I had decided to skip Varanasi and go straight to Puttaparthy to see Sai Baba. I felt the need to stop looking at things and start looking at me.
The flight was great and Three people Sunny had befriended in his Textile Shop were told to look out for me as we were all headed to Bangalore. New Zealanders: very nice. They spotted me right away.
Departing the plane and entering the airport, was the first time I hadn't had some help with my bags. The shoulders were in for a rude awakening. You can't leave your stuff anywhere and try going to the the toilet with that bag on your back. It's a circus act, cause you don't want that thing touching the ground!
I inquired as to how much it might cost to extend my flight back to T.O. a week later
Maybe not then. Sigh.
The Princess in me caught the airport taxi to the train station, an hour into Bangalore.
RS600, about $15 CN, as apposed to the shuttle bus (Super cheap).
Then once at the train station it was time to unleash Warrior Mckenzi.
Yes I should have booked the train in advance but I thought...
"How hard can this really be"
Darrin's voice in my head saying:
"You never want to book a ticket at the train staion, always book it in advance"
I line up with all my stuff for a good while and for some reason I am invisible to the locals, getting pushed and shoved and cut infront of. I can feel the pot boiling. I get to the counter and the advance bookings for the next two trains are closed. The women tells me to go next door to the current reservations counter and see if anything is available. So on goes the pack again (I need a chair or someone to hold it up in order to put it on without falling over like a straw needle in a faint breeze) and I walk over to the station.
Firstly, it can't have been legal for that many people to have been in that building, at that time. Secondly, the current reservations counter was closed
Thirdly, the line up for the inquiries was like a betting counter at the race track 30 seconds before a sure win was about to leave the gate.
Finally I get to the counter and the guy says:
"Go around corner and get ticket for train 3254: Puttaparthy"
5 lines all about 20 mins long. Now we are really at the horse races.
Get to the counter and it's all general seating which means that you may not get a seat and may even have to stand for 3 hours in the swelting heat!!!! AHHHHHH!
The back pack is not my friend, and by now I hate Bangalore and India just because I can. I go back to the women next door to see if there is a later train avaliable and start checking out my options for staying in Bangalore for the night. She tells me the Current reservations counter will open in Half an hour and to go back there and wait. By this time my bladder is starting to behave like a bratty 2 year old, and I'm speaking to myself like no other would ever dare.
Back to the current reservations counter and I throw my bag on the dirty floor and park my butt on it, right in front of the window. There are lots of other people sitting on the floor near by and I am the main attraction...not because of my skin, but because of the fire of rage radiating off my body in this already overheated station.
Half an hour later, woohoo!!! A women with a cash register appears. She is very interesting to watch as she methodically sets up her counter, ignoring the rush of people suddenly shouting her way. It was a good lession in focus for me and it snapped me into another place.
Just then, a women out of nowhere completely dressed in black with only her eyes showing, elbowed me in the ribs and jumped infront with her arms flailing about like tree branches in an Aussie cyclone.
Women I'm sorry but you just unleashed the beast!
Anyone who's seen my boney elbows will agree that they are weapons of mass destruction.
My retaliation was cheetah like: Precise and with no mercy. Hip and elbow check to the body accompanied with the dirty version of:
"Step away from the counter"
She gathered herself and looked me straight in the eye...A death stare...but the force was with me...
Lets just say I got the ticket, almost sprained a thigh muscle peeing with my back pack on and managed to eat a good meal before getting on the train an hour later in 2nd class AC.
1) stinking hot, even in AC
2) They crammed 10 people in to a 6 seater section, 3 of which were overactive kids
3)The food wreaks of 5 days in Hospital, and ...
4) The blankets are carrying ancient eco-systems worthy of Papal studies.
3 hours later I'm at my destination, a very short ride considering my co-cabiners were doing 30 hours on that train.
I'm practically Jumped by a ricksaw driver to take me to Sai Baba's Ashram, but the Travel Guide says there are free shuttle busses... The Ricksaw drivers tells me this is not the case at all. "No Free Shuttles!"
"Yes" I say..."Sorry but I don't need a Ricksaw".
"You need Ricksaw...no Free shuttles!!!"
Back and forth...I love this game.
I'm tired and hungry...
He walks almost on top of me and as I leave the station and then it's a Mckenzi Onslaught!!!
6 Ricksaw drivers yelling at me for their service.
That's it...I yell,
"Everybody Back away!!! Go Away!!!"
They all laugh and mock me
It seems there is a conspiracy happening because everyone I ask says I have to take a Ricksaw...even the women at the ticket counter. Then when I find the bus, the Ricksaw drivers run up to him and convince him to tell me I can't get on the shuttle. So He denies me.
"Why are you doing this?"
I say and then I see another shuttle with 2 old people in it. The driver motions to me and I run to get in....It's actually RS10..about .25c CN...ok so it's not free!! Ahhhh!
Safely in the shuttle, I look back to the Ricksaw drivers all in a line shooting daggers my way, and I give a little "Thanks for everything " wave goodbye.
The old women in the shuttle grabs my hand and says:
"Don't worry you are safe with us. I show you Ashram."
Where had she been all day was my thought. Lucky me! Big sigh of relief.
This safari style truck is meant for 8 people and by the time we get to the Asram 7 mins later there are 16people inside and that amount of bags and veggies and textiles. Now that's efficient!
I had to laugh.
So what has Sai Baba in stall for me... it have a feeling that it's only the beginning.