Overland Travel in India – #Indie30 Day 4

Editor’s note: BootsnAll kicked off a new community event April 1 called 30 Days of Indie Art Project. For the entire month of April we’ll put a new prompt out each day, and we want you to participate! As editor of BootsnAll, I’m going to play along, too. Below is my response to the day 4 prompt, “What is your favorite method of overland travel and why?”

Part of the fun of this project is to interpret each prompt how you wish and respond in whatever way you see fit.

We did a lot of overland traveling during our year-long RTW trip, but it’s the story of trying to buy bus tickets in India that stands out to me when I think of overland travel.

If you’ve never been to India before, I feel this story perfectly encapsulates how traveling in a country that is so far different than your own is, ahem, interesting to say the least.

Looking back on many of our experiences in India can actually be quite funny because it’s just different than anywhere we had been. My wife and I both said, on many occasions, that it seemed like it was always “Backwards Day” in India. Logic as we know it? Forget about it.

Take this encounter at the Jodhpur bus station for example:

Going up to the “Enquiries” counter at the bus station: “Hello, we want tickets to Udaipur.”

Attendant: “Yes.”

Us: “We want to go tomorrow.”

Him: “Yes.”

Us: “What time do buses go.”

Him: “5:30”

Us: “5:30?”

Him: “Yes.”

Us: “Any other times?”

Him: “Yes, 7, and 8, and 9, and 10:30, and 1, and 2, and 3.”

Us: “Great, can we get tickets for the 8 o’clock bus.”

Him: “Yes.”

Us: “Here?”

Him: At this point he points over to a building across the parking lot and says, “Advance booking over there.”

Us: “Over there, in that building over there” We point. He nods.

We walk over there and go to the one window that someone is standing behind. He’s counting money, with two glasses of chai on his desk in front of him. We walk up and stand there, and he completely ignores us and continues counting his money. I walk to a different window and finally my wife gets his attention after saying “Hello” a few times.

Megan: “Hello, we need tickets to Udaipur at 8 tomorrow morning.”

Him: “Chai?”

Megan (bewildered): “No, no, I couldn’t possibly.”

Him: “Chai?”

Megan (guessing that she wouldn’t get an answer to her question until she accepted his chai, accepts his chai): “Thank you. We’re trying to get to Udaipur tomorrow morning at 8. Can we buy tickets here?”

Him: “No, over there.” He points back across the parking lot in the vicinity of three buildings, one of which is the building we came from, “New building.”

Us, to each other: “None of those three buildings look new.”

Us, to him: “Thanks”

We take the chai and walk back across to the first building we were at. We go to another window, not the “Enquiries” window.

Us: “Hello, we’re trying to get to Udaipur tomorrow morning.”

Attendant: “You need to go to the window down there.” He points to a window at the other end of the building, right next to the very first window, “Enquiries”. So we go there.

Us: “Hello, we’re trying to go to Udaipur tomorrow at 8.”

Attendant: “You need to go next door, to that window.” He points at the “Enquiries” window, of course.

We knew that was going to be the case, so we go next door, to the very first guy we talked to.

Us: “Hello, we want to go to Udaipur tomorrow at 8, and the guy next door said we need to talk to you about purchasing tickets.”

Him (mind you, the first guy we talked to, only about 10 minutes prior to this): “You can only buy advance tickets to the 5:30 bus. If you want to go on the 8 bus, come here at 7:30 tomorrow morning. You can buy tickets then.”

Us (shaking our heads in disbelief, muttering): “Thanks.”

We walk away, me throwing out a few choice words while just shaking my head back and forth, Megan just kind of chuckling. We were laughing about the whole ordeal shortly afterwards as we were recounting to each other and then shaking our heads while saying, “India.”

That one word was our explanation for many things over the course of our 6 weeks there.

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