11.01.2019 - 11.01.2019
The train I caught from Jorhat was inevitably late (luckily just an hour and a half). I was "entertained" on the platform by a very friendly chap. After the usual questions of "where you from, what's your religion, do you want sex" (just checking you're still awake), he told me he was a singer... Sitting next to me on the bench, he then sang, at full volume, the entire song "Jesus to a child" by George Michael. Without pausing he went on to sing songs by Bryan Adams, Queen and Elton John. He knew most of the words but was happy to la la la the ones he didn't know! Vocalising all of the guitar solos was a little over the top whilst playing the drums on his thighs. He drew quite a crowd singing these songs whilst gazing into my eyes.
I was quite relieved when the train eventually arrived and I could hide crying in the toilets, and talk to a trainsvestite for counseling.
Debrugah is a city on the banks of the mighty river Brahmaputra (up to 13km wide in places). I've been here 4 days and have enjoyed relaxing in a great homestay. This part of Assam has miles and miles of tea plantations
I spent a couple of days cycling around the area. Wonderful to cycle amongst the tea and along the banks of the river. By the river there are numerous shacks housing many families of extremely poor people desperately trying to survive. I'd seen a horse on the river's edge so weak that it struggled to stand. I went off to buy it some carrots and apples (and bananas for me)
- the bloody horse was fussy and didn't want to eat my food and carried on eating grass; but the local children swarmed me and we're thrilled to receive the food (well - they snatched it from my hand in desperation). Such wonderful smiles and shrieks of joy as they ran off to show their parents.
As well as some beautiful scenery, there are some pretty awful sights too. Every where you look there are huge piles of rubbish by the street or river side. These piles are usually gently smouldering, are extremely smelly and have cows and dogs on top of them searching for food.
If you zoom in on the next photo you will see load of cows on top of this massive river's edge rubbish dump.
The most distressing sight was a young dog eating the carcass of another dog (possibly it's mother) by the side of the road. I didn't think you'd want to see a photo of that.
To lighten the mood I'll try to explain what it's like to cycle around an Indian city.
You need to be so alert because appearing from every direction are cars, rickshaws, motorbikes, bicycles, people, goats, cows, dogs and buses. At junctions no-one stops or even vaguely slows down, they just beep their horn and come straight out onto the road - very often onto the wrong side of the road, before slowly drifting across to the left side of the road. Cycling along there are constantly vehicles and animals pulling out infront of you from all directions. To leave a parking space, vehicles just beep the horn and pull out onto the road - no need to look or signal, it's for everyone else to avoid hitting you - they then all beep their horns to avoid hitting everyone else. The same for turning right - no need to wait for a gap in oncoming traffic, just blare the horn and serve across the road and let everyone else swerve around you. There are very very few traffic lights, but you would be badly mistaken for thinking red means stop - traffic just slows a little but continues from all directions - all mayhem happens in the middle, unless there is a policeman in the centre blowing his whistle and bashing the sides of vehicles with a big stick (I'm not joking!). Frequently there are a load of cows sitting in the middle of the road - everyone has to go round them. More horns and swerving!
It's hilarious. There is a constant noise of horns. On a bike you need good brakes, a face mask for the pollution and to not be in a hurry.
I don't think the Indian driving test can be very difficult to pass - being able to beep the horn whilst on the phone and overtaking must definitely be in the test. The test used to be only driving 200m in a straight line - hopefully it's a little stricter now!
Changing subject - below is a picture of a "masala dhosa" - a massive crepe type thing stuffed with spicy mashed potatoes and a little veg. It's usually served for lunch or dinner, but I have also had it for breakfast. Delicious.
I'm now on a train to my next destination and have just crossed the Brahmaputra river. I'm looking forward to seeing what life on the other side is like.