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Border to Nepal, India

Blue-eyed and unaware of anything, I make my way to the bus station in the darkness. I had to poke my rickshaw driver vigorously in the back to make him drive in the right direction. When I arrive, I am so happy to be in the right place and to have found the correct bus station, that, at first, the narrow seats and the missing headrests don't worry me. I'm one of the first to get on the bus, but soon it gets jam-packed. When asked if a young man can sit next to me, I stubbornly refuse. It's too tight. I don't know what he will think when my hips are drilling into his. So, a young woman has to change her place. She seems reluctant to be removed from her father's side, but I'm okay with that. I cannot face an eight-hour drive if I have to worry about the man sitting pressed against me. In this situation, I realise how much I have changed. I am glad and a little bit proud to have stood my ground.

Bus nightmares, Varanasi, India

After four hours we have made the first third of the journey, and after eight hours, not even two-thirds. We get brutally shaken back and forth. The bus roars through the dark and foggy night. We drive past food stalls and huts. Although I expect the Himalayas to be visible soon, the earth remains flat. I drift off to sleep, wake up from each pothole. Soon, the girl next to me falls asleep on my shoulder. I miss my inflatable travel pillow, which I had to throw away in Delhi. My neck hurts and my head too. Bumping against the dirty window screen can't be healthy. After 12 hours, we finally arrive at the border of Nepal. We drive to a place that is nestled along the road that leads to the border. Millions of trucks are lining up. The bus squeezes past them and continues on its way. At some point, we turn left, and after two more minutes of gravel road, we arrive. Of course, there is nothing here except some rickshaw drivers. As usual, I pull past them and ignore their offers. A little exercise will do me good, even if it's damp and cold. I'm trotting down the gravel road leading to the border and keep my eyes open for the immigration office. Of course, I see nothing. I walk to the end and am sent back. This time, I find the two different offices that give me the right stamps. The fog hangs low, and the huge border portal rises into a white wall. It looks like I have everything. I look back once more and then take one step in front of the other. I'm on the move again.

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