Jan
31
2013

Punjab

On the train to Amristar we met a girl called Hayley who had been travelling across India like ourselves. We ended up staying in the same cabin so we quickly got talking and all became friends. Amristar is a fairly small place compared to some other cities we have been to but is home to the Golden Temple, the Sikhs prise place of worship. Having been to a Sikh temple in Delhi with our driver, we knew exactly what to do to make us try and fit in. Also my only word in Punjab that I had learnt from our driver Singh was ‘Satshreaca’l which was a bit like Bonjour and used through Punjab as a greeting. I must have impressed a couple of older Sikh guys with my greeting as I was rewarded with a couple of handshakes that turned into hugs.

Abby and Hayley were constantly asked for photos with people’s mums, sisters and daughters which was funny as well. That evening the three of us shared a Tuk Tuk to the Pakistan border (about 20 miles away) to watch the closing ceremony which happens every evening. I have seen the ceremony on the TV before on some Michael Palin travel programme I think and always wanted to go. The ceremony lasts for about 30 minutes and is basically a contest between the Pakistan and Indian border guards about who can hold the longest note down a microphone, who can march the hardest and swing their leg the highest. It was all very good and ends in a guard from each side of the border shaking hands before the gates are closed and locked for the night.

The whole setup was a bit of a joke though as tourists and VIP get the better seats but are constantly shuffled around to try and squeeze more in. We had got ourselves some good seats near the front, but as it started to fill up, some idiot guard decided he wanted me to go to the very back and wouldn’t let me sit with Abby or Hayley. So after shouting some abuse at him for a minute (this guard didn’t have a gun so I thought I could get away with it) it made no difference so off to the very back I went. It was only about a minute later after he had decided to put a bus load of German tourists in between me and where Abby and Hayley were sitting, he signalled to me that it was ok to sit together again. How he expected me to climb over 50 Germans was beyond me so he got a bit more abuse from the back row to which he just left us be. The armed sniper that was standing behind me in his nest didn’t get spared either. After telling him that the guy down the front was stupid and that the Pakistan tourists seem to have a much better view and could swap sides, he decided to shut me up and let me stand in the nest with him. Best view in the house I would say as he needs to see all so he can shoot anyone that crosses the border illegally.

Hayley found a beauty place that looked ok so her and Abby decided to go for a manicure and pedicure while we had time to kill on our last day. This was Abby’s first experience of anything like this as she has never had any nails to do anything with for as long as I have known her. However, coming to Sri Lanka and India has stopped her biting them in case of getting really ill so let’s see if she can keep it up! I don’t think the whole experience was quite what Hayley had expected though (being an expert in it herself) and it turned into a more cringy experience than a pleasant one. I just sat there laughing at the both of them!

We also went to a local mall that had a McDonalds as Abby really wanted the new McSpicy (like a spicy McChicken I suppose) as it has been on all the adverts on TV. While in the mall, Hayley decided she wanted to buy a warm top and a body warmer as she was heading to Nepal as didn’t think she had enough warm clothes. While in the mall some random guy came over to talk to me but I could instantly tell something wasn’t right. He spoke to me for about 3 minutes without taking a breath and only about 10 of those words were English. I had no idea what was going on and there was something about the way he looked and spoke that wasn’t right. He wanted to shake my hand so I allowed it seen as though he was already in my personal space and I thought this might be the way to get rid of him. The handshake went way past the point where it started to feel weird and uncomfortable and I had to use my left hand to prise open his fingers to get my right hand back. He then disappeared into the shop and just stood meters away staring at Abby and Hayley. This didn’t please me much either. We left that shop and went upstairs into a really girly clothes shop and he just followed us around like a bad smell. Hayley shouted at him in front of some staff members who went and got security and he was escorted from the mall. One of the shop guys came over to tell me he had gone and that he was a ‘Crazy guy’ which is what I had suspected. It has been quite cold up in Amristar compared to the temperatures we have gotten used to so we are looking forward to our last Indian train back to Delhi so we can fly to Bangkok. Also I am quite glad at leaving India now as we have been constantly eating carbs in the form lovely Paratha, chapatti and Nahn breads so looking forward to some spicy but fresh Thai food with less carbs!

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