Adventures on an Indian Visa (week 18): Convalescences
Slept all day – shoulder really hurts. I went to the toilet once or twice & was given some biscuits by my hosts. Proper angels, really, left me to just rest with no hassle or anything.
Slept most of day again – must be concussion, I think, my head’s pounding. Made a zombie-like trip to a local doctor in Murshidibad, who couldn’t speak English & just gave me these drops. They may or may not have work’d, but are definitely no good for a suspected fractured/dislocated shoulder. So, I’ve decided to head back to Calcutta in the morning to someone who can help.
I caught the 6am train back this morning, which took 5 hours. En route I spoke to a geezer. It turns out the crash was big news & there had been two fatalities. My second near-death experience of the tour – I hope these fuckin’ things don’t come in threes! After a couple of days R&R, I was feeling better, ‘til I hopp’d in a rickshaw pull’d solely by a man who managed to find every pothole between Calcutta station & my hotel. However, I’ve landed now & the geez on the train has given me the numbers of a couple of good doctors, so that’s tomorrows plan. Tonight, however, my favourite of the Oz girls (who are still around) is coming to mine with her weed to watch satellite TV & nurse me thro’ my pain (hopefully naked but for a very skimpy apron).
So… the doc in Calcutta said its muscle damage & a dislocated shoulder, gave me a sling & some medication & I have recently felt a little better. The headaches have gone & I’m startin’ to get back into the swing of things. It’s been pretty weird these past few days, as I’ve been full-on zombiefied & it’s not that appealing a thought when you realise you are ten thousand miles from home in the middle of a crazy country like India.
My nurse is leaving tomorrow – unfortunately my libido had completely disappeared in the smash, so there was no sexy times – but she did wash all the blood from my hat, bless. Anyway, her leaving has inspir’d me to leave also, & I’ll be catching a train to Varanasi in the morning. I’m not 100 percent, nowhere near, but I can recuperate on the road, & I do have some stuff left to do in this fascinating country!
After leaving Calcutta on a train bound for Varanasi, I am never gonna complain about the English network again. My journey across those seemingly endless alluvial flatlands took 20 hours. As we trundl’d along it seem’d to stop and wait 20 minutes at every minor station & even a few that didn’t exist. Spent the journey learning a bit of Hindi with some fellow passengers, which led to the formation of the following sonnet;
1 eak – namaste (hello)
2 do – ya happa hey – (where is the)
3 teen – kitana whoa (how much)
4 char – bo d’achah (very tasty)
5 paanch – kitana baja (what time is it)
6 chay – jana (see you later)
7 saath – apa nam (what is your name)
8 aath – no me england kahun (I am from England)
9 nau – kaha ja rahay ho (where are you going)
10 das – teek (yes)
11 giara – nahee – (no)
12 bara – dandabad (grazi raggazi)
13 tehra – ap kesayhen (how are you)
14 chowdah – pulpit (full/enough)
I finally arriv’d in Varanasi early this morning, & boy was I impress’d. I took my first glimpse of the Ganges as the train roll’d over it on its way to the station… a breathtakingly romantic river, cushion’d in a hazy mist & flank’d by some of the most gorgeous phantasie buildings I have ever seen. After being rickshaw-whisk’d to a hotel I took a stroll thro’ the city’s narrow streets – very Italian.
Varanasi is the holiest site in India & there are temples at ev’ry turn. Also, if you die here you are known to be bless’d & this brings me on to one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. At one of the Ghats corpses are draped in silk & flowers & placed on funeral pyres of bamboo bier. Their souls fly to the sky, their ashes sprinkle in the Ganges & their bones return to the soil – very trippy, especially seeing skulls emerging from the burning flesh, just like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I found a much cheaper hotel today, & happily unpack’d… my library lines the shelves, my weed is looking good & there are monkeys masturbating at my window. I think I’ll stay here a couple of days as you can hire boatmen to row you up & down the river, a perfect Shelleyan buzz which sounds perfect to do some writing as I lounge around a boat with some nice charas & a pencil.
‘I will lay my bones by the Ganges, that India might know there is one who cares,’ wrote Alexander Duff, & tho’ a place of death, Varanasi is also full of life – from the water buffaloes that wander up & down the riverbanks, to the huge snakes hanging from the old geezer’s necks. Unfortunately, unlike many of the hippies I don’t feel exactly ‘comfortable’ here, & I’m still in pain, so I’ll soon head up to the mountains before turning south for the trip thro’ Delhi, where I’ll be meeting my old pal, Victor Pope, who has decided to join me for a few weeks!