Days 10 to 11: The Rain Man

Day 10. Back in the hostel I had a new roommate who was quite an odd fellow, old’ish, weedy stature with the world’s most annoying habits. It appeared that he would have to do everything at least four times otherwise he was not happy. He had a blue plastic 1970’s suitcase, the kind your parents buy you when you are a child going on your first holiday. He had to loudly click each lock open, open and close the case then lock it again…… repeated four times! He would then move the case slightly, scraping it on the table, and then the whole routine would start all over again….. four times. But even then he hadn’t finished. He would then produce a leather briefcase out of the blue suitcase, hold it up in the air and then brush it with his hand as if he were trying to say, “Hey, look everyone, I have a leather briefcase aren’t I rich.” But then he would put the briefcase back into the blue suitcase and the comedy routine would start again all accompanied by loud grunting noises. But there was more, he would then fold his towels, taking up to five minutes to make sure they were folded correctly, then after completing this complex task he would then flick open the towel and start again! He did a similar thing with his handkerchief but would finish his act by tying knots in the corners and then placing it on his head like Monty python’s Gumby! I couldn’t believe he was doing all of this, it was completely freaky. He had us all mesmerised so much so we christened him the ‘Rain Man’ due to his unusual compulsive behaviour. Later in the evening someone had left a news paper on his bed, when he noticed he went ballistic until the owner of the newspaper was found. The Rain Man then spent 15 minutes wafting his towel over his bed to remove any evil paper contamination. As we were going out for the evening we decided to place every newspaper we could find on his bed, covering it like a small mountain. Unfortunately we were not here to see his face but we guess the shock must have put him in hospital as when we came back he was no longer here!

Day 11. After spending the last few days taking it easy and recovering from a chronic cold I thought I’d try to figure out the Indian train booking system. The Indian train ticket system has got to be the most confusing in the world and one I am never really going to understand, particularly the queuing system. There was a queue for ladies, a queue for men, a queue for VIPs, and finally one joint queue for tourists and freedom fighters! Strange, was this a bizarre Indian method of capturing freedom fighters? Would they inadvertently join the Freedom Fighter queue forgetting where they were and then get arrested by the police! Sadly not. It’s taken me a while to figure out who the freedom fighters are but it appears to refer to those who fought for independence from Britain and have nothing to do with Kashmir as I believed. Sad thing is, they fought for freedom but were now behind me, a British guy, in the queue! Irony anyone?

After about two hours and a lot of pushing I eventually got to the front of the “queue,” well I say queue but this is India, let’s say maul. The annoying thing is, even when it is your turn someone will push their hand and their booking card through the little gap in the plastic screen and shout for a ticket. It is extremely chaotic and based purely on the principle that the most pushy gets to the front. It took a while because it’s completely out of character for me but I started to push back and eventually got my turn. I tried to book a train to Goa for tomorrow as I need to go somewhere where I can chill and relax after all the hassle but I was told that everything was full. It was difficult to know what to do as there were no printed timetables in the railway station to show me where each train service stopped and where to go next, just a train name and the final destination, you are expected to somehow know the rest. But with help from some nosey locals I’ve figured out that if I get a train to a place called Manmad I should be able to get a direct train to Goa from there. Walking back to the hostel a young boy ran up to me and slapped me quite hard for absolutely no reason. Luckily his father could see that I was really annoyed and gave him a proper clip around his ear and apologised. If only parents did that to cheeky kids back home. Interesting game though, hit the big western guy and see if you live! Just as I’m starting to like India, little things like this make me realise that to most I’m nothing more than a freak show.