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~  Red Dots All Over ~
August 22 through September 9, 2000
$1 U.S. = 45 Indian Rupees
(Remember to click on the thumbnails for enlargements of the photos)

Mumbai/Bombay, India
August 22 through August 29, 2000

(ccl) Travel days....typically hectic, sometimes fraught with misunderstandings or necessary adjustments.  Not so on the day we left Greece.  We got to the Athens airport in plenty of time to check both us and Paula in.  It turns out, however, that the Athens airport isn't the greatest place in the world to be stuck with a few hours to kill.  I would estimate that there were less than 100 seats in the place, no restaurants or bars to sit in, an abomination of a PA system, and twenty or thirty stray dogs lounging around and looking for handouts.  Supposedly they're building a new airport to be ready in time for, you guessed it, the 2004 Olympics.  Anything would be an improvement over this one.

Normally I try not to bore the Long's Strange Trip reader with mundane details about things like the airlines we're flying, but I have to make an exception in the case of Emirates Air.  When you get your tickets through a consolidator, it's kind of like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get.  In this case, I had, without question, the finest experience of my extended career as an airline passenger.  The plane that took us from Athens to Dubai, UAE, was a brand-new Boeing 777, with tons of leg room in coach and individual TV monitors in every seatback, with ten or twelve different programs to view.  The meal was actually delicious, and was accompanied by French wine.  We watched a classic movie called "On the Beach" with Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire, then fell asleep.  Our descent into Dubai was announced to me abruptly by the guy behind me, who began kicking my seat for no apparent reason.  He had been over-served, I decided.

For those of you asking yourselves, "Where is Dubai, and what is UAE???", you're not alone.  I know very little about this tiny desert country in the Arab world, except that it's something of a conglomeration of several emirates, and is run by the sheiks or emirs of those emirates.  It's very wealthy, as all of the citizens share in the riches brought into the country's treasury from the sale of crude oil.  They import workers from other countries to perform menial tasks, like cleaning the streets or working at McDonald's.  Our flight to Bombay (now known as Mumbai) included a two-hour layover in Dubai, Emirates Air's hub. 

Stepping off of a plane at 2 in the morning anywhere can be disorienting, but when you land in Dubai, if you didn't know better, you'd swear you were on a re-fueling stop on a mission to another galaxy.  The sheiks have built themselves a brand spanking-new airport there, and I assume that every one of Emirates Air's flights goes through there.  You're quickly unloaded from the plane, and you're processed through customs based on how much time you have until your connection leaves.  If you've got under two hours, you have a red ticket folder, and a customs agent quickly shuttles you through the "priority" line.  It's all very efficient, and all with a purpose: to allow you plenty of time to spend as many of your hard-earned travel dollars at Duty Free Dubai.  At 2:00 in the morning this place looked like Lennox Mall on a Sunday afternoon!  At any one of the many stores there you could get pretty much anything you wanted, from a Rolex to fine single-malt scotch to John Grisham's latest.  All this in a Muslim country, and tax-free.  The bizarre nature of our brief visit to the UAE was cemented when we checked in for the final leg of our journey and found out that because our flight had left Athens an hour late, we were being automatically upgraded to business class.  Has this ever happened to you on Delta?  I didn't think so. 

So, snug and comfy in our roomy, fully-reclining business class seats, we slept for the duration of the three hour flight to Bombay.  As the plane touched down at the airport, I came to my senses and realized that finally, we were in India.  The moment I had been preparing myself for had come: culture shock, full swing.  Trying to be as alert as possible after an all-night plane ride, and holding tightly to our bags, we emerged from customs and into the frenzied mob that waited outside the airport.  

I'm always amazed by the number of people who come out to meet planes in third-world countries.  In the States, when I get off of planes, there are maybe a handful of people there, meeting folks.  Maybe it's that flying is no big deal to us anymore.  Maybe we're so affluent that we travel at will, and nobody's that excited to see us when we arrive somewhere.  Whatever - it seems like when we arrive at these backwater airports, there's a contingency of people there that rival Leonardo Dicaprio's fan club for turnout and enthusiasm.  At any rate, none of the throng waiting at the Bombay airport on that morning were there for us, so we got into a cab (paid for up front at the government cab stand; good advice given by our guide book) and headed for our hotel.

Once in the cab, we had nearly two hours to stare, wide-mouthed, at the spectacle that is a big Indian city on a weekday morning.  The streets were clogged with all manner of vehicles - cars, bicycles, scooters, oxen-drawn carts, buses, and trucks.  Add to this a large number of frightened pedestrians scampering across the roads to safety, the ubiquitous sacred cows moseying unmolested down the thoroughfares, street performers, and handicapped beggars working the cars stopped at the traffic lights, and it's enough to bring on a panic attack in a Zen master.  Which of course, I'm not, so if you know me, you can hear me starting to hyperventilate at this point.  The icing on the cake was our taxi driver, who barely spoke English, and who also seemed a little deaf.  He tried for the first 30 minutes of the ride to take us to a different hotel, then spent the last hour and a half trying to find the one we wanted.  

After checking in, having some tea and toast, and taking a little nap, we felt fortified enough to venture out of the hotel.  We were staying in the Colhaba section of Bombay, which Lonely Planet (our guidebook) had recommended as the main place where budget tourists stay.  Our hotel, as well as most of the other hotels in the area, looked and smelled rather moldy, a phenomena no doubt due to the fact that we had arrived at the tail-end of the monsoon season.  In fact, during the eight days we were in Bombay on our first stay there, it rained seven of those.  Arriving in India during the monsoon season is something to be avoided at all costs, if possible.  The rain is torrential, and it comes down in buckets during most of the day.  The streets are filled with potholes, the curbs are broken away, so there's no way to avoid eventually stepping in one or more nefarious-looking puddles.  The gloominess of the rain serves to make the whole experience depressing.  

Bombay's most famous landmark, the Gateway to India  I had a tough time our first few days in the country, I'm willing to admit.  The contrasts experienced by the first time traveler to India are striking.  There is opulence alongside squalor.  Women float by in beautiful, jewel-like silk saris, seemingly oblivious to the trash and debris that are everywhere.  Junkies inject each other on the sidewalks at your feet; people languish in the streets, seemingly ready to die.  Stray dogs are everywhere, mangy and thin as waifs.  Everyone wants to help us, everyone wants to talk to us, and anyone with a camera wants their picture made with us.  The aroma of delicious, spicy food fills the air and changes at every street corner.  India - it's all that you've heard, and more.

We saw some unbelievable things that first week in India.  I don't think the tourist sites we took in will stay with me like the images of daily Indian life that I witnessed during those first few days.  Today, as I write this, after having been in India for more than three weeks, I am completely nonplussed by the sight of cows in the road.  But thinking back to those first few days, it was quite strange to see large, horned bovines successfully negotiating a round-a-bout in Bombay rush-hour traffic.  We saw a dead body laying on a stretcher at the train station, completely unattended and barely out of the flow of foot traffic.  We saw women in beautiful saris of every color imaginable.  We saw lepers begging for money, and ate dinner at probably the finest restaurant we've been in on the trip.  A man painted "Wiley loves Christie" on a grain of rice for us, and one day on the beach, we were mobbed by people who just wanted to stare at us, it seemed. 

We hit most of the major sites in Bombay during our first few days there.  We took it easy, trying to work our way into the rhythm of the city.  On the one day in which we had no rain, we took a boat trip to Elephanta Island, which is about an hour and a half from Bombay on the Arabian Sea.  The caves on Elephanta Island are thought to have been created between 450 and 750 AD by Hindus.  Actually, these aren't naturally occurring caves.  They are temples which were carved out of massive rocks for the purpose of worship of the Hindu gods and quiet contemplation.  As this my first exposure to Hinduism, I was struck by the beauty of the images of Shiva, depicted in his triple-headed form as creator, preserver, and destroyer of all life and everything.  The images are massive and fantastic, and tell some of the many stories that are central to the religion.  In the darkness of the caves the peaceful sound of water dripping from the ceiling added to the reverent atmosphere as worshippers placed offerings in front of the statues. 

By contrast, we also visited another famous Hindu shrine in Bombay, the Mahalaxmi Temple.  Mahalaxmi is the goddess wealth, so she's quite popular in Bombay, and probably the rest of India.  On the day that we were there, pilgrims lined up outside the tiny building with offerings of flowers, coconuts, money, and sweets.  Once inside, the throng, which had this time been split by gender, with men entering on the right and women on the left, approached the icon, and made their offerings.  Priests sat around the icon and collected the gifts, sprinkling flowers over the icon and laying the sweets at its feet.  Men worked feverishly on all sides to shuttle the offerings from the altar, once the priests had accepted them.  People prayed and someone even handed their baby over to one of the priests, so that he could pass the tike over the icon, I suppose to bring wealth and good luck to the baby in its lifetime.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I couldn't help feeling a little repulsed by the whole thing.  It seemed to go against two things I had been taught as a Christian - that there is one God, and that you aren't supposed to worship idols.  It just all seemed so "different" from what I, as a Westerner, am used to.  But a closer inspection of things reveals that maybe it's not all that different after all.

The Hindus believe in one God, Brahman, the One without an equal, the One from which everything comes, an indescribable, timeless, and formless entity.  The multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism, which number upwards of 300 million by some counts, are merely different manifestations of Brahman.  These gods and goddesses embody qualities of Brahman, and exist to help Hindus understand God, to "get their arms around" the matter, so to speak.  Hinduism has been in a constant state of change since its origin some 6000 years before Christ.  It incorporates many aspects of other religions, and regards all religions as potential paths to the truth.  Hindus revere Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Isaiah, and other Old Testament prophets.  There is no organized hierarchy in Hinduism, no pope, no bishops or preachers, and no church on Sunday.  Hindus find the path to God within themselves, sometimes with the help of a guru.  As I watched people lay offerings at the feet of the icon of Mahalaxmi, and offer prayers to her, I realized that it's not so different than what I've seen Christians doing at their altars, or in front of images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary.

All very fascinating stuff, and a subject that I hope to understand more about when I leave this country.  But it turned out that while in Bombay, the computer gods, those vengeful, spiteful beings, were not with us.  One morning I woke up before Wiley and quietly got out the computer to do some work on the web site.  I had done no writing during our last two weeks in Greece, while Paula was visiting, and I wanted to get those pages written and uploaded before we left Bombay.  We had only intended to stay there a few days, as we wanted to get up north to the Rajasthan region of the country.  Panic set in as I realized that the computer wasn't booting properly, and several more feverish attempts proved that it wasn't going to, either.  It's hard to explain to people how important this computer's become to us.  It contains all of our photos, our addresses and phone numbers, passwords for various accounts, all of Wiley's career musings, and various other important information.  Not to mention that it supports the web site, but that ultimately resides on a Mindspring server in Atlanta, and I had just uploaded my work two nights before.  

OK, so now what to do?  We called Sony in New Delhi, and they told us that they didn't sell our model in India yet, so there were no support services for it.  We began contemplating mailing the machine back to the States for repair, then we remembered all we had been through before with Sony, when the first computer we bought crashed two weeks before we left.  I couldn't imagine who of my family and friends loved me enough to deal with Sony in my absence.  Then we considered whether we could buy a used laptop, thinking that it would do until Wiley's sister could bring our repaired computer back to us when she meets us in Thailand in November.  We set out to what we were told was the area where the computer shops are in Bombay.  The first store we stopped in had laptops, but we couldn't even see them without buying them, and they cost about $3000.  So then we started considering whether we could get the computer repaired in Bombay.  I was vehemently against this, not trusting anyone but Sony to fix this computer.  But we stopped in a place called Computer Garage, just to see what they said.  After being told to go to first one dark, dank cubbyhole, then another, we were finally told by a guy who spoke very little English that they had, "low, low prices".  I began having difficulty breathing.  We escaped to a nearby bar to reassess the situation.  Wiley asked the waiter offhandedly where we might get a computer repaired in Bombay, and he send us to another part of town, where we found an IBM/HP reseller, who sent us to Nilesh Shah at Moon Computer Manufacturing Industry.  Nilesh listened to our problems, and convinced me that he knew much more about the computer than I did, which was comforting.  Despite the fact that he sells copiers and manufacturs new computers, he told us that he would fix the computer.  He later told us that he had felt that it was his "moral duty" to fix it, since we had no where else to turn.  Just another one of the many good souls we have met on this strange trip.

Getting the computer fixed required leaving it with Nilesh for quite some time, and we had had our fill of Bombay by this time, so we decided to get outta town.  We had been told by some folks we met in Turkey about some beautiful Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain caves in central India, just outside of Aurangabad.  We bought tickets at Victoria Station, the venerable old station in central Bombay, and got ready to get out of town.

Aurangabad, India
August 29 through September 3, 2000

By the time we had made up our minds to get out of Bombay, and had bought our train tickets, there were no seats left in first class, so we had to settle for second class reserved seating.  We had been counseled to always travel first class on Indian trains.  It's not that luxurious, but at least you have your own seat, and you're out of the circus atmosphere that is second class.  But, one of the books we read before we left advised us to always consider the "holistic" nature of the trip - to look at the whole thing as part of the experience, whether it be cashing a traveler's check or taking a train ride.  So, we figured that this would be part of our experience, and it didn't disappoint.

We arrived at Victoria Station plenty early for a 7:00 A.M. departure.  All over the floor of the station, people slept on pieces of cardboard, or small bedrolls, or directly on the floor.  Presumably, they had nowhere else to go, or they had an early morning train to catch, and it was more convenient to sleep at the station.  It's a characteristic of Bombay that is indelibly etched on my mind - people sleeping outdoors, on sidewalks, in alleys, on rooftops.  This city is immensely overcrowded, and there seems to be no easy answer to the problem.  I read in the paper yesterday that last year, 1049 railroad-side shanty-dwellers were run over by commuter trains.  It seems that people are so desperate for a place to live that personal safety takes a back seat.

Once on the train, we stowed our backpacks overhead and settled in.  The car looked ancient, and the seats were little more than hard benches with space for three people (a rule that was frequently violated, as more and more people without reserved tickets attempted to squeeze themselves into non-existent seats, until the place began to resemble Neyland Stadium during the Florida game).  The place looked like it would benefit from the application of a good detergent and a few well-placed blasts from a high-pressure hose.  Second class isn't air-conditioned, and the open windows were barred.  As more and more people filed onto the train, it became apparent that we would be knee-to-knee with our seatmates.  Once the train started, it stopped at seemingly every station along the way, picking up more and more people, until the seats and aisles overflowed.  The dangerous-looking spot where the car couples to the one in front of it was usually occupied by a beggar, sitting forlornly on the wildly-bucking metal plate.  At each stop, beggars with every possible ailment, and vendors with every possible good, boarded the train and worked the crowd.  Ragamuffin kids got on to beg, and came straight for Wiley and me every time.  We bought a family some food at one of the stops, and they sat on the floor of the train and ate it hungrily.  Certainly, I don't think we've been anywhere on the trip where there is as much genuine need as in India.

It was a fascinating journey.  In fact, it was nearly impossible to concentrate on my book, because there was so much to look at, both inside the car and out.  The only major downside was the hard, rigid nature of the benches.  After five hours or so of feeling every buckle in the tracks, we were ready for the ride to be over.  At about 3 P.M. we arrived in Aurangabad.

Our first day in Aurangabad we hired an auto-rickshaw driver to take us to the main local sites, including the caves at Ellora, for 300 rupees.  An auto-rickshaw is basically a motorcycle with a cab built around it, so that there's a seat up front for the driver, a seat in the back for two passengers, and a roof overhead.  It's a pretty good way to get around unless you're trying to get up a hill of any size - then you remember that you're basically three people sitting on a motorcycle.  Our first stop for the day was the fortress of Daulatabad.  Originally known as the Hill of the Gods, it was built by a slightly insane 14th century Sultan, who, upon deciding that the capital of the area should be in this spot and not Delhi, forcibly marched the entire population of that city 1100 kilometers to populate his new city.  More than half of the people died on the march, and 17 years later, when it became glaringly obvious that he had left the northern part of the territory undefended, he marched them all back.

Impenetrable fortress  The fortress itself is a masterpiece of military engineering.  Surrounded by natural barriers on three sides, it is encircled by five kilometers of stone walls.  Inside the walls, there were seven separate gates, built so that invaders could not get a running start to ram any of them with elephants, apparently the popular method of breaking down fortress doors in that day.  The doors themselves were studded with huge metal spikes, to provide the elephants with what was no doubt a stunning headache if they attempted to break them down.  Some ingenious and rather cruel would-be invader hit on the idea of placing a camel between the spikes and the elephant's head.  Ouch...

During the 400 years that Daulatabad was used, no invader was able to get past the spiked gates, the pitch-black tunnels, the boiling oil and hot coals, and the crocodile- and snake-infested moat of his own volition.  Alas, proving that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray at the hands of one dirty rat, the only successful breach of the fort was achieved by simply bribing a guard.

The Buddhist caves at Ellora  After fighting off several extremely persistent souvenir vendors, we were back in the rickshaw and on our way to the Ellora caves.  As we were in Aurangabad slightly before the beginning of the tourist rush, we were quite popular.  The caves at Ellora aren't natural caves, but man-made temples cut into a massive granite hillside.  The caves were built by generations of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain monks, who lived, worked, and worshipped in the caves, slowly carving out elaborate statues, pillars, and meditation rooms.  The caves are not only a masterpiece of carving, but are a tribute to the inter-religious harmony that prevailed there during the 400 years that the caves were being constructed.

Kailasa interior temple from courtyard  Although all of the caves at Ellora are stunning architectural feats, the Hindu Kailasa Temple is the jewel in the crown.  Carved to represent Mt. Kailasa, the home of the god Shiva in the Himalayas, it is the largest monolithic structure in the world, carved top-down from a single rock.  It is twice the size of the Parthenon in Athens, and contains the largest cantilevered rock ceiling in the world.  Dramatic sculptures fill the courtyard and the main temple, which is in the center.  It must have been quite a spectacular sight when it was covered with white plaster and elaborately painted.  Imagine - standing on top of a single piece of rock, knowing your task is to "release" a temple from it, by removing 200,000 tons of stone!   Look, Ma - no hands!  Kailasa's amazing cantilevered ceiling

The next day we took an extremely bumpy bus ride to the caves at Ajanta, 166 kilometers from Auranagabad.  While the Ellora caves are a marvel of stone sculpture, the Ajanta caves are famous because of the well-preserved paintings in the interiors of the temples.  Both Ellora and Ajunta are listed as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  This ensures that these monuments will be maintained for generations to come.

Two spiritual ones, Wiley and Lord Buddha  The Ajunta caves are all Buddhist caves.  The Buddhists tended towards a more spare, less-ornate style than the Hindus, with the temples usually dominated by a large statue of the Buddha in the back.  The paintings at Ajunta are remarkably well-preserved, due mainly to the closed nature of the temples.  The yearly monsoons had no access to these paintings, so unlike Ellora, they are still visible.  Restoration work is ongoing to repair damage inflicted by the smoke from oil lamps when people inhabited the caves in the last century.  The paintings depict important scenes from the life of the Buddha.  The Buddha was an Indian prince named Sidhhartha Gautama who lived from 563 to 483 BC.  Disillusioned with the trappings of his royal life, he shunned his material possessions, including his family and his royal heritage, to embark on a spiritual quest.  Reaching full enlightenment at age 35, he urged his followers to abandon the caste system, central to Hinduism, and seek the truth within themselves.  Thus, Buddhism was born.  Buddhists believe that enlightenment may be attained by successfully following the Noble Eight-Fold Path: right understanding, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right awareness, and right concentration.  At Ajunta, our tour group included three Buddhist monks from Thailand who were in India studying for several years.  One of them was wearing an Adidas baseball cap with his saffron robe, demonstrating that the path to enlightenment doesn't exclude modern fashion.   Ajunta caves

During our stay in Aurangabad, Wiley began to develop an alarming rash on the backs of his thighs.  Over the next week it spread rapidly, until it covered about 70% of his body.  He didn't feel bad, but the constant itching was driving him crazy.  After visiting three doctors, he finally got a proper diagnosis: he was having an acute allergic reaction to the medicine we were taking for malaria prevention.  It took several days of "white man's medicine", as Wiley calls it, to get the itching stopped.  Long term, he can't take the Larium anymore.  We had some misgivings about taking this drug to begin with, and had met more than one person who had chosen to risk getting malaria as opposed to dealing with some of the side effects of the drug.  We had taken it in Peru with no problems, and hadn't had any of the side effects, which can include nightmares and insomnia.  The doctor said that Wiley's reaction had built up slowly, and was now severe.  Unfortunately, all of the malaria drugs come from the same derivative (quinine), so there's nothing else he can take.  So in the coming weeks, he'll wear mosquito repellent and hope for the best. 

Nasik, India
September 3 through September 6, 2000

Trading emails with Nilesh revealed that the computer was going to need a new hard drive, and that would take several more days.  We decided rather than wait it out in Bombay, we'd spend a few days in Nasik, a city halfway between Aurangabad and Bombay.  Nasik is a holy city to Hindus, and as such it contains more than 2000 temples.  In addition, the river that flows through Nasik, the Godavari, is believed to wash away sins, so many Hindus come there to bathe in the water.  Even if you can't make it there, a loved one can immerse your ashes for you.  I must say that it was somewhat difficult to watch the pilgrims swimming in and drinking the water, which appeared pretty nasty to me.  Apparently, the water's also great for getting out ground-in dirt in clothes, as the horde of women crouched on the steps leading to the river, scrubbing the day's laundry, indicated.  Wash day

We showed up at the bus station at the advertised hour of 7:00 A.M. for the government tour of some of Nasik's temples and holy spots.  When we asked the station manager where the bus for the tour boarded, he insisted that we come inside his office, sit down beside him, and wait until he could hand us off to the tour director.  Foreign tourists are an oddity in Nasik - I think I saw three other white people during the four days that we were there.  Everywhere we went, we were stared at intently, and everyone wanted to try out their three sentences of English on us.  One lovely woman approached us as we wandered around down by the river, by the bathing ghats.  She spoke English, and when she started a conversation with us, a crowd quickly gathered, seemingly mesmerized by words they couldn't understand.  She seemed so pleased to see us, and told us, "We have only seen you on TV,", meaning western people, I guess.  Just some of our many admirers

Just one of 2000  Our tour group for the day was composed of all Indians, except for us.  The guide spoke only Marathi, one of the many languages spoken in this country and the native tongue in this area, which made it difficult to understand when we were supposed to get back on the bus and what we were supposed to do when we got off of the bus, but we figured it out, with the help of our fellow tourists.  Some people erroneously assume that all Indians speak English.  Although it is the official language of government and business, and most people speak some, you find that there are many regional languages within India, almost as if people in different states in the U.S. spoke different languages.  It's still relatively easy to get around, because most people speak at least a little English, and most restaurants can stir up an English menu or two.  About the only communication barrier we've run into is with the taxi drivers.  Most of them neither read or speak English, and will tell you they understand where you want to go, even though they don't.

Trimbakeshwar Temple  We visited six or seven temples in and around Nasik.  All of the other people on the tour were Hindu, and approached these sites with great reverence, often bringing offerings to the gods.  We dutifully removed our shoes and shuffled through these holy places, gawking at the boldly painted idols and wondering what it all meant.  The high point of the day was visiting Trimbakeshwar Temple, one of the holiest temples in India.  It contains one of the twelve naturally occurring linga, the symbol of Shiva the destroyer, in India.  Pilgrims flock to this temple, and the courtyard contained crowd-control barriers like you might see in the loading areas of rides at Disneyworld.  We went inside this temple, and later read in the book that it was supposed to be open only to Hindus, but no one stopped us.  It was fascinating to watch the people praying fervently on the floor, or crowding around the linga to present their offerings to the priests.  Outside the temple we met a sadhu, one of the Hindu holy men who has devoted his life to achieving enlightenment.  These men typically own nothing more than a bowl with which to accept food or money offerings, and the simple clothes on their backs.  Hindu holy man

When we finally headed back to Bombay, Nilesh and crew were having problems getting the computer ready.  They had installed the new hard drive, but they were having problems procuring the necessary drivers that were unique to my machine.  Since I didn't bring the CD-ROM drive with me on the trip, or the floppy drive, things were that much more complicated, because they didn't have any easy way to load up the machine.  We made a decision that we couldn't stay in Bombay any longer, and that we were going south to the coast and the beach with or without the computer.  We had been talking to some little boys on the street one night, and had seen them sniffling into a rag.  At first I thought that they had colds, but then I realized that they were inhaling, not blowing, into the rag.  They were sniffing glue, and their vacant stares told us that they were addicted.  None of them could have been over 10 years old.  So we decided that we had had enough of the big city and all of its problems, and we went by Nilesh's office to give him them money we owed him, since we didn't want to carry around that much money in cash with us.  Wonder of wonders - he had the machine ready, so we could take it with us to the beach.  We agreed to come back to Bombay, because by that time our friend Mac had shipped our CD-ROM drive to us in order to help get the computer back together, so we needed to come back to pick it up.  But we boarded the train that night in good spirits, computer in hand, and ready to enjoy some R&R at the beach.

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