This was a mild description of what we would soon experience. The bus was overfilled with noisy travellers, the beds were claustrophobic, with neither space for feet nor luggage, the roads were bumpy and the bus driver was honking like a maniac. To top it all, the bus caught fire after just a few hours of driving, and all the passengers had to be evacuated in the middle of the night, and wait in the wilderness until further instructions were given. It took as much as seven hours before a new bus arrived, and we were relieved to finally be on our way again. When we finally arrived in Goa,we asked the first rickshaw (indian three wheel taxi) driver we found to take us to a clean guesthouse. The driver had some neighbors in his small fisherman village who had some apartments for rent, and we decided to go and check it out. The apartment exceeded all our expectations, as it was just perfect, after 25 hours of torture on the dirty, run down bus. This was a place far better than we had imagined to find, and would soon be our home for the next weeks.
Our replacement bus was much more new and spacious
After a few days of self provided sightseeing, we decided to take a late night walk along the seaside of Colaba to see a wedding event that was being prepared right outside of our hostel. The place was beautifully lit up and flower decorated, with the Gateway of India and a whole fleet of lit up army ships in the background. In the mild evening temperature we were sitting peacefully watching the beautiful Colaba promenade when a legless man approached us with his tricycle.
The next morning the taxi driver stood smiling by his legless friend, and was ready to take us on a trip he promised we would never forget. And that was true indeed. He got to show us how the recycling worked in the slum, how the locals did their cooking, shopping and laundering and how they managed to work as a society with their limited amount of resources. He even took us to his home to show us his family and neighbors, where he generously offered us a cup of slum water (that we did not dare to drink). He was very proud to show us his house, even though it was just a shack with tin roofs and concrete floors to sleep on. Most of the slum “houses” lacked clean water, sanitation and electricity, but these factors did not seem to play a big role in peoples quality of life, as people were happy and very friendly to us and everyone around. Everywhere we went, there were smiling children running around, observing every move we made. After our three-hour visit, these people came running after our car and waved enthusiastically to say goodbye, leaving us with a warm feeling in our hearts that even though these children live in extreme poverty, their quality of life seemed better than some people living in Norway.