Travel

Surviving One Month In India (Part 1) – Croatian & English version

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Očekivali smo da će biti drugačije, šokirali su nas pričama o ovoj čudesnoj zemlji, ali ništa vas ne može dovoljno pripremiti dok sami to ne vidite, dok sami ne osjetite.

India se ne može objasniti, samo osjetiti.

Najmnogoljudnija zemlja s više od milijardu stanovnika, bogata različitim etničkim skupinama u kojoj možete čuti više od sto različitih jezika od kojih je službeni hindi i engleski jezik. Najviše je hinduista, a nakon njih muslimana, kršćana, budista i jainista.

Indija je zemlja koja predstavlja izazov i za najveće avanturiste, pa smo se tako Zvonimir i ja upustili u takav izazov.

Našu avanturu započinjemo u gradu Kochi. Grad u južnom dijelu Indije, u kojem smo odlučili prespavati noć i sljedeće jutro nastaviti naše putovanje još južnije. Kada smo stigli, saznali smo da je započela sezona monsuna i da se ne isplati putovati po jugu jer upravo tu započinje te će se nastavljati prema sjeveru. Pred nama je bila sezona monsuna, a povratna karta odavno kupljena. Pred nama je bilo punih mjesec dana, što sad? Kako ćemo putovati? Naposljetku smo odustali od putovanja jugom te se odlučili kretat prema sjeveru što brže kako bi izbjegli kišu. Drugim riječima, bježali smo od kiše.

Sljedeće jutro zaputili smo se na željeznički kolodvor iako nismo imali rezerviranu kartu. Do željezničkog kolodvora vozili smo se rikšom, svima poznatiji kao tuk – tuk. U Indiji gdje god krenete ne može vam biti dosadno, uvijek ali baš uvijek se nešto događa, vidite nešto zanimljivo ili iskusite nešto sasvim novo. Tako npr. za vrijeme naše vožnje prema kolodvoru, vozač, recimo srednjih godina, je ”raspalio” na radiju pjesme Britney Spears i Backstreet Boysa i dao nam par komada manga za put. Čak je pozvao Zvonimira da sjedne kraj njega, na vozačevo mjesto, i pokaže mu kako voziti rikšu. Iskreno, to nam je bila jedna od najboljih vožnji ikad.

                                                                            Najzabavnija vožnja s najzabavnijim vozačem.

Stigli smo na željeznički kolodvor i susreli se po prvi put u Indiji s tolikom količinom ljudi. Ljudi su bili posvuda, i samo su nas gledali. Nakon dva sata uspjeli smo kupiti kartu za poslijepodnevni vlak oko 15 sati za Gou, mjesto poznato po svojim predivnim plažama. S obzirom da smo imali par sati slobodno do vlaka, otišli smo u obližnji restoran da nešto pojedemo. Tamo smo se prvi put susreli s pravom Indijskom ljutom hranom. Iako smo ih tražili da nam preporuče nešto što NIJE previše ljuto, dobili smo na kraju LJUTU hranu. Konobari su nam stalno prilazili, bili su radoznali i zanimalo ih je svašta o nama. Na kraju su nas tražili da se fotografiraju s nama jer na neki način mi smo njima bili – pojava.

Pred nama je bio dug dan, a znali smo da će biti i duga noć. Vožnja vlakom od Kochia do Goe je trebala trajati 13 sati.  Skroz avanturistički, kupili smo karte za ”Sleeper klasu”. Sleeper klasa je jedna od nižih klasa, dijelite otvoreni kupe sa šestero ljudi gdje se nalazi šest ležaja. Klima ne postoji u sleeper klasi osim bučnih ventilatora.

                                                                                   Na željezničkoj stanici u gradu Kochi.

Sjedili smo i čekali vlak na stanici. Kiša je padala, i razmišljali smo samo o tome kako bismo sad voljeli otići natrag u Hrvatsku i vratiti se u Indiju u neko drugo razdoblje, razdoblje kada neće biti kiše. Kada smo napokon dočekali vlak, prvo što smo vidjeli izvana su bile željezne rešetke na prozoru, nagurani ljudi unutar vlaka te je izgledalo jako prljavo. Kada smo se napokon smjestili shvatili smo da i nije tako loše. U redu, nije bilo najčišće i ležajevi nisu bili najudobniji s obzirom da su napravljeni od spužve debljine pet centimetara ali kako nismo očekivali nikakav luksuz, bili smo zadovoljni.

U vlaku je postajalo sve zanimljivije. Mogla sam satima gledati kroz prozor. U jednom trenutku prolazite kraj ogromnog jezera koje vas prati neko vrijeme. Guste zelene prašume. Pustinjska prostranstva. Nigdje nikoga, samo u nekim trenutcima vidiš dva tri čovjeka u sred ničega i pitaš se šta li oni rade tu, kakve poslove obavljaju i vjerojatno rade nešto što je toliko van dometa naše mašte. Moram priznati da sam očekivala da ću ugledati iz vlaka nekog tigra u toj prašumi, ali to se nije dogodilo. Priroda je izgledala raznoliko i netaknuto. Shvatiš, ovdje caruje priroda.

S druge strane, u vlaku je vladala kaotična situacija. Svakih par minuta prolaze prodavači koji se deru iz sveg glasa i prodaju hranu, piće, kavu i chai. Na svakoj stanici ulaze novi prodavači. Neki od njih ostanu duže u vlaku prodavati, dok drugi budu samo za vrijeme stajanja vlaka na stanici pa šta prodaju prodaju. Od hrane se prodaju sendviči, slatkiši ali i ona prava kuhana jela poput piletine s rižom uz koje dobijete umak, jogurt i naan (indijski kruh). Vilice, noževi, žlice ne postoje. Sva hrana jede se rukama. Ljudi rukama miješaju rižu s umakom i jedu. Indijci kažu, hrana ima bolji okus ako ju jedeš pomoću ruku.  

Ni u vlaku nismo ostali neprimjećeni. Ljudi su nas stalno promatrali, osmijehivali nam se, upirali prstom u nas… Neki su nam prilazili i htjeli pričati s nama. Ono što smo odmah skužili kroz priču s njima je da su jako prijateljski nastrojeni. Jako su radoznali i nude ti pomoć oko svega.

Oko 22h krenuli smo na spavanje. Nisam mislila da ću toliko biti zahvalna što imam vreću za spavanje koja je ležanje na tankom ležištu učinila mnogo udobnijim i toplijim. Kako je moj ”krevet” bio na kat,  bila su tu dva stara bučna ventilatora, trideset centimetara iznad moje glave, koja nisu doprinosili tome da što brže utonem u san.

Nakon otrpilike tri sata spavanja, iznenada sam se probudila. U ravnini mog kreveta nasuprot je ležao jedan Indijac koji me nije prestajao gledati. Iskeno, u tom trenutku nisam osjećala strah, niti nelagodu, pomislila sam samo ”Ok, ovo je čudno da te netko gleda dok spavaš”. Ali, kada ste u Indiji, jednostavno se počnete privikavati na čudne stvari.  Sljedeće što se dogodilo bilo je još bizarnije, ali i smiješno. Nasuprot našeg kupea bila su dva kreveta na kat, na kojima su dva čovjeka već spavala. Dijelio nas je jedino prolaz. Dolazi jedan Indijac i pokušava se ugurati na taj jedan ležaj nekog stranca. Miče mu noge, odguruje ga ali ovaj se ne da. Ta situacija je trajala dobrih pet minuta, no međutim nakon toga je odustao i legao na pod. Nije bio jedini jer ih je još bilo na podu. Mogla sam vidjeti da su na ponekim ležajevima spavali po dvoje njih, s tim da moram napomenuti da je jedan ležaj jedva dovoljan samo za jednu osobu.  Na kraju smo čuli da ljudi koji spavaju po podu i oni koji se pokušavaju ugurati drugima na krevet su bez karte pa tako ni nemaju svoje mjesto.

                                                                                                             Sleeper klasa.

Oko 4 sata u jutro, Zvonimir i ja lagano smo se budili i počeli pripremati za izlazak. U tim trenutcima smo bili zahvalni na Google mapsu jer bez njega ne bi uopće znali kada trebamo izaći. Naime, u to doba noći ne prolazi kondukter niti dobivate bilo kakvu obavijest kada je vrijeme da izađete, tako da se snalazite.

Kada smo napokon izašli iz vlaka dočekao nas je pljusak kakav ne vidite tako često kod nas u Hrvatskoj. Stigli smo u Gou. Željeznički kolodvor, pola 5 ujutro. Ljudi su bili posvuda. Ponavljam, ljudi su zbilja bili posvuda u pola 5 u jutro. Ponajviše na podu. Neki su beskućnici, a neki spavaju dok ne dođe njihov vlak. Pripadnici islamske vjere postavili su na pod kartone na kojima su klečali i molili se Alahu. je cijelo vrijeme padala i shvatili smo da se ni u Goi nećemo zadržavati. Morali smo biti brži od kiše.

Prespavali smo jednu noć te se sljedeće jutro uputili ponovno na željeznički kolodvor. Da si dodatno začinimo stvar, odlučili smo se za prijevoz njihovim lokalnim busom. Kao što sam i ranije napomenula, u Indiji gdje god krenete jednostavno ne može biti dosadno. Bus je izgledao poluraspadnuto, ali u tome i je sva čar. U busu su bile žene obučene u tradicionalnu indijsku nošnju – sari, te su bile u svim bojama. Ali ono što nam je bilo jako interesantno je da u busu radi troje ljudi. Tu je vozač koji nas vozi, zatim osoba koja ti otvara vrata i osoba kod koje kupuješ kartu. Čovjek bi pomislio da ulaziš u avion a ne u običan lokalni bus. Problematika prenapučenosti u Indiji je stvarna, te kako bi utjecali na stopu nezaposlenosti, ljudima se daju bilo kakvi poslovi.

Naše sljedeće odredište bio je Mumbai. Ovoga puta odlučili smo se voziti u Second AC Sleeper klasi što znači da smo imali klimu, kupe je bio zagrađen zavijesama i bilo je četiri ležaja. Dijelili smo kupe s jednim bračnim parom iz Indije.

Kada se vozite u Indiji vlakom, ne morate se brinuti da ćete biti gladni ili žedni. Tu su uvijek prodavači koji prolaze i nude vam raznu hranu, slatkiše i piće. Mi smo dobili ručak u vlaku sa desertom. Ručak je bilo nešto tipično indijski, začinjena riža s piletinom, a za desert smo dobili voćnu salatu s čili prahom. Ono što je vrlo specifično u Indijskoj kuhinji je uporaba ljutih začina, po meni osobno, pretjerana uporaba. Što god jedu mora biti ljuto, kao i u ovom slučaju s voćnom salatom. Bilo je zanimljivo vidjeti bračni par koji je bio s nama u kupeu kako s guštom jede tu mješavinu voća i čilija. Mi smo to preskočili ovoga puta.

Kada se vozite deset sati u vlaku, morate nekako ubiti vrijeme. Naime, u Indiji to nikako nije problem. Osim što smo radili na svojim laptopima, Zvonimir i ja, mogli smo samo sjediti kraj prozora i promatrati Indiju iz vlaka sa šalicom toplog chaia iliti indijskog čaja. To je upravo i najbolji način da vidite Indiju, iz vlaka. Priroda je drugačija, nekako je sve divlje. Netaknuto. Toliko je prostora na kojem se ne nalazi apsolutno ništa ljudsko napravljeno. Odjednom mogla sam vidjeti ljude iz vlaka. Radili su na polju i bili su obučeni u široke haljine u svim bojama. Osjećala sam se kao kad gledam neki dokumentarac o dalekim zemljama sa drugačijim ljudima. Izgledalo je kao da se vrijeme vratilo unatrag. Mogli ste vidjeti konja kako vuče plug na polju. Djeca su se igrala na polju. Idiličan i nestvaran moment.

Kako smo se približavali Mumbaiu, približavali smo se i naseljima. Od baraka, do zgrada.

Osjetila se znatna razlika u vožnji ovom klasom od prethodne. Bilo je puno tiše i čišće. Ovdje smo dobili jastuk i deku iako je to bila dnevna vožnja vlakom. Ljudi koji su prodavali hranu i piće su bili puno tiši, drugim riječima nisu se derali kao u prethodnoj klasi. Unatoč komforu, osjećali smo da nam je prethodna klasa bila puno draža, puno zanimljivija. Više smo osjećali ljude i okolinu. Bilo je prirodno, bez uljepšavanja. Tamo je bila Indija. 

U sljedećem postu nastavljamo naše putovanje u kaotičnom i energičnom Mumbaiu. U istom tjednu završili smo dva puta u bolnici, a u Jaipuru smo odjednom završili u mračnoj ulici s tri nepoznata Indijca.

We were expecting that will be different, they shocked us with stories of this magical country, but nothing can prepare you enough while you don’t see it and feel it for yourself. India can’t be explained, only felt.  

The most populated country with more than 1 billion people, rich with various ethnic groups where you can hear more than a hundred different languages, of which English and Hindi is the official language. Most of them are Hindus and after them Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Jainist.

India is a country that represents the greatest challenge for the greatest adventurists, and Zvonimir and I went into that challenge.  

Our adventure started in Kochi. A city in the southern part of India, in which we decided to sleep over the night and the next morning continue our trip farther south. When we got there, we found out that the monsoon season has begun, and that is not worth it to travel around the South, because this is where it starts and will continue towards the North. In front of us was the monsoon season, and a round-trip ticket was bought a long time ago. In front of us was a full month, now what? Finally, we gave up from the South and decided to go to the North as quickly as possible. In other words, we were running from the rain.   

The next morning we were headed for the train station even though we hadn’t booked the ticket. To the train station, we drove by rickshaw, all known as the tuk-tuk. In India wherever you go, you can’t be bored. You will always see something interesting, weird or experience something you never were. So, for example, during our drive to the station, the driver, in middle age, put on some songs of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys really loudly, and then he gave us a few pieces of mango to eat. He even invited Zvonimir to sit next to him, on the driver’s place and showed him how to drive a rickshaw. Honestly, that was one of the best driving ever.

We arrived at the train station and saw so many people in one place. The people were all over the place, and they just looked at us. After two hours, we managed to buy tickets for the afternoon train that takes 13 hours of driving to Goa, a place known for its beautiful beaches. Since we had some free time before going to Goa, we went to a nearby restaurant to get something to eat. That’s where we first met with the real Indian spicy food. Even though we asked them to recommend us something that is not too spicy, we got at the end really SPICY food. The waiters wanted to talk with us, they were curious, and they wanted to know everything about us. In the end, they asked us for a selfie. Actually, most Indians want a selfie with tourists.

In front of us was a long day, and we knew it would be a long night. The train ride from Kochi to Goa is supposed to last for 13 hours. Totally adventurous, we bought tickets for “Sleeper” class. The train ride from Kochi to Goa is supposed to last for 13 hours. Sleeper class is the lower class, share an open compartment with six people with six beds. AC doesn’t exist in sleeper class, except for the noisy fans.

We sat and waited for a train at the station. It was raining, and we were thinking only about how we now would like to go back to Croatia and back to India when there will be no rain. When the train finally came, the first thing we saw from the outside were iron bars on the window, crowded people inside the train, and it looked very dirty. When we settled on, we realized that’s not so bad. Ok, it wasn’t the cleanest and beds were not the most comfortable considering that they are made of a sponge thickness of two inches but how we didn’t expect any luxury, we were ok.

                                                    Working time – Unstoppable Zvonimir works on a train.

It was getting more interesting on a train. I could have spent hours looking out of the window. At one point, we passed a giant lake that followed us for a while. The thick green rainforest. A desert expanse. Just nature, only in some moments you can see two men in the middle of nowhere. You wonder what they are doing there, what kind of jobs they perform and probably are doing something that is so out of range of our imagination. I have to admit that I expected to see a tiger in the jungle somewhere from a train, but it never happened. We could saw nature dominates here.

On the other hand, on the train was a chaotic situation. There were noisy sellers selling food and drinks. At every stop, were entering new sellers. Some of them stay longer on the train to sell, while others sell stuff while the train is on a station. They sell sandwiches, sweets, cooked dishes such as chicken with rice and sauce, yogurt and naan (Indian bread). Forks, knives, spoons, doesn’t exist. All food is eaten by hands. People, with their hands, mix the rice and sauce and then eat. The Indians say the food tastes better if you eat it with your hand.

People were watching us all the time, smiled to us, pointed the finger at us.  Some of them wanted to talk to us. What we’ve figured out immediately through the conversation with them is that they are very friendly. They are very curious and helpful. Around 10 PM we went to sleep. I never thought I’d be so grateful that I have a sleeping bag that made my thin bed much more comfortable and warmer. Above my “bed”  were two old noisy fans, thirty inches above my head, which made it difficult for me to sleep. After about three hours of sleep, I suddenly woke up. The first thing that I noticed was one Indian guy who was lying opposite of my bed and didn’t stop looking at me. At that moment, I didn’t feel fear, neither the discomfort, I just thought how strange it is that someone is watching you while you’re sleeping. But, when you are in India, you getting used to strange things.  What happened next was even more bizarre, but also funny. At some point, while I was still awake, one Indian guy came and tried to squeeze on a bed where one guy already slept. He was trying to move his legs and pushed him aside. This situation lasted for five minutes, but after that, he gave up and lay down on the floor. All that I was watching from my bed. But, he wasn’t the only one on the floor, there were also other people. I could see there were some beds with two people sleeping on. I have to point out that one bed barely is enough only for one person. In the end, we heard people who sleep on the floor are without a ticket, so that’s why they don’t have their seats.         

                                                                                                       Sleeping time.

About 4 o’clock in the morning, Zvonimir and I woke up and started getting ready to go out. In those moments we were grateful for Google maps because without that we couldn’t even know when we need to come out. At that time of the night, the conductor doesn’t pass, and we don’t get any notice when it’s time to go out. When we finally arrived, heavy rain has welcomed us. That kind of rain you can’t see so often in Croatia. We arrived in Goa. Railway station, 4:30 in the morning. The people were all over the place. I repeat people have really been everywhere at 4:30 in the morning. Most of them were on the floor. Some are homeless, and some sleep until their train come. Some Muslims set up a floorcloth on the floor, knelt and prayed to Allah. It was raining. We realized that even in Goa we will not balk. We had to be faster than the rain.

We spend a night in Goa and the next morning headed again to the train station. We went to the station by their local bus. The bus was really really old, but that’s an experience. On the bus were women dressed in a traditional Indian costume – sari, in all colors. Very interesting is how three persons work on the bus. There is a regular driver, then the person who opens the door and the person who sell the tickets. You would think you’re entering a plane, not a local bus. The problem of overpopulation in India is real, and to decrease the rate of unemployment, people are doing any kind of jobs.

Our next stop was Mumbai. We decided to take a drive by train, this time in the Second AC Sleeper class. That means we had air conditioning and the compartment was enclosed with curtains with four beds. We shared a compartment with one Indian couple. When you drive in India by train, you don’t have to worry about getting hungry or thirsty. Sellers passing all the time and offer you all kind of food, sweets, and drinks. We got lunch on the train with dessert. Typical Indian food, spicy chicken with rice and for dessert, we got the fruit salad with chili powder. What is very specific in Indian cuisine is the use of hot spices, for me personally, the excessive use of them. Whatever they eat must be hot, as in this case with a fruit salad. It was interesting to see a married couple, who was with us in a compartment, how were enjoyed in a fruit salad with chili. We skipped it this time.

When you are spending ten hours on the train, you must manage how to kill time. In India, that’s not a problem. Except that we were working on our laptops, Zvonimir and I, could only sit by the window and watch India from the train with a cup of hot chai. That is the best way to see India, from the train. Nature is different, it’s wild. Untouched. Nature vastness with absolutely nothing human-made. Suddenly I could see the people. They were working on the field and were dressed in baggy dresses in all colors. I felt like I’m watching a documentary about distant lands with different people. It looked like time returned backward. Horse pulled a plow. The children played on a field. Idyllic and unreal moment. As we neared Mumbai, we approached to settlements. From the shacks to the buildings.  There are some differences in driving this class than the previous one. It was much peaceful and cleaner. Here we got a pillow and a blanket even though it was a daily train ride. People who sold food and drinks were much quieter, in other words, they weren’t yelling as in the previous class. Despite all comfort, we preferred more previous train class. There, we could felt people and environment. It was natural and raw. There was India.

In my next post, we are continuing our adventure in chaotic and energetic Mumbai. On the same week, we ended up in a hospital, and in Jaipur, somehow we ended up with complete strangers, three Indians.

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