Photography Travels

The Hampi effect

Internet here is good, so you get some pictures this time, but first some text.. enjoy!

Hampi makes me sleepy. It might be the weather, it might be the strange light, or it might be just Hampi, but ever since we stepped out of the bus two days ago I’ve felt like doing nothing at all. We tried to be good tourists and visit some of the many beautiful temples this little town has to offer but after seeing three we gave up and went back to the guesthouse. Roi has the same symptoms. We just want to eat a lot of wonderful Malai Kofta, drink Ginger Lemon Honey tea and hang out in our restaurant with the riverview, talking to interesting people or reading. I like Hampi, it’s nice, but tonight it’s time to hop on the bus back to Goa and I’m looking forward to visiting the El Shaddai kids again and getting some more sun.

It’s the last days of my trip and India has done its impression on me which I still need to process and try to understand.

Naturally, there are things about India that would make anybody paranoid. It’s very dirty around here, and believe me when I say dirty, in some cities you need to shower for a long time to get that black layer of dirt off your skin. The cooking conditions look terrifying before you get used to the sight, and Delhi-belly, as travellers call it, seems to be a must for anybody – at least the 24hour quickie I got which apparently was nothing compared to the insane sickness some people have to survive.

However, after being really sick you feel a little stronger, a little more resistant, and a little more local. India sparks a lot of paranoia methods in the beginning such as over consumption of alcohol for the hands, brushing the teeth in bottled water only and never ingesting anything that isn’t steaming hot. It’s reasonable and I am guessing it’s the only right thing to do if one as a fragile little westerner wants to survive the first bacteria dominated weeks around here. For me personally, I take it easy in the beginning, after a while however, after feeling a bit more resistant and confident, I always lose my paranoia and start living it the local way.

Some travellers call it insanity to brush the teeth in tap water, and I guess I wouldn’t do it in places such as Varanasi or in the beginning of my trip. As long as I don’t drink it I have come to the conclusion that it most probably won’t kill me.  I have spent this day sleeping, reading Lolita and thinking about other ways I have started copying the locals in – this is what Hampi does to me and these are my conclusions:

Petting the cows is maybe one of the most enjoyable thing about India. They are dirty and at times a bit aggressive, but oh so sweet and calm and funny when they start acting like little dogs when you scratch their forehead. I love the cows around here, they make a big part of the atmosphere.

Another thing is the head-wobble. It means “it’s okay” or basically anything you want it to mean and goes either just as a twitch to one side, or like a flowing indefinable motion such as that of those ugly plastic bulldogs some put in their cars.

Eating just about anything. The food is amazing and the absolutely most amazing food you can find is in the places that look most dirty and rat infested and horribly dangerous to eat in. The street food is both cheap and good and oh-so perfectly spicy. I could eat all day, every day and everywhere around here. And I kind of do.

Is possible, yes? The use of English is quite specific in India. You always find somebody who speaks it and it’s actually one of the absolutely easiest countries I have travelled in, in terms of being able to get around languagewise. The English however is at times their own little creation and it’s a really funny and simple version of the English we know. The word possible is very useful for any time and substitutes everything from “could I please get” to “do you have” and “is it allowed to”. “Possible sit here?” “Water no possible” Another funny one is “side please” which is when they simply want you to move out of their way.

Bargaining for 10 cents. It’s a matter of principle for me to get the right price around here. Some travellers find it stupid to bargain over sums that for them means nothing but for the locals mean a lot. I bargain most of the times as I see it as a part of India and the life here, and the ones I bargain with also seem to consider it a sport. It’s what you do here, and even if the difference between 50 and 40 rupees actually is less than 20eurocents, I prefer giving the extra ten as a tip afterwards than having them overcharge me as the “stupid tourist” they usually consider me being. Why should I pay 15 rupees for the daily boatride to cross the river here in Hampi when the locals pay 10, and why should I pay 80 rupees for a rickshaw when I know that I am supposed to pay around 30 for that distance. The people here always try to squeeze out that little extra penny from you, either if it’s by trying to give you the wrong change or starting with a price far over the real one when you want to buy something. Some people just pay because they don’t want to hassle, for me those extra five minutes of talking, playing and joking is the most enjoyable moment of setting the right deal.

Understanding the switches. To turn the lights off you need to cross a little Disneyland of switches and plugs and little turning wheels, but there’s mostly a logic to it which I think I have started to understand. haha

Dirt, bugs and death. It’s everywhere and there’s nothing you can do about it but to face it and stop letting it affect you too much..

In a couple of hours we will start moving to Hospit where we will take our overnight bus to Goa. I’m looking forward to the music on my iPod and later the beach. The bus is supposed to take 12 hours. Time is just an illusion, piece of cake.

Take care!


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