Silchar, India

  • Date
  • 5 March 2001

What a good night of sleep can do to restore one’s soul – and a long shower with plenty of time to shave the five-day growth on my legs! I turned the water off between shampooing and shaving, so Jim would have hot water too.

I’m sitting in our hotel – the Borail View Hotel with the fan muttering as it spins round and round, the water in the bathroom running as Jim shaves, and buses, scooters, rickshaws and cars honking and buzzing outside the tiny balcony adjacent to our room. The TV doesn’t work, but who cares? It’s the roaches the size of my hand that really cause me to cringe. The soiled bed cover looks never to have been washed, but the most important part of the bed – the sheets – are clean, without hair and dirt. An AC is in the corner, but the minimal airflow combined with tremendous racket makes the fan a better option. Mosquitoes too live here in the room with us. We use mosquito coils at night and keep the fan spinning nonstop hoping the air will move away the pesky, Malaria-carrying creatures.

I laugh thinking how we were stuck in Oman at that great Hyatt Hotel with the fantastic gym while waiting for Iranian visas that never arrived. Now we are stuck in Silchar, where there ain’t any oil and life isn’t easy for most people. The idea of a gym is quite a superficial notion. But we stay here faxing, calling and even begging the Indian authorities to grant us permission to enter the next state, Manipur, so that we can cross into Myanmar. I paint a bleak picture of this hotel, but I shouldn’t. When I look back on the hotel in Wadi Halfa (northern Sudan) with dirt floors, no electricity, roaches bigger than here, no running water or proper toilet and no lock on the door, Silchar’s Borail View Hotel is a fantasy land. We were stuck in Wadi Halfa 11 days.

And we certainly slow down in a town like this. Waiting gives us time to slow down, experience life more fully – drinking tea on the side of the road, walking through markets and meeting people like the Boras (see 2 March 2001 notes).