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This sucks dogs’ bollocks

By on September 16, 2013 in India with No Comments

Jaipur to middle of nowhere

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Today was far and away Worst Day EVER. We left Jaipur stupidly saying that the last couple of days hadn’t seemed as adventurous. Should’ve known not to tempt fate. I am going to make this post boring and tedious to help share the pain of this boring and tedious day. It was actually boring, tedious, and scary, but I’ll get to that.

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About 11:30a…m the cr$pshaw flat out died on us, in the middle of the blazing heat. Fortunately we were able to push it off the highway to a bus stop (must be code for ‘not-a-bus-stop’ as we never saw one, and trust me, we were there for a lonnnngggg time). Rick spent the first hour cleaning the fuel filter (which was on backwards) and taking apart the carburetor, to no avail. Crap. What to do. 17 helpful but useless guys turn up and one by one tell us our rickshaw is broken. Yeah, really. We think one guy is telling us he’ll go on his motorbike to get help, but after another half an hour we realized we’d interpreted wrong and help was not, in fact, anywhere on its way. Well, there’s a lazy boss man here who’s dropped some women off in a truck and is watching them sweep dirt around the side of the road (like, why?). Maybe he could help. We asked if there was a mechanic nearby. 13 miles east, 70 rupees to take us there. Hmm, ok. What, now it’s 600 rupees to take us there. But you just said 70. Screw you dude. Why dont you get off your skinny ass and help us for free rather than sitting around watching everyone else work. Well, there’s a motorcycle mechanic on the other side of the highway. Oh gee, thanks for not telling us that two hours ago. The unhelpful man finally does something of value and tells an under-age cowherd who’d turned up to watch the hoopla to go get a mechanic. The boy returned with an extremely competent (we thought) motorcycle mechanic and the women cease sweeping and sit around us watching.

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The mechanic pulls apart everything and we immediately spot the problem. Even I, clueless about nearly everything mechanical, could have trouble shot that one. There was a giant hole in the middle of the piston. This apparently is not good. Mechanic calls the other mechanic, the one 13 kilometers away, but no, they don’t have a piston. Why would they? So, the nearest shop with the right parts is in Ajmer, 50ks away, which in Indian time is about 200 miles. After a bunch of discussion, he set off on his motorcycle.

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We settle down for another long wait. The lazy man and curious women finish their obscure task and drive off. We play backgammon. I crush Rick. I paint my nails. The cowherd scratches his head in bewilderement, or maybe he had lice. A girl with a baby shows up. I try to be amusing and blow bubbles from little bottles. Baby emits piercing shrieks. Girl disappears and three men in a road works truck take her place. The men go bananas over the bubbles and the useless yo-yos I’d bought. We take lots of photos, they all want to be seen shaking hands with Rick, and we are all best friends. After a couple of hours they tire of us and I breathe a sigh of relief as I’d desperately needed to take a pee. I start to creep round to the back of the bus stop but a truck pulls up with a flat tire. Crap. It takes them an hour to change. Phew! Ah crap, the cowherd is back. Cowherd disappears for a second. I seize the moment, race around behind the bus stop, fall down a small bank in the so doing, stub my toe, get dirt in my fresh nailpolish, but ahhh sweet release. Oh crap, I hadn’t noticed those two passer-bys staring at me like who-the-fk-is-this-weirdo?

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Finally, 3.5 hours later the mechanic shows up with a shiny new piston. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. Prior to this stage, while our minds had gone soft and numb from boredom, we weren’t that nervous, like what’s he going to do, steal our broken piston? He quickly installs the new piston and rings, and we get it started – but Rick is a bit nervous because he thinks in his haste, the mechanic may have missed a part. He then jumps in the rickshaw loaded with all our stuff, money and passports included, refuses to let Rick drive with him, and takes off. Oh crap – now wtf do we do? Both of us pretending to act casual and both of us knowing neither of us is casual. After about 15 min Rick starts down the road after him? Just then he returns and our hearts start beating again. You know how frigging long 15 minutes is when you’ve been sitting in the sun for 5 hours and someone you don’t know has just vanished with everything you have. You start getting paranoid about the entire world, all the nice people you meet, you forget them, everyone looks like a scam artist, every whisper you swear is a plot to kidnap you and take all your money. Been there?

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But all good, rickshaw works, hugs and handshakes all round, to mechanic, his slimy friend that had turned up, and the cowherd. 3,000 rupees later We are back to being fierce adventurers.

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But what? You thought that was it? 5ks on the engine starts making the most awful screeching, clanking, grating sound, and stops. Only this time there’s no bus-stop, no shoulder, and a great big wall dividing us from getting off the road. Now instead of dodging and weaving, we are being dodged and weaved and honked at and yelled at, and the nearest ‘off-ramp’ (i.e. piece of dirt that lets you get off the freeway) is a half kilometer away, with poor Rick pushing like there’s no tomorrow, and me trying not to hit the wall or swerve into traffic from either direction. But we make it. We both have mini-heart attacks. We are swarmed by unhelpful helpful people. Everyone knows a mechanic but no, no one is a mechanic. Okay, where’s the mechanic then? Just around the corner. We push to the corner. On the way we have our first accident. Pushing, engine not even running, oh that’s right, it doesn’t run, we sideswipe the bumper of an SUV. Rick makes a half hearted attempt to fix whatever it was we’d knocked off. Where’s the mechanic then? Oh, not that corner, the corner 5 kilometers away.

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By now we are starting to get a bit freaked out, as there’s nowhere to stay that doesn’t look like something out of the movie Hostel and no one speaks English and we’re in the middle of god knows where. I ask someone to write down where we are but turns out I can’t read Hindi. Finally! A teenager that can write the name of the town in English. Something like blahblabblalabab. Rick starts pulling the engine apart again to see if the mechanic had indeed forgotten something, But hark! Word has got out. The original bike mechanic appears like Jesus in that picture where he’s floating down from heaven in all that golden light. Or is he floating up? Anyway, you get the gist. My faith in humanity is restored. He tinkers around doing f-all but the machine starts again, suspiciously though, with a jump start. We’re off!!

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Happy daaayyyyz yeah nah. Another few kilometers and splut, splut, grind, clank, we die. Will this frigging day not end?

I jump off the rickshaw as it slows, holding on with one hand, pushing as fast as I can, looking behind me jumping out the way as trucks thunder by.

Yay, started again.

1 kilometer later engine dies.

I push.

500 meters, engine dies.

I push, the road is starting to incline.

200 meters, engine dies.

I push, no more puff in me, we decide that at this rate we’ll reach Jaisalmer in 2016.

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We catch a break in that there is a large shoulder to pull off in and no one around. Breathe a sigh of relief before realizing now we’re totally up sh$t creek. The cell phone battery is dying. No one in the world can help us. We call the hotel we’d planned to stay in and try and explain we’re driving a rickshaw that has died. We need a tow. Very difficult trying to explain the word tow. But helpful hotel clerk makes a few calls. Calls us back. No one will tow a rickshaw. What? No one ever? No, no one ever mam. Would you like a taxi?

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We don’t want to be separated from our rickshaw, but what else can we do? Okay, can you call a taxi for us please? No, I can call and tell them you’ll be calling. That makes no sense but we’re out of options. We call the taxi, I struggle to explain where we are “some number of unknown kilometers west of blahblabblalabab. You can’t miss us, we have a New Canada flag flying. We’re the two looking sorry for ourselves”.

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Okay, 45 minutes.

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But brain child Justine, even a resplendent New Canada flag can’t be seen in the middle of the night, and as 45 minutes means an hour and a a half we’re sitting here in the dark, a thunderstorm has started, lightening is flashing everywhere, we’re getting soaking wet, cell phone battery in the red zone, no idea how to tell the cab drivers how to find us, wondering how long our hazard lights have before they die, doubled over in pain from unknown ailment. Everything looks sinister. Want to burst into tears but holding it together, just. This is scary and M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E.

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