We took a night train yesterday. Everybody except me thought it would save a night at the hotel. I just hate to be right all the time. The berths that were reserved for us were all occupied. It took two railway employees and one hour to get the squatters out. Was a bit nasty too because the train was packed and they had to huddle, all six of them, on the only two berth they had reserved for real. There was a kid twice my age that couldn’t keep himself from wailing every half hour so I had a only a little bit of sleep. Cranky wasn’t so lucky. When she walked, hem, stormed out of the train, she headed straight to the bus station with the intention on booking a bus home or something. Weirdo said something nasty and they stopped talking to each other. At least she didn’t go book a bus ticket home.
Anna and Anton split with us early because they wanted to cover the 100k to Trivandrum hitchhiking. Weirdo and Cranky were too tired. They went to the bus station, 30 min on foot, only to find plenty of big “no bus to Trivandrum” signs. So they went to the train station, 30 min on foot, only to find out the next train to Trivandrum was in five hours.
So they decided to go hitchhike, still hissing at each other.
The wandering Gods of thumbing shone their merciful light upon them. The hitching was rather smooth. Only short rides, but not too much walking by the roadside. Except when they had to cross a whole town on foot, but that was just the wandering Gods telling us : “I’m preparing a golden ride for you”.
And, lo!, there it came, shimmering with road dust. The golden ride. It had taken the shape of another one of those pedophile-vans. Remember the one in Pondicherry with the two Muslim dudes inside? That kind of van. And there was a muslim dude inside too! What are the odds, amaright?
As it turns out, the South of India was like the headquarters for the mother of all missionary priests : Saint Francis-Xavier. So there are lots of Christians here. And not of the best kind: “Jesus is da Lord” in shinny lettering above the windshield and all. If I’d been to the USA, I’d have déjà-vus. It’s not just Christians though. This is India. There are lots of Hindus too, and they like to placate their multi-armed figure poster everywhere they can. Like it’s a competition. The Muslims are not left behind, we just passed a convoy of bearded dudes on mopeds with green flags yelling some variation of Allahuackbar.
This is like the Balkans of India. Everyone has to be an ass about their religion.
So, our driver is Muslim. Converted Muslim. Is name is Anvar, formerly Alphonse. Weirdo went to sit in the front, and he’s drinking his talk of Jesus being just a prophet and that you can only pray to God directly like from the Holy Grail. He’s drinking the dude’s tea as well. The way he gulps it down, it must be really good. Why won’t they let me have some!
He picked us up less than halfway, and was going all the way to our destination. Ten minutes into the ride, he’s negotiating to overtake a fancy air-conditioned car when Weirdo spots the unmistakable silhouette of Anton’s yucky dread locks on the back seat. A few minutes of inter-vehicle hand-waiving communications later, Anton and Anna had transfered to Anvar’s 3rd class pedovan and we’re riding, all six of us, towards our destination.
And that is what is commonly referred to as a “golden ride”.