India: Day 3
Last night pulled into our hotel only 5 minutes ahead of the approaching gust front. After checking into my room the walls pulsated with the ferocity of the storm. A horizontal, blinding rain immediately followed and a few close lighting strikes added to the “The Greatest Show on Earth”. To give you an idea of how powerful the storm was the rain was forced thru the edges of the window frame and air conditioner in my room creating a two foot wide puddle of water. Not able to get to sleep the only thing on the TV I could stomach was a crappy James Bond 007 movie … couldn’t tell you which one.
Apparently getting permits is more time consuming than it appears. As our guides attempt to find a working Xerox machine we are left alone to battle the forces of local shopkeepers who’s only interest in life seems to be getting me to visit their stores. After trying the polite way to say no I then went through my complete vocabulary of American profanity to no avail. Ever hear the expression “beggars can’t be choosers”? I found a beggar that was also a chooser. I actually offered him 45 rupees to just fuck off and he insisted that I fuck off with him and come see his store. With nothing better to do I walked a couple blocks and was rewarded with a store filled with such complete shit that I actually was glad to have seen it. The next time you complain about the quality of K-Mart apparel I invite you to take a quick walk around Desikechar’s House of Clothes That Actually Come Apart in Your Hand as You Examine Them. As his English was not very good I was able to explain in great detail what I thought about his merchandise and what he must think about any foreigner dumb enough to buy anything from him. He smiled and asked for his 45 rupees to fuck off. It was 45 rupees well spent.
Then it was off to the vans again! I fell asleep at one point and when I woke up I was completely disoriented. I actually enjoyed the feeling of not knowing where I was for a few seconds … if possible I would like to recreate that feeling at least once a day from now on. It’s very grounding. It also takes away from the crushing boredom that this amount of driving creates. Then all of a sudden Ramaswamy will identify a location where we need to be to view a storm and the driving becomes a white-knuckle event. 4 vans going 90 miles an hour on a single lane rain-slicked road, passing cars, trucks, tractors and farm animals, is not for the faint of heart. Note to self, don’t eat things that look like beef jerky without knowing that they are in fact beef jerky.
We left Yuksom and traveled north. Our travels were rewarded when we watched the development of a full blown mesocyclone or “SuperCell”. Standing in the flat, grass filled fields just west of Bolpur we had front row seats to one of nature’s greatest spectacles. Lightning strikes in the distance ignited several fast moving grass fires generating thick, gray smoke plumes that were sucked into the massive, black, rotating core of the Supercell directly above. As close to a tornado as we are going to get.
A good day … although time in the van is starting to get a little old and the music sounds like what I imagine the elevator to hell must play.