While trying to find a guesthouse in Bangalore, I came across not one, not two, but three dead rodents…within the span of half an hour.
Let me backtrack.
After spending three marvelous days in the experimental town of Auroville, I decided it was time to move on. I set my sights on Bangalore, capital of the state Karnataka. The idea was to head back to Pondicherry (a very busy city), then catch the overnight train to Bangalore. Unfortunately, I had some trouble booking a train at night, and ended up having to stay an extra night in Pondicherry. The next day, I booked my very first overnight train in India.
For those of you who don’t know, India has a world-famous railway system. It’s efficient, comfortable, and inexpensive. One of the things I was most excited for about the country was to ride its trains. I purchased the cheapest kind of ticket (sleeper class) for my destination, and boarded what was to be a very uneventful ride. The trip took ten hours, and I must say: I definitely prefer the trains to the buses! Not once during the trip did I assume we were going to crash. The traffic in India is ridiculously congested, so road travel can be something of a frightening experience.
I arrived in Bangalore at five in the morning, and began walking. Unfortunately, I don’t sleep very well while being transported, so I wanted desperately to find a guest house. While hiking through a neighborhood, it became apparent to me that guesthouses wouldn't open for another hour or two. I decided to set my bag and guitar down, and chose a street corner to sit down on.
It was then that I saw the first rat, lying dead on the ground.
OK, so no big deal; I've seen plenty of dead animals before. I thought nothing of it, and watched the sun rise. Across the street was a stray cow, poking her nose in a pile of garbage. I amused myself for a few minutes, until the cow realized nothing of value was to be found in the heap. She trotted away, and my eyes snapped back to the morning light.
Suddenly, a crow flew by, a rat trapped in his beak.
I must admit, it gave me a little shock. I hadn't been expecting a bird to fly right by my face, let alone one brandishing a rodent. With a chuckle, I leapt to my feet. It was prime time to find a guesthouse.
I had walked only a few meters when I saw it: the third dead rat.
What I got out of that morning, has very little to do with the deceased animals. Rather, the scenario caused me to reflect fondly about the country I was in. In India, you can never be sure what you will see. In a couple of hours, the street I was on would surely be bustling with crazy sights and sounds. The precious half-hour that I sat there was the “calm before the storm.” The “calm” involved a cow poking through trash, and three dead rats.
God, I love this country.
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write movies and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.