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  • Writer's pictureVoita

Entering India

We reach the border slightly ahead of its opening. As the only foreigner on the bus, I get my own chaperone, and we set out to chase down a customs officer. One shows up at 6:10, wearing a smile on his face. He trades jokes with my guide, and inside of five minutes, I am good to cross.

Birgunj - Rauxal, the main crossing to India

The same situation on the other side. A smiling customs officer who has just finished checking the rest of our bus. Five minutes with me, and we are all free to go. I exchange the preserved Nepalese rupees for Indian currency on the bus, at the for decades fixed rate of 1,6:1. What a smooth border crossing.

same same (but different) countries

I am once again in India, the heart of hearts. Flat land, with straight, asphalted roads on which the bus hits it off like an arrow. We pick up passengers, although never run out of seats. I recall the pragmatic statement in Nepal, "Whatever we can produce, Indians do five times cheaper." India is a vast, globally recognized country, and the Indians know it. As a nation, they have already succeeded, unlike the Nepalese.

morning border traffic

As I step off the bus, I instantly start to sweat. There's no trace of the monsoon in Patna; instead, scorching heat stretches beyond the endless horizon. Under the blazing sun, I recall the people in KTM complaining about temperature. What'd they do here?

gate of Patna

Initial inspection: two out of my three SIMs got cancelled. Luckily, the third one works. Otherwise, I would have to go through the whole sharade with a friendly Indian again. Not that it would be a problem. Patna is obviously not touristy as someone wants to talk to me every ten meters. Country, name, reason for the visit, wife (and her suspicious absence). One lad surprises me by saying I should bring my parents next time so they could also enjoy India's natural beauty.

former British granary Golghar / Gandhi

The first hotelier can't be bothered making a copy of my passport, the second doesn't accept foreigners, the third place is full, and the fourth too expensive. Frustrated, I sit down in a café and look for a place online. The traditional way of searching and negotiating is too much work. I book a bed in a shared room; a mistake. For my safety, I must not sleep with (any) Indians. I recall various news articles of misbehaving Indians and pay extra for a private room.

central square / majestic Ganges

An evening walk in the city doesn't end well. After a pleasant stroll on a highway above the Ganges, which serves as a local promenade, I get lost in a hospital area, which eventually spits me out into a shopping street. After the calmness of Kathmandu, the intensity of noise, the absolute absence of personal space, and the unrestrained mix of colors overwhelm my senses, accustomed to the mountain standard. I trade the Nepalese moto-taxi, Pathao, for a local Rapido app and escape to my room. The entire ceiling is occupied by a fan forming a small tornado in the room. Everything unsecured floats around. When I turn the fan off, beads of sweat instantly return. I leave it on and fall asleep without even having time to turn off the lights.

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