Pilgrimage to india: 1976


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Thursday 7th October

Returned to my arse though Estee was unwell and there was a certain amount to do with the children. I’m not very good with Lucas really, impatient and maybe slightly rough which would be ok if it were a role but it isn’t a role. Children cut through any veneer of love & patience and they demand, require and receive only the real self. Or is that untrue? The ‘real’ self? Can’t say anything these days. All this talk about ‘thought’ and ‘thinking’ and I forget my theory that what we normally call thinking is only a stammer. Pure thought is direct and with few words. – In the evening decided to sleep out as a test of the weather which is hot in the day and clear at night. Came out at 11 p.m. lasted until 5a.m. Not a lot of sleep; too uncomfortable though not cold until the morning. The moon was full, or just about. Around the moon were coloured lights, yellow, purple, green –half a rainbow. Couldn’t stare too long because ii was too cold with my head out of the sleeping-bag. Didn’t ‘get off’ on the experience but maybe it said something that I could actually forswear a little comfort. Had thought this was my last day but Dick and Este seemed quite keen on my waiting for the lift on Saturday. CHOOSING TO SLEEP OUT IN PAPON.

Friday 8th October

Stupid sort of day really, as far as Dominic was concerned. Have really enjoyed the views of Papon this year, skies, mountains, trees frequently harmonising. Dick and Estie went for their dancing evening in Chur. I pigged myself, lazed and took to bed. Reread my Yogananda lessons. Sent a birthday card to Yasmi. What can I pout in capital letters? A VERY LAZY DAY IN PAPON.

Saturday 9th October

Don Juan following me around. First Dick showed me one of the books and then an Austrian with five children gave me a beautiful lift to Innsbruck and talked about Don Juan on the way. Am in Innsbruck this evening, eating soup and bread paid for me by the money he gave me, 200 schillings. He was a nice man, very much into what I’m doing though I did try to explain what a hopeless case I was. Am now worrying about the night out to follow. Took only a few minutes to feel homesick for Dick and Estee. They’ve been so good to me. Even packed me off with boiled eggs and carrots. Also Dick put some hosepipe on my bag which makes it a lot easier to carry. Thankyou, thankyou. Then Dick’s friend took me across the border, then two short lifts brought me to 140ks to Innsbruck. A long wait, began to feel cold, then this superb lift complete with Beatles music. Back on the road with the tears, fears, changes and frantic prayers that I bring to it. Am not keen on this sleeping out trip but can’t comment until the morning. My first night alone (except for 2 in warm Papon) since I left England.. – Later, tried to hitch further and met a german guy who gave me a smoke before moving on, then made up my bed by the side of the road and went to sleep. –In future change socks before sleeping.

Sunday 10th October

Wake-up cold (but not shivering), very damp with the sleeping-bag wet with due. Fortunately it is sunny and after a while I dry out. Took a while to get a lift and then it began, six lifts to Salzburg. I met up with yet another german guy after he’d hitched a lift from a coach. Shared a smoke and chocolate icecreams bought with schillings. Stuck for a lift he suggested we walk the last few kilometres to the border. Was a funny walk. Still had hopes of seeing Salzburg on a Sunday. Reaching the border we found a park full of lorries stuck because they weren’t allowed in Austria on a Sunday. Wouldn't have thought much about it if I hadn't seen three lorries together with ‘Istanbul’ written on them. With prompting from the German guy I went to see if I could get a lift to Greece. Not much success for a while. ‘Please god’, I say at the back of my mind, ‘not my will but yours’ and then a Scots guy hails me. He’s off to Iran via Bulgaria. Pity, I say, I’ve no visa and no injections. It’ll be all-right he says so I agree to give it a go. We don’t move at all because of border hassles and I get cramp in both legs before falling asleep. MIRACLE IN SALZBURG

Monday 11th October

It is about 8 o’clock and we’re halfway across the Austria-Yugoslav border. We’ve done 200 miles today. Made a late start this morning because we’ve ‘teamed up’ with an English guy who had things to sort out in Salzburg. Crossing a border in a lorry takes fucking hours, sometimes days. At the moment I’m ‘guarding’ the lorries while the drivers sort out permits etc. At this moment I’m feeling less happy. I guess because teaming up (to Ankara) might mean that Alec, my driver, will be less dependent on me. And I keep thinking, what is the visa costs $11 as I’ve been told and what about the injections or lack of them? I keep telling myself it’ll be all right and then I ask the question again. In actual fact it has been a far-out happy day. The guys have been really nice to me. They’re not throwing money at me but they’re sharing their food and giving me cigarettes and until this fucking border included me ‘in’. I’m guess I’m just a bit tired now. Austria was amazing; clear blue skies and mountains. Been a very good day despite my worries. After all even if I can’t get into Bulgaria the lift will have been amazing and $11 isn’t too much to pay if it gets me from Austria to Turkey in comfort. It is on my mind; need to be positive and throw off this worry. I’ve noticed there is always one worry in mind, usually the next tricky point. I’ve seen how the stories work yet still I doubt, still try to calculate my way around non-existent problems. ACROSS AUSTRIA

Tuesday 12th October

Writing this Thursday, so details are missing. Covered 200 miles of Yugoslavia. Stopped early for Terry and Alec to screw a tart, £10 each. Never could myself but it did put a vibe of sex in the air. Neither of them really enjoyed it at all, ‘nothing like he wife’. In a bar in the evening met some folk who told me that the injections I need will cost a minimum of £20 on the Pakistan border and Alec made a big effort to dissuade me from going further. Felt disappointed and a bit depressed. ALEC AND TERRY HAVE A RUB-OFF.

Wednesday 13th October

Through Yugoslavia and across the Bulgarian border. Woke-up feeling happier but still spent the day persuading myself that I don’t mind just going to Teheran and back. Reached the border and had to pay out $20 to cross which was quite a blow. Quite enjoyed the day really. My trousers are filthy now. Thing about going back is that I have no real objection but I am unchanged, fundamentally unchanged. But there is still a long way to go. I can’t even be sure of getting into Turkey and Iran. 20 DOLLARS AND DOMINIC TO BULGARIA.

Thursday 14th October

About 5.30a.m. half way across the Bulgaria-Turkey border. Trucking down the main road didn’t get much idea of Bulgaria. Like Poland years ago, one gets the idea of landlocked poverty though I like to see the horse drawn carts and the women in the fields. I’ve had a headache most of the days, depressed spirits. Had a meal of steak and chips. If I didn’t eat meat on the journey I’d get real hungry. Keep thinking and pretending not to think, that this lift was a mistake and should have gone to Greece as originally planned. – A Turkey stamp on my passport! Suddenly feel good. Sometime late tonight (if we ever get away from here) we aim for Istanbul. The guys plan to take a room; god knows how much that will cost ‘cos these guys don’t mess about once they decide to spend money. Earlier on today I almost persuaded myself to push on for Bombay even if I end up spending just a day there or even failing and getting flown back for £200. It is a lot of money, but only money and I should be showing faith in the original Bombay objective and not stop until absolutely forced to. I think that is the advice Steve and Calla would give. Just have to hang on and se what happens. –Turns out that we didn’t quite make Istanbul – just a little way into Turkey which Alec and Terry hate so much. Spent the night in a lay-by. I can’t sleep. Perhaps I’m too excited. Had a big grin on my face – felt high for a while. Tomorrow Istanbul!


Friday 15th October.

Well today was the day of Istanbul. Went in by taxi from the camp with Terry who is more of a loon than Alec. First we went to the Pudding shop to eat and then I ran off to the post office to get all my letters. Only had one and that was something from Barby. News from England good (for them). I don’t belong to any of that – even Jade is mine through memory. The lack of letters upset me. Like I want to go home but I have no home to go to. When I get back to England I’ll just be a prick in the wilderness. But despite the diversions this has been a far out day. I thought we’d be here longer but Alec reckons on going tomorrow so I’ve not seen the Blue Mosque. The vibes of Istanbul were tremendous & the bazaar great, not in the least disappointing. Alec and Terry have had a falling out so we’ll be going without him tomorrow which is a pity. I’ll be spending the night either on the floor of the hotel room (where I had a shower) or in the lorry, either of which is quite satisfactory. – In the evening went for a meal, my third free meal of the day. We met a Turkish lad who took us to his shop. There were beautiful coats there that I wanted to get Jade; cheap but not cheap enough. In the end I bought her a toy camel. Was glad to get her something, is done now. Ended up sleeping on the floor. My knees are beginning to protest at being doubled up all day. THE DAY DOMINIC WENT TO ISTANBUL.

Saturday 16th October

Turkey has fantastic scenery. Now in the mountains at Ankara. Beautiful sky, brown earth, shanty people. Earlier on there was the sea. I never thought of Turkey being like this. Then they build this road and kill themselves in head-on smashes. Alec is depressed, missing wife and kids. Me, not much thought in my head as the miles went by. – Tonight in the bar, (would be more interesting if we spent the nights in town) a Swedish guy complained he’d been ripped off 50 lira. The Turks went mad, started hitting him FROM ISTANBUL TO ANKARA.

Sunday 17th October

In convoy today, starting at 5a.m. In the wilds of Turkey, Asian dressed women, cold-looking stone buildings, washing in the streams. The kids on the roadside call for cigarettes. My view is tainted by romance but I wouldn’t care to stop on my own out here. The sunrise was fantastic, indescribable. On this trip I’ve wished I had a camera. –Last night dreamed of Barby, Jade and Dave. Wish I could escape all that. –In the mountain we break down. And remember the story told of how last week an English lorry driver was murdered by two Turks hassling for money. Temporary repairs see us through the last 80 miles with my helping by operating the throttle with a rope that I had to hold outside the window. Alec carried the day, showing bravery and ingenuity of heroic proportions. We finally stagger in at 10.30p.m. Alec fixes the throttle and hopes it will last through to Tehran. BREAKDOWN ON BANDIT MOUNTAIN.

Monday 18th October

Again starting at 4.30. Eyes aching. I peer into a new day’s view. Tahir. Tahir. Eight days I’ve been hearing about Tahir mountain, finally arriving with pains in the stomach and a great desire to shit which Alec pays no attention to because he dare not stop in these mountains. Later realized my stomach problem probably the result of drinking unboiled water. Overall I think we drew with Tahir. I was ill, the fueltank began to leak, we hit another lorry and lost our wing-mirror. The road was really bad, the towns and villages more fascinating than ever. Is really high up, the air is freezing, the views amazing. Turned the last corner and there was a giant mountain covered with snow. Later discovered this was Mt Aarat where Noah landed. Mountain country that couldn’t be more different from Papon. So we reach the border and another long wait commences. Drifting in and out of sleep. Woke-up with a nosebleed. Stomach is aching but not shitting. The van in front hasn’t moved. Thirsty. Smoke ciggies. Another border. TAHIR.

Tuesday 19th October

Time is 9.00a.m. Still queuing on the border. Have had a cup of tea and a piece of bread. Am dirty. Just waiting. Most likely to be here all day. Where is my religion, here in the lorry? Prayers when we’re moving, occasional starting off of mantra. Have been in this lorry for eight days, rarely get out, even for a stroll. Alec is convinced I’ll be going back with him, I’m hoping not. Crossing Turkey in a lorry is not a bad thing but I’m not in a hurry to repeat it. Should be feeling high but have a belly ache and am fed up of trying to wash plates with toilet paper. –Later I actually stepped out of the lorry and promptly met a girl, Valerie. She’s trucking to Tehran. I went for a walk with her, enjoying the amazing relief of communication, the first chance I’ve had for days to be me. Anyway we crossed the border together, met other people, heard good and bad news concerning the rest of the journey. It isn’t in my plans but I can’t help planning & guessing. Valerie now has a lift with the American driver who was travelling in our convoy; don’t know if that arrangement will continue. –6.30 now and tomorrow’s a public holiday so no telling how long we’ll be here. Quite revived by meeting Val and by spending the day out of the lorry. And now I have another new stamp on my passport. Is raining now, heavily. –Later. Am alone in the lorry. A bit hungry, but not too bad. Alec has gone off for a meal with another driver though he had told me he’d already eaten. A DAY OUT OF THE LORRY.

Wednesday 20th October

Morning, hang around the lorry park. Discover Valerie has gone off with Bulgarian driver. Feel a bit sorry for her. Don’t much like the American guy who is now off having breakfast somewhere with Alec. Have heard we’ll have a police escort to Tehran though don’t know when we’ll be leaving. As I wrote that Alec turned up and said he could be here another 4 days and I’d be better off getting a lift with someone else. (He didn't pay me back the $10 he borrowed yesterday.) It wasn’t a very good parting because the American was there and Alec just wasn’t the same. Almost immediately I met some guys driving cars from Munich to Iran. Said they’d me a lift when their papers came through. Met a Pakistani who bought me a meal. Sat in the car with the guys. They told me about being able to work in Tehran on six-month contracts earning fabulous amounts of money. Started thinking I should do it, go to India then back to England with another money to go to America and perhaps visit Dana there. Later I saw Alec’s lorry pulling out then I went to bed in the car thinking about money. THE DAY I SAID GOODBYE TO ALEC.

Thursday 21st October

Woke-up still on the border. Went for breakfast and met an English couple travelling in an Afghani coach either to Tehran or Kabul. I’ve got on the coach with them. Don’t know how much I’m paying or where I’m going and I can see that the cars are ready to go. Please lord, not my will but thine. Have been here since Monday. (Got injections done, smallpox and first cholera; much relieved to get something done in that direction.) There is a christian guy on the coach but a little talk we had had him on the verge of arguing about limitations rather than celebrating joy. – Later. Finally I left that border and soon we saw both ends of a rainbow. However paranoia interfered when a man who called himself a policeman jumped on board and started handing out cartons of cigarettes that he wanted us to be responsible for. Suspicious we said no and he hid them at the back of the bus. Also he had two vans following us. All very weird. In a country such as this you want no trouble. In the evening paranoia cooled though the policeman remains.. –Think I may be paying $10 to get to Kabul. Seems unlikely. –Slept in the coach on the floor underneath the policeman. THE DAY I SLEPT UNDERNEATH A POLICEMAN.

Friday 22nd October

A weird day. Coach picks up a load of Iranis who filthy the floor, puke-up, stare at us unblinkingly and generally make for an uncomfortable day’s travel to Tehran. Arriving there the two Afghani coachdrivers and the policeman who’d been collecting large sums of money from the passengers, started arguing furiously about money down a shady side street. Very uncool vibes. An addition to the clan is an Irani homosexual called Jason. All sorts of fuss and bother last night about hotels and chai and Stuart who found himself paying much more money than intended. (A warning to me.) More arguments. We get near to freaking out but at the same time feel quite high. We demand a cup of tea. Jason hails a taxi and reluctantly we go but never got out, having the tea in the taxi. Getting quite late. Not hungry. We’d bought food and the policeman gave a filling plate of rice and lentils. Slept on the seat because the floor was too dirty in a dead end part of Tehran, noise and tramps under cardboard. End of a weird day. A COACHFUL OF IRANIS

Saturday 23rd October

Morning, just hanging around the coach in Tehran while the Afghanis do repairs. Three of us now. Have had tea and bought food. Nod and I wandered into a place where they were pulling on giant water-pipes, couldn’t suss what they were smoking. Gave Stuart a message for Valerie. From where we are this looks like a dirty and horrible city. Still don’t know how much I’m paying. Judging by Stuart they can come on heavy at the last moment. And where is my christ in all this? And my prayers? Don’t feel holy, don’t feel like a pilgrim, don’t feel changed. – Saw camels the other day. – Now 1.30and we’re still waiting, probably for that fucking policeman. Think I’m a bit soporific ‘cos we found another café with those pipes and we’ve been blowing. Could have got round Tehran if we’d known how long we’d be staying here.

At 2p.m. Julie finds out by chance that we’re not going anywhere today so with Nod being reluctant she and I head-off to Tehran. In fact accomplished very little – no signs of Valerie or the Germans at Amir Kabir. Had a good time walking though came across nothing of interest. Thought I’d found a mosque but it turned out to be a bank! Made our way back, pissed around and went to bed after a somewhat fruitless day. THE DAY I VISITED TEHERAN WITH JULIE.

Sunday 24th October

Well we all got up really early expecting a prompt start. Time now about midday and we’ve not moved. Had tea, bread and cheese, and bread and omelette at the café. No idea when we’re going to restart.

As it turns out, not at all. We meet a Persian who speaks English who tells us that the Afghanis claim they are waiting for one of the other coaches to be mended. The Persian guy is really nice. Took us to his house for dinner. Met his sister. He thinks I could get work. Tempts me to stay.

Earlier Ned threw my Tarot. Quire disturbing. It suggested that one of the basic presumptions behind my plan is at fault. Maybe material. Ultimate outcome to be collapse through my own error. Also to be a female influence, beneficial and harmonious. Of course I worry and worry. Should I or shouldn’t I go on and what should I change?


Monday 25th October

Wake-up early but the bus is hesitant. Policeman comes, gives us an apple and then goes. Saed arrives and we go for breakfast, bread and jam, tea, really good. Go back to the coach and find it full of Afghanis, maybe these are what we’ve been waiting for. Our companions invite speculation as to the social hierarchy. This lot look distinctly moronic but despite sheep and pigs in boxes they’re a bit cleaner. Malluk clicks for money but the moment passes. An uncomfortable day as the bus crawls. Drive until past midnight and then sleep. We were fortunate in having two seats to sleep on. Malluk’s singing is driving us mad. Finding it hard to capture the mood now (it is actually Friday). I was OK but Ned and Julie have had enough and are plotting escape. THE DAY MALLUK GOT TOO MUCH.

Tuesday 26th October

The bus crawls in early in the morning and thus begins the Meshad adventure. Saed and Malluk and brother go for a cup of tea, leaving us alone. Nod and Julie plan to jump bus. I’m not really into it but I see the problem of staying on and don’t really want my money railroaded. Anyway Ned gets a taxi and it is happening. Anxious moments as the taxi driver hassles about the fare. Get to the railway station about 6a.m. and then we try to make plans. Fleeing smuggled mattresses and cigarettes, the policeman and mad Afghanis is one thing but what next? Still we were doing a lot of laughing. The Afghanis, with typical timing, had arrived on the Shah’s birthday so everything was closed. Leaving the luggage at the station we went looking for a hotel. On the way, in the heat, we came across the Holy Shrine. The place looked amazing but they wouldn’t let us in. Then we came across a Pakistani lorry driver who led us to his hotel & offered us a lift to Pakistan but we found his place was just near the escaped coach so we got away. However the following taxi driver invited us back to his home and, tempted by a free crash, we accepted. He turned out to house a collection of freaky looking friends who asked ‘are you happy?’, assaulted us with energy and talked about marijuana. Returned to the station on our own for four hours then met the Iranis in the middle of town. Immediately got pissed off as they crammed 9 into the taxi and then drove around and around Meshad for no particular purpose. Having exhausted our patience for Irani translations and piss-taking we demanded to be taken somewhere specific. The guys then drove out of town to a garden house. Suspiciously we went in to the bare building with its dirty floor. The taxi driver disappeared to get food and smoke and didn’t return for 2 hours by which time we were totally pissed off with being hassled and with their parry tricks such as clicking bones and blowing smoke-rings. Ned played his guitar which he’s very good at. When the taxi driver returned with food, smoke and banana whiskey the scene got worse with their constant pushing. With some after Julie and some after me the whole thing get ridiculous and possibly dangerous because smoking dope is a capital offence here. In the end we grouped ourselves together, real close with Julie in the middle, and laid down to sleep. Very nice actually! All in all was one hell of a day.

Wednesday 27th October

Not really doing this story justice. The problem with diaries is that whenever anything is really happening, they are not. Struck up quite a friendship with Ned and Julie: a threesome could be awkward but we share our adventure and get high together. Anyway, awoke at 5 and observed that the Iranis were getting ready to split. They are obviously disappointed in us. Last night they sang stupidly and belched gigglingly before going to sleep. The Iranis seem really in to ego games. We got them to return us to the railway station. ‘What shall we do now?’ asked Ned. ‘Find new owners,’ I replied. Went to the British Consulate and discovered it to be the British council who had no interest in our story. Then we went to the Afghani consulate to get visas, full of warnings as to how long this would take and fearing meeting Malluk & co. The visa took an hour. I then went to the hospital and got a second cholera injection. By 1 p.m. we were heading for the bus station and Afghanistan. Had a hassle with a taxi driver who drew-up right beside Malluk’s coach and would not understand why we wanted to be taken a few hundreds yards further down the road. Not finding a chai shop Julie and I attempted to hide ourselves while Ned went off to investigate. Immediately we drew a crowd. Fleeing to another sidestreet we watched the children as play as the women flirted veiledly. After an hour Malluk’s coach went but it was too late for us to leave Meshed. I was approached by another bouncy Irani asking ‘how you say in English, sugar?’ but I ignored him. Our plans rearranged we look for a hotel & settle for a proprietor who says only ‘I love you’ and a shared room for 270 rials. As a relaxation we walk around the bazaar; I only like the amazing wall-hangings & some non-turquoise rings. The Holy Shrine is all lit-up & looks very impressive. Buy food, egg sausage sandwiches, then return to our room for an early night. However a knock on the door results in a New Zealander with hash to smoke & a couple of hours pass by. When he goes we laugh some more at these weird days & at a group of Pakistanis doing unfathomable things in the hallway. Sleep comes quickly.

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