December 10, 2014

Hospet, India

I woke up some time after 08:00 on my “first class” bunk and then waited for the train to arrive at Hubli junction; while waiting, I read some more; also, the sheets, blankets, and pillows were collected by an over-anxious worker (so much for “first class” luxury) over an hour before arriving at Hubli. We finally did arrive, after 11:00 (a little over five hours late, which means we didn’t lose much more time after our five hour late departure from Manmad) and I was surprised by what I saw; here was a clean railway station, with not a whole lot of people (probably why it was so clean), a nice food court with lots of options, and modern, working displays with train arrivals and departures listed – what a surprise! Perhaps being so close to Goa, a beach resort city that draws many tourists, has something to do with Hubli jucntion being so well maintained. Anyway, since the train had arrived so late, my previous, admittedly unrealistic plan, of traveling to Badami early by bus, quickly finding a place to stay, and then seeing as many of the sites as possible (starting with the ancient village of Pattadakal) before the sun set, and then leaving to Hospet the next day, was not going to work at all now (whether it would’ve worked if the train had arrived on time is another question); so, with plans altered, I ran to the ticket office at Hubli Junction and bought a “general passenger” ticket to Hospet on the next available train – I am kind of glad it worked out this way because now I have two days to explore Hampi (the World Heritage Site near Hospet) instead of the one day I had originally planned. After purchasing my ticket, I waited for over an hour before catching the 12:15 train to Hospet; unfortunately, the “general passenger” coaches were full of people, so I stood in the aisle for the three hour long journey; at first I was standing at the end of one of the coaches, but several passengers kept bothering me (one was deformed due to polio and kept begging for rupees (he did not beg anyone else (i.e. Indians) on the train, just me, the foreign Western tourist); I almost caved (due to his condition), but a woman passenger shook her head, telling me to ignore him – I hate how all the beggars and free loaders in India rush toward the foreign Western tourists and demand money once they spot us (children are the worst when it comes to this), thinking that we are all made of it; I also hate how they usually don’t bother their own countrymen with the same requests and how they expect an outsider to support them instead of their own community (the community should support their own); since the shortened polio-afflicted man and his abusive countrymen (they picked on and made fun of the polio-afflicted man) kept nagging me, I decided to move to the center of the train coach and stand there for the remainder of the travel time. Finally, after 15:00, the train arrived in Hospet and I walked out of the station, along the main road, searching for a suitable place to stay. I stopped at several hotels (making sure to ask if they had wireless internet – I didn’t want to make the same mistake I did in Gaya) before finding a nice one, with wireless internet – actually, this is the nicest hotel I have stayed at in India. I then took a much needed shower, relaxed in my room, went out to buy some beer, returned to my room, relaxed some more, and then went out to eat dinner. For supper, I had water, sweet lassi, egg matka biryani (served in a clay pot with a crust over the opening – that the server had to break open to scoop out its contents on to my plate), mushroom makhanwala, and chicken kashmiri; this was excellent food and the best Indian cuisine I have had in India thus far. I then bought some more beer at the restaurant (this is where I had bought it earlier today, as “take away”), paid my bill, and retired in my room for the night, eventually falling asleep while listening to some of Scott Joplin’s ragtime tunes.

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An open journal or an exercise in narcissism.