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Travel stories - Indian bus travel

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

"How much rakija (brandy) can we take with us?" "One liter per person." "Only! Well, that won't be enough for us", she turned her head desperately. "You know we're going for 18 days? Have you become Robert Downey Jr" "Okay, okay, I guess that will be enough", she still didn't seem satisfied. "But we certainly won't eat meat there at all. You promise? I've had enough of your diarrhea and travel hospitals." "Yes, yes", I hardly accept another of the previously agreed conditions. "It's not my fault that I have a genetically sensitive stomach," I studied the kitchen tiles in embarrassment. "Maybe your special genetics would work better for you if you didn't have the need to try everything you see in front of you," she once again mocked my hedonistic nature. "And water. There is no way we will drink a single drop that is not bottled. Deal?" "Of course, honey. Well, you know that was never in question." "And you're going to keep your mouth shut in the shower and brush your teeth with bottled water? Do you remember Morocco?", my wife says in a triumphant voice, reminding me of that shameful episode. "I solemnly promise", I finally look her in the eyes as I raise my right hand as if taking an oath in an American courtroom. "Alright. We can go to India," she finally gives us her blessing. Twenty days later, on a bus from Jodhpur to Udaipur. 257 kilometers. Estimated driving time, nine to ten hours. Indian roads. The sun is high and the picturesque scenes of small towns and villages in notexactlyTuscanstyle slowly pass by us. Temperature around 37 degrees Celsius. Hot. People and children in charmingly colored clothes walk outside, smile and wave to us creating a wonderful moments. Inside, the conductor, looking like an average small criminal from the movies, finally calmed down and the people settled down and are relatively relaxed. For a while, we watched adorable interactions between some adults and children where the parents were amazingly gentle and patient creating a wonderful moments again. So nice. We were the only non-Indians on that bus. And that doesn't bother us at all.

The road itself was narrow and the drive was quite slow with constant stops due to road works, and in the vehicle, due to the local air conditioning in the form of 50 wide open windows, it was windy like on the top of a high mountain. We were enjoying another all-Indian moment. And everything was very harmonious until I felt some drops on me. In a second, I'm stressed and alert like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible while he's hanging from some 100-meter skyscraper. Any untested liquid can put us next to the toilet bowl for several days! Where did that come from? What is that? Is it intentional? Someone hates us? Someone despises my bald head? Sky blue eyes? Mia's height? Will I flood immediately? Get blisters on my skin? All of this goes through my head in an instant as I scan predatorily for the people in front and behind us. Where did that come from? Given the hurricane-force winds of 150 knots inside the bus, anything is possible. And the enemy is unknown. I moved away from the window a little and snuggled closer to my beloved. Not at all masculine, but I take comfort in the fact that I somehow protect her as well. Minutes pass. Not a wonderful moment. I'm careful. Minutes pass. Nothing is happening. And no one is suspicious. And nobody seems to notice anything. Suddenly drops on me again! This time I located them. Through the window from outside! How is that possible!? We pass through nature and there is no one outside! By the logic of Sherlock Holmes, I conclude that it must be from someone above and ahead of us.On the bed in those tombs above the tapestry where they are squeezed into spaces one 40 centimeters high. Fuck! I guess the dude is spilling water? Disaster! Almost none of the locals drink purchased bottled water. Fuck! They are adapted to the one from the tap. Disaster! Did I inhale a drop? I think I felt one on my lip! I wipe myself desperately, rubbing myself until it hurts. To the people around me, I probably look like a classic schizophrenic who has rejected his therapy. Mia is upset too. We look at each other and look for wounds on each other. Or the blisters that pop up at monstrous speed on our sensitive European skin. Nothing yet. Suddenly, we both look at the glass a meter in front of us at the same time. There is a kind of dense trace of something spreading towards the open part of the window, that is, towards the inside. I grope this carefully like an Indian on a hunt. It's fresh. And it's not a trace of water, I immediately realize as we watch the head of an old Indian emerge slightly higher and further from that stain. A man sticks his head out the window. And he vomits. And the part ends up on the window again. And part again on the two of us, who manically move away and rub like crazy. Fucking shit! I close the window with Brucellian speed and then I face the potential consequences that the contents of the elderly Indian citizen's stomach could do to us. Have we swallowed a drop? Will we survive until we reach Udaipur? Did I read somewhere instructions on what to do in case someone throws up on us? We look at each other and reach for the rakija

in our backpack with almost a joint movement. We drink cowboy sips as if it were an elixir of eternal youth, not an hard drink from Croatia. After that, behind closed windows, we surrender to the heat and fate. We are in India.




„Koliko rakije smijemo nositi sa sobom?“

„Litru i pol po osobi.“

„Samo! Pa to nam neće biti dovoljno“, očajnički je zavrtjela glavom.

„Znaš da idemo na 18 dana? Postala si Mladen Grdović?“

„Dobro, valjda će biti dosta“, i dalje se nije činila zadovoljna. „Ali svakako tamo uopće nećemo jesti meso. Obećavaš? Već mi je dosta tvojih proljeva i bolnica na putovanjima.“

„Da, da“, teško prihvaćam još jedan od ranije dogovorenih uvjeta. „Nisam ja kriv što imam genetski osjetljiv želudac“, posramljeno dodajem u kuhinjske pločice.

„Možda bi ti ta tvoja specijalna genetika bolje funkcionirala da nemaš potrebu isprobati sve što vidiš ispred sebe“, još jednom se narugala mojoj hedonističkoj naravi. „I voda. Nema šanse da popijemo i jednu kap koja nije flaširana. Dogovoreno?“

„Naravno dušo. Pa znaš da to nikad nije bilo upitno.“

„I imat ćeš zatvorena usta kod tuširanja i prati ćeš zube flaširanom vodom? Sjeti se Maroka?“, već trijumfalnim glasom izgovara moja supruga podsjećajući me na tu sramnu epizodu.

„Svečano obećavam“, napokon ju gledam u oči dok dižem desnu ruku kao da dajem zakletvu u američkoj sudnici.

„U redu. Možemo ići u Indiju“, napokon nam udjeljuje blagoslov.


Dvadeset dana kasnije, u autobusu iz Jodhpura do Udaipura. 257 kilometara. Predviđeno vrijeme vožnje, devet do deset sati. Indijske ceste.


Vani sunce i pitoreskni prizori malenih nebaštoskanskih gradića i sela. Temperatura oko 37 stupnjeva. Ljudi i djeca u šarmantno obojanim odjevnim predmetima promiču pokraj nas. Unutra se kondukter simpatičan poput prosječnog hrvatskog političara napokon smirio i ljudi su se razmjestili te relativno opustili. Gledamo preslatke interakcije između nekih odraslih i djece u kojima su roditelji zadivljujuće nježni i strpljivi. I djeluju jako siromašno. Ne znam ima li to veze. Jedini smo neindijci. I to nam nimalo ne smeta.

Sama cesta je uska i vožnja je poprilično spora sa stalnim zastojima zbog radova na cesti, a u vozilu je zbog klime u obliku 50 širom otvorenih prozora vjetrovito kao na vrhu ozbiljnije planine. Uživamo u još jednom potpuno indijskom trenutku.


I sve je silno harmonično dok nas ne zaliju nekakve kapljice.

U sekundi sam u stresu i oprezan poput Toma Cruisa u Nemogućoj misiji dok se viseći pentra po nekom 100-metarskom neboderu. Svaka neprovjerena tekućina nas može smjestiti uz wc školjku na nekoliko dana! Od kuda je to došlo? Što je to? Je li namjerno? Netko nas mrzi? Netko prezire moj imidž ćelavca? Nebesko plave oči? Mijinu visinu? Hoću li odmah poplaviti? Dobiti plikove po koži? Sve se to u trenu izvrti mojom glavom dok predatorski skeniram po ljudima ispred i iza nas. Od kud je to došlo?

S obzirom na orkanski vjetar od jedno 50 čvorova u unutrašnjosti busa, sve je moguće. I neprijatelj je nepoznat.

Odmaknem se mrvicu od prozora i dodatno se stisnem uz svoju dragu. Nimalo mužjački, ali tješim se da tako nekako štitim i nju. Prolaze minute. Više ne uživam toliko. Oprezan sam. Prolaze minute. Ništa se ne događa. I nitko nije sumnjiv.

I nitko kao da ništa ne primjećuje.


Odjednom opet kapljice po meni! Ovaj put sam ih locirao. Kroz prozor izvana! Kako je to moguće!? Prolazimo kroz prirodu i vani nikoga nema!

Sistemom odbacivanja sherlockovski shvaćam da to mora biti od tipa ispred i iznad nas. Na ležaju u onim grobnicama gore iznad tapiserije gdje su stisnuti u prostore jedno 40 centimetara visine. Da! Valjda frajer prosipa vodu? Katastrofa! Rijetko koji od domaćih pije kupovnu flaširanu vodu. Oni su adaptirani na onu iz pipe. Katastrofa! Jesam li udahnuo koju kap? Čini mi se da sam jednu osjetio na usnici! Očajnički se brišem tarući se do grebanja. Ljudima naokolo vjerojatno izgledam poput klasičnog šizofreničara koji je odbacio svoju terapiju. I Mia je uznemirena. Gledamo se i tražimo rane jedan na drugome. Ili plikove koji monstruoznom brzinom iskaču na našoj osjetljivoj europskoj koži. Još ništa.


Istovremeno oboje pogledamo na staklo metar ispred nas. Tamo je nekakav gusti trag nečega što se širi prema otvorenom dijelu prozora, odnosno prema unutra. Pažljivo ga pipkam poput Indijanca u lovu. Svjež je.

I nije trag od vode, odmah shvaćam dok gledamo glavu starog Indijca kako izvire nešto više i dalje od te mrlje. Čovjek gura glavu kroz prozor. I povraća. I dio završi opet na prozoru. A dio opet po nas dvoje koji se manično odmičemo i trljamo kao poludjeli. Jebeno sranje!

Brucelijevskom brzinom zatvaram prozor i tek tada se suočavam s potencijalnim posljedicama koje bi sadržaj želuca starijeg Indijskog građanina mogao napraviti na nama. Jesmo li koju kap progutali? Hoćemo li preživjeti do Udaipura? Jesam li negdje čitao upute što napraviti u slučaju da netko povraća po nama? Gledamo se i skoro zajedničkom kretnjom posežemo prema rakiji u ruksaku. Ispijamo kaubojske gutljaje kao da se radi o eliksiru vječne mladosti, a ne o travarici iz zagorja.

Iza toga se zatvorenih prozora prepuštamo vrućini i sudbini. U Indiji smo.

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