Throughout the months we were in India, 'mine' and 'personal, private space' were things we experienced as almost non-existent: Beds and bedrooms were communal spaces, countless selfless acts of kindness towards strangers, an all-round sharing of food… You could be on a bus, train or auto-rickshaw that magnificently redefined the definition of 'full' - people pummelling their aunties and their suitcases into any last inch of air-space - definitely no chance of getting a seat/perch... But within a few seconds and shuffles, a slither of space appears with a hand tapping it and a head nodding in its direction.

Some things we learned the 'hard' way. At Nature Care Village, Angus and I were sat outside our room watching the birds, when Angus went inside to do a poo. The bathroom was immediately to the right, as you went in through the door, partitioned off by a thin room-dividing type wall that had a good metre gap between it and the ceiling. A few minutes after he'd disappeared, a 'VIP' appeared from nowhere, being given a tour. Straight into our room they went, without warning or knock or comment to me as they passed. I thought, 'Should I say he's in there taking a shit!?', I could picture Angus settling down, all relaxed, to suddenly hear strange voices in the room the other side of the bamboo door, and thinking, 'Should I tell them I'm in here taking a shit?'. Instead he decided he'd left it too late to say anything and just to 'keep quiet', hoping one wouldn't plop and that the bathroom wasn't going to be included in the tour.

We met a 'VIP' with a bag of fruit and a bottle of Smirnoff who couldn't look either of us in the eye. He introduced himself as from a 'high-caste' family, ensuring we understood exactly what he meant by 'high'. He caused huge upset of ambience when he called Khayam the 'servant' and left him out of the drinking party. We declined 'VIP's offer to get into his car at midnight, with him in full cricket-gear + bat, to drive into the jungle and find a leopard. Wealth and power, more often than not, coming hand in hand with being a general arse-hole, even in India. 

Introducing myself as 'Holly', 'What, like the festival?!'...
So when Holi Festival arrived, it was all, 'Spending Holi with Holly!!!' from Raju and Khayam.
'Happy Holi Happy Holly!!!'

Nature Care Village

Train station platforms are a mounded blanket pile obstacle course; Little children wriggle out like Roos emerging from their mum's pouches, leaving a gap into a warm blanket pile of humans sleeping on humans.
We were 3 hours into a 5 hour wait at Moradabar for our train to Rishikesh. I still had the shits after 10 days and couldn't stop my nose from streaming. We were rapidly running out of any sort of tissue and a 'female' toilet was apparently nowhere to be found. An old man dressed smartly all in white with a black waistcoat and sharp eyes walked over and greeted us with quiet 'namaste' smiles. Ram Babu Kumar was his name. He said, 'I could sense that you were feeling unwell and became anxious to talk to you…' He checked that we had medicines and gave us a long, kind, look in the eyes. With more 'namaste' smiles he disappeared down the platform. Later that evening whatever illness it was that had been stewing around in my body evolved into a week long monster.

We met Mr Raju, a tall man in a tracksuit and a turban with a thick, combed, black beard, at the junction somewhere roughly 25km outside Rishikesh. He gestured with one slow, sweeping arm movement that our rickshaw driver should continue down a bumpy track, following him on his moped. Mr Driver was not pleased about this long, pot-holed addition to the journey that threw around his rickshaw and seemed with each corner to have no approaching ending. Constant head-roof / arse-bench crashing. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and by the sound of it neither did Mr Driver. Angus laughing (obviously). I might shit myself or vomit… Mr Raju miles ahead on his moped… We expected Mr Driver to ask for the extra that we'd haggled down on the price. Eventually Mr Raju stopped and so did we, preparing for disgruntled Mr Driver. We pulled up next to Mr Raju and the other tall man (his brother we later found out), with eyes that lit up when they smiled, deep laughter wrinkles and wide grins from behind their thick beards. They spoke just a few words and any bad feeling diffused into laughter, pointing him in the direction of a smoother way back to the main road.

Nature Care Village

'Jugaad (alternatively Juggaar) is a colloquial Hindi-Urdu word that can mean an innovative fix or a simple work-around, used for solutions that bend rules, or a resource that can be used as such, or a person who can solve a complicated issue.'


6. angusfulton / this and that - India 2015