Awake well before sun rise, i shift from bed to plastic chair overlooking the pigs, an ancient gnarly tree, mango’s on the cusp of turning ripe, pigs grunting and trotting as the transition from dark to light is aided by cigarettes, vodka and my iPod. Sitting in underwear being something i am fully appreciating as it wont be for much longer. Ten days. Legs perched on a concrete plinth, shimmering in mosquito repellent. I feel below the surface of something, bones and veins running towards the knees, visible below the skin.
Chickens and pigs. Chickens on pigs backs all free trotting. Trees triple my age, gnarled, hanging spiny lengths to the floor, providing a perfect vista as the silence rises with the warm light. Pig tails flapping, wings rising, their equivalent to repellent or just habitual?
The night-light globes finally turn off, another swig as i am almost ready for the day, but somewhere partly drunk. It’s morning. Longing to see, hold, touch those i have missed for so long; a list that could go on for sentences, including a tripod cat. The deep inhalation of the green. One more cigarette.
Five more minutes and i will return to my bed, asleep catching up on the lost but gained hours. Mangos pigs chickens.The sky full of light. One more aid to cancer, one more swig and my final word, sleep.
The sun rose as the train pulled into central station, around the same time as my hangover. Bag on back i disembark to find a quite, dark and rather empty Mumbai – sleeping taxi drivers, people selling cigarettes and combs. Rats. Back to the same guest house i started in last September, but what is the difference?
So many countries, cultures, experiences. So many photographs, disks. Another piece of luggage.; A basket hand-weaved in Burma that i simply could not abandon. Skin several shades darker, ribs an inch higher and cheek bones a little more prominent. I deeper education and new ways of seeing. New friends that i will cherish forever. Miss Smith, Miss Johnson, Mama Zita.
Back in a room on crisp white cotton without power-points. The entrance having been paved and the manager as charming and cute as ever. He greets us with his perfect queens English, clad in his teddy bear pyjamas and Canadian flag t-shirt. Thank you, Your Welcome!
So happy to be back in Mumbai. After everything – all the flights, the trains, the bus’s, the near misses we made it back, thousands and thousands and thousands of miles later, exactly seven months today. I can not wait to eat humus, sip a high quality bloody mary and see a Hindi movie. To walk the familiar streets of this glorious city, after everywhere still one of the best in Asia.
With fourteen days until we hit Mumbai i can already feel the city throwing itself at my face. A visual, cultural, sensory assault, but for now still surrounded by green. Today the sky has returned from wherever it’s been.
Already we have put some things in place to create some focus when traveling. An art work placement with the British Council in Delhi and working alongside Burmese refugees in Thailand with youthconnectthailand.org. This will involve seeing a very different India and experiencing new lands, whilst putting skills into practice in other contexts. I am sure this will juxtapose beach trips and other hilarity as the journey progresses. Sometimes i think, can i really be arsed? Other times I’m excited beyond belief. The only thing to do is take it as it comes, live it as it happens. Like today.
There is something pretty nice about spending time hanging out in a five-star hotel pool/spa and shooting pool ( of the non swimming variety) over a couple of pints of larger. Three days out of the last seven have been spent in the above environments, which i will continue to use until i head to Heathrow. Kicking back and just enjoying some relaxation time with an Albanian man whom i have become very fond of. Spending time somewhere as beautiful as Durham; a city of cobbles and religious peaks is a great place to end this period of time. Durham City and the fields of green eighteen minutes away. When i was teaching i found it hard to relax. Teaching now seems like forever away.
This morning i woke up to a fantastic orange glow filling the room where i currently sleep. A sun rise as bright as fire and a taste of what is to come. In England the winter will creep up, creep up as i will be heading toward the sun. The sun is what i am after.