Some of what you see here is so crushingly tragic, so awfully ... unfair. There are beggars everywhere, of all ages and genders, often with twisted bodies or missing body parts. Yesterday on one of my walks I encountered a fellow, wearing a loincloth only, with just one small flipper of an arm that he was flapping furiously while lying face down on a large rectangle of blue tarpaulin that was peppered with coins. Someone, either a helper or a sort of beggar's pimp, probably the latter, had obviously set him up there. Later on in the evening as I ventured out to a restaurant (Teej, allegedly one of the better ones around town) I walked past some pavement dwellers, one of whom was slapping his partner's face and howling ... she remained immobile. On my way back, after a hearty meal (somewhat coloured by what I suspected had happened) he was lying there, silently this time with what seemed like a body wrapped in hessian next to him.
It wouldn't be India if there weren't major reconstruction work happening inside the hotel at some point during the stay. At about 6am, audible scrabbling and then sawing sounds could be heard, followed by the occasional tremendous clatter of falling rubble. There was clearly some dire necessity to do this work at this hour because by about 7:30 am all work had ceased. In the past I probably would've exploded out into the corridor but these days finding some form of acceptance seems the wiser course.
I cycled to Babu Ghat, the bus station, this morning to see about a bus ticket to Puri. Besides getting badly lost on the way there (and this, with a map & even compass) I had terrible trouble trying to sort something out. One company said the bike was a problem & another couldn't seem to grasp what I was requesting. It appears that the best course of action might be to just arrive there tomorrow evening a few hours before departure & try & sort something out. Failing this, I might just have to start pedalling!
There was a major demonstration in town today; masses & masses of people arriving in countless buses, protesting about price hikes in sugar (and possibly other things). While waiting for a small gap in the march so I could cross the road, I got chatting with a Mr V. Agarwal, a paper napkin manufacturer (or "Stockist of Disposable Catering Item" according to his business card). He was most interested to hear that my profession was psychologist & asked what my opinion was of him (after asking the obligatory questions: was I married? What was my religion? Did I believe in god?). He appeared a little crestfallen when I said he seemed a pleasant, relaxed fellow, and proceeded to tell me about his life and how unhappy and stressed he was and wanted my advice. (This was all a difficult conversation due to his broken English & my non-existent Hindi). My suggestion to "worry less" surprisingly seemed to hit the mark & he cheered considerably, while thanking me.The funny thing was: I found it very helpful also, having been worrying just a little about how to handle the bus dilemma & associated options.