There were harder days during the walk with Billy, at times we would struggle to find water as we were walking off the main road in between towns. Many times we found ourselves without water and the heat of the day taking its toll. On one such day, we luckily came across a small town that surely would have some water. As we entered, people stared, stopped what they were doing, their gazes following us as we slowly trudged through their grounds. In my head they were staring at us, but as you have come to realize, I had barely gone noticed. Slowly but surely more and more people gathered around as we made our way to a hand pump on the side of the road and began filling our bottles, more and more from all corners of the village. Small, medium, large, mostly male, surrounded us just watching, then one chimed up and started speaking broken English and Billy responded in Hindi, to their delight they started conversing, mainly about his iphone and by the time we were ready to go the whole town was out to see Billy off on his adventures across India.
This was Billy’s ideal environment, he flourished in it, not in an obnoxious way, but he’s definitely a ‘people person’ and definitely someone who doesn’t shy away from a conversation, even if he doesn’t speak the language. He was for me a reminder, as I watched him, that I had started becoming an introvert, passing through these places, I had become just a part of the furniture. By complete fault of my own I had detached myself from the people around me and flicked onto autopilot. Something that would have to change.
A few days later we arrived at what would later become our half way point. We came to a town called Bijnor, it was a large busy place that we stayed in for the night to rest our blisters, but made sure we took some time to limp around and enjoy the fair that was being held during the evening. With people coming up to talk to Billy and stares all around. The next day we left slightly refreshed but still limping.
One afternoon we stopped at a dhaba and had a cold drink each, Billy took his trainers off, trainers that he had bought last minute in Delhi before leaving and hadn’t really broken in, the consequences of which he was feeling. I took no notice, as this was a routine I was used to by now, but what caught my eye was the intricate way in which he was approaching the removal of the final sock. He finally removed the sock and left there hanging on to his little toe by a small strand, was his toenail. We looked at each other and began laughing. He decided that all he could do was pull it completely off, so off it came.
That night we slept at a dhaba, where an older man and a younger boy worked, they agreed to let us use the two beds that were made from platted material and wood for the evening. As we lay there Billy, in a half joking half serious tone said “I’m enjoying it, but I don’t think I can keep going much more”, he said he didn’t want to stop just yet though, but carry on for a bit longer. We sat for a while and looked at the map on our phones and we picked out a town called Bareilly where he said he would get the train back to Delhi.
A few days later we arrived in Bareilly, we were told upon entering it was famous for its furniture and eyeliner. We found a hotel and checked in for the night. In the morning we walked to the train station where we said our goodbyes and like that I was on my own again for the second time in a foreign country. You would think I’d be used to it by now but everytime I had to say goodbye, the following day would be a long one. Kilometers would take that little bit extra to do and I would get fed up of listening to my music earlier in the day than usual. It was fun whilst it lasted.
If your interested in following Billy on his adventures around Asia, I can assure you his Instagram or twitter makes for an entertaining follow: @nomadicbilly