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Imli-ji in Madhya Pradesh - Part 2

 What a contrast between over busy Gwalior fort and the completely empty Orchha fort we visited the next day! With beautiful surroundings!! Full of flashy greenery due to the great monsoon we have been having this year! 

On the following Sunday we visited the Maheshwar fort and the ghats, both crawling with people. Which meant we had to pose on a hundred of pictures (see my previous post regarding this). So I learnt a lesson: if I travel in India and have to visit a touristy place on a Sunday or a bank holiday I should think of either going there very early or get a massage in the hotel… 


I had been told about Mandu (2 hours from Maheshwar) and was really looking forward to seeing it. And it was really nice! There is a lot to see, a lot of history and a lot of greenery as well. 


But Maheswar was the highlight of the trip. A place with an amazing vibe! And the hotel in the fort (Ahilya Fort) just added to the surprise: a friendly staff (even if they are really anti-Indian tourists (themselves being Indian)), a nice pool, a vegetable garden, hardly anybody, unlimited booze. Wow!!  


hey even arranged for the driver to kill a baby goat (by driving twice on it), escape, get chased by the bakri wallah (goat keeper) who had traded his bull cart for a bike (kinda faster), be part of village fight with guys surrounding the car, reach the police station, pay off the bakri walla (1500 rupees) and the police walla (1000 rupees) to avoid a report, meet the MLA (some local political eminence) who saved the driver’s ass (so that he didn’t have to call the hotel for help and lose his job).


india,madhya pradesh,road,maheshwar,mandu,ahilya fort


IndianSamourai in the Americas!

 In my opinion, there are two types of travelers: the backpackers and the suitcasers. In this category the Indians suitcaser distinguishes himself...

And this is what seven years in India did to me: a backpacker transformed into a suitcaser... And one that is a bit scared to travel out of India that too! 


The suitcaser like the order offered by the suitcase: one side for the winter stuff for Chile and the other side for the summer clothes for New York. Easy to pack! 


The suitcaser, especially the Indian suitcaser (but in fact it is a pleonasm since the vast majority of Indians are suitcasers by nature), naively believes that everywhere he will go and where his suitcase won't be able to roll, there will be someone to carry it for him. The suitcaser must then bite his lip and proudly refuse the help of his friends when there is no help to go down (and up) the Chilean metro stairs. Chile dammit!

The suitcaser thinks very selfishly that if development means he has to break his back with his luggage he wishes India doesn’t develop too fast... And he gets an idea of business: picking up unemployed people spending their days in the gym (it must exist no?) and let them grow their muscles by carrying suitcases!

In the United States the Indian suitcaser has anyways decided to take no trouble carrying around his suitcase: let's inject money in the economy and help taxi drivers make a living! You are a suitcaser or you are not... 


If the packing according to the division of the suitcase denotes a sense of planning, the Indian suitcaser has actually none. India has taught him that: it is useless to plan anything since there is always something unexpected that is going to happen and change everything; and now he loves this! And this is yet another illustration of the Indian paradox: it is impossible to plan a week-end more than twenty-four hours before but the whole life is pretty much planned at birth (at this age you will get your first job, at this age you will earn that much, at this age you will get married, at this age you will have your first kid etc.).

But let's get back to our business. To properly pack a suitcase, a "normal" suitcaser would start by checking the weather... Except that you never need to in India! Especially in Mumbai where it is nice and warm eight months of the year and rain and warm the rest... The suitcaser thus hallucinates when his Danish friends check the weather three times per day... And dress accordingly to the forecasts! At the cost of freezing their asses in shorts early morning because the smartphone said it would be sunny sometime in the day! Ah those Danes! 


But there is more! The Indian suitcaser falls from the sky when he gets an email two weeks before departure to rent a car upon arrival. We'll see when we get there won’t we? And I am not telling you his reaction when he receives an email to rent a car to go shopping during the last week of the holiday. He sincerely believes it is a joke... 


The Indian suitcaser takes things to another level altogether as far as his non-planification skills are concerned by making others change their plans at the last minute. If you leave him alone too long with a bottle of pisco (Chilean alcohol) and local people who talk about penguins, it is likely that you will end up spending an hour on the phone with the local airline and pay a bomb to change airline tickets for him to... go see the pengouins!! Consequently you will also have to spend two hours on a boat and then drive for another two hour in Tierra del Fuego to stare for half an hour at ten King Penguins (the only lazy bums who (luckily for us) have not gone fishing with the others)! 

IndianSamourai,backpacker,suitcaser,Chile,New York,pengouins

 The suitcaser takes a first slap when, after three flights of nine hours, two flights of two hours, a four-hour car ride (eventually rented upon arrival), nine and a half hours of jetlag, thirty degrees less, a complete gap between the Mumbai hustle bustle and the Patagonia emptiness, his Danish friends take (drag) him for a trekking.They are not the least scared at the idea of slogging on snow, rocks and ice! No water? We will drink from the streams! It doesn’t matter if we have no bottle to carry the water in-between streams... 

No food (lunch had been gleefully zapped)? No problem, the Danish backpacker always has a bland and ugly cracker to satiate himself... A cracker for the love of God! This is the first time that the Indian suitcaser is so happy to be working for a company that manufactures chocolate bars, some of which have been unexpectedly dropped in the office in his last day! The Indian suitcaser, who usually doesn’t eat them, is also very happy to have picked some up keeping in mind the airplane food. He was saved from starvation! 


The suitcaser takes a second slap the aftermath of the first trekking which was followed by a nine-hour trek. Which he ended by night, half-dead from fatigue, hunger, thirst, cold, one knee gone and a big toe turned blue, and feeling lower than the ground: he doesn’t understand how his Danish friends are still galloping around like goats. He thinks that his lifestyle in Mumbai must really be bad... (well bad no but unhealthy certainly!)... It is a fact that he doesn’t cycle every day to the office and he doesn’t feed on crackers... As a matter of fact he spends most of the day his ass on a chair (office chair, car chair) – and his (irregular) sessions of yoga at the office seem really pale next to the daily workouts at the gym of his friends –and regularly gulps down butter chicken and happy hours three times per week... Then inevitably he suffers when he has to climb miradors... The Indian suitcaser takes good resolutions he knows that he will not follow... 

IndianSamourai,backpacker,suitcaser,Chile,New York,pengouins

 On the other hand the Indian suitcaser is completely at ease in New York, especially during the heat wave. He sweats, there is noise, traffic and fellow Indians – he is happy to use his broken Hindi with taxi drivers! 

He hallucinates a little when he goes shopping. We are far from the ten brand of clothes imported in India or the two SLR cameras available... 


In New York, the Indian suitcaser’s feet hurt very bad. Ah! Feet are made for walking? He rediscovers sidewalks... 


The Indian suitcaser in New York wonders if he actually doesn’t come from Saudi Arabia: it seems to him that all the girls are walking around half-naked. What is the morals brigade doing?! Especially at the Jay-Z concert... Huge fake boops completely uncovered except for the nipples and asses uncovered by tiny shorts (which also fail to cover, quite often, cellulite). 

IndianSamourai,backpacker,suitcaser,Chile,New York,pengouins

 The Indian suitcaser has spent an excellent holiday at the other end of his world! It couldn’t have been more disorientating... With the deserted pampa of South Chile, asados, the classy wedding of his very close friend in Santiago, pisco, walks in New York, the beers on the Hudson river, and especially his Erasmus friends of eight years ago... It's okay if some of them are planning freak Danish backpackers : the Chilean and American suitcasers who do everything last minute make up for it! 

And so what if in the end he had to say goodbye to his suitcase of... Indian quality!


We all have days like that...

This morning my rickshaw driver had no change he had to give me back 20 on 50 rupees. He forced me to ask some watchman. Who didn’t have the change.  

Then he wanted to force me to go and ask the cigarettes walla. I told him “No. YOU go.” (firstly I am shy and secondly it is his fault if he doesn’t have the change – which is actually debatable but not when they have attitude like this one!).  

So he refused to go. And with such an air... I would have slapped him... 


So I went up to the office and started working. It took him about fifteen minutes to realise that I was not going to back down! Whereupon he sent to watchman up to seek his due! 



A few hours later, I was discussing the “development” of one of my guys. Here is the conclusion of the session: 

-         Me: So we put that you are going to read a book about a great leader. Do you have any name in mind? 

-         Him: Yes! Hitler. 

-         Me (distracted): Ok, ok.  

-         Me: Give me the title, I'll put it in your sheet.

-         Him: Hitler 

-         Me: Whaaaaaat??  

-         Him: Yeah he was a great leader! 

-         Me: True. But he also got millions of people killed... Okay, Let's put that you're going to read a book about a great business leader ok?