Zion

The driver

Age: 23
Born: Rishon LeZion, Israel
Lives Now: Rishon LeZion, Israel

Reading time:
~14 minutes


March 2016
India, Rajasthan

I’m born in Rishon.. LeZion.. Yes, Rishon LeZion, I’m not kidding. The city is beautiful, we have a sea and it is clear water, very beautiful. It’s a pretty big city.
 In the summer it’s pretty good, and the weather is hot.. 35.. 38 Celcius..

I started school when I was 6.. or 7… 6. I don’t remember much about kindergarten though..
When I was a child I was playing basketball for 6 years, from 10 years old to 16 years. You can see with my height I was not the best for it, but I was fast. I’m not that fast anymore, but I used to be very fast.
I went to high school when I was 15. I loved it. A lot of traveling, spending a lot of time with friends and playing everyday, football.. and basketball..

ARMY
Then in 2010 when I was 18, I had to go to the army. It was really nice 3 years. I learned a lot in the 3 years.
It begins, by us doing some tests on the computer, they ask some questions. And after you have the profile of your health. If you’re good, they can send you to the combat battle.

But because I don’t have sisters or brothers, so my parents have to sign a paper, to allow me to go. At first my parents did not want to sign. And.. it is a little bit of a problem, because I want to go to the combat.
And… yeah.. I told my parents later: “Now I want to go to the combat battle”, and they said no. But after a while they said: “We can’t stop you, you do what you want. What you feel like doing”.
Yeah.. it’s important 3 years in my life.

The first 2 months of military is like basic training, you know. We learn how to shoot. A lot of gym, almost every day. We run a lot, but not long, maximum 3 kilometres, maybe 4. And every 2 weeks we do a trek, like a.. march.. of 15 or 20 kilometres. We put all the stuff in the bag and have a full gear and the helmet and walk.
And after the 2 months they give the patch of the company, this coloured mark. And after this 2 months I learn the profession in the tank.

In the beginning of the service when I did the tests. I have to do some testing in a simulator. And after you can request to be what profession you want to be. I wanted to be driver and I got to be the driver. But I have to learn a little bit of all the professions, so I learn to be the gunner, a little bit.

So there is 4 people in the tank. Driver, gunner, loader and commander. The commander sits above, as the driver don’t see everything. So the commander takes command of the tank, he tells where to go. He listens to all the communication on the radio. All the time I drive myself, I love it.
The commander is a good friend, really good friend. It’s like commander.. but you know, he’s maybe.. 23 years, same age, some Russian guy. We all are really good friends, I stay still in contact with these friends.

After you learn your profession for 2 months, they do some exam, if pass you go on, if you don’t pass, I don’t know.. maybe you try again? I passed the exam and then I train for 6 months.
After the 6 months, I am ordered to a.. battle combat brigade. Then I go to battle.. to the line.

Sometimes we had mentally tough situations.. like, you can go outside to some place for a lot of hours, and you just sit in the tank.. Yeah, really tough because I’m a person who needs to move all the time.
I was in combat only one time. In an operation that took 1 month.
Actually, that was my second operation.. because in my first operation we don’t go in. They attack only from the air and sea. We wait for 1 week and they say: “Ok, we don’t go in”, and then they send us back.
I think this one time.. my tank maybe killed 1 person. But I don’t know for sure.

I was the driver for the commander of the brigade for the last year of service. Driving him all around, everywhere. And.. every day was different. One day I might be sitting in the car all day, the next day I might be sitting and watching TV all day. A lot of free time, but some days are tough, because I might drive all day, for 5 days or more. All day in the car.

And every day in the last year of service, I had to drive to the border with a jeep. To check if someone is trying to cut the border or something. This one time, I didn’t sleep all night, no.. I think I slept 4 hours.. and… this was a cold day, so I turned the heater on. Everybody who was with me in the car fell asleep.. and at some point I fall asleep. And the co-driver, who was sitting next to me, he takes the wheel and turn us left.. I think.. one or two more seconds and we would be crashing into the border…. And they punish me, I get some 28 days in the base, no going to home.

But now.. when they call me to service I just need to go to training 1 time every year and in 15 years I am finished there. The training is 2 weeks every year, sometimes it is 2 times the 2 weeks, if the military has the money. It’s nice, you meet all your friends you served with. We do a lot of tank training in these 2 weeks. A lot.. a.. lot. But it’s like.. we have time, sometimes we stop, we can have a cigarette, to drink some coffee, to eat.. and we sleep on the tank, it’s fun. And we send the laundry every week, so we get clean clothes.

Oh yeah.. one time we spent a few days in the tank and I need to go shit. I had to shit in my helmet, because it wasn’t safe to go outside of the tank. So I had to just shit in the helmet.. well I put a plastic bag first in the helmet, haha. And we would have to piss in bottles. You would have to aim straight, ha.. if not then.. your clothes will be.. disgusting.

I finished the army in 2013.. then I was looking for a job.. and first I worked on a job close to my home, a shop that sells books to the school. I worked there for 7 months..
I was looking for something else, something with good money because here I didn’t get paid enough. Then I started to work as a security guard.. I did some training for one week.. or two weeks and after I.. go to work there. I had a pistol, earpiece radio, a suit.. a good suit, it was like I was in a wedding. I worked there for 2 years. I left the work 3 days before I come to India.


INDIA

I arrived in Delhi in beginning of February. My first plan was, go to Delhi and then, I don’t know, I don’t have plans. I don’t know anything, I don’t know of any place in India. The only thing I know is I want to go to the north after 2 months, because of the Holi festival in Pushkar, I heard good stories of it.

First when we arrived to Delhi.. it was like, shock… A lot of people and all the rickshaw drivers, they mess with you. I was a little in shock and after we come back to the airport.
So.. we come back inside the airport and buy tickets to Goa.. We met some two guys on our flight to India, two Israelis. And we made plans with them to take a flight to Goa and start the trip in Goa. Because they have some brothers in Goa, in Arambol.. We wait 3 hours in the airport and then fly to Goa.

The first moment after we go out of the taxi in Goa. We go to meet his brother and have a spliff and drinks. It be something 12 o’clock in the night. We went to get something to eat. Then, by 2 am I think, we just go to find a guesthouse. The first guesthouse was shit, and expensive.

I don’t like Arambol.. I was there for 1 week and made plans with my friend to move to Hampi. I don’t know it reminds me a little bit of Israel, because of the sea. I mean it’s nice, but maybe some other time..

(Authors note: We didn’t talk a lot about the rest of the trip as we traveled together for a while. Some of the following text is from my journal of our experience together.)

So after Goa we come to Hampi. We went straight to Rasta Cafe and that place became our favourite place to sit and relax. I had a really good time in Hampi, beautiful place. We were there 2 or 3 weeks.

After Hampi, we took a rickshaw to Hospet. From there we took a local train to Hubli.. But like a lot of things in India, it was late. Luckily only about one hour. On the train we met young local students and they talked with us for a long time. We showed them pictures of our home, they showed us their pictures. We shared snacks, music and a lot of laughs. A few stops before Hubli they left the train and right away an older man, a teacher sat down with us. He talked a lot, but it was hard to understand him, so most of the time we just nod our heads in agreement.
We arrived at Hubli and the man showed us the best place to eat and where the bus to Aurangabad leaves from. We thank him and give a handshake. He makes this childlike giggle and walks off with a big smile.
We go eat a thali while waiting for the bus. After the meal we go wait for the bus, only to be informed that the bus is 30 minutes late. We go walk a little and come back. Ah, the bus is 2 hours late..
We are sitting on the steps in front of the bus office, looking at the hassle of India passing by in front of us. Then a man from the office yells for us. There is a van that will take us to the bus. Finally.. We hop in and head to the bus. The van driver is going like crazy, I nearly fell off my seat several times..
It’s 2 AM and we finally get to the bus. We step inside only to find someone sleeping in our seats. We head to the back of the bus and find empty seats. We get as comfortable as we can and attempt to get some sleep.

We arrive in Aurangabad at 5 PM, roughly 6 hours late from “schedule”. With little to no sleep at all, we have no energy left for hassle, so we take a rickshaw straight away to a cheap hotel.
We were less than a week in Aurangabad and during our stay we went to see the Ellora caves, very large and old stone temples.

Next we head towards Udaipur. First we arrive to Ahmedabad with a bus. We arrive there at 8 am after a smooth ride in the night. After waking up completely and inquiring about the bus to Udaipur we find out that it will leave in a few hours. From the travel agent we are brought to the bus with a rickshaw. 7 men in 1 rickshaw.. it was a tight fit. We hop on the bus and speed through Indian highways. The highway was a little hectic. Sometimes cars driving on our side of the road and sometimes hoards of cows walking all over the road.

After 5 hours in the bus we arrive in Udaipur. We hop in a rickshaw and go browsing guest houses. At the first place the owner used all his tricks to make us stay, but we wanted to see a little bit what Udaipur has to offer. We promise to come back if we don’t find anything. The 4th place we went to see was pure gold. We got a room from the top floor, with comfy seating area right outside our room and a beautiful view of Lake Pichola.
We spent a few hours on the rooftop and watched in amazement as the night set, the city around the lake lit up in beautiful lights and a whole new perspective of the area came to light.
Hunger started to rise, we went to wander around the streets to find a decent meal. Behind every corner was just expensive tourist restaurants. We asked a few locals for recommendations and someone pointed us to this small staircase in between shops and said go up, there is good food. You really had to know this place in order to find it. We follow the stairs up, we go past what seemed like someones home and from the apartment comes out a nice old lady. She welcomes us and points us to the very top. There is just one garden table with a few plastic chairs around it. We sit down and ask for a thali.
We gobble up the food, it was definitely one of the best thalis I’ve had in India. I mean it competed with the best food in my country. It was just bliss. It wasn’t super spicy as food usually tends to be in India, it was just heaven in your mouth. We chat for a while with the old lady and find out she just opened up the kitchen. I think she will be a huge success.
We spent a week in Udaipur. Wandering the streets, talking with locals, visiting local temples and wallowing sick for a few days. Then it was time to move on again.

We hopped on a train at midnight. For the next 6 hours I tried to sleep, but with little success. Arriving in Ajmer, grumpy and sleepy. As soon as we get out of the train station a hoard of rickshaw drivers jump us. 3 foreign looking guys are easy pickings for good money. We try to ignore them as we were too tired to bargain a deal. We go across the street to grab some breakfast. We have a nice and peaceful meal, pull ourselves together and head back to bargain a reasonable price for the ride to Pushkar.

We were really looking forward to the time in Pushkar. We had heard that the Holi festival, a celebration for the arrival of spring, was epic to it’s limits in Pushkar. That this small holy city turns into one big colourful party of music, dance, joy and celebration.

We arrive in Pushkar after driving through misty mountain roads with the sun slowly rising from the horizon. We arrive there as the town is slowly waking up. Shopkeepers are dusting the fronts of their shops and Sadhus are doing their morning rituals. We walk through the town and settle in a guesthouse and get some much needed rest.
We have some days before Holi starts, so we get to know the place and wander around the narrow streets and try out different small food stands.
I love Pushkar, a lot of people you meet. We have been here now.. 10 days.

Next I will be going to Dharamsala.. and after Dharamsala to Manali.. and after Manali to Kasol.. Then maybe Parvati valley and after Kullu. Then I will go to Delhi and go back home.

My favourite places in India are.. Hampi and Pushkar..
But I love India. It has a lot of crazy people and the traffic and.. yeah.. love it.

I will study and find some job. Good job. I would like to work with my hands.. but I don’t know what. But maybe it’s.. that I need to take it slowly. Maybe for 1 month.. I don’t know.. to take some free time.. because it will be difficult.. after India, to come back home.. A lot of people have problems with this, because they’re only thinking about India when they come back home.

When I go back to Israel I want to finish my studies.. with my teacher..
A while back me and my friend started to study, trance music.. and how to make it. Till some point.. and I stopped the studying. And after I come back to Israel I will finish the studies..
But I will take it slowly, the first two weeks I will just do training on my own.. and after I will go to my teacher, I think.
I have also been thinking of maybe, maybe, studying to be a journalist of sport, but I don’t know.

HAPPY

Laughter

PASSION

Trance music, sport..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *