December 3 – 6, 2012 – After long goodbyes and some guidance from Khushiram through the back streets and onto the main highway to Bhiwani we finally hit the road again. As this was only our second day on the bikes after a long break we were really keen to move on. The route we took was lovely, little traffic, flat roads and beautiful landscape. Along the road we got tea offered many times and just enjoyed a relaxed ride to our next stop at Sunita’s father”s place.
By 4pm we arrived and were welcomed by more of Sunita’s family, as usual with Indian tea, cookies, fresh fruit and other snacks. Indian hospitality at its best! Our stay in Bhiwani was another memorable experience. For dinner and breakfast we went to the village where Mr. Preet Singh was born and lived half of his life. He retired a year ago from government job as joint director which seemed to be a relaxed job as he told us: he would only leave the house by 10am to be back at 1pm for lunch and a rest. At 3pm he went back to the office to do nothing (his own words) and be back at home by 6pm at the latest. His words: “I never did my homework, I always had people to do that for me.”
Most of his family still lives the simple country life in tiny, clean and basic houses. The women dressed me up in an Indian dress (which I got later on as a present) and Johan enjoyed drinking whiskey with Mr Preet Singh, discussed farming and learned some Hindi to help navigating through India. We got great homemade food served – on the bed, since there is no dining or living room.
The whole family begged us to stay a day longer to come back to the village the following day to see something. Indian villages don’t have any outside lighting, it is pitch dark and you cannot see anything as soon as the sun has set. And we again happily accepted their invitation and used the next day to rest and get a better feeling for Indian country life.
On Tuesday we finally left again to reach our next destination Siwani, where we would meet Khushiram’s friend who is a police officer.
Upon arrival in Siwani – a very dusty city not only due to the sand – we called Khushiram’s friend but the mobile phone was switched off. So we thought we just go to the police station and tell our story. Siwani is a relatively small town and far from any beaten touristic track and within no time about 50 children followed us to the police station. We cycled faster and faster but they kept running until we understood that they wanted to show us the way. We felt really bad for making them run so hard :).
We again got tea, cookies and other snacks and the police officer in charge tried to reach our friend’s friend. After a few phone calls they told us we could stay at the police station, they would cook for us and we could just go next door and relax. A few more conversations and wobbling heads later we were told that we couldn’t sleep at the police station but at a rest house. We were quite disappointed because that meant for us we had to pay again. But on the contrary: the rest house seemed to belong to the police and we got our own bedroom with attached bathroom (which would not have been the case at the police station). Perfect again. To show us the place they drove with us in a police car through the town!! Then we had to go back with them, since dinner was served at the police station. As we hadn’t showered yet, we were allowed to use their facilities: outside showers and the most disgusting toilets ever, I spare you the details. We also got our personal servant who wouldn’t let us alone for a second. We had to send him away to be able to take a private shower….
We were just about to undress, when the police officers and a journalist with a few assistants arrived: they wanted to interview us about our trip for the local newspapers. So we stepped out of the so-called bathroom again, cycled forth and back with our half-loaded bikes, gave interviews, exchanged contact details and went off again, to finally wash ourselves, get some rest, have dinner with the police officers, see the family of one of the officers and finally go back to the rest house – in a police car again – to get some sleep. Who would have expected that!
We continued our journey the following day late again, after 10am, with a journalist/police escort out of the city but not without getting another tea at another place. If I had known THEN what would come in the evening, I would have refused the tea, but luckily I am not a fortune-teller. After an easy and uneventful cycling day we stopped early to find a place to pitch our tent.
We found a nice farmer again, who offered us a room on the roof of his house, a little outside corner to wash ourselves and our clothes (the family’s bathroom) and a huge open air toilet (a field with a few bushes used by all villagers as toilets in the houses are very uncommon).
And if you ever happen to be on the countryside in India and see people walking in the fields with a bottle in their hands, they are coming/going from/to the toilet. Getting back from the field, the farmer awaited us in front of his house with warm water to wash our hands. Interesting experience! Later that evening I got a call from the journalist, he desperately wanted me to send the pictures we took. I told him I would do so as soon as possible and we said goodbye. Five minutes later the following SMS comes in:
Look….the moon is calling you!!
See…the stars are shining for you!!
Listen…the mosquito’s are singing to you!!
Hear…my heart says: “Good night”
‘Shit’, I thought, this is going the wrong direction. I showed it to Johan and we had a good laugh about it. Another 10 minutes later the phone beeped again: “I like u so much do u like me if u like me i am coming for u special there.” All right! This was definitely wrong. Johan got slightly irritated and we decided to write a SMS to stop this when the phone rang and ‘he’ was calling again. Johan picked it up and clearly told him off – politely but determined.
Johan had a very bad night with stomach cramps – we had lunch at a street restaurant the day before – and decided to stop early and look for a hotel or guesthouse to give him some rest (again :)) and let him enjoy a ‘normal’ toilet, since kneeling down in the fields is a very hurting task for him due to his knee. The first hotel was fully booked due to a wedding so we headed off to the next one, that looked like a palace, a newly renovated heritage hotel. We knew we couldn’t afford it, but there was a huge garden in front and we thought we can always ask if we can pitch our tent there. While waiting for the hotel manager we were shown around – beautifully decorated rooms with old wall paintings, huge wooden beds with white bed linen, just wonderful. The price was 5,000 INR which is about 72 EUR. Not much, but if you are on a spending trip with no income, every penny counts. We were discussing among ourselves how much we would be willing to pay and I mentioned that even if we would get a 50 % discount, this would still be too much, given we are in India. We have to make up for our excessive two months in Europe! So we finally met the manager and he was so excited to see us on our bikes (he did a bike tour through India years ago with a typical Indian bike) that he just asked how much we could afford and accepted our bid of 1,500 INR (21 EUR). Two lucky chaps again :).