Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A little too much vomit for my liking

It was time to leave Munnar behind and head back down to Fort Cochin for the evening before getting a train to Goa. A four-hour bus ride down through the mountains cost me 75Rs – about £1.

The bus was virtually empty when I got on. With the help of the conducter I managed to manoevre my oversized rucksack down into a little area next to the driver. From there I took a place next to the window on one of the bench seats that seats three people. Behind me was an Indian lady who was also sat on her own.

The windows had metal shutters that could be pulled down or released to expose a windowless window if that makes any sense. Basically, if your shutter was up, you were exposed to the elements. It was pretty chilly so I had my shutter down.

We started to make our way down through the mountains at the usual breakneck speed, the only conciliation being that the size of bus meant that physics wouldn’t allow two buses to pass by one another on the narrow mountain roads so our driver was forced to slow down to a near stop, giving passengers some much needed respite from the constant weaving and swerving along hairpin bends.

I occupied myself by acquainting myself with bus politics. Whenever men got on the bus (and it was mostly men travelling) they would sit anywhere except next to me or the one lady sat behind me. As the bus filled up, I began to feel a bit like a leper. The bus was full to the brim and I had a three-seater bench to myself or, if one or two men did sit on the bench they were very careful to be seen to be sitting as far at the other end away from me as possible. As soon as a seat became free they were up and away from my bench as quickly as they could be. Part way through the journey, a man and his wife boarded. Seating his wife carefully between me and him, I finally had some company on the bench.

My conclusion was that it was obviously deemed impolite for a man to sit next to a woman who wasn’t his better half. Looking around the bus, women naturally sat with one another; it wasn’t anything sinister, that’s just how it happens here…an unspoken rule!

The bus was soon full: not to cattle market standards but every seat was taken and there were a few people standing. Most people had their window shutters open, and for no other reason than for being a tad cold, I still had mine closed. I’d taken my jacket off but had it covering me up to my ck to keep warm as I was still a bit chilly. And what a fortunate thing that was too!

Three guys were sat in front of me and in my daydreams of life, love, the universe I hadn’t really noticed them. Suddenly, as we turned a particularly brutal corner, the guy sat in front of me who was obviously feeling more than a little travel sick, without warning jumped out of his seat and threw up out of the window. This act in itself would not have caused me much distress…had the bus not been moving at full pelt around a corner at the time. As the person sat directly behind him, I was to receive the brunt of what can only be described as ‘splash back’ – the unfortunate result of the vomit + wind equation. Fortunately, I had my shutter down so it was literally just splash back and not complete immersion.

The poor lad, who was clearly looking very green, received a lot verbal heckling from other passengers and a clip round the ear from the guy sat on my bench who stood up for me and his wife who also received a few bits of sick on her sari. My trusty wet wipes were soon out of my bag and the speckles of sick on my jacket (fortunately not on my clothes!) were soon wiped up and balance was once again restored.

No sooner had I got back to daydreaming when the sick guy's mate who was in the middle of the row in front of me jumped up, leant over his sick mate and proceeded to projectile vomit out of the window. I was prepared this time and with the speed of a ninja had my jacket over my face to protect it. And yes, I was the receiver of splash back number two. Again the bus erupted in uproar and the poor lad was grabbed by the scruff of the neck and dragged to the far back corner of the bus where he could vomit without causing anyone any problems.

Meanwhile, sick boy number one was still having a torrid time of it. He continued to throw up, receiving abuse and smacks from all angles. I had my sick shield action down to a tea and all I can say is thank God for wet wipes!!

Once we were off the mountains peace was restored and the boys’ stomachs obviously calmed down. The husband and wife got off the bus and a woman with a young child got on and promptly sat next to me. Whilst the bus was going full pelt, stopping and starting erratically, this woman was able to breastfeed her child. I was absolutely astounded at how she managed to feed whilst gripping onto the back of the chair in front as we swung violently around corners. Talk about feeding on demand! India will never cease to amaze me.

No comments:

Post a comment