Thursday, January 12, 2006

The trip to Than

I knew I was heading to a remote place, but not this remote.

Backtracking slightly - I stopped drinking bottled water a few days ago. I decided that it was just too wasteful - both financially, at 30 cents per liter, but also in terms of the plastic wastage. So I switched to the clean water sold in sealed plastic 250ml bags - at 2 cents per bag. This seemed like a much better solution.

The first bus trip took me to a small village, the fair city of Narona (sorry, bad joke). However, I started to worry somewhat, when I learned that it was absoltely impossible to buy my beloved bag water, as well as normal bottled water, in this town.. Coke and Sprite were available, as well as tea... but no factory sealed water.

I waited an hour, and eventually, a luxuary bus (much touted by the guys at the chai-stall) showed up. I'm not sure if something was lost in the translation, but this was no VIP bus. Fair enough, it was a private bus (i.e. not government), but it was more along the lines of the short-schoolbus I rode a few days back in Veraval.

This tiny bus was jam-packed with people.. and not wanting to join this sweaty mob, I looked up, spotted a few people on the roof, and climbed up to join them.

And so, 5 minutes later, I found myself clinging to the roof-rack of the bus, with about 15 other guys, ducking power cables, and enjoying the view.

English is severely limited here. People speak Kutchi, the regional language, and some don't even speak Gujurati (the language of the state we're in). Conversation, I knew, would be difficult from this point on. Luckily, with a large enough crowd on the bus, we soon developed a form of communication. 3-4 guys would discuss things, until eventually, through pooling their brainpower, they would come up with an english word - like, Village, or Batsman.

Thats right, no matter how little English someone speaks here.. for sure, they will understand everything to do with Cricket. If, once you've told them you're British, they start shouting out english sounding names.. there is a 99% chance that these are the names of guys on the British cricket squad. However, I'm clueless in this area, and have to suffice with "India good, pakistan bad" cricket cheers.

Eventually, the bus dropped me off at a dirt-road-fork, and I was pointed in one direction, and told to walk 2km.... at the end of this road was Than.

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