Day four of our trip was easily the worst. I’m trying really hard to not complain and sound like a princess but it was really, really awful. We had a 4.30am start to catch a plane that didn’t leave until 8am and we were 20 minutes from the airport. Yes. You read that correctly. 3 hours wait time for a simple domestic flight. Sam (World Vision India coordinator and our lovely guide for our trip) says that Indian people refer to IST (Indian Standard Time) as ‘Indian Stretching Time’ because they have to allow a large margin of error in most cases. Truer words have never been spoken. Everything goes wrong here. Credit cards get declined, the photocopier doesn’t work, they don’t have change, the boss has gone to the toilet with the magic key that they need to complete the transaction. So it takes roughly an hour to do anything that should take five minutes like check into a hotel or buy a dress. And this is across the board. Nothing runs smoothly here. As you can imagine my Type A personality is not coping well. I just want to scream ‘WHY ARE YOU ALL SO INCOMPETENT?????‘ but you know what? It all works out in the end. Also, it’s not my country. I’m just an anal retentive psycho Westerner. Keep on keeping on India. Keep on keeping on.
When we arrived in Raipur the air was warm and sweet and the sky was clear from smog. It was beautiful. We drove for three hours through tiny towns, past roadside cattle and shops that sell nothing but bottled water and packets of chips. We swerved past motorbikes and had a near head on collision at least once every kilometre. Being in a car here is like being on a roller-coaster that nearly slams into another on coming roller-coaster every couple of metres. We’ve gotten brave enough to ask them to slow down but after twenty minutes they speed up again. That afternoon we arrived in Bilaspur which is a town that has roughly the same population as Canberra which is the capital city of Australia. It’s nothing like Canberra. Just for comparison…
A roadside store selling phone cases and credit. It’s kind of the equivalent of a phone kiosk in the Canberra Centre.
The pet shop similar to the one in Woden Plaza near the bank.
Fresh produce shop like the one near Supa Barn in the Canberra Centre.
Men’s barber shop like the one in Manuka.
We think this was a mall similar to Belconnen mall. There were kids playing on the roof.
Action buses aren’t looking too shabby now are they? I thought this bus was abandoned but I saw it the next day full of people.
The hotel strip like near James Court apartments in Braddon.
I really don’t want this to sound snobby and I sincerely hope it doesn’t. I’m just gobsmacked that I grew up in a city the same size as this town and I was ridiculously privileged and I didn’t even know it. The people who live here aren’t even living in poverty. This is a functional town. It’s mind blowing.
Our hotel in Bilaspur was really weird. Firstly it was a hotel/furniture shop. I don’t think it’s wise to say which hotel we were at, especially in a country that has fatwas but if you ever go to Bilaspur email me first and I’ll tell you where to stay. We’ve been here for three days and haven’t seen one solitary white person that’s not us. Misho and I went walking on our first afternoon and I’ve never been stared at like that in my life. In Delhi it was a leering sort of ‘Foreigners… let’s mess with them!‘ kind of look but here it’s more ‘What’s wrong with your face?‘.
I won’t tell you too much about our hotel experience because it’s begging to be vlogged but basically the sheets were filthy, Kelly’s room smelt like a TAB and the energy in the place was horrible. The three of us (Eden, Kelly and myself) ended up sleeping in the same room and had the most hilarious, scary and bizarre evening of our lives. It was an experience that has bonded us for life. The silver lining of this dreadful place was that the restaurant had French Fries. We get very excited over anything that’s not curry. We love curry but it’s quite an adjustment to eat it for every meal.
Our little India crew is amazing. Sam and Misho are so grounded and cool and the girls are my world. Eden, Kelly and Joy are so beautiful and awesome, I just can’t imagine being on this trip with out them.
We found this tasty little treat underneath Eden’s mattress when we were moving it into my room for a sleepover. Stay tuned for the vlog version of events.
To sponsor a child visit World Vision Australia.