Day 1: Preparation
Hello. I'm Wayne Type. I'm 19 and live at the top of a block of flats in Hulme, Manchester.
At the minute, I'm not working; spraying graffiti; tattooing my skin; and spending any sort of money I earn through shifty sales on food and skinny women and, best of all, drinking my way through my dole cheque before departing on a two-month trip to India and Thailand paid for by the government on some rehabilitation scheme. Clichéd I know, but clichés are there for a reason. And that reason is that the far-east never gets to see real Brits, just the posh boy southerners with more money and no street sense. Time they get to see what the majority are like in Britain are like, not the privileged few that just ooze pre-independence colonial stereotype.
I'm kinda shitting myself about travelling (but not in the pussy way cos if you think that I'll smash your head in). More its the having to share hostels with those rich-boy pansies that scares me. Just imagine being cooped up with one of 'em for night after night in the squalor of some back alley hostel listening to them bitch about how they miss their mum. I for one won't be doing that as my mum left when I was four.
Don't get me wrong, I'm excited. It's not often you get two months worth of easy marks and naive richies to pick on. I should be able to get a good enough haul to open my own branch of Dixons by the time I get back. I just know that when I step off that plane and into the maelstrom of Mumbai - well, actually, I don't know how I'll react - I mean do I mug the plum with the sweater tied round his waist or have a crack at the blonde sat in the arrivals lounge sniveling cos she hasn't had mummy tuck them in for at least 24 hours?
But I guess it is going to be tough - even for me - I hear the police out there are a little more liberal with the kickings than even the Manchester cops so I know I should bide my time until I suss the lay of the land.
I'm doing India on my own. Officially the court says its so that I can "develop" but I know thats a load of bull - they just think that if they put a few of us out there in five minutes we'll be boosting cars and spraying gang tags on the Taj Mahal. Obviously I've options to meet up with people there, (my dealer says gets all his good stuff from this guy in Mumbai) but for the most part, it'll be me, my backpack and someone elses wallet.
I fly into Mumbai today, but will move down to Goa pretty sharpish and lay low there for a few days - a nice, slow introduction hopefully laced with lots of of the three S's - Sun, Sex and Stella. And then South India's pretty much my oyster - Kerala, Madurai, Bangalore, Cochin, Mysore ... Wherever. I'm free to roam. That's the beauty of doing it by myself. No copper looking over my shoulder and plenty of places to bolt to if it gets to hot.
I must admit though that the whole thing just aint fair. Practically all of my friends are banged up at the mo soaking up the culture and enlightenment of Strangeways but no I get sent half way round the world by some hippy judge.
I mean nothing appeals to me about travelling. Ok maybe the lack of notoriety with the local law enforcement and the fact me bird will have a bugger of a time getting hold of me to tell me how crap a dad I am appeals but really thats about it.
Anyway, you could come with me every step of the way - well, not every step cos as I said I do want to be allowed back into England. Just a few minutes once a week, via this blog so my mates don't think I'm dead and pawn my stereo. But even so, I'll do my best to tell of the debauched drug filled orgies, the swag hauls and the messy late-night evictions from bars and, of course, all that bullshit about finding myself just to keep me probation officer happy.
I have already experienced my first taste of India - but I guess the curry mile doesn't count oh and there was The Indian High Commission I got frog marched to to get a visa. Took a fair bit of quick talking by me Prob. Officer to convince them I wasnt a threat to their country. Eight in the morning and the queue was already tailgating round the block but I got some practice in for my trip and stared down the wet wipes that had been driven down their by daddy in the mercedes. We got to the front pretty quick and it lifted my spirits. Maybe the whole india trip might be a laugh after all. Once me Prob. Officer had finally got me a visa at four in the afternoon I snuck off to the local and propped the bar up there - convinced that one or two drinks before the trip to the embassy would've made the whole thing much more bearable.
Anyway, I've had to get my tablets (they'll be stashed carefully in me luggage where no bugger of a customs officer will find them) the rest of it I'll pick up on the way. I mean its not as if the baggage carousel at Mumbai aint gonna be short of fully kitted out bags is it!
Day 2: Arrival
Despite the torrent of abuse (My mates are tracking you down as we speak Antinomian) I have decided to push on with the blog.
I must admit to being a bit pole-axed after the flight - added to the fact I just spent the last 3 hours in the Mumbai security office trying to explain why I used my passport for roach material during the flight. Apparently it not only makes your passport a bugger to read by the customs staff I shouldn't have been smoking on the plane either.. fuck that! do you know how long that flight is? 12 bloody hours! Everyone had failed to mention that India was on the other side of the effing world!
So with a few phone calls and plenty of reassurances from my designated probation officer they eventually let me through and I stood in India proper - or at least the main terminal anyway. First priority being a drink I swiftly located the airport bar, got me self a couple of bottles and found a quiet corner to plan my next move.
Given that I'd decided not to aggravate matters in the security office I had decided to forget to mention that I had a bag as I knew they'd go ape when they found my medication so my main problem was gear - the luggage kind that is.
My plan for a little sleight of hand with the baggage carousel was screwed as security had made damn sure I was well out of the arrivals bay by then and even the wettest of the travellers had pulled themselves together by then and found themselves a taxi so instead I was faced with relying on a little Manc ingenuity (or failing that at least some good luck and plenty of faulty CCTV). Planning was everything and for that more alcohol was definitely required so a couple of rounds later I was definitely feeling more optimistic about the whole situation.
As it was life is full of opportunities and my one turned out to be sat in the corner of the bar. Jackpot. Sat at a table, laptop open before him and best of all a bulging rucksack of goodies laying forgotten at his feet. Now let me point out that in Manchester this would never happen - if you've got a bag you make a point of keeping either a vice-like grip on it or you just leave it at home as some thieving scally will always be happy to relieve you of such a weighty burden with a bit of the old snatch and run. Time for lesson one of "Travelling Alone for Dummies" for the Hugh Grant junior wannabe.
Now even I know airports are not the place to mess about with something as unsubtle as snatching as all it would take is a vocal victim and some gun toting copper has given you a new hole in the head to smoke with - so until I'd moved on to less well-enforced scenery this was going to take a little more effort.
Enter Wayne Type - fellow overwhelmed traveller.
So I walk over with a beer, mutter something about how lost I felt and joined him at the table. Turns out that its my lucky day and the guy might as well have "Mug" tattoo'd above his stupidly large specs as off he goes, practically in tears, whingeing about being screwed by the Guardian (I assume he's been molested by his foster parent or something) and that he was currently the most hated guy on the planet at the moment.
Five beers later and he's slurring telling me his Dad made him do it. I don't ask what he made him do but considering his earlier comments I don't want to know. Ten beers later and the guys asleep with his head on the table and its time to make my move.
Having a quick shufty through the bag reveals all the travel gear I'd ever need and ten pairs of alarmingly skinny jeans. Plucking those from the top I dump them under the table, throw the bag over my shoulder and stroll out into the heat.
Now you have to bear in mind Manchester is cold. Penguins frollick in the canals during the summer and you cant go five feet in the city centre without an eskimo trying to sell you the big issue so the heat was a shock I must admit. There was also an alarming lack of rain.
Swaying slightly I pulled myself together and looked for a convenient way of combining shade and a get away and lo and behold there it was.. a gleaming row of taxis. Ranging from beat up datsuns to bright white BMW's. It was an easy choice as air conditioning was top of my wish list and most of these shit heaps come from a time when air conditioning was some kind of northern shampoo so the the BMW it was.
After fifteen minutes of trying to explain that I wanted a "cheap" hotel the guy eventually got it and there I was picking my way through the traffic jams of India in my shiny white chariot praying that there was a bar preferably propped up by some suitably dodgy types to scab some drugs off. Relaxing back in me chair off I dozed to the fanfare of car horns in rush hour. Felt just like home.