India isn't for everyone - Part 2

Salvation at last for Alex! The consulate website was updated this afternoon with the news that his visa renewal application is finally approved. He's now jumping for joy in a state of complete hysteria and has already started researching the earliest possible flights to get the hell out of India. He'll probably find himself back in the US sometime next week. I guess it was fun while it lasted (referring to myself here, not to Alex).
To catch up on the beginnings of Alex's visa woes, click here.
At the very least, we did have a very special time last weekend, the memories of which I'm sure Alex will carry with him the way a soldier will take home their PTSD.

That weekend, we attended our very first Indian wedding. Remember that one guy, Tarun, who helped me bribe a train conductor last month? He was the groom.

The adventure began when Alex and I missed our bus to Jaipur (the first of two buses we needed to take to get to the wedding destination in Bundi). And we missed that bus because we simply couldn't find the bus stop.

See, in India, a bus stop can often come in the form of an unmarked curb on the edge of an expressway which you can only distinguish as a bus stop based on the visual clue that is the congregation of many Indian men standing in one place. So the bus came and went and we just weren't there when it happened.

Upon learning of our problem, one man from the crowd offered to help us catch another bus. But he said we needed to go someplace else where the chances of finding the bus would be higher.

Thankfully, this is not the beginning to a story about getting scammed in India. The guy really did take us to a better bus-catching location.

He took us to a toll plaza.

See, the other thing about India I learned on this day is that the toll plaza is a perfectly acceptable place to catch a bus. The bus has to slow down anyway to get past the toll booth. This is your opportunity to ask the driver where they're going and then hop on - quickly. The only challenge is that a toll plaza will have maybe 10 or more lanes and a bus will pick any one of those to go through. So you're gonna have to hustle a bit.

Ofcourse, Alex and I were clear novices in the art of soliciting buses at the toll booth. So the local toll booth workers came and helped us find the right one. It took an hour, but we finally managed to catch one heading to Jaipur. That's the funny thing about travel, it's when you're at your most vulnerable that strangers will band together and do everything in their power to see you on your way.

At the toll plaza with the guys who helped us

We eventually made it to the wedding and, well, it was an Indian wedding alright. While we clearly stood out as foreigners, Tarun and his friends welcomed us in and made sure we felt at home.

Photo credit: Alex Iliev
Photo credit: Alex Iliev
Photo credit: Alex Iliev

It was a fun time all around. And to our relief, we had a much less eventful ride back home to Gurgaon. Another 10 hour ride between two buses.

Indian snacks for the bus ride
As much as he complains, I do think Alex will miss some aspects of this country. Just the other day I heard him say 'India is special'. It's the most positive statement he's made this past month. Progress!

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