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  • Writer's pictureVoita

Across Assam, day 1

The difference in between the Italian companion and myself: I aim to leave early, counting in at least 50% extra contingency time, this being India in monsoon. I book my bus in advance online. Jacoppo (headed for Kolkata on this fine day), true to my yesterday's profiling, leaves last minute for the 4-8 hours journey to Siliguri, intent to ask around there, until he finds the right bus.

We all choose our adventures. His will certainly have more adrenaline and come at a premium penny. Maybe I'm getting old.

bye, my brief quarters

So, following my experience, I said my early goodbyes

past 9 AM

and went bus-chasing. See, the secret here is simple: Siliguri - Gangtok is the main travel route, where transport is plentiful and easy to secure. Straying off even a little carries the burden of having to chase down your own fortune. And that takes time or money - usually both.

leaving proud Sikkim

Thankfully this first section of my quest for the easternmost end of the Himalayas went without a hitch. Soon I was engulfed by subcontinental India: the heat, noise, stench and poverty stretching from the corner of my eye to the far end of my consciousness are impossible to erase from the canvas of my perception. In this frontal assault on senses, only taste remains intact. At least until the first spicy achar or chai.

1 ride worth of dust. this is why I give up on my hair while travelling

Other very Indian thing I've been reminded of; went for a pre-bus snack and the shop owner figured he'd keep extra 50% as an undeclared tip. Out of shape, bamboozled by his casual friendliness, I only noticed after leaving the store. That's what a good heart gets you: an empty wallet.

To be fair with the Indians, anyone from out of their state is a fair game. If you fail to spot the funny business, your loss and their win.

It's the local form of the devil's game, which in some other countries you play with your life and sanity.

money is the cheapest currency

The deck is stacked against you, the devil has all the real aces and a few fake ones. Losing only a little is a good day.

After enough time in such environment you develop a certain form of crazy, to prevent yourself from going completely ballistic.

And the world goes round...

perhaps marking all the funny pages wasn't such a good idea after all...

I'm not holding a grudge, I'm full well aware of the rules. Every conversion is an attempt to extract money on the surface, game of numbers lurking below. It's the same like casinos in Las Vegas, alcohol in the teenage years or banking systems later on: the hivemind doesn't care who exactly lures you in and scores your pound of flesh. They know that sooner or later you'll stumble and fall into their sucking embrace. And so they keep on coming like a hydra: deflect one and two will take its place.

Travelling in India is so much fun. (No /s, I genuinely find this devil's game more acceptable than most others.)

headed for a meeting with mooates

I could follow up with pointing out that Japan is the only country, where you can let all your defenses down, while paying for this perfection with your freedom of choice, but I feel like this tangent has gone on for long enough and you got my point.

It's what hours upon hours of passive activity extract from my mind as a toll for passage. No big deal. 🙃

the plan and the complication

'helpful texts'

wrong licence plate / bus leaving 15 min early, oh Really? better not be late!

Night bus today

luxurious: light, power socket and the AC work

a day layover mid-Assam tomorrow, sequelled by yet another overnighter and a final push on a local vehicle, before getting picked up at the easternmost border of Arunachal, 600 miles and 48 hours later.

ridin' with a spidey

24/7 hustle

Let's do this.

PS.: Assam roads are garbage and 2 Indians sleeping next to me are qualifying for the Olympics in coughing tonight.

If you don't hear from me tomorrow, you can flip a coin as to why.

PPS.: The only time the two blokes stop rocking the bus

as if the roads didn't do that well enough

is to converse either on the phone, or with their mate, in a tone loud enough to include everyone on board in the discourse.

Oh and the whole bus now smells like a cot full of unwashed men.

Glory be to the brave.

☄️

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