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"However in India if you’re traveling it really is best to do it all in one shot and get it over with and I was on a mission."
- Michael Szewczyk

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India

Tripping for the Indian ice cream
by Michael Szewczyk, 31, Toms River, New Jersey, USA
Apr 22, 2000

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How long had I been on the bus? The dirt on my face read like rings in a tree counting away the hours of the long bumpy ride. I was in travel mode and was doing well. I had caught the bus from Udaipur to Ahmedabad late the night before. Four o’clock in the morning rolled around much too soon and the porter was screaming out "Ahmedabad" waking everyone up. My ticket said the journey was to end here but no one seemed to notice. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep and pretended that my ticket was paid for and then I was on route to Rajkot. The guilty feeling for not paying the extra fare drifted away into the morning sunrise and I remembered all the times the bus drivers had dumped me in the middle of nowhere for some reason or another. Now it was my turn for the free ride.

My destination was the tiny Island of Diu in southern Gujrat. It had been two years since my last visit and now I was returning. Diu was my Mecca and was my sole reason for returning to India.

We arrived in Rajkot (western Gujrat) in the late morning. This was the fourth time I had been there, I still could think of no reason to break my journey and stay the night, though the grumbling in my stomach was telling me otherwise. That feeling of your body telling you "hey boy you better get some rest somewhere because your throwing all of us out of whack". However in India if you’re traveling it really is best to do it all in one shot and get it over with and I was on a mission.

I was in luck in Rajkot, there was a direct line to Diu leaving in three hours, not too bad of a wait to be in the middle in nowhere. Rajkot is a typical Indian town that rarely receives any foreign travelers, and you fall prey to the ubiquitous Indian stare, as I call it. The one where every passerby stops and stares you down for at least five minutes checking you out before moving on. You get a lot of "What is your good name?", "What is your country?", etc. Not an unfriendly stare mind you, but just one of curiosity.

The hours sped by either because I was so tired or I just didn’t notice it, or the fact that I had recited my name and country over and over to everyone that tried to make conversation with me. One of the few times where I wish I knew some magic tricks. Finally my bus arrived and I grabbed a stash of peanuts for the journey. This was a public bus, not one of those comfortable tourist buses, but a rickety old windowless-hole-in-the-floor contraptions. Public buses in India are an experience, and anyone who wants to see the real India should do the whole country on these wrecks.

Many small villages and cattle crossings later, I could smell the change in the air and knew I would be arriving soon. The sun was fading over the fields and I knew that my reason for coming back to India again would soon be fulfilled.

We passed by Una, the last dumping ground before Diu, then through the small Muslim town of Delwada, and after a short stretch of road we came to the bridge where on the other side awaited my sole purpose in life. The body aches were become bed sores by now and the peanuts had long since vanished. The grumbling in my stomach was becoming a loud roar and it was screaming out "Feed Me!", "Feed Me!".

So where's the ice cream?

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