Anyone who’s heard my stories of the 24-hour trip from Berlin to London probably doesn’t need to hear any more about my absolute loathing of night buses. But please, indulge me, because last night’s 10-hour nightmare of a trip down here to the pretty little seaside town of Diu takes the proverbial biscuit. Imagine: unsealed roads, Bollywood music blasting at high volume the whole way, uncomfortable seats, and to top it all off, a quite horrendous torture scene from the book I’m reading (Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which despite said scene, is highly recommended) playing itself out in my mind every time I closed my eyes.
So, not a wink of sleep all night, and the same trip to look forward to on the way back. Joy. Perhaps not quite in the league of Rod and Kate’s 60-hour odyssey on night buses in China, but surely in the top 10 Shit Bus Journeys Of Our Time.
Still, despite all this, I’m glad we came here. Diu is a lovely little town – as quiet and peaceful as anywhere we’ve been thus far, more like an island town in Greece than anything, although the cavalcade of cows, goats, boars, and grinning children provide a constant reminder that we’re still in India. The beach is apparently beautiful – didn’t get there today, as I spent most of the day sleeping, but we’ll hit it tomorrow.
In the meantime, we got the full rock-star treatment at a local restaurant, with a constant stream of children coming up wanting photos with us. I feel like quite the celeb. Fun in small doses, although I’m starting to understand why being constantly stared at and photographed might well have limited appeal. Quite why we were the ones that everyone wanted photos with was unclear – perhaps we smell better than the dreadlocked Byron Bay “Oh man I went to India and the trance scene was, like, so great” hippie types who seem to make up most of Diu’s expat population.
The other notable event of the day was watching a bunch of locals at work on a boat. Not a little fishing bathtub – a proper, 12-foot, boat. It was fascinating to watch – they were building it in the same way that you see people building boats in old photos and books, carefully hammering in every timber, sanding down, etc etc. We watched for a while, and as we walked back, a couple of cows locked horns, a peacock wandered past, four wild boar foraged in a heap of rubbish, and no-one took any notice at all. And it struck me – this is what I like about India. Things just happen. It’s a place where things haven’t yet been corporatised and rationalised and automated and sanitised to the extent that all the life is sucked from them.
This is undoubtedly hopelessly romantic, and you take the good with the bad (such as the bloody night bus)… but I really, really like it here. So far, anyway. Now hopefully the beach has some decent waves…