08:45, 07/12/2013, Saturday - Surat, India
The day we went to Ajanta caves and Surat so far.
I was nervous about going to Surat, because I hadn’t seen my aunt (mum’s sister) since I last came to India. This was in the early 90s and and when I was a toddler. I thought I would become sad at the site of her, because I’ve been told she looks a bit like my mum.
The whole day was 12-14 hours long. We left the hotel to go to Ajanta caves at approximately 0900. We left Ajanta caves at about 1430 and got to Surat at approximately 2200.
Ajanta caves were really nice. I took a lot of photos. I was told that they are over 2200 years old! It is a Buddhist place. I saw a few Japanese people there. I think I heard an Indian guy speaking Japanese to a Japanese girl. First time I have seen and heard that. It was cool to see the guy speaking Japanese. I built up a lot of sweat while in the caves, because it was warm and there were a lot stairs. Dad again stayed at one of the lower levels, because of his knee. We hired a porter, who took us around, he only cost 200 rupee, I tipped him about 20 rupee extra. There were a lot of people selling souvenir items. You would have had to haggle to get a reasonable price, because they marked it up 8-10 times. I was originally quoted 400 rupee, but after saying I don’t want it for a very long time, the guy got down to 100 rupee in trying to convince me to buy. I reckon I would have been able to buy it for 50 rupee. My brother heard another seller quote 50 rupee to an Indian girl.
The road to Surat took longer than expected. Our driver said it would only take 4-5 hours, I think he was really optimistic, because it actually took around 8 hours to drive to Surat. We decided to go to Surat after the caves because the driver said he needed to be in Surat by 0900 the next day due to a family function. We were originally going to sleep at some location between Ajanta caves and Surat. A couple of the reasons it took 8 hours is that we stopped for snacks once, lunch at a roadside restaurant and were stuck in a traffic jam for about one hour. The traffic jam involved thousands of trucks and many many cars. To make it worse, it was on a single lane each way mountain road. The reason for the jam is that people started driving the wrong way. A couple of police officers were trying their best to get the vehicles moving again.
There were some terrible roads on the way again.
Mohish, Runa and I had a bet on what time we were going to reach Surat. I said 2030, Runa said 2100 and Mohish said 2112. The winner wouldn’t have to pay for lunch for a round.
By the time we reached the town of Surat, I started falling asleep. It had been a long day.
When we pulled into the road leading to my aunt’s house, I realised we were in a good part of town. Actually, all of Surat looks to be pretty good. It’s a little bit similar to Melbourne, but without the CBD. The density of people is much greater than Melbourne, though. Our cousins and aunt say the area is called a “society”. I saw my aunt and didn’t know how to say hello, so I just froze and awkwardly said “hello” instead of giving her a hug.
They have two maids. They maids don’t do everything, they help with stuff around the house, it seems like. They clean the floors themselves, though.
The house has 3 sets of stairs, I’m not sure why, because there are only two floors. It’s a pretty big house.
At times, I have become pretty sad while here. Sometimes, my aunt looks very much like my mum. That makes me want to cry, but I won’t. I have thought “sorry” to my mum a couple of times, because I can’t properly communicate with her sister. I would like to be able to talk to her easily, but I can’t because I don’t speak Gujarati. I can only speak a few words. I want to ask her what my mum was like in her younger years. Even as I type this, I get feelings of deep sadness. I have felt like just bursting out crying and just hugging her, but I won’t do that because I don’t want to create a scene.
I have told one of my friends about his, she has responded. I haven’t replied to her and I don’t know why. I’ll respond later. Her response has been very caring and understanding.
I have realised that I like sharing my words on Tumblr and my pictures on Facebook. I’m not going to make any more statuses on Facebook, I’m just going to post pictures and check in whenever we reach another town. I’m going to type all my thoughts on here.
I have had coconut water from the actual coconut many times. I wish we could get fresh coconuts in Melbourne, it doesn’t feel the same when it’s out of a can or bag.
My cousin’s kid has a lot of energy, which would make sense because he’s only 4. He was still running around at midnight last night.
We went to the science centre in Surat, yesterday. It was pretty cool, there were a lot of exhibitions. There was also a planetarium, we saw the show there. I have never seen a planetarium show before.
My cousin’s kid watches a cartoon about Krishna which I reckon would be good for my niece and nephew. It’s in English.
My cousin’s driver seems like a nice person. He has taken us around Mumbai, driven to Shirdi, driven to Aurangabad, driven to Ajanta caves and driven to Surat. He’s always well dressed and hair combed. I originally thought he was a poor person my cousin pulled off the street, but I was told that he has been a driver for a long time. He even sleeps in the car when there is no accommodation for him!
23:59, 07/12/2013, Saturday - Surat India
I again felt really sad today. I almost cried many times, and that was a front of everyone. The hardest time to hold back was when we were eating lunch. Tomorrow is our last day in Surat, I will ask my aunt about my mum. I felt sad for most of the day, it only seemed to clear away at night.
I forgot to put this in my diary. I saw a late model Bentley being repaired in at a shop that was in a slum part of Mumbai, on our first day there. The car would literally have been worth more than the everything in the whole street.
We went for a camel back ride on the beach at Dumas, tonight. My cousin was trying to convince me to have a ride, but I was hesitant because I didn’t want to upset the camel. I was assured that the camel wouldn’t mind having 2 adults and a kid on the camel. It was a great experience. I wanted to take a photo and send it to my friends via snapchat, but didn’t. I didn’t do it because I wasn’t sure if the camel would like flash photography.