There was to be a cab to pick me up to take me (mostly needed for the luggage) to the train station. However, the driver was scheduled to come at 7:15AM and the train would leave at 6:50AM. Not going to work! I did wake up with the call from front desk and began to get ready, as quickly as possible (daily showers are over rated and I also didn’t want to get any water in my mouth from the shower!). For some reason I glanced at my watch and thought it was already 6:30. I had no idea how time had passed so quickly nor how long it would take me to drag my 50 lb. and 30lb. bags to the train station!!!! I raced downstairs and then rechecked my watch. It was only 6:10! But, as it turned out, I needed the extra time.
To get to the platform I had to cross over many lanes that were divided by narrow, 1/2 foot wide, foot high rows of concrete then make my way past street vendors and traffic. There were no traffic signs or lights just honking of horns and somewhat merging! I followed the family who appeared to be going to the station, as well. I made out the signs that said exit and finally found the ‘ticket booth.” I already had my eticket (thanks to the great daughter, Bethany!!!) and asked where to go. He pointed down toward the entrance. I found platform 16 and was pulling my cases up and down the train trying to find coach C6. Many porters offered to help me with my luggage but all I could say and hope they understood was “I have no money!”
Someone finally pointed out that I needed to go to platform 15 on the other side of this train. This meant taking my suitcases up the stairs (a lot of them) and across the walkway and down the other side of stairs to the other train. (I didn’t take pictures because I was really trying not to draw too much attention to myself….not that an American WHITE woman alone wearing capri pants and two safari animal print suitcases didn’t do it already!) The cases wouldn’t “roll” up the stairs. At first I tried to carry them by the top handle but finally figured out it was easier to carry by the side handle. Yes, I did get a power class workout!!! (Glad I’ve done weight lifting!) I sat in seat 69 next to a gentleman traveling with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren. He is a retired mechanical engineer who teaches and writes sonnets which he hopes to get published! It was somewhat tiring to listen because his accent was so thick (wonder what he thought of my Southern accent!!).
Then came the time I needed to use the “facilities,” if you get my drift. I asked my seat neighbor where the toilettes were. He pointed behind us. What a culture shock! I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, Toto (not that I have been in Kansas)! Again, glad I took centergy classes for stretching and squatting. (And, yes, thanks again to Bethany for telling me to make sure I bring toilet paper!) Then came the figuring out how to flush. There was a sign that said “push to flush” and a bucket under it. Hummmm???? So, you push the button and water comes out the spout and fills the bucket which you then take and pour down the toilet! Victory! And (thanks again, Bethany) I had some hand sanitizer to clean my hands. Then I found at the other nnd of the train car there was a western style toilette. But who wants to sit on that either.
We were served a large bottled water
(never drink any water that isn’t bottled unless you watch it go through a filter!) A snack and a breakfast (omelet). And, always a pot of hot water with a tea bag. I was told not to drink the water and I knew that hot water was probably ok, but I wasn’t going to take a chance. (of course, later I found out it would have been fine). Better safe than sorry!
I almost had a heart attack on the train. When I did find the Western style toilette and came out to return to my seat, the family I was sitting with was all gone. They were going to the same place I was! I didn’t even realize that the train had stopped. I tried asking people if I had missed my stop, showing them my ticket, but no one spoke English. Visions raced through my head of how I was to get in touch with Bethany, how was I going to find my way back to where the taxi driver would pick me up. Stay calm! Stay calm! Stop racing, heart! Then, relief, some one spoke enough English to tell me we weren’t there yet.
I managed to find the cab driver with the sign “Bea Irby.” It was an hour and a half climb up the mountain. I was praising God that he was a good driver. The ride is an experience.
I arrived at the front gate and Bethany came down to meet me. A porter took the suitcases!!!!! Yeah! Did I say “yeah” yet?! Gonna say it again-YEAH! for the porter. I had a quick tour through the campus, stopped at Bethany’s desk to type in a fb status that I arrived. Then joined the staff for the afternoon tea time. We had tea, of course, and homemade “cheese sticks. ” Then we went to rehearsal for the next night’s performance of Abe’s choir. Abe joined us to walk down to the bazar. (On the way, we stopped at a “cafe” in the curve of the road, for a snack and cup of tea.) Some people might refer to it as the market. This is a popular and regularly visited 3-mile stretch of shops, mostly selling the same things but owned by different people. Abe needed to get their phones working….long process, long story, ‘it’s complicated.” I tried the gulab ….tasted like pancakes in rose flavored syrup and a fried pastry that was somewhat like a minature funnel cake.
When we returned home, we had supper with Abe and Bethany’s tri-plex neighbors, the Wildmans. We enjoyed time with them and another couple on staff. Then to bed!