So back on the road again. I decided to wear my trainers today, as a few blisters had started to surface. More dog problems and the walking sticks to the rescue again. After walking for about 4 hours, it was time to stop and check on the feet. Over the next however many days, I have a feeling that me and my feet will be seeing a lot of each other. Plasters, Vaseline and talcum powder are my new best friends.
A restaurant came into view; well a hut with some seats and this is where I stopped. I managed to be understood in Hindi and bought 2 litres of water. Tending to my feet, being watch by 30 men, wondering why a white man with a pink hat and blue hiking sticks is passing their neighbourhood. This is where I met Prakash.
He asked me where I was going and why and I told him. He was the first person who really understood my quest and the reasons for it. He looked at Google maps and when I said where I was going, he told me it was the wrong route. I explained but said I can’t go direct and I can’t follow the river all the way because of the lack of accommodation. He took my number and said he would find somewhere for me to stay. I thanked him and was on my way. I couldn’t hang around. Walking past midday is dangerous, with temperatures reaching +43o C. I have to walk fast and start in the dark to complete 25kms to 30kms in a day.
After a 3 hours plus walk, I reached a junction; not too far to the hotel now. Feet were killing me; blisters had certainly started. Then Prakash phoned.
‘John stay where you; are you can stay on my sister in law’s farm’.
Really I am thinking. But just as I start drinking my 6 litres of water, a guy arrived on a motorbike and told me to jump on. Another motor bike. That’s 3 different bikes I have been on in two days. He told me his name was Tushar. He drove me miles off the road and we finally arrived at a farm.
It was massive with all sorts of crops – grain, sugar cane, you name it. I got off the bike and met all his family: wife, two children and both parents. They were a bit shocked, but after a while they realised I was just an ordinary, mad English guy, lost and on a mission. First, a shower then I was shown my room. My luck had changed, but my feet were absolutely killing me.
The mother cut me some fresh aloe vera from the farm and got me water.
I was treated like a real guest. Then I played with the children.
Deepali made me lunch and served it while I just sat there, resting my feet. Tushar returned and we spoke broken English and Hindi to try and understand, but I was so grateful for these complete strangers helping me. And it doesn’t matter how you communicate, if both parties want to, you can get by. What wonderful people. I was then sitting, writing this blog (which is all I do any spare moment that I have got), when all of a sudden everyone, including the two young children, started to panic and run around. Rain was coming.
I went outside and saw the whole family trying to get the grain that was drying outside under cover. I was here to help, but Tushar told me to sit down. No way and for the next 15 minutes, we all worked like slaves to get the grain into big sacks and into the dry. They couldn’t believe I was helping, but I didn’t see it as strange and even though I was hobbling due to my blisters, I enjoyed it.
We had just finished getting all of it in the dry and the heavens opened up. These farmers know how to read the clouds.
Then we picked some sugar cane for a drink; green sugar drink is what they called it. After that, tour of the farm while dinner was being prepared. It was the most relaxed and quietest place I have been to whilst I have been living in India.
In the evening, Prakash and his daughter came over for tea and again the ladies did all the work, while us men just sat down and were waited on hand and foot. No further comment on this situation, otherwise my wife (the ‘editor’) would not let it go to press!
So under the mozzie net that Tushar had put up for me I lay on the bed in a stranger’s house on a farm, with a guy lying on the floor next to me. Wow! I was thinking. Lights went out, and just before I was about to drift off to sleep, Prakash said:
‘John. just a warning. If you need the toilet in the night, don’t go outside’.
‘Because there are leopards’.
Really? Robert my driver on Day 1 had warned me about them, but I hadn’t really thought much more about it.
Then Prakash said ‘if I was in your country you would expect me to listen to you, wouldn’t you’?
‘Well, my friend, you are in my country, so please take my advice’.
‘Oh, and that tent. Don’t use it’.
I replied ‘it’s already gone’, and that was the moment my load got lighter and worries of being alive vanished. I will leave it here so the young children can play with it.
Neil Diamond once sung in a song with the line: ‘A friend is someone you need’.