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Great monkey bollocks

By on September 13, 2013 in India with No Comments

Sarnath to Kanpur

We awoke to the sound of monks doing martial arts and left Sarnath for Kanour. Not before stopping for more chai, delicious lentils, and sweets, all for 30 rupees ($0.50), served by friendly people who insisted I take a photo of their son, to be posted.
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For some unfathomable reason we came across a highway that was virtually pothole free and smooth as can be, so I ventured behind the wheel again. I say virtually because thanks to actually being able to go more than 11 kilometers an hour I sustained my biggest bruise yet when Rick hit a speed bump going 60 and I was thrown out of my seat, landing full body weight on my arm. My legs are covered in bruises and I’ve drawn blood in places.  Why do they put speed bumps in the middle of a highway? Tell me.
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In addition to needing to drive with the choke out, leaking petrol, and a busted clutch (anyone know that sound? It’s the mechanical equivalent of fingers on a blackboard), our rickshaw has started chirping. I presume it’s not a grasshopper from the last hotel so hopefully it’s not the front tire coming loose.
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We saw quite a few police today, and have done since we started (always on foot, we’ve never seen a police car). They are absolutely charming, and while they look stern they usually smile and wave. There are a lot of signs saying “Police, please stop” but the police are usually hanging out in the shade and no one ever stops. We were a bit nervous today because we’d been told it was sometimes necessary to bribe them and we happened to pull over (i.e. break down) in an area where a bunch were congregating. One by one they walked over, looked at us, and walked away to confer. Eventually the head guy (or maybe the guy who’d drawn the shortest straw) came to talk to us. He was covered in purple paint. He had a purple face, a purple mustache, and purple all over his clothes. I can’t even begin to rationalize that. We thought he was telling us off for parking in a police area, but when he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and offered us one we realized he was inviting us to hang out with them!
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Later down the road it looked like they were handing out traffic tickets to automobiles, and we were pulled over.  The gruff looking officer asked us something, we had no idea what, so Rick just said “Canada!” and he smiled and waved us on.  He obviously knew he’d never see a dime from a Canadian.
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Finding a hotel was very stressful today and half of Kanpur is probably talking about the two mad white people. After nearly taking out a couple on a motorbike and causing a mother and daughter on scooter to lose their shopping, the app lead us to the Bliss Hotel down a dead end street piled with rubbish. Unfortunately there was no Bliss Hotel and thus no bliss was to be had. So, we ended up at the Citi Club Hotel to yet again receive both (much) less and (not much) more than we had expected from our money.
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Before we entered reception a very nice man approached us in the hotel parking lot and asked if we’d mind answering a few questions about our rickshaw.  It turns out he was the local dealer for one of the three rickshaw companies, Bajaj. They were having a party the following night which he warmly invited us to attend.  Apparently the latest Bajaj model is about to be launched, which we were told was much better than ours (uh duh, I could have told you that – a one legged blind horse with syphilis would be better than our piece of junk) . The new model will have two headlights and more legroom. Two headlights? Mon dieu! Would this mean we could see the road when night driving? The man was the rain-man of rickshaws and obviously had a high degree of job satisfaction.  He took photos but unfortunately we weren’t able to attend the launch party as we were leaving the next day.
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We were rather cross, because before checking in we were told there was wifi. When we got to our room and discovered they was not wifi, the ensuing conversation went like this:
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“So you don’t have wifi?”
“Yes sir”
“But you just said there was wifi?”
“Yes sir”
“But now you say there’s not?”
“Yes sir”
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All said with a smile of course.
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People have a strange way of moving their head so that it’s both a shake and a nod at the same time. It’s hard to tell whether this means yes or no but in fact it means “I have no idea what you are talking about but I’m too polite to say so”. I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt and put it down to communication differences but from this we learned a valuable lesson – whenever we think we are being scammed and being asked for money that we shouldn’t have to pay,  we do the head bobble until the engine starts, and drive off.
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Our disappointment at the lack of wifi and overpriced room was partially offset by Rick’s encounter with the local wildlife. And not bugs! He was walking down the stairs pre frustrating-head-bobble-conversation when all of a sudden a huge monkey startled him from behind. The monkey nimbly jumped over the stair rail 9ft to the lobby below and sauntered across the lobby with its huge furry balls swinging left and right and its red butt in the air. He then stopped, turned back to Rick and gave him an insouciant glance, then opened the front door and walked out.
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The desk clerk  was laughing at Rick who asked, incredulously, “does the monkey live here?” – to which he got the yes/no head shake, so we’ll never know.
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I’m jealous! I want to see a monkey with furry balls and a red butt too!

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