Asia | India | Tamil Nadu | Madurai – Its not paranoia… everyone’s really after something
Decided to start the day with a whole new positive attitude. Actually had a decent conversation with someone the night before that did not involve the usual questions: Where from? Student? Married? How old? etc.. Nope this guy used to live in Kenya so we had a nice chat about that which put me in a better frame of mind which lasted all of 2 hours. That is until my sleeper carriage was filled by these dodgy looking guys who spread themselves everywhere then proceeded to put up there beds and put out the light, all by 8pm. You have got to be kidding, I thought, then to cap it all off, the one above me began to snore like I’ve never heard anyone snore before. It was awful.
Thankfully the berths next door were still vacant so I shifted there to try and get some sleep until the occupants boarded. then it was back to square one. Ugh!!!
Decided to practice my assertiveness and woke him up, though its hard to get across to someone that they’re snoring like a foghorn when you don’t speak each other’s language. 1 minutes later the snoring began again, so off I popped, a quick poke in the ribs, cruel I know, and he was awake again. I muttered something and thankfully managed to fall asleep before he started up again. Though, as soon as the train stopped at a station I woke up, and he didn’t and we were back. Forget it, just resign myself to a sleepless night.
Train rolled into Madurai station at 5.30am, so off I popped with all my bags hanging from every appendage and shuffled to the waiting room where I managed to grab a quick shower whilst popping my head out of the stall every 30 second to make sure my backpack was still there.
So, finally feeling human again, set of to see Sri…. Temple before the sun got too hot. Got about 200m down the road before I was accosted, however he looked pretty clean and friendly, so I didnt mind too much, less so as he told me he was a tailor. I needed clothes and fast, the ones I had were practically falling apart, so he said he needed to wait till his brother’s store opened so we went for s/thing to eat and he told me about himself. Surprise, surprise he was from Kerala, which was where he said the rest of his family were. Yeah right!!!
His brother arranged to whip up a few pieces for me in a couple of hours so after we hammered out the price off my self appointed guide, Krishna, took me. This time to visit his father, hmmm.. I thought he was in Kerala? Nope, silly me, just the rest of his family is. Spent the next 1/hr trying not to buy anything they thrust at me, even though I had explained to Krishna that I was on a budget and I’d already bought all that stuff from his “brother”. In one ear……
So then he took me to this emporium where I could get a view of the temple which led to more extrication from potential purchases. then I had to go and see where his sister worked. For crying out loud, does everyone in this country want something from you. Does no one just help you out for the sake of it without expecting something in return?? So far, the answer to that in my experience was a resounding no!!!
Pretty annoyed at this point and now resolved to go nowhere else with him. So we’re at the temple and he says he’ll wait for me, then tries to get me to promise not to get a guide when Im in there, coz they’re just moneygrubbers. Hmm, what like him?
temple was amazing though, the amount of work it must have taken!! Though once I got in the complex decided I was going through temple overload and left after 1/2 hr. Snuck out hoping to avoid Krishna, but when I went to pick up my stuff there he was. This time he was demanding money, as he’d shown me all around and taken his time. I tried to counter with the fact that I knew that he got commission from all the places he’d taken me into, but I gave him 10rs anyway and reinforced my disillusionment with India.
Though little did I know that I wasn’t completely free of him, because his friend was waiting outside for me to take me to the station in his rickshaw. uh, no thanks, think Ill walk. So then he wants to drag me into more shops. at least he was honest though, saying up front that if I just went in he’d get 10rs for bringing me and I didn’t need to buy anything, so I humored him, big mistake coz he expected more, so I legged it, retreating to the safety of the train terminal and heading out of this place as quickly as possible.
Shame really, coz the city itself was really nice, quite small, but bustling in a quiet manner.
Really got to offload some of my stuff, I can barely stand upright with all this weight on my shoulders.
Jumped on the first bus to Kodai, this guy grabbed my bags, and put them on the bus for me, even though I asked him not to as I could do it myself, then demanded 20rs from me. The bus only cost 40rs, and that was a 4 hr+ trip and he wanted 20? Unbelievable!!! Escaping to cooler shores. Hopefully made the right choice going there instead of Munnar. We shall see.