|Home sweet home|
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But there's a few loose ends to tie up before I submerge myself in the beauty of my life in England......
Firstly, what happened at the end of the trip?
The sickness had kicked in, I'd been savaged by bed bugs and treated like scum in the most popular hostel in all of mumbai. So i decided to pack up and move to the slum. Dharavi slum is the biggest in all of Asia, played a crucial role in the book Shantaram, and is home to some of the biggest smiles in the world.
White man staying in the slum. And their was a festival. Two things to drive the crazy juice into every male in town. Everyone wanted to shake my hand and as ever in India a cup of tea needed to be drunk in every house - with 1 million people living in the slum that's a lot of cups of tea. I was almost torn in two by people wanting to show me different things, but I was loving it!!!
|Night in the slums|
I ended up hanging out in the evening with the young men sitting in a makeshift hut -I had the only seat. I was introduced to everyone's nicknames - which all related to their profession. "Bike boy", sold niknaks on his bike, "samosa" sold, you guessed it, Samosa to commuters. Everyone was fluent in English. They wanted to see me dance. And then regretted it. They wanted to hear me sing. Then regretted that too. What can this stupid English guy do?? I smiled.
We all walked back to my house together and sat on the steps chatting. My last night in India and I'm surrounded by the people that made the biggest impact on my trip, the memories that would stay with me as others died, the way of life that would most influence how I lived. I didn't want to go to bed I just wanted to sit there with these wonderful people soaking it up!!
But I had a long journey ahead and long journeys require sleep. So we crawled into our room. No bigger than a cupboard under the stairs where 3 of us would sleep on blankets on the floor. It was roasting hot but I quickly slipped into dream land to the sounds of the slum lulling me softly.
After that it was to the airport... Oh goodness i'd forgotten... I thought this was the end of my journey. It wasn't.
I got there and BA wanted to charge me a lot of money for my bike. I didn't have a lot of money. I changed up every last piece of currency I had, withdrew my last penny and didn't have enough. The boss lady said I'd had to leave my bike. I explained my journey and story to her with a tear rolling down my cheek. She said "You'll have to leave your bike". I couldn't believe it - I was heart broken. I said, "I've spent every last penny I own to raise money for people in your country". No effect.
The last contact I have with the amazing Indian people was going to be a bad one. It felt like I'd chased the icecream van all the way through town to finally catch up with it and to be knocked over by a speeding truck as I crossed the road.
The gate was closing..... Then the guy behind the desk started checking my bags in. I said, "No, no you can't check me in I haven't paid..."
With a face full of passion and love but a sterness that said don't argue, he looked up at me and said, "I'm paying".