Lucky being lost

Uploaded 19 May 2010
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© Etan Doronne

Photo license: © All rights reserved

This is where it all began. Just by coincidence / destiny.

Landed in India. On the bus from Mumbai to Goa, at one of the snack/restroom stops. I bought some peanuts from a kid holding a tray. The guy next to me, also a passenger on our bus, put the kid on the spot: "Why do you ask him 5 rupees it is only 3". That was my guarding angel, I felt.

Then we got chatting and I asked "Why is the bus ticket so expensive when in my guide book it mentions a lower price?". " There's a festival in a village on the way" he said "and the demand drives the price up". I felt very lucky. My first day in India and a festival falls exactly now. (Later I learned there's a festival somewhere near at any given time). I opened my Lonely Planet guide book where the regional map was and asked him to point to the village. There was a road and a railway connecting about 5 city/towns. The rest of the map was blank. "It is about here" He pointed to the blank area on the coast line. "Can you write the name of the village for me?" I asked. He did and told me to go off the bus one station before my original destination and take a local bus.

So I did. The 30 mile local bus ride took about 4 and a half hours. Stopping at every village, traveling on dirt roads through bright green rice fields, coconut groves, crossing a beautiful river and having many new faces, words and energies aboard.

As the ride went on I felt more and more different as no other foreigner boarded the bus. I was starting to feel a little silly about deciding to just go 'wherever' as my first destination.

We finally arrived at the destination, which was also the last stop. I stepped off the bus and as I was waiting for my backpack to be unloaded from the bus's roof, I noticed a circle of curious spectators had formed around me, just staring at me . If I was feeling silly before this was already alarming. "What did I think to my self?" I was wondering "there is probably no place for a tourist to stay around here and it may be quite risky in a place that stares like that at a foreigner. I need to go back". But as I was tired from the long ride, I decided to take a rest and get something to eat before I head back. And this was the turning point. From here on something greater then words started happening, which carried on all through my 1 year travel in rural India.

I crossed the street and sat in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant. To the guy working there I pointed to a fried snack that looked decent enough to try. While eating he chatted me up. I had no Hindi and he had no English. I tried to use 'Hotel', an international word (only to learn later that it means 'restaurant' in India, quite humiliating as I was sitting in one already:) . I tried mimicking a sleeping position with my hands supporting my tilted head. That worked ! In a few minutes we were driving through sandy cocunut groves, the guy had left his restaurant unattended. We arrived at a little virgin beach side guest house. To be continued.

In the story Lucky being lost.

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