Angie stood on that platform for 45 minutes. She couldn’t budge. She couldn’t move. She just stood there. 45 minutes. She was dragging her heavy luggage. She was carrying her heavy backpack, her heavy camera, and her thoughts. Yes, she carried those thoughts with her wherever she went. She was taking the train for a 14-hour ride from one city in India to another city. She had to take that train to meet her friends… but she couldn’t… although she made it on time, even a bit early… although she had bought her ticket, way in advance, when she planned her trip a few weeks ago. She had bought a first class ticket… She was alone… except for her numerous angels who accompanied her everywhere. They had different names, different faces, and different personalities, but they were always around to give her a hand, direct her, help her, and assist her whenever she needed them.
She had been in that city for two days. She found the time very limited. She arrived on Sunday morning in a train and was greeted at the train station by a taxi driver who drove her to the hotel and insisted on accompanying her to visit a few archaeological places. She arrived at the same platform she was currently at. A tuk-tuk taxi driver greeted her at the station and offered his services. She refused politely informing him that she had already booked another driver and that it wouldn’t be polite to make him wait or to never show up. Although he was very polite and very insisting, Angie didn’t go with him. But she remembered him… she remembered his dedication. She had wished she didn’t book a taxi through the hotel earlier so that she could have hired him for the ride, but she said to herself that it wasn’t meant to be.
She was in Jaipur, also known as the Pink City, which is “the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan in Northern India” (Wikipedia). Tourists usually visit Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur when they visit India for a few days. This trip is called the Golden triangle. She loved the city. The environment was different from what she had encountered in Delhi and in Agra. There were mountains, hills, palaces, different landscapes and even… different food. She liked the city. She found the few days she spent there too short, she even promised herself to visit again with a friend, a beloved one, or alone, for a longer period of time, when she would visit every place, take pictures, rest, think, meditate, write, relax, eat, and enjoy her time…
It was Monday. She had a good long day. She walked from one site to another. She visited some awesome palaces. She took some amazing photos. She sent messages to her friends. She checked her emails. She called her friend in Beirut and she told him stories about her trip. She sent him photos and deep down she wished he had joined her. She ate late after a massage session. It was her first massage in India, and she found the experience relaxing and novel. She wasn’t however happy when she didn’t get the chance to shower after her session. She felt weird for not being able to shower and she wondered how her friends would perceive her when she would show up the next day after a long trip on the train. She was thinking of extending her stay in Jaipur but she knew that she had limited time and that she really wanted to visit those friends. The shower issue bothered her a bit, but she soon forgot all about it. She was directed to a nice cozy restaurant to grab a bite after a long day of sightseeing. She loved the place. As soon as she stepped in, she wondered if she was still really in India. She went through the menu, and to her amazement found some Lebanese food on display. She didn’t dare ordering any Lebanese food, she didn’t want to feel any disappointment on the one hand, and she definitely wanted to grab the chance to eat some local Indian dishes on the other hand. After all, she had all the time to eat Lebanese food, but her chances of tasting some mouthwatering Indian dishes in India were limited to a few more days.
She left the restaurant around 7:40pm to catch the train that was scheduled to depart at 8:25pm. She took a tuk-tuk to the train station which was only a few blocks away. She would never forget the smell emanating from that place. She still can’t describe exactly how it smelled: it was a mixture of sweat, urine, poverty, bad ventilation, and lack of sanitation. She climbed some long never ending stairs, she dragged her luggage, she wondered why it was so hard to keep going, and she wished someone would help her with her luggage… No one did. She didn’t dare to ask for help. She simply climbed, pulled, pushed, up the stairs and down the stairs again. It was dark. She had never been alone in a public place in India in the evening before. Was she nervous? Not much. Was she scared? Not much… She asked for directions on how to reach her compartment. A woman’s voice kept repeating that the train would be leaving at 8:25pm urging people to hurry up, and to find their places in their compartment. Although Angie located her train, her compartment, and even the place she would be occupying in that compartment, she couldn’t climb in. She should have asked, but she thought that her train was about to come. She thought that the train in front of her wasn’t the train she was supposed to take but another train that was about to come at 8:25pm. Her mind kept telling her that she needed to use a toilet. Her mind kept reiterating the fact that she didn’t shower after her massage. She stood there. 45 minutes. She couldn’t budge. She couldn’t reach out. She simply observed passengers coming in, looking for their compartments, talking to each other and buying food from a poor food cart that a man was pushing. She stood there. The light was dime. The place smelled weird. She was calm but tired. She needed to use the toilet.
The day before on her way to Jaipur, she took a 5-hour ride on a train. The trip was exhausting on the psychological level. She was in the second class compartment and although the compartment was almost empty, a man joined the ride and kept staring at her. He would sit in odd positions and would send her weird looks. She didn’t know how to react to his attitude except to close the curtains of her tight bed and limit herself to the scenes outside.
Angie missed her train. She missed it. It was gone at 8:25pm and it took her 10 more minutes to realize that she missed it. She missed it.
Note to Angie: Don’t worry Angie. It was just a train. Thanks God you missed it. Pull yourself together. Don’t cry. It is not the end of the world, although you feel so at the moment. Things will be ok. Let’s leave this train station. Let’s find you a toilet first. Let’s make a few phone calls to your friends in India and to your friend in Lebanon. Things will be ok. Please calm down.