Our Grand Adventure, Visiting India
“Vicki and I arrived safely in India last night,” writes ever-roving correspondent Paul Terhorst this morning.
“We’re now at Rosy’s guest house in Ganeshbury, a village about two hours north of Bombay. After takeoff in Bangkok, our pilot had said there was a one-and-a-half-hour time change to Bombay. I set my watch. But, upon landing in Bombay, a little over three hours later, the flight monitors showed a different time.
“Further, according to my watch, we’d arrived nearly an hour early on this short flight; that puzzled me. I asked a couple of passengers what time it was, but they had wildly different ideas on the subject. While walking through the airport, I looked for a clock, or someone with a watch, but without any luck.
“Finally, we got to immigration, and our man had a watch. He wore a uniform; he represented the Indian government. I asked him what time it was. He looked at his watch, scratched his head, and then stared back at his watch. Finally, he said, helpfully, ‘91.’
“It suddenly occurred to me that I might have bigger problems than finding out what time it was. I might have slipped into the Twilight Zone.
“We hooked up with Vinny, Rosy’s husband, who was to drive us to Rosy’s guest house. I explained to him that the cash machines (ATMs) in the airport had been out of order. He said not to worry. We’d stop at Citibank on the way.
“After a few minutes, he pulled off the road at what turned out to be Icici Bank, not Citibank, but pronounced about the same. I jumped out of the car, went through a tiny store, and out the other side. I walked down into a ditch and across a piece of plywood that someone had thoughtfully placed over the gully below. I walked back up the other side, around some barbed wire, over some rocks, and into a dusty room with Icici’s ATM inside. I withdrew 20,000 rupees, or about US$450.
“Midnight banking in India. I retraced my route back to the car, and we were off.
“At one point on the expressway a group of about 30 people ran across the road in front of us. Vinny didn’t even slow down, and, miraculously, at the last minute, an opening appeared. We drove through without hitting anyone. I’d heard of this before, but seeing it for the first time scared me.
“I say we were on an expressway, because we were going pretty fast and had to pay a toll at one point. But I’d be hard-pressed to say whether the expressway was paved. I examined it closely and thought about it. I finally decided the road had been paved at one time but was now ground down to the dirt below.
“After an hour or so, we turned off the expressway onto a fine, neatly paved road, the road to Ganeshbury. Soon we were there and met Rosy and their daughter Lutuja, age 8. Rosy served tea, and I asked what time it was. Rosy’s watch agreed exactly with mine. We laughed about the immigration guy who said the time was 91.
“I sensed a lot of joy in this small family, and Rosy herself could charm the water up from the well.
“We tucked in for the evening and prepared for our first days in rural India. We plan to stay in Ganeshbury for three days, to relax and adjust. Then our friend Jose shows up from Paris, Vicki goes into the ashram for a month, and Jose and I take a 30-hour train ride down to Kerala in India’s southern tip.”
Paul promises to stay in touch from the road to report further of his and Vicki’s adventures in India.