We entered the ring with more bravado than we felt. India in one corner, looming large and wearing her well deserved big, shiny, heavyweight champions belt…us in the other corner wearing our six months of travel like it really mattered.
She took the first punch…Delhi…a hazy, smoggy, smelly, garbage-filled, poverty ridden soupy mess of a city that left us breathless, reeling and wondering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. Dazed, we wandered into a tour agency and signed up for a 3 week itinerary that would see us through Rajasthan, on to Agra and Varanasi and leave us in Goa in the south.
First though, we would head to Amritsar, see the Golden Temple and recharge in our five star hotel birthday splurge. We came out swinging, sure that our new plan would throw some punches her way and give us some defense from any more of her heavy blows.
It was immediately clear that she was not going to back down…nothing could have prepared me for driving on the roads. All manner of vehicles loaded (and I mean loaded) with cargo and people careening down the roads, passing whenever they like, wherever they like, missing each other within inches. Surprisingly, I got quite used to seeing a bus or lorry hurtling straight for us and pulling in at the very last moment. J and I took to sitting one behind the other on the passenger side thinking that if we did get smoked it would be the drivers side that would sustain the most damage…small comfort, I know.
We were brave though, kept our chins up, our elbows in and our faces covered…we weren’t going out that easily.
But India kept peppering us with small jabs to our middle. Promises of beautiful forts crowning great cities and towns in the desert proved to be great bastions of once-upon-a-time in more dirty cities and un-walkable towns. We defended, finding bright spots in the bleak outlook, trying to make the most of what we had to work with but India is a very, very experienced fighter and she found a way to break through and knock the wind out of us…we both came down with colds.
For a few days we managed to fight on, avoiding the worst of the jabs and sleeping as much as we could but the knock out punch came when we realized we could not go on the tiger safari in Ranthambore…we were both miserable, Jason slept every moment he wasn’t in the car and I had been crying for two days. We looked up from the mat to see the ref holding India’s hand high in the air…another win for India.
We’re leaving. We’re just not having any fun and putting another month in here seems like a high risk investment with a low possibility of return.
As you read this we are on a plane to Thailand. We have a line on a happy place there where we plan on spending a couple of weeks hanging out and figuring out our plan for the next five months. We’ll let you know what we come up with.