Waking up in the bus this morning, it looks like it’s been ransacked. It has, by me looking for documents equipment to show the police before I went to prison.
Last night there was no doubt I was going to carry on the trip, but this morning I feel numb, like this whole experience has beaten me. To do a big expedition around the world the only thing you really need is the unshakable belief that you can solve whatever problems life throws at you. Today I'm shaking.
Searching for some fresh clothes I’ve found some mouse shit. I have mice in the bus, and this feels like an insurmountable problem. I don’t know what to do about it. This minor set back makes me want to abandon the whole trip. Between the lawyer and court fees I have forked out over €3000 so far, and I still have to pay for a trial. It’s money well spent, don’t get me wrong, but those of you who know what a shoe string project this journey is running on will know what a massive impact that has. I could live on that for 3 or 4 months. This isn’t a plea for money – send donations to Haiti, not to some depressed middle class white boy who got himself into trouble with the police in India. Normally I’d be figuring out how I could use the media coverage to generate some money to cover the costs, but now I just don’t care. Numb.
Even my blog is dead. Taking pictures and blogging were the constant pleasure of the journey. Now it feels like the intimacy of this blog is distroyed. No longer am I speaking to a handful of friends, able to confide the dirty secrets of the journey, but I’m “using a media channel” with which to communicate to the public. I have to be careful what I say instead of speaking from the heart. You can’t imagine how sad that makes me.
As for pictures. I can’t see anything interesting or beautiful I want to photograph. I’m not in the mood.
I’m overwhelmed by my friends and family in a way I don’t even know how to conceive or accept, let alone be grateful for. It’s too much for me to take in. I can’t bring myself to look at the volume of comments and support on facebook.
I’ve been trying to figure out why this has happened and I’ve decided there is no reason, its just bad luck. I’m a guest in India, and I broke the rules. I can’t complain. I chose to come here and I have to take the rough with the smooth. But this is really rough. There’s nothing about satphones on the websites of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of External Affairs, or the High Commission in London. A contact at the XXXXX told me that in the weekly meeting of EU XXXXXXXX in Delhi this week, they discussed my case. They all carry sat phones and a good number of them admitted they had no idea they needed a permit for them. So I’m just the unlucky muppet that got caught first. Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law, but the law should be proportionate and fair. I’m still facing 10 years in that prison, and having been in it and spoken with people who are doing long sentences there, I know it’s a real prospect. I can see vividly how it can really happen, to me. It’s not some ephemeral possibility, it’s a tangible nightmare.
A Thuraya phone was carried by David Coleman Headley aka Dawood Gilani, who allegedly (I use that term because I think he’s still under trial) came to India to research the Mumbai attack last year posing as a tourist. It gets worse, he came to Pushkar and evaded capture here twice, so as it turns out waving a Thuraya around in Pushkar is like eating your prison rice with your left hand. Who knew? And well done Pag for checking out, first hand, exactly what the consequences of such benign ignorance would be. Apparently if I’d had an Iridium or an Inmarsat it would have been no problem. The Indian Security Services particularly target Thuraya because of its terrorist pedigree, and maybe also because Thuraya in UAE is 40% owned by Pakistani interests. Terrorists use Thuraya for the same reason I do, mountaineers do, journalists do, soldiers in Iraq and Iran do; because it’s the cheapest sat phone network. And from what I’ve read the reality is that terrorists actually use Pay As You Go GSM SIM cards, because they are even cheaper.
But I realise now that’s this is what’s really frightened me. Armed with just a small handful of blissful ignorance, and with very little effort on my part, I have been able to sink myself into a mountain of shit so big I might never see daylight til 2020. If the journey is allowed to continue by the Judge and then by me, the fear that there are countless other shit mountains out there waiting for me to blindly stumble into has taken hold.
Sometimes life punches you to the ground for no other reason than the waves of bad luck have coincided in tsunami of jinx over you. All you can do is lie there for a minute and when you’re ready, take a deep breath, get back up, and take solace from the fact probably won’t happen again for a while. I’m not ready to get up yet, and I can hear the mouse behind the sink. Fuck, everything is fucked up.
At least I have some company, and if he keeps out of sight, doesn’t chew threw the wires, or shit on my clothes again I might let him stay. The way I feel this minute, I might just give him the keys to the bus and the password to the blog.