I had met both SV and Naresh walking on the road the day before. They had stopped on their bike, asked what and why I was walking and I explained my mission to them. They told me when I arrived at the next town, Korutla, to give them a call and they would meet me.
So the next day and after a small walk of only 11 km, I phoned S.V. He came and met me at the bus station in the central part of town. First these guys, who I had just met briefly, bought me breakfast. I was then driven to SV’s office and given tea and water. He was a cement dealer, amongst other business activities. He told me that I could stay at his house for the night. It was so good to have some company. It had been a few days since I had met anyone, and when you meet people, it makes the trip so much more interesting.
SV had to go to work. So Naresh, his friend, took me to SV’s house. What a lovely place; I would be sleeping in the lean-to outside on the floor. This was not a problem. My only concern was the mosquitoes, but I was assured I had nothing to worry about, and when I did finally go to sleep that night, they were right. I didn’t get bitten once.
Naresh talked to me while he did my washing, and we waited for it to soak. This was the second time that my clothes had been washed properly, most days I have just rinsed them through using shampoo. He told me how he was in real estate, but recently business had been very slow. But he also owned a mango farm which provided him with enough money to get by.
Whilst Naresh did the washing, he told me that in India they have no machines and he used his feet to wash my clothes instead! I was amazed to watch this.
Brilliant, a great guy with a great sense of humour. We laughed together for the next few hours.
Soon it was time for Naresh to go and then I was back in the capable hands of SV. He picked me up on his bike and took me back to his cement office. Soon all his friends and family had come down to the office to meet me. SV was a very busy man, but he was determined me to show me his town and all his friends. First, after he bought me lunch, where I had more practice eating rice with my fingers, we were on his bike again, sight-seeing most of the day.
First a trip to the nearby lake. I was stunned by the green colour of the water and I had trouble trying to translate the word algae into Hindi for him to understand.
Next, he showed me an apartment he was trying to sell and a massive building plot. He was certainly more than just a cement dealer. His family were staying in Mumbai and he said we could meet up when I return.
Then in the evening, we saw more of his friends and it seemed he was a very popular guy in his home town and that was not at all surprising.
He was also aware of my internal body clock and when I need to go to sleep. So we returned to his house after a full-on day. Later, we were joined by Naresh and they expressed their concerns about my planned route. They informed me that the route I was planning was very dangerous for the following reasons. Firstly, just the other week, in a town I was planning to pass through, there had been a terrorist attack and 35 people were shot. Secondly, there was no accommodation on the route as the journey would take me through thick forest. Thirdly, there had been reports of kidnapping, and wild animal attacks. Finally, there were no places, or villages, where I could get water.
They were generally worried about my well-being and advised me to take a bus through this area. Just as before, when I disposed of the tent, I think I needed to listen to their advice. So I decided I would listen. This would cut the distance of the trip, but as my wife Michelle keeps reminding me, I am not Bear Grylls. I am just a walking lost school teacher!
It makes me think again how lucky I was to bump into such people and without their advice, who knows what could have happened to me further on my journey?
At night SV laid next to me on the floor and informed me he will wake up with me and take me to the bus station where I can continue my journey the next day. But before he slept, he mediated. In the morning, he told me that he had been meditating since he was a boy and that his father was a spiritual healer.
We woke up and he gave me some herbal tea (which he said was 30 years old and would keep my blood pressure level) and some lemon juice. He then blessed me for my journey. I jumped on his bike feeling really good and ready to carry on my adventure. We said good bye, but I think we will stay in contact. More wonderful people I am so lucky to have met by fate on this journey.