Off the beaten ‘Track’

Earlier this year I visited one of the most incredible, scary and bizarre places on earth. You may have heard of it, it’s a wonderful land called India. Yes, that’s right, India. Snake charmers, Hinduism, busy, dirty, cow worshipping India. I spent one week in India, (Mumbai and Goa) and one week in Sri Lanka (Southwest and Central). It was amazing, to say the least. To describe all that I witnessed over there, I would need a book. But unfortunately I don’t have the time. Rather I would like to sum up some of my favorite experiences and great stories in a few lessons I call, “Lessons I learnt in India and Sri Lanka” (Part 1).

Lesson 1: There are no Road Rules

 

I think most of this story is almost self-explanatory. As unsurprising as it was, the roads over in the subcontinent were hectic, to say the least. Seatbelts were non-compulsory, and helmets could’ve been optional as well. Scooters and motorbikes were popular, and every hour was rush hour. The week before India, we spent 7 days in Sri Lanka. I loved Sri Lanka, and there, we had a driver take us around sightseeing, so I spent a lot of time in the front seat. As unsurprising as it sounds, you can learn a lot about a country, just by travelling around it. You see everything. Not just the stuff they want you to see. Good and bad. We saw a couple of accidents. Understandable, considering the lack of patience that was shown by motorists. It’s funny, twice (one in Sri Lanka, and one in India) our drivers were pulled over by the police. Both times for overtaking on double white lines. In India, it was his first offence in 20 years. Don’t worry, both times we escaped just fine. The cop was given a couple hundred rupee bribe, and all was forgotten.

 

Another mode of transport that was popular, and probably my favourite, was the boats and other various watercrafts that scatter the coast. When Dad and I did some wreck dives off Hikkaduwa we got to see some of the beautiful islands and tropical lifestyle that graces this part of the world.

 

 

 But taxis and boats weren’t our only source of transportation. Apart from the thousands of three wheeled Tuk-Tuks available everywhere at any time, there was a regular bus service to and from most towns. When we travelled south from Hikkaduwa to Galle, we were the only white people on the bus. It featured a very elaborate Buddhist shrine at the front of the bus, complete with flowers and flashing neon lights. I personally thought it was funny when the bus driver was talking on his phone. Mum wasn’t impressed.

 

Nor was she in a relaxed mood when we caught a train south from Margao in India. I was kind of expecting the journey to be similar to what you might see on the internet or on the TV. But what I found was that it was very similar to Melbourne’s train network. It was late. There was standing room only. And it smelt bad. I had the opportunity to hang out the side of the door which was fun, except whenever we went through a tunnel. What made it so horrifying was the deafening screeching, the total darkness and uncertainty it presented. It was like a rollercoaster without all the safety rules. Awesome!

Travelling around the country, and experiencing like the locals was certainly worthwhile and I have some great memories from it.

Keep your eyes peeled. More lessons to come!

Jake “Cobba” Stevens.

Comments

  1. Lord Bogan says:

    I reckon this is a terrific story Jake. It’s great that you get an opportunity to see different countries and cultures at such a young age. Your photographs express the beauty one can find in the most unlikely places. Looking forward to your next installment. Cheers LB/PD

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