Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Playa Patna; Return to Delhi

Working backwards

On our second day in Patna, we had the morning free.  I woke up at the crack of dawn, and joined Mark for a walk around the Gandhi Maidan- the large park across from our hotel.  Patna's central green space was filled, even at 6am.  There were people practicing yoga, jogging, walking and playing cricket.  There were also stray dogs, and a family of mohawked pigs munching garbage.  We did a couple of loops amid the morning bustle.  Hard to imagine Central Park being so packed at dawn.

Later, we went with Saadia down to the Ganges.  I purified myself in the semi-polluted Mama Ganga.  We decided to take a boat across the river and wander along the beach on the other side.

After we returned back across the eternal river, we met with some professors and performs at the State of Bihar's cultural facility.  I sat bare-foot and cross-legged as we discussed ways of connecting hip hop and traditional Bihari music and dance.  Ala Yo Yo Ma and Young Buck, I spoke of how we envisioned a breakdancer working to a sitar, or a traditional Bihari dance to a hip hop track.  The musicians smiled favorably and were inclined to work on such innovations.  I think this will be fun.

That night, we joined Saadia for a most wonderful dinner at her father's home with her husband and daughter.  We had an incredible spread of Indian veg delights.

The following day, Mark and I continued the dawn constitutional.  We worked until noon, then he headed out to the airport and back from Patna to Chapel Hill.  I had the day to kill before a scheduled train departure back to Delhi.  There were no spots left for my normal second-class Non-AC train, so I was forced to go up a class to AC.  I was a tad disappointed, but it would be fine.  It was about $40 for AC class, which was about 6 times what I would normally pay for Non AC but I didn't have a choice.

Just one catch, I was on the wait list.  We had paid a ticket agent extra to secure a berth because it was quite busy post-Holi and hard to get a spot.  But I paid an extra 500 rupees because he assured us he could get me a spot.  When I purchased the ticket, I was number 7 on the waitlist, and this was not supposed to be an issue.  In the morning I was up to number 4 on the list, and could reasonably expect a berth when the list of berths was published 2 hours prior.

I spent the afternoon walking around the teeming streets, and sipping chai on the side of the road.  Then about 2 hours before the train ride, it turned out I didn't have a berth.  I was stuck at the number 1 spot on the wait list and couldn't get on the train.

So I quickly scrambled to get a flight to Delhi.  I figured I would have to overnight in Patna and head on the next day but surpringly I was able to find a flight that night for $141 from Patna to Delhi on Air India. It was the same price as a flight the next day.  So I booked it, and let Venkat know I was coming a night early.  He was still down in Chennai, but was able to arrange for a driver to pick me up at the airport and bring me to Venkat's Ashram in Gurgaon. 

And like that, I caught a taxi out of Patna to the airport to return to my former Delhi home.  I slept most of the flight and was a lil dazed as I got to Delhi.  But  I found the driver with my name (Rampal) on a sign, and we sped me to Venkat's Ashram, and back to my Delhi home.

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