Hard to Breathe in the Himalayas
Trip Start Mar 10, 2009
39Trip End Nov 09, 2009
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Where I stayed
In a tent
So birnie and I have made the executive decision to jump all over the place on completing blog entries and I couldn't wait to get my hands on India. I was only there for about 9 days, so I will give you my unadulterated version, and trust me when I say it isn't going to be PG. It's R rated and it is likely to offend more than one person.
But I am very excited to tell my tale, and once my entry is complete, birnie can throw in his two cents. Consider this a warning in advance. This is a true story, and as accurate a depiction as I can give of my "Incredible India" experience.
I will preface it with the statement that I have many friends that are of Indian heritage, and they are some of the most wonderful people I know...........BUT, India is a shithole and I will never go back there
1. Live your life with HIV..........or
2. Live the rest of your life in Delhi.........
We both chose AIDS........hahaha. No joke.
So my brethren from "Incredible India" sorry to offend. I still love you guys, but I won't be making it to any family functions in the homeland.
Secondly, I will also acknowledge that I was only in parts of India, Delhi, the state of Kashmir, and the Mombai airport - so this will not be an accurate portrayal of India as a whole....merely the cross-section that solidified my aforementioned proclamation that HIV is the choice for me!!!
I arrived in India at about 8pm on a thursday night. I knew from the start that this segment of the trip was gonna be full on.....
1. people obeying rules or
2. people respecting your personal space.
Flight attendants were beside themselves trying to control these hooligans heading back to Delhi. They won't sit down during takeoff, won't wear a seatbelt, won't turn off any electronics, won't put the seats or tray tables in the upright position, ringing the call bell must happen at least six times every minute by every passenger and every single one of them had week old masala take-out that made the plane smell like a curry factory mixed with repulsive body odor. Awesome.
This was only the beginning. The plane, looking back, seemed like a tranquil and peaceful place compared to the shithole they call Delhi. Worst city I have ever been in, in my entire life. Dirty as all hell, hot as balls, and full of beggars and thieves. I have never been in a place where every person including their mother worked so hard to try to rip you off. Everyone.......no exceptions.
Well, Mr. Birnie had the pleasure of arriving in Delhi three days before myself. He had gotten himself mixed up with a family we will call......THE DANDOO FAMILY......(their real name to protect their privacy of course) and in his desperate state to try and escape Delhi, had paid them his entire life savings and his first three unborn children to get him the hell out of Delhi and up to Kashmir
In talking with him before I arrived in India, his peeps the Dandoo's, were to arrange a driver to pick me up at Delhi airport and bring me to Alibaba's house to spend the night there. No strings attached, free of charge, f'ing yada yada yada........how f'ing nice of them........this is where it all began......
I was in fact met by a driver at the airport. I got my bags, was supposed to be going to Alibaba Dandoo's private estate to get some much needed R&R and speak to Birnie on the phone. The driver said he just needed to make a quick stop at the travel agency office before we go to Alibaba's castle. It is now 830pm.
We get to the travel agency and the driver told me to take my bags and bring them in the office. Cockroaches everywhere, and about ten indian dudes all jacked up on Hashish. Good times.
I finally get on the phone with birnie and we discuss his negotiated travel plan that he paid way too much cash for.
I decide I will not meet him in Kashmir, and need a few days to decompress in Delhi. After all, I wanted to do laundry, catch up on blogging, get my bearings and figure out what the hell I was going to do in India.
So I just shrugged it off and didn't feel like battling since I was already somewhat uncomfortable, but dipshit just wouldn't let it go.
I finally said, "Why all the sarcasm my brother?" At which time he shook his head at me and went to go toke on some more hashish. I just smirked and gave him the finger. Not to mention every piece of shit that was in the office kept asking me for a tip. A TIP? A friggin' tip for what? I have a tip for ya.......the tip of my boot up your ass and the tip of my.......ok, i'll keep it only R rated...no need to go to NC17 hahaha.
At approximately 11pm, birnie and Alibaba call back with a great new negotiated price of $1200 dollars if I would just come up and meet him, down from the first quoted price of 2 grand. I was exhausted, tired of everyone in this Delhi roach motel, and fairly certain that if i didn't agree to head to Kashmir the next morning, I would never get out of this friggin' office.
So with many, many, many reservations, I said fuck it and agreed to fly from Delhi to Srinagar the following day
Here's where the fun starts. This piece of crap travel office is supposedly buying my ticket to Srinagar for the following day. I sat in this f'ing office, sweating my ass off until 2am. Why........couldn't tell you. At one point I started yelling at one of the dudes to call me a goddamn taxi so I could get the fuck out of there - in which time he responded ask your driver to do it. My f'ing driver had dropped me off at 830pm.....how was he supposed to do it. Long gone.
All these jackasses just chuckled, and I made a decision to go back to the airport and either fly directly to Kathmandu or back to Thailand.
One problem. I had absolutely no money. Next problem. No friggin' ATMs work in India. Next problem, the India brotherhood is so strong that no taxi driver would stop for me, ensuring the scams could continue uninterupted!! So sweet.
Here I was in the middle of the street, soaked in sweat at 2am cuz it was still 47 degree celcius outside (about 116 degrees F....just fyi) and pissed off as a mother f'er
Finally, one of the guys says, ok i will take you to the guesthouse now. I follow this dude on a 20 min. walk through dark alleys, lined with druggies and prostitutes and head into the first place. 230am. They make me sit in this common area for a half hour, at which time, peckerhead GOD BLESS USA dude comes in and says they don't have a room for me. "Guess I'll have to live true India style...." he snorts.
I once again, politely this time, ask them to please just get me a car. They ask where I would like to go, and I respond, to the airport. They all laugh and of course, no car. So now a different guy that was at shithole number one says he knows of a place i can stay.
Down we go back into the streets of beautiful Delhi, the welfare district may I add, as strewn banners all across the streets called out, looking for shithole number two. Well, we found it, and it was everything i had dreamed of. We walk up a fire escape to the fourth floor of a rundown project building and climb into the main stairwell, which was locked below, leading to the whole fire escape escapade.
We ring the bell to this one flat, and after no joke, ten minutes of holding the ringer depressed, the most annoying sound in the world mind you.........some fat pig of a prostitute comes to the door in a drug induced coma, wrapped in a see-thru cheese-cloth towel.
She opens the door with one of her big ass fat, disgusting boobs hangin' out, and says, "What!!?" Dickhead number two says that I need to stay with her, and I immediately burst into laughter
I tell dickhead number two that I no longer require his services and begin to walk back down the fire escape. Time for me to do this on my own. Come hell or high water, I'm done with India, and if it takes me walking to the airport, not a problem, I'm out!
Check that........let me rewind for a minute. Before I headed down the fire escape, I asked Jabba the Slut if i could bum a cigarette and she kindly obliged. Not everyone in India is that bad. What can i say, she had a kind heart.
So as I head blindly down the street, now 315am, douchebag number 2 comes running after me telling me to wait. He has miraculously found me a 3 star (in actuality a 1/3rd star) hotel free of charge..........NO SHIT..........free of charge I say. I'm supposed to be staying at Alibaba's pimp crib, at least that's how the Dandoo family describes it, and this moron has pulled some strings to get me into a posh 1/3rd star hotel. Well zippity friggin' doo daa...I am now whistling dixie out of my asshole!!!
Let me break for a minute to apologize again for my turrets syndrome of a blog entry. But god it feels good to get this off my chest hahaha.
So at 330am, we get to place #3
I turn on the air conditioner at which time, the power demand of both a light and air conditioner trip the power to the entire building. I again, burst out laughing as I hear someone walking on the fire escape outside of my window. I open the heavy drapes covering the window only to find the window is wide open and has no lock, and two dudes are out there smoking cigarettes. Did I mention how awesome Delhi is.
I get out my sheet to use as a bed cover and lay down. Now almost 4am by my watch. At 430 am there is a pounding on my door, just as I am dozing off, and jackass number seven from the travel office is here to hand me an electronic printout of my ticket to Srinagar the following morning.
I need to be back at the office at 8am to catch my ride to the airport. So i lay back down and drift off for about two hours. Wake up at 7am, can't shower or even brush my teeth, and walk out of my room to the "lobby" area. They give me two slices of bread, a cup of coffee, Nescafe of course, and I grab my bags to walk back towards where I think is the travel office
Not too shabby for day 1 in "Incredible India"!!!
I head to the airport, and in my mind, I am still heavily weighing the options of getting the fuck out of Dodge. I'm thinking sorry birnie, but you can endure this torture on your own. Unfortunately, my concious got the best of me.....I was miserable, and could only imagine having to go it alone for the next cpl of weeks, so I decided that there was strength in numbers, so I couldn't leave my boy hanging.
I did however have a brilliant revelation at Armpit Airport in Delhi. We don't need Guantanamo Bay as a detainee center for interrogation of suspected terrorists etc... All President Obama needs to do is buy these suspected terrorists a one way ticket to Delhi. Tell them when they are ready to talk, he will get them a one way ticket back out of Delhi. My best guess is they will be singing like canaries in a matter of hours. Now that would be inhumane treatment according to the Geneva convention.
Now to the next "Incredible India" experience. I board the plane which is about an hour and 40 minute flight from Delhi to Srinagar, and quickly remember the zoo flight from the night before. Granted, it has only been 12 hours, but it feels like days since I have been outside of hell.
Every single passenger was in their seats, either quietly sobbing, praying or passed out from their body going into shock. I have never been afraid to fly in my entire life, but one flight from Delhi to Srinagar has wiped away every fond memory I have of flying from the past 34 years of my life.
I now am deathly afraid of flying, which was verified by one Mr. Birnie on our flight back from Hong Kong a few days ago. We hit a brief but rough patch of turbulence and I screamed like a six year old school girl. Everyone on the plane was alarmed by my squeal and Birnie laughed for about ten minutes. But again I digress........
Back to the flight. It was god awful. We did everything that the red baron and blue angels do with their planes and I am not embellishing when I say I really was expecting to die. The plane almost flipped over at one point, and that led the girl next to me to throw up all over herself.
That didn't bother me in the least bit though because I had a death grip on my armrest and tray table and was praying to every god known to man, and even some invented dieties to help soothe my pain.
No joke, I don't know how this plane didn't fall apart and hit the ground at 450mph. I really don't know. It did however scar me indefinitely and unless you were on this flight, words really can't describe it.
Needless to say, no one on the flight said a word. Even after we landed
So I get off the plane, my nerves are shot and I begin the interrogations at Srinagar Air Force Base. Getting in and out of any airport in India involves everything including cavity searches. Unreal.
I am met outside by a driver that has my name scribbled on a ripped piece of paper and I am off to see birnie and the infamous Dandoo family!! Driving through Srinagar was an experience. Men with AK's on every rooftop, car being stopped every five feet for inspection and proof of citizenship.......good times.
After about a half hour drive we arrive at the lake and I board a fantail boat to head over the the house boat birnie is staying at. We have some lunch, grab a shower (which was my last shower for about six or seven days) and I sign away my life savings to the Dandoo estate to begin my trek with birnie.
We headed out for the long car ride to base camp. Yet again, my experiences in India were interesting to say the least
As we barrel through crowds of walking gypsies and muslims, we meet an oncoming car and trade some paint on the pass.
There was some sort of Islamic festival going on in a small village as we drove up into the mountains, which brought thousands of villagers out to crowd this primitive road, so drivng became very sluggish. Well wouldn't you know, as we are stopped waiting for a crowd to disperse so we can continue our treacherous drive, the car that we had traded paint with had somehow turned around and raced after us unbenounced to us.
They caught us and while stopped, the ran up, ripped our driver side door open and ripped the keys out of the ignition. They were pissed. So it's me, birnie, a dude from Iran that speaks no English, our driver, our cook Abdul and Alibaba Dandoo (the mastermind of the Dandoo fortune scam) surrounded by a few angry dudes from the "rubbin is racin" car, and about one thousand muslim and gypsy villagers.
Our driver jumps out of the car, as does Alibaba, and an enormous argument begins. Although the fearless Mr. Birnie finds this all entertaining, my nerves are long gone, and I am expecting nothing less than a public beheading to ensue. After all, we are less than 100Km from Pakistan right now, and christian crackers from the good old US of A aren't necessarily viewed as "good guys" by most of the Muslim world
Now that's not necessarily true, but after the 24 hours I had had, I viewed myself as nothing but a big 'ole target to this angry and curious mob. While all of this continues for about ten minutes, I again ask myself the question, "Why the hell did I come to India??" This place is awful and I begin to believe that I am destined to die in this place.
Eventually, Alibaba threatens to call the Minister of Forestry in Kashmir and have the entire mob arrested, and it works enough for our driver to get the keys back from the rival car members.
We are back on our way, speeding around blind corners with death looming at every turn.
We get to base camp well after dark and begin our hike to where we will camp. It has been one of the worst 24 hour periods of my life, and I can't wait to be alone in my tent.
Please stay tuned........more to come.