I have two stalkers. They probably think I’m stalking them. I’ve bumped into them four times now in various locations around India.
I guess this sort of thing happens quite a bit when you’re travelling, as other travellers, even though they’re on their own itineraries, will be visiting the same places too.
“Hello, fellow travellers, how are you?”
I first met Alasdair and Laura in Ajmer, at the bus stand, trying to catch a bus to Pushkar. For any other location, it seemed you walked around the bus stand, reading the destination names on the fronts of the buses, and got on the one you wanted. Some time later it would set off. All very sensible. For Pushkar there was a diffferent system. You waited near the exit of the bus station, in a growing crowd of other people trying to get to Pushkar. When the crowd was big enough, an unmarked bus would pull out of some hidden cranny, stop at the exit, and the man working the samosa stall would shout “Pushkar Pushkar Pushkar!” and the crowd would surge in a furious panic to squeeze onto the bus. The sight of middle-aged Indian women literally elbowing each other in the face and screaming in rage over a disputed seat was quite unseemly. Alasdair and Laura were quite obviously tourists, and as bewildered at the whole thing as me, so I said hello, and we teamed up to improve our chances of wrestling ourselves on the next bus.
“Oh, it’s you again, nice to see you.”
We met again in Pushkar a couple of days later. That wasn’t that surprising, since we’d all been heading there when we’d first met. What was slightly surprising was that it wasn’t in the crowded streets or the main areas of the camel fair that we saw each other. We’d both decided to wander out into the furthest, remotest stretches of the camel herders’ camps, to escape the chaos of the fair, and both ended up in exactly the same spot.
“Haha, what a funny coincidence!”
About a week later I was in Udaipur, with Agnieszka, Arne and Lise, browsing the art shops and street stall one evening, when who should be walking down the street towards me, but Alasdair and Laura. Actually this was the first time we swapped names, since on the previous occasions we hadn’t thought we’d be sharing more than a few moments of small talk. We didn’t think we’d do more than that in Udaipur, either, but it seemed absurd to be together again without knowing names. We compared itineraries but they were different: A & L were heading off to Ahmedabad to explore Gujarat, while I was staying in Udaipur for a few days longer, then going straight down to Bombay. So we wished each other well for future travels and separated.
“OK, this is getting ridiculous now.”
I’d just finished exploring the Ajanta Caves, and was sitting in the visitors’ canteen waiting for my lunch, when Alasdair and Laura walked down the steps and a look of amusement and disbelief crossed all our faces. They’d even been looking at the caves the whole time I had, though we hadn’t spotted each other until now. We had lunch together, then teamed up to find our way back to Aurangabad. At the time I was thinking about Chat Harassment and mulling over the post I wrote on it later. In fact, it was with A & L in the shuttle bus car park at Ajanta that we were approached by the crystal pedlar that I ended up ranting at to make him go away. After that, we were left alone, but we wanted a photo together, so we approached an Indian man who looked like he was just waiting for the bus as well. He took a couple of photos, then talked to us for a bit… then unwrapped his newspaper package to reveal a bunch of crystals and asked us if we’d like to buy any. Argh! Sneak crystal attack!
From Aurangabad, A & L were heading back to Bombay, and south towards Goa and Kerala, and my plans are to continue north and east through Madhya Pradesh towards Varanasi, so it seems unlikely we’ll meet again. But I wouldn’t rule it out. Anyway, this post is basically a shout out to you, so, hi, Alasdair and Laura! How are you getting on?