It’s my last night in India, and although I’m ready to be leaving, I definitely hope to be back one day.
I’d mentioned the narrow alleys that I had to navigate through Varanasi…here’s some video of them as I was leaving this morning. Now just imagine the stress of when I arrived after a long day of riding and finding these alleys packed with people, 3 or 4 wide.
About an hour outside of Varanasi, on a really bumpy and rutted road, the ride got a lot rougher and sloppier than it should’ve been…I pulled over, and sure enough, the rear tire was losing air fast. I rode ahead about a hundred meters to a place I could safely pull off the road. It didn’t take much looking to find the culprit…
As I started to unload my bike to get it on the center stand and get my tools unloaded, two kids appeared in the field off the side of the road. I waved, and got back to work. A minute later, I glanced over again and they were 10 meters closer. This happened a couple more times, and by the time I was starting to remove the wheel, they were next to me, looking on. Throughout the whole process, about 30 guys showed up, some appearing from the otherwise empty field, others stopped as they were driving by, completely blocking off one lane of the road.
As I was working, people kept asking if I was a mechanic…I thought my work spoke or itself…it was incredibly slow, and I used “son of a bitch” much more proficiently than my wrench or tire irons.
With my spare tube installed, and a few pictures of the crowd of onlookers, I was on my way.
I’d originally planned to stop tonight in Raxaul, just before the border to Nepal, and despite the setback, I still wanted to get there. The roads were a lot slower and more rough than I was expecting (and I wasn’t expecting much), so the day was pretty long, and I ended it after dark, and exhausted…I wish I still had some scotch from the other night…
At the end of the night, I was on the rooftop, and I heard a van drive by, horn blazing. Just before it passed, the horn started to die, changing from the usually shriek to a much more quiet and muffled buzz…seemed like a fitting moment to leave India on.
Looking back on my month+ here, the thing that I’ll remember and miss the most is the incredible hospitality and genuine friendliness of the people I’ve met here, whether my interaction with them spanned days or minutes.
On the other end of the spectrum, what I won’t miss and the main reason why I’m ready to be leaving, the traffic (and I include excessive horn honking in this category). When I first got here, I found the traffic to be entertaining, but it didn’t take long for that to wear off, to the point where I just accepted and tolerated it. But lately, its really gotten aggravating.
For anyone interested in riding across India, I don’t want to discourage you from doing it, as I’ve had a great time, but just understand that there will be rough days. Also, if you don’t like the idea of your bike getting scratched, bumped in to, or much worse, don’t do it…I can’t imagine getting across India without some light damage at the very least.