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Bad Tripping: Getting Over the Traveler Blues

Bad Mike has hit the low point in the vagabond’s emotional bell curve. How will he get back on top?

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BAD TRIPPING Wayward Travel Advice for the Anxious and Burdened

Plop, plop … fizzzzle. Bad Mike has got the blues.

Having the blues on the road truly sticks the fuzzy end of the lollipop deep into one’s maw. No doubt my Twitter follower is wondering ‘How come he don’t write?’

A sorry explanation: My glorious Himalayan summer has collapsed into a despondent heap like last week’s ignored, and now soggy, laundry.

A bout of hard travel can do that to a fella: first, getting stranded for almost two weeks in the Indian Himalaya due to September’s Kashmir deluge and surviving on rice and rancid cabbage will wear down even the hardiest of vagabonds, but that is another forthcoming story. Stay tuned … same Bat channel … same Bat time … same Bat humor.

It has been a rough summer. From blacking out at 20,000 feet and busting my nose — hey kids! here’s a bit of trivia for those lonely nights, blood does not coagulate well in the thin air — to getting bitch slapped by a Yeti — who knew they would be sensitive about their big feet and frilly pink delicates clinging about their hips like ship-wrecked fairies in a turbulent sea of matted fur?

The worst was the truly awful ride from Leh to Manali in northern India. It was eighteen hours of bumpity-bump and hurling chunkies onto my fellow hapless and equally ill passengers. That ride of horror brought forth a dark memory from the dusty bin of my traumatic childhood: that summer our family cat was treated to a road trip. Cats do not react well to motion sickness. Poor Samantha did a big time freak-out and showered our unhappy and dysfunctional family with liquid sprays of mackerel flavored tender vittles. Samantha escaped her torment by leaping out of an open window. High speed Interstate highways and furry little creatures do not mix well. God bless our mangled kitty.

A small and traumatic digression? Perhaps. But after twelve hours of enduring the amphetamine fuelled madness of a driver intent on destroying what little remained of my withered soul I fervently prayed for death. I prayed that we would veer off of the vague shadow of the road (if there ever truly was a road to be found amongst the dust and casually strewn boulders) and over a cliff screaming merrily as we plunged to our sweet and battered demise. Surely God would bless our mangled corpses too.

Some horrors never quit. Possessed with the rage of a jihadi martyr cheated of a few black-eyed virgins our narco-fuelled driver swerved into a flattened patch of dust and deposited his painfully jostled passengers into an eatery whose menu promised 57-varieties of gastro-intestinal destruction.

I selected a Snickers bar and a Coke for my din-din. I am a smart traveller, unlike my witless fellow passengers who scooped and shovelled copious servings of viscous dhal and clumped rice into their greedy gullets.

Some din-dins insist upon repeated encores like delusional opera singers incapable of carrying a tune. Have you ever watched someone shit into a hat in a crowded jeep? Some things can never be unseen. They are burned into your traumatized retinas for eternity. Some say that smell is the most accurate recorder of memory. They are correct.

In Simka, a pretty mountain town of outrageously overpriced, budget raping hotels I selected the most decrepit, vermin ridden fire trap I could find for my night of sweet dreamings of especially limber black eyed beauties.

After six weeks of soft living in the Israeli occupied town of Ley I had forgotten what a searing tribulation an authentic, budget-priced Indian hotel room can be. For 360 Rupees (that’s six stalwart U.S. greenbacks), a full dollar more than my heavenly digs in Ley, I was treated to a single, sheet-less mattress collaged with incalculable spurts of auto-erotic excess and weak bladders in a room illuminated by a light bulb too weak to cast even a ghost’s shadow.

Among my frayed belongings is a hammock. But seldom is there anywhere to affix a hammock in a hotel room. There is not even a hook on which to affix a suitable garrotte. When the blues come down they strike the solitary traveller like a hammer.

With my visa expiring in less than a week I had to book it with the beetling speed of an incontinent angel into Nepal. Never, ever overstay an Indian visa. It is a criminal offence. Even a one day overstay could see your weeping self in a prison for up to a year. More if you are a pretty boy. More likely though you’ll be fined $30 for every day overstayed, plus an array of other wallet-popping fines. And you could be banned from ever entering India again. Being persona non grata is fodder for the blues.

The rumored alternative is to sneak into Nepal. How? Oh, oh, how Bad Mike do I do that?! For the very foolish and very desperate there are about forty paths along the Uttarakhand/West Nepal border that are used by local villagers, drug smugglers, terrorists, human traffickers and the occasional New Zealander. If you get caught sneaking don’t expect chai and sugar cookies from the local authorities.

Again I have digressed. It comes with the blues. And with the blues come New Delhi and its medieval budget rooms. There is nothing good to say about the Paharganj. It is the repository for lost and threadbare souls. It is a transit point for all parts India and beyond. My quest is for the beyond.

The beyond is Sanuli, a border town, like most border towns, bordering on the depraved and the criminal eagerly anticipating wandering itinerants with the blues who might easily be relieved of whatever valuables they might possess. Sanuli is the overland gateway into Nepal.

Traveling with the blues presses a heavy boot into the well-trod paths of a vagabond’s wanderings.


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Filed under: Bad Tripping, India

About the Author:

I like the velocity of travel — it is the constant motion, like the flitting movement of a loaded brush over canvas, where a rhythm develops and is occasionally syncopated by thwarted plans or minor disaster. It is a way of living and an exploration of the outer world and my inner landscape. There are dangers in such a way of living. Rarely are there external dangers; what is to be feared is the habit of exchanging nullity for nullity, drifting from visa to visa until either the money runs out or the earth simply swallows you. Painting and writing is the binder that holds my center together while also compelling me onward. To what end I do not know … these are voyages of discovery. The destination, if there is one, will manifest itself at some point.

has written 28 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
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Bad Mike is currently in: Gokarna, IndiaMap

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