Down at the Gateway to India a guy was trying to sell us tickets to all sorts of places. We’re ignoring him until he says “How about safari? Tigers? Lions?”
Oh. Yeah, sounds great. Our original plan had been to see Bengal Tigers outside of Calcutta, but it was seeming like we were likely to run out of time to do that.
So! Safari! Yay!
We’re picked up an hour late, but who’s counting. We head off in our “air conditioned car”. The a/c is more like a dying fan going “puhhhhhhhhhh” with some warm air and the car is more like a truck thingy, not much leg room.. But also OK because it will only take an hour to get there! No problem. SA-FAR-IIIIIII! Whooooooooo.
OK so there’s a festival in town, right? Huge traffic jam. Shiva something or other. The claustrophobia isn’t too bad what with the cars an inch away, spewing diesel fuel fumes. Because the windows are open because the a/c is more like a heater and we’ve turned it off. And it’s getting kinda warm and sticky and no-leg-roomy, but it’s OK! Be there soon. Yeah tigers!!!
…so it’s been well over an hour now. Pretty sure we haven’t even passed the airport. Only took us about half an hour to get from there the other day…
Now it’s been over two hours. Lioooonnnnssss……
Oh. Another traffic jam. Honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk, god.
The driver turns off his car. No one else does. Fumes. Trucks practically touching our car. Smelly…hot…twitchy…Truck driver staring down at me. Horks betel nut juice out his window. Which trickles down the side of his truck. Deep breath. Will not panic.
I think I might die. Jeff looks close. Where are the tiiiiiiigerssssssss??
Phew, got through that. We’re on the highway now. No more honking. Near the airport. Oh. No. No no no no. THE SMELL. Roll up the windows roll up the windows!!!!
OK. Through that. This isn’t fun but we are totally going on a SAFARI. With LIONS and TIGERS. Worth it.
The slums out here are pretty bad. And also the dust, which is kinda choking me. But at least I don’t live here. Just trapped in a car here. Also I have to pee. But we’re nearly there (oh god please).
WE’RE HERE!!!! Sanjay Gandhi National Park. YAY!!! It took us nearly three hours to get here. Can not WAIT to see the tigers and lions – weeeee!
We drive in the park, pee, and get on the bus. The bus is all like reinforced with caged windows and stuff, ’cause I bet all the tigers and lions are like vicious and might try to get in the bus. Rawwwwr.
The driver heads us off down the road, where we go through several “check point” type things. They open one big gate, the bus drives in, they close the first gate behind us, then open the next gate. Very “Jurassic Park”.
Jeff says “Hand me my video camera in case anything comes running out at us”. OK – ready.
Slowly, slowly we drive into the tigers area. Don’t see any yet…Oh! The driver stopped. He is pointing something out! A tiger? Oh my god, where? Where?
There it is!
The Tiger of Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
OK the bus is moving again. More gates. Drive a little farther…
Jeff gives me back the video camera.
…and that will be the end of your tour. Please get off the bus. What? You think we can spend more than 8 minutes driving you around the park?
Well. I think the best part of that was the hysterical laughter. I think it was because we were scared.
Back in the car! Only three more hours to get back to our hotel!
Whew. OK. I’m resting with my back to the window, trying to avoid eye contact with the beggars. All of a sudden there is something just.in.the.corner.of my eye…
Leper with no arms. Sticking his stumps in the window. Like an inch from my face.
leper: please ma’am. handicapped. please ma’am. handicapped.
jeff: (under his breath) you may have a point there.
In addition to having no arms, he has not much of a face. His mouth looks like it is trying to slide off.
It appears he wants Jeff’s pepsi. Jeff tries to hand it to him and the leper says “nooooo….coooke…”
Traffic starts moving, we pull away.
me: screw that anyways! he wants my coke instead of a pepsi? what, he did a taste test and has a preference? ummm, hello? “beggars can’t be choosers”??
jeff: um, I think it was because it’s almost full and the pepsi is nearly empty.
Another traffic jam. Time for some pictures!
Three more hours of mega beggars, indian “lady boys” (NOT pretty), fumes, traffic, honking, honking, honking.
Fuckin’ wicked safari.