. Once again after finding my way around by finding the one if not several English speaking Indians around (there is usually at least one in every far corner of India thank goodness), I went the cheap route and took a regular bus and not the seat designated situation I could have had with the A/C Volvo bus at twice the price. Sometimes when I go the budget route I feel like I am earning whatever I am struggling to reach rather than take the easy way out (or at least what I try to tell myself). The trip was a thankless ride with little to enjoy outside the adjacent windows besides the long rumbling departure out of the craziness of Delhi itself before passing through random cities and towns that tended to blend with one another. The first problem was the fact that we stopped too frequently with passengers entering and leaving the bus at will as very few completed the entirety of the journey. The second and most excruciating part of the experience was the non-stop beeping of the horn. This was no average horn either because I have never experienced one that reached into the upper decibels of sound. The driver didn’t just tap the horn, he honked it as if he was trying to squeeze out its very last breath but sure enough time and time again it squawked a sound so loud and murderous/exhausting I swear my ears were bleeding. Lay off the mother-loving horn for Christ/Mohammed/Buddha/Shiva’s sake. I wouldn’t have minded gripping/ringing his neck just as firmly as he held that blessed horn. Like a kid on a long road trip with a musical instrument he or she can’t play. It makes you want to do violent things to them. Plus, it didn’t help matters that we were wedged in together Indian style (not the yoga pose; I am talking about a large group of people invading each other’s personal space. When we finally got into Haridwar I acknowledged the fact I was too late for sunset on the holy river so I looked around and looked around some more for a bus to Rishikesh one hour up the road. In Rishikesh I got the first dump I could find with this one being the Tourism Guesthouse. Since I was too hot and sweaty from the unending trip to get here, I had no choice but to take a shower. This was not an average shower since the shower head didn’t work so from the lower faucet I filled up buckets (the bucket being the one people use to fill up the toilet tank to wash it – hope this one’s kosher, fingers crossed) of water to dump over. Desperate times, desperate measures. After the bliss of Delhi and my favorite hostel at Joey’s Hostel, I was no here in the muck of it back off the path far from any other backpacker I may come across. This is was travel is all about it. It is not about luxurious resorts. I had to keep telling myself that I was in it for the adventure because the backpacker trails are exactly that, a trail that is easy to follow with minimal missteps. Out here, anything goes and I need to figure out and make sure by my own doing how to get around. The beauty is that I have little to nothing to expect and this way has a continuous dispersement of paths that I can always choose from. Sometimes the choices are too limitless and I have no idea what to do with myself wanting to do it all. The night was noisy with a fan that sounded like it was ready to come loose at any moment and the rhythm of buses entering and exiting the nearby bus stand creating an unpleasant chorus.
Expecting the Unexpected in India Day 262: Ear Muffs