Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Foot pegs

Heading towards Semiliguda we stop at Sunabeda for lunch after 3 hours of Church. Those 3 hours are another story which I have no intention of boring you with. M finds a greasy spoon. No problem for me although I say I must have a spoon I’m not eating with my fingers. He negotiates a spoon and we sit. I order, he gets up and says he will return. I hope so, I’ve no idea where we are and India is a big place to be lost in. I eat chilli cheese lumps, dhall, a very oniony and curd salad mix and rice. In the company of a couple of blokes eating very nosily opposite me at the table. Hawking and spitting is going on behind me at the so called wash basin immediately to my rear. M does not return. I eat up and the only problem is that the food is a warm rather than hot. I pay at the counter and stand outside having a fag. Minutes later M turns up. ‘I leave you as I think you may be insulted at the cafe and be angry with me’ he explains. I say ‘no problem I eat where ever there is food’. He goes on to say his friends are ashamed of him for showing me the cafe, white people only eat in big hotels. I reassure him that it really is not a problem but I know he is not comfortable. He then tries to buy a cold drink but the power has been off all day and everything is warm. He decides he doesn’t want a warm drink so leaves it. We get back on the bike and our journey into the unknown continues.

Semiliguda has a huge Sunday Market which stretches for well over a mile on the main road through the town. Giant trucks, thousands of people thronging the road, mobikes, 3 wheel carts, buses, jeeps and other sundry traffic all hooting and everyone playing chicken. Including the inevitable cows who just decide to sit down in the middle of it all. On our way through we followed a couple of trucks. They meet a couple coming the other way with no inches to spare. Despite this M tries to overtake in the non gap at ½ inch an hour, wobbling. We get caught in the middle and a truck actually goes over my rear foot peg. Fortunately he is higher than me so I don’t get caught. We all shout and he stops. M foots it out of the way even though his exit is barred by 2 other bikes also attempting mobile suicide. We all move at the same time and crisis is over. All in a days traffic in India. I’m not looking forward to the return journey.

We visit the mining town, nothing of interest although there are dual carriage ways and roundabouts surrounding the complex and mining housing, but nothing remarkable. We travel back to Semiliguda and the market is still in full swing but M ploughs on as if he is the only bike on the road, pausing, sometimes, when he spots a hump or bump or a pothole. We then divert to a village mid way between Koraput and Semiliguda to visit an orphanage he worked in for 6 months during his social work training in 2006. Sad but at the same time a seemingly good and happy place to be if you are an orphan. Holds nearly 200 kids from 4 to 16, mainly younger. When we arrived there was 100 a side football match going on which only paused for them to say hello to us and to stare self consciously at me. House Mum invited us to tea which I was really grateful for as by now my mouth was dry and my legs aching from the odd pillion position I had been in all day due to a one sided pannier blocking one foot peg. On leaving I put my shoes on and amused them when I sat down on the kerb to do the laces up. Why do trainers have such long laces? Standing up I couldn’t locate the second waist strap of the back pack. Small girl shyly taps me and hands the end to me with a huge beam.

Arriving back in Koraput we pass A’s house and I know in less than 5 minutes I can stretch my legs. No, M spots his best friend J along with a dozen other people coming back from a hill trek. When I express surprise at a 5 km wander being described as a hill trek the guide quickly tells me they didn’t set off until after lunch; so that ’s alright then. They all crowd round very interested in who I am etc. We spend 5 minutes talking plus receive an invite from his friend J to visit him sometime. He calls M his “bloody good friend” which everyone thinks is funny. Arriving back M won’t come in for tea (what a relief) and I rush inside to get the washing in. And don’t laugh, my washing is important. You are up to date on the intrepid adventures of Mister Mike.

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