This is a pretty strange adventure emerging from a meeting of fates which lead to an unforgettable experience that was me in a strangers house in the Bangalore, India.
September 2017, I found myself high up in the southern Indian mountains in a beautiful place called Munnar. Unfortunately, I only had roughly two days here before having to find a way to Goa. After weighing up the options (the cheapest by far being the train, but the quickest being flying), I decided to take a combination transport to get me there reasonably cheaply, that didn’t take too much time. This culminated in a Night-Bus from Munnar to Bangalore, and a Flight from Bangalore to Goa.
I stood in a tiny office in Munnar trying to get my replacement ticket having lost the email confirmation due to a huge mess up with breaking my phone and forgetting my email password – how am I supposed to read the verification code I’ve been text if I’ve no phone! Argh! After much debating and a quick letter written to the supposed CEO of the company, I was granted my previously purchased ticket for no extra cost – bargain!
As I go outside to await the arrival of my sleeper bus I am approached by an Indian man asking for a cigarette. I handed him one from my pack and we talked a little as he had great English skills. Jerin was aged 24 and heading to Bangalore to continue his job as a physiotherapist after spending a week at home seeing his family. At that moment our Bus arrived and we climbed aboard.
My Bed was the top bunk at the back of a bus with no AC. Great! What this meant was I desperately needed to keep the window open for fresh air. A consequence of this was it also meant the window gave me a direct feed to the exhaust fumes produced by the bus. Upon reflection, a 14.5-hour Sleeper bus through the mountains was a poor choice. Besides the exhaust fumes pumping into my face, there was no hope of sleep due to the constant threat of the winding mountain roads forcing off of my bed and landing 5feet below on the floor.
The longest 14.5 hours of my life later and I am at my stop in Bangalore at 6:30 AM with an 8.5 hour wait until my flight to goa at 3PM. Whilst waiting to collect my bag from the bus I bump into Jerin again. He asks me what my plans are and I say I will probably find a café with WIFI to sit in for a few hours before heading to the airport. To which he replies,
“Hey why don’t you stay at my place? Shower, and sleep before heading onwards to Goa”
I have spoken to this guy for a total of around 30 minutes and he is offering me back to his house somewhere in Bangalore… nothing to be wary of, right?
We walk a little until Jerin approaches a Tuk-Tuk driver with whom he engages in a short conversation, announces to me that I should climb in; he has paid the whole fare and told the driver where to go. But, I will go alone with all our baggage and he will meet me there shortly.
Not suspicious whatsoever, right?
The Tuk-Tuk comes to a stop where I assume was to be my destination, an old eye hospital, seemingly derelict, and the driver leaves me with my luggage as well as several bags with unknown contents. Thirty minutes later and still no sign of Jerin.
I’m in the back street of god knows where with mysterious bags on the promise of a strange man I met less than 24 hours ago – Maybe this is a little Dodgy?
On the Forty-five-minute mark, Jerin zooms around the corner on a motorcycle insisting for me to pick up our bags and hop on. His place is only a few hundred metres away! I hop on, and we arrive to his room mate opening the door to us with a Joint-in-progress in hand. They politely offer me some to which I decline. Being up for almost 24 hours at this point with little to no food or water lead me to believe it would not be the smartest idea. So, they continue, rolling and smoking whilst I lay on the bed/seating area trying to go to sleep, controlling my fears of waking to my bags gone, and being somehow kidnapped or worse.
I awake maybe an hour or so later, take a shower and put on some clean clothes. All the while, Jerin and his roommate laugh and giggle as they draw in a sketch pad; his roommate is allegedly a designer. Once I am dressed they suggest we have some breakfast, and as they had eaten all of the food in the house we headed to a nearby restaurant they recommended. We arrived and ordered a great breakfast which I thoroughly enjoyed and they insisted they paid for! Short of grabbing their hands and forcing my money into their palms, there was nothing I could do!
Once we had made our way back to their apartment, I grabbed my bags and thanked them for their hospitality and generosity – the likes of which I haven’t experienced before or since. They smiled and humbly thanked me for being a great guest before offering me a lift on the back of their motorcycle to the Bus Stop where I could get the bus to the airport. Waiting for the bus with me all the while!
Some questionable situations and ill-advised decisions? Sure. But I met the most amazing people, had the most peculiar experience, and received the most genuine generosity and kindness I could ever expect.