Sunday, 15 July 2012

Mandu and Pachmahi

The next stop was another small town of Mandu. On the map it was so nearby, but after changing yet again 4 buses, I started banging Andy on the head with an empty water bottle. Why does it take 7 hours to cover 80 kms???? I refuse to believe it !!! The whole bus was laughing at me. I was laughing too. Travel days are part of travelling and part of the whole experience. 
Mandu is surprisingly charming and extremely clean town. I found myself walking with garbage in my hands looking for a garbage can. Usually when you eat something, you just throw it out wherever you finished eating. Few times I gave up, and threw it in the drain on the side of the road. The town is perfect. From our guest house, it's a 10 second walk to the main square which has one of the main monuments, all the restaurants, fruits/veggies are sold there, and the buses stop there. No walking required, everything is located 10 seconds away! :)
We went to the same restaurant the whole time. We tried another one. They sat us down, gave us a big menu. Assured us that their restaurant is always open. We start to order, they say no. I order something else, they say no. I point to next item and next item ... no, no. They can't say that we don't have soups or we don't have tandoori items. They would just shake their head in a no whenever I would point to anything.
- Ok ... what do you have then?
He skips all the pages, and shows us that they have rice. Lemon rice, anis rice. Grrrr ... thank you very much! What's the point of keeping an open restaurant when all you serve is rice??
We went to another restaurant for breakfast. Andy wanted curd. We call the waiter, make our orders, and he said:
A: Small curd please
W: We don't have small, only big
A: No, we want small
W: Small is not possible
A: That's ok ... can we just have a small curd please

I was laughing so hard. Andy said that I must have rubbed it on him :) Like in the restaurant in Omkareshwar, when I only ordered half a portion, cause we couldn't agree on what we want to share, and a whole portion was too much for me. He mimics me:
Y: I want just half a portion
W: Not possible
Y: Everything's possible! I want half, shoo, shoo now :))
Oh Andy, he came a long way from the Andy that I met in Varkala who bought sun bleached/glue stained pants for double the price, and for whom I had to do all the negotiations :)
I don't understand the problem with these restaurants anyway. These are mom & pop restaurants. They don't have a computer that print exact prices. They can do anything you ask them, yet they make a big deal of putting less curd on the plate. Why is that?
This restaurant never had small change. Pretty much all restaurants and stores have big containers of different candies near the counter which cost 1 rp. If the shop doesn't have change, and in quite a few occasions that's the case, you'd get your change back and some candies with the bills. I love these candies, so I don't mind. But in this restaurant they would bring back cookies. They're terrible. I'll send the cookies back. They'll bring me chocolate. I tried it, but it was just as bad as the cookies, next time I sent them back too. I want toffee. I’d just take the chocolate, open the fridge, put it back, open the jar of candies, and take 5 candies out. They just wiggled their heads :)
Next day I was feeling sick the whole day, and didn't get out of bed :(
There was a man outside our balcony. They're all very curious and ask questions even if they don't speak a word of English. He wanted water, and Andy gave him the bottle. It's safe to give locals to drink your stuff because they just pour it in their mouth without touching the bottle with their lips. But just like that girl in the train who asked if she could have some water and ended up drinking the whole bottle, this guy too, drank some, washed his mouth, and pretty much spit half of the bottle on the ground :)
Went to the monuments. These were unbelievable! So many of them! It was some king’s palace and a harem holding 3000 women. He loved water, pools and fountains, and there were uncountable number of them carved in different shapes. The whole place would look completely different if there was water now, and the fountains were working. I liked ruined buildings much more than the ones in good condition. It was like finding gems among ruins, such as faded paintings, carved shapes, some original paint and stone work. I found a baby owl who was moving its head in the same direction as I moved mine :) There were many bats, thousands of them in some room. The noise and the smell was overbearing. I stuck my camera inside, standing beside the wall of the opening, and took a picture with a flash. I thought all of them would go crazy and fly out of the hole, but they didn't. So I took a few pictures, hopefully not disturbing their sleep too much.
On the little bus back, the children in one house stuck their faces through all the windows and were waving us goodbye. We were waving goodbye ... well actually more Andy than me, you know my love for kids. Byyyeeeeee, they're waving, the adults have joined too. Andy put his hat out of the window, and was waving it goodbye. Bbyyyyeee they yell, bbbyyyyyyeee we wave. They must have yelled byyeee at least 20 times before the bus moved. The bus started moving, they started yelling faster. Quick quick Andy wave the hat, quicker, quicker!!!
We took a sleeper night bus, and our sleeper space was at the very back of the bus. I don't think we slept a minute out of the whole night. We were flying and flying. This was definitely a flying bus, not a road bus. I fell asleep a little bit, when got woken up at 1am by somebody playing music on his phone. I picked my head out. "Turn the music off!!!". Where the hell are their brains?? Some times when I was flying, I would land on Andy. oooopppsss ... sowwwyyy. I was trying to hold on to him, thinking that with our combined body mass we would fly less. We would constantly end up in the middle of the bed (length wise), and would have to crawl back up. In the morning, the road became smooth and we finally nodded off. Someone knocked on our cubicle bed thingi, Andy got up in a hurry, put on his shoes, and jumped down. Are we there? Oh no no sir, you can take a picture of this beautiful view! What can I say ... Andy was not too happy :))
By the morning it felt like our brains were smashed into mashed potatoes texture, and then blended just to be sure that it's completely screwed up. We couldn't understand much of what was going on, talk to anybody or do anything that even when the bus went tulululululu, Andy asked me "What did you say?" Me: It wasn't me it was the bus!
Speaking about buses. The buses in India are a whole different set of buses. First of all, ALL the buses, and pretty much all heavy vehicles have a hand drawn flowery "Horn OK" sign painted on the back. People here don't use mirrors, or signals, so when you overtake, you always sound a horn. And it's not just a small beep. It's the longest, the loudest beeeeeeep, and not only beep, most buses are equipped with special beeping sounds like trululu lu lu lu, tra la la pa la la, it's like moving music boxes, not buses. They also have different sounds for more distant objects, they'd be the louder ones, and for the nearer ones. At the bus stations, they yell the destination 100s of times walking around and around the bus. They would stick all body out of the door and yell the destination on a completely empty street, and they would yell it so fast that you would have no idea where they're going. They would whistle to the driver when to stop and when to go, and it would become such a habit, that even when there is only 1 person on the bus, the assistant would whistle as loud as he can to start moving again. These assistants are very helpful though, cause they'll get you to the right destination and would usually show you the next bus.

We arrived at Pachmahi. The only reason we picked it was because it's a hill station, and we were tired from the heat. It also had waterfalls and natural swimming pools, but it was still hot, and there were 100s of people in not something that I would call a pool. As always in non touristic places, it took us forever to find a hotel. They have something against foreigners. I'm sure that not all of the hotels all over the sudden are full. We somehow got out in the afternoon to go for walk. The road along that walk was full of gods, and very very ugly gods too. I think they should take some design courses. We got into some temple on the way, when we walked off, somebody yelled behind us hello, hello, hello. As always we walked off not turning around. They chased us and gave us a coconut. Awwww ... how cute :))
Cars stopped on the way to shake Andy's hand and ask him for his good name :)
Next day we went to breakfast. I couldn't take my eyes off of the video clips that were playing on TV. One thing that Indians can do very very well is music videos. So colorful, the dance combinations are original, unique and fun, they all dance in unison, and I as a dancer can really appreciate it. I even bought a dvd. Hopefully it will be good :)
My video watching was interrupted by one big noisy family. Everybody was screaming at each other. I don't know who was worse, the kids yelling or the parents yelling at the kids. I don't blame the kids anymore, if they misbehave, its parents fault!
We had to rent bikes to see the sights around. We walked in circles and there are no bikes for rent. Finally we found a guy. He said that he'll open in a few hours. No no no, few hours will not do, I tell him. We need a bike NOW! He goes and opens the shop, turns out that he didn't want to open the shop that day cause one of his friends died.  Sorry :(
We needed to get a permit since we were in the national park. At the place, a guide approaches us and tells us that the guide is compulsory. I tell him that no we're fine without the guide. He tries to convince us that we must have a guide. We ask him, what are you gonna run behind us while we ride on the bikes? In LP it says that guides are compulsory for jeep tours, but doesn't mention anything about bikes. We wait in the line to get a ticket. He comes and says to buy the tickets here. Thanks for the info! He asks us where we're gonna go. We say, bee falls, he repeats, aaahhhh beeeee faaaalls, the caves ... aaahhhh the caves. Nice guide. What we need him for again? Andy said that not everything they say is a lie! I would argue otherwise. When we reach the ticket counter, the agent asks us how we're getting around, we said bikes. He gave us the permit not problem. "Oh really, not everything they say is a lie! Just about 99% of it!!"
At the bee falls it was sooo crowded. It wasn't even falls, I don't know what people are doing coming to this place. I had to wait 10 mins for a girl to change back into her sari. Then I had to change into shorts and a t-shirt, cause you can't swim in a swimming suit :S When I got out, there was no line up at all, just 1 girl pushed the door open, and was shoving herself between me and the door. Jesus, chill out, nobody's gonna throw you out of the imaginary line up!!! When I got out, Andy was already surrounded by a few guys staring into his kindle. Every time is the same story. Is this a laptop, no, it's a book. Just a book. Yes, just a book. And then they'll start pushing their fingers at it, to make sure it's not a laptop. Thank god they were ignoring me. I was sitting somewhere on the rocks and watching the fish eating me alive :) There were like 50 fish at each foot, nibbling on the skin. Nice, I'm way overdue on a pedicure! :)
Next we went to some caves and then a fairy pool. This pool was "better" because there was no road leading to it, which means you actually have to walk about a km downhill, and then back uphill, and since most Indians are lazy and hate walking, when we got there, we almost had the pool for over selves :) Indians have this very annoying quality of pressuring you to do something when you don't want to do it. One guy was constantly offering me pepsi, at least 5 times, and that's even after I told him that I don't drink soft drinks. There was this other guy in the pool calling me in to swim. I'm not ready to swim yet, I just want to sit on the rock and splash my feet in the water. Why won't you swim? I don't want to swim. Come and swim! I don't want to swim! Do you know how to swim? Yes. Come and swim ... Jesus, why are you always pressuring people to do something? I said that I don't want to swim!!! Ok, ok, don't get mad. We talked for like 5 minutes, and he said that I'm so beautiful and he wants to marry someone like me. I pointed out that he doesn't even know my name. Anyway, he said that he'll never forget me as long as he lives! How can you say that when my "husband" is only a few meters away? He works in the office for the government, and said that all the politicians are corrupt, and if you are not, everybody will just think of you as a fool. He takes money for every signature, I think he's an engineer.
Another guy said that he hates politicians because they're so corrupt! They ruined the whole country! But who does he want to be? A policeman of course to make more money! You're a hypocrite I say, and he said if in cricket India wins against Pakistan 4 to 1, so 90% of India is corrupt, you can't win against it. Whatever sense that makes!
Even though I'm complaining a little bit, I still like India. I love the dirty but happy children; the food left for the cows to eat; the unending hospitality; the pleasure and laugher in the simple things; the thousand of rituals popping out at random places; for always helping me; for always making space; for accepting; for curiosity.

I've read a few books about India. I truly recommend them. For someone who doesn't get the full depth and intensity of India from my blog, these books do an excellent job at it. I give each one of them 5+ stars! :)

Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald - A true story about a girl who lived in India for 2 years. It's more suitable for females as it is quite feminist. It's very funny and I loved it because I could feel everything she was going through.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - Another true story written by a guy who lived in Mumbai slums. Excellent writing style, and you wouldn't believe that all those things actually happened to him.

Pix at


  1. Yana

    The picture of the bats is amazing. All those eyes looking at us.
    What is the yellow things on the plate that Andy is holding?
    I see tomatoes.

    1. Those are weird cucumbers. Very hairy, like a caterpillar :)

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