It simply stated “Ceasefire ceased, member states stationed at summit summoned home.” Within 24 hours all cable connections and internet services were shut down and 91.9 FM employees were all fired. Just like that. I suppose All India Radio, too, but who listens to them?
Most refugee camps were vacated overnight, leaving empty tents in government sanctioned settlements. Newspapers were much in demand and some printing presses were even attacked and vandalized. Printing equipment selling like conflict diamonds on the black market.
One day all the ATM’s stopped dispensing cash and the banks closed their doors for the final time. It wasn’t long before currency ran out and people started exchanging goods.
About this time, there was a rumor going around about hordes of people immigrating across state lines as most of the security at these posts had returned home. Taking this as a sign, I packed my Wildcraft backpack and exchanged my Greg Bennett acoustic guitar for a full tank of fuel. I couldn’t know for certain how far it would get me, but I figured doing something was better than staying at home.
She had said, “Come as soon as you can,” and up until now it wasn’t possible because of all the visa issues that popped up. Now, visas were not needed and she was the first person on my mind. This would certainly be a surprise.
The fuel was used up by the time I entered Maharashtra, so I exchanged the bike for a horse and continued. The horse gave out on the outskirts of Gujarat and I hitch-hiked till I got to the Pakistan border. I was stuck there for a few days because neither of the armies were willing to leave the border for even a moment. Big surprise! Finally I convinced them I was going on a pilgrimage and they had to let me pass.
On through Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan I hitched rides on trucks, cycles, motorbikes, cars, horses, and for a short stint even traveled with a group of gypsies heading nowhere in particular.
By the time I reached the Russian border, I only had the clothes I was wearing and rubber sandals a group of Thai businessmen gave me when they saw me barefoot. They were actually doing a round the world trip when war had been declared. Of course, it being the start of winter already I had to get warmer clothes and some snow boots. I took a job in a
stable and spent a month milking goats and making cheese until the owner paid me with some worn out boots and wooden skis.
Skiing across Russia wasn’t the most fun thing to do with the majority of towns all boarded up or destroyed by RPGs. It took me around two months to reach Raate on the Finnish border. The officials there were very impressed that I had made it that far and as a gesture of goodwill gave me a sled with four huskies. I promised to mail them a few bottles of Prosecco if I made it to my destination, but they said to think nothing of it, ’cause they might not be around to receive it anyway.
A week later I was walking along the Oulujoki on the way to my lover’s place. The locals were kind enough to guide me even though my Finnish hadn’t gotten past “Noni.” Walking up the flight of stairs to her door, I couldn’t help but smile at my adventures. Before I could knock, it swung open…