Village after village rolled by in the afternoon sun. The train delay on top of the bus delay resulted in daytime villages turning into afternoon villages which gave way to dusk and evening villages. My fear of being lost in a border town were not yet known to me before I had embarked in my clown bus. I assumed that I would safely arrive at my destination with plenty of time to cross the border in the daylight and make my way on to Kathmandu. This would not be the case.
The border towns of Sunauli/Belahiya are actually one large town that is separated by the India/Nepal border at a main road crossing. Generally speaking Indians and Nepalis can cross the border at will and without much frustration. The roads are somewhat paved with a thick layer of dust and exhaust fumes that refract the lights of trucks and buses thus giving the area a dim glow after the sun has gone down. Almost like a constant fog cover that can give you cancer after enough exposure. My evening was far from over, but as my balance re-calibrated itself on solid, motionless, ground I began to set my bearings. I was a long way from Kathmandu, but Nepal was nearly in site.
I created a plan in my mind where someone would attempt to unloaded my bag as gently as possible while ensuring that absolutely nothing was broken or lost. In reality my bag was fished from the depths of the buses boot with the same care that is given to a sack of rotten potatoes resulting in the leg of my tripod liberating itself from the other legs. This was not going well.
As with any other transportation hub there were plenty of taxis and rickshaws waiting to only offer their most humble services and honest prices without a thought of bending me over for every rupee I had left. Anyone who has traveled internationally will know that the previous description is a huge lie, but it was dark, loud, and hectic at the border and I was in no mood to be fucking around. I picked a rickshaw driver who looked the least likely to drive me into a dark alley and stab me in the face. He convinced me to accept his offer for a ride by saying, “I know where the border office is and you do not.” Victory is yours.
The rickshaw pulled away from a dozen other rickshaws and onto the dirt road. Semi-trucks carrying good from India into Nepal waited on the road. Headlights cut through the smog and illuminated the brightly colored semi interiors. Flags, bells, idols and pictures line the interiors of most of the trucks but their horns are the most noticeable accessories and they are used nearly constantly.
My first stop was the Indian immigration point to prepare my exit papers. Nothing in India moves quickly, but the processing time was taking longer than it should have. Unfortunately the internet access is not the best on the border. I watched from across the room and through a door as they restarted the computer, waited for a connection, continued with looking blankly at the screen, said a few prayers for better luck and then finally just gave up trying to connect to the 21st century. My papers were signed my papers and thirty seconds later I was on my way. The government of India probably that I never left.
I walked past a fenced gate and under a basic arch with the lights of the semis continuing to give the path a dim glow. My shadow moved softly across the ground and I found my way to the Nepali immigration office. My trip through India was finished, but Kathmandu was still one long bus ride away.