It is done! I crossed the Indian border! First stations after crossing a border are migration and customs. Here in India we have to go first to the customs and then to the migration. Unlike in all the other countries. All the paperwork is absolutely nothing for me! On my whole trip I am very easy going unless I am at the border. The only thing which helps here is shock therapy: After 15 borders with paperwork I got used to it. But anyways: I never know how long I have to wait this time and what surprise comes next…
I am sitting quite nervous in front of the official who is filling out the customs document (Carnet de Passages). Next to me sits my mother who joins me for this part of the journey. She found a Sodoku in an Indian newspaper and tries to solve it. How cool is that? Maybe I am giving her the calmness and she doesn’t know how I feel. Anyways this situation calms me down. I take a picture without attracting the attention of the officer. Meanwhile my heart jumps up and down. I made it to India by car! Incredible! Bam – Bam – Bam. Three stamps into the customs document. We’re done here and can continue.
The migration office is the place where they check and stamp your passport. The Indian one is a little bit hidden and we almost missed it. But when you enter a country it is very important to get the entry stamp otherwise you will get problems when you leave the country. This can be probably only solved with money.
I had many expectations towards this country! I l listened to so many stories about India of my friends. I read many books. This is the place where I wanted to stay for a while. But already the first moments after we entered the country were pushing my feelings down like a coffee press and left an image of India which is filtered of all the expectations.
It was – and that was for sure – all the trash next to the streets what we noticed first. Right after the border river we saw a 14-year-old girl half naked on a dump next to the street. What happened there? I had immediately the stories of rapes in India in my mind. I pushed the thoughts to the side. No that was something else for sure! After that the traffic. Well, many people already told me that it is crazy in India. On active guy in a forum said that the probability is higher to drive through Afghanistan without a scratch than through India. I was remembering his words already on the first kilometers. On narrow mountain roads they cut in a way the curves, that I asked myself many times what would happen if I wouldn’t break like crazy. When we arrived at dusk in Imphal, capital of the state Manipur, the chaos was perfect. The horn was permanently used by the people. Risky overtakings. Ox carriages and people without light. Very bad roads. How should I drive here more than thousand kilometers?
Did I mention the bad roads? There were holes in the street like in Swiss cheese. At some pot holes you could almost see the other end of the world. And the deepest holes were always in the curves when traffic came from the other direction. Wrumms. That hurt!
At the end I realized that there were a lot of military in this area. There are many riots in the state of Manipur. Several times they end in violence or with deaths. The military should calm down but makes me worry.
The city of Imphal didn’t make a nice impression to me. I felt very unsafe. A lot of gloomy corners. When we entered the city we realized that all gas station were closed. We figured out later that there was an economy embargo against the state of Manipur. We also could see long queues in front of the ATMs. Several days ago the government announced that 5.000 (70$) Rupee and 10.000 (140$) Rupee bills are not longer valid to make corruption more difficult. At ATMs you could therefore only withdraw 2.000 Rupee. That was a problem for us, as we figured out some days later.
With stayed in an expensive and dirty hotel. At least they accepted our credit card because we didn’t have any Rupee in our pocket. At night I could barely sleep. Was it a good idea to drive to India?