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For previous post, please see the train part 1 and part 2.

The train (part 3)

Soothing herself, Angie listened to her friend advising her to calm down in order to assess her options. And between her recurring thoughts of failure, confusion, and helplessness, he managed to get her to take a deep breath, and to look at the missed train as an opportunity to start again. He told her how much he loves her and how strong she is. He reminded her that she had surmounted other much harder struggles before and that she will surmount this one easily. He reiterated that it wasn’t meant for her to take that train and that she will find alternatives: another train, or bus, or plane. And he told her what he usually says: “if money can solve a problem, than by all means solve the problem by paying money.” She told him that she had only a few thousand rupees, he asked her what she can do with that amount, and she explained that she can get a taxi, spend the night in a hotel, and get a few decent meals. He advised her to think carefully and plan her next steps.

His voice was calm, his words were wise, and he always meant the best for her. She could sense his concern and she knew he would be imagining the worst although his voice didn’t convey it. She couldn’t read his body language because she couldn’t see him, but she could imagine his face, his eyes, and his looks. She knew that she shouldn’t have called him, she knew that she should have handled that problem alone, but she also knew that deep down she was still a fragile little girl who needed his constant support and advice. She always viewed him as her anchor and her emotional support. Around him, she always felt stable, loved, important, and worthy.

“Enough emotional talk!! ” You are probably thinking my dear reader. “We want to know what happened. Will you please Zeina tell us what happened with Angie? You got us hooked with this story and you don’t seem to be able to move beyond those 15 minutes of missing the train and feeling bad about it. Please we want to know what happened to Angie!”

As soon as Angie hanged up with her friend in Beirut, her friend from Delhi called. He told her that a train passing through Vadodara would be leaving at 1am and he advised her to go to the ticket counter to inquire on how to get a ticket. He also told her about another train leaving the next morning. She asked around how to get to the ticket counter, the young tuk-tuk driver who was assisting her directed her to the ticket counter, he asked her a few questions on the way there and she told him that she didn’t have enough money to buy another ticket. They spoke a bit and then when she arrived to the counter, he seemed to disappear. Behind the ticket counter, a large dusty space with a few crowded desks, sat a fat woman, and 3 men. They seemed busy talking. She waited to get their attention but they didn’t seem to notice her. One of them was filling a big notebook, the others were either talking, or eating or smoking. When they finally looked at her, she managed to tell them that she needed a train ticket to Vadodara, but they told her that the train leaves at 1am and that she needed to come an hour before the train’s departure to see if she can buy a ticket. This option meant that she had to spend a few more hours in this train station and she found herself loathing the whole idea. She wrote to her friend in Delhi telling him about this new finding. He advised her to wait. He proposed other options like taking the first flight the next day to Vadodara or getting some rest and taking the next train the next day to Vadodara. He seemed to be insisting and she felt tired of the entire process. She tried to get some fresh air by leaving that old dirty train station. While she walked out of that place, she noticed the tuk-tuk drivers that she encountered earlier. They asked her what she was planning to do and she told them that she wasn’t sure yet.

While she stood there reading her friends messages from Delhi and Baruch, her phone started to beep informing her that her battery was almost dead. She needed to act fast. Still lost between her thoughts, the young tuk-tuk driver she encountered the day before seemed to appear from nowhere. He saluted her, calling her by her name and reiterating that she is from Lebanon. She had told him her name and her country of origin the day before. He asked her a few questions. She still looked sad, her tears were still visible on her cheeks. Her friend from Baruch called her to tell her that she can take the plane the next morning to Vadodara and then the bus to Baruch. She was too tired to think about how to take the bus to Baruch.

A few minutes later, her phone battery passed away. She was left alone to her destiny. (Ok, Zeina, it wasn’t so dramatic!) She put her phone in her backpack and asked her angel for assistance. She asked him about hotels in the area and he told her that many hotels existed not far away from the train station. She then inquired about going from this area to the airport and he told her that the ride would take around an hour or so. She found the info very interesting. She asked him if he knew a hotel where she could spend the night and leave the next morning, he answered that he knew many places. She looked at him, he appeared sincere and trustworthy. She trusted her gut feeling. He asked her what kind of hotels she wanted, she said that she wanted a clean place where she would pay around 1000 rupees per night. She asked him if he knew a hotel around for this budget, he said he knew a few places and he proposed to take her to several places, to wait for her to ask for a room, to inspect it and to choose the one she liked. He helped her with her luggage and she followed him to his tuk-tuk. The day before he let her drag her luggage up the stairs and down the stairs and she found his lack of helpfulness a bit weird, when they were about to leave the train station, he explained that as a tuk-tuk driver he wasn’t allowed to carry luggage, because the syndicate of porters didn’t allow drivers to do so. She had one heavy luggage, one heavy backpack in which she hide her heavy camera, and one heavy laptop bag where she threw in a few things. She was hanging to her backpack and her laptop bag as a mother would hold on to her children. The ride was smooth. The weather was starting to get a bit chilly. The roads were empty at this time of the night. There were lights on the roads. She felt at ease for the first time in 30 minutes. The ride was relatively short. He stopped at the first hotel and asked her what she thought of it. For Angie, it looked ok from the outside. He asked her to go in and check if it had a vacant room for the night. Angie didn’t want to leave her luggage, he assured her that no harm would happen to her possessions. She took her laptop and her backpack with her and she climbed the stairs leading to the hotel reception. She asked around for an empty room and insisted on internet access, she was ushered to one dim poor room on the first floor. The room looked fine, it looked clean. Angie needed to use the toilet urgently, she asked to use the toilet, she was told that she needed to climb 5 floors to use the public toilet on the rooftop or to simply book the room. She found the idea of climbing 5 floors ridiculous. She booked the room. She paid the driver the double of what he had asked for. She thanked him, asked him a few more questions about how to go to the airport, and then said goodbye. She paid for the room, didn’t wait for the receipt and she went straight into the room into the toilet. She then locked the room, and put her phone on the charger. After calming down for a few minutes, she took a cold shower, and then sat down to her laptop trying to study her options carefully. Her friends in Delhi and in Baruch, had already suggested that she books a flight to Vadodara. Her friend in Baruch suggested to pick her up at the airport. It was around 1am when she finished booking her flight, and asking for reimbursement for her missed train. Her plane was scheduled to leave at 8am and she needed to be at the airport at least 2 hours before the departure. She set her alarm at 5am and she embraced herself knowing all would be just fine.

Thank you for reading.