The railway station stinks. Literally.
“Lia, I hate you already”
We hopped off the train for the third time, looking for 3A. Inside the train? Didn’t look very reassuring. It was a sleeper – but having no trains in Lebanon and having only been in Turkish metros, I didn’t know what to expect. I dragged my luggage (packed by Nick who preached traveling super light) through a narrow alley of Indian feet dangling on the sides.
“Lia, I really really hate you”
(She booked the tickets)
The train was smelly as well and I was about to wish having purchased much more expensive tickets when I realized that good stories don’t start in 1st class. You have to settle for adventure. I guess. This was a much more interesting way of kicking off our Nepalese adventure.
“2, 14, 51, 54”
We were supposed to get separated, since we got the last seats on the train. We decided to follow protocol since he Italian, the Brazilian, the Malaysian and the Lebanese people are very orderly (did you detect the sarcasm?)
“We’ll just share he 51 and 54 until someone asks us not to”
People were sleeping/snoring on the train. It was 4:30 AM or maybe a bit later and the train was already heading to New Delhi. Nick climbed up to the empty bed. I did the same. I had to keep my head low since I went for the middle bed – the sandwiched bed, with another bed above and one more below it. Lia and Giacomo occupied bed deserted by previous passengers.
“Guys! These are better than Italian sleepers!”
Remind me not to book sleepers when I’m in Italy.
Perhaps I was being too pessimistic. Once my nose went numb, I was able to see the bright of the situation. I fell asleep, a little bit paranoid because I didn’t want us to miss our New Delhi stop. I got up at 6 AM and knocked my head while doing so.
An Indian family was sitting on the opposite bed.
– How much time till we reach Delhi?
– Two more hours
The father and the daughter (which turned out to be the daughter-in-law) helped me set up my seat. I was considering reading the Goldfinch but that didn’t happen.
I’m not sure how the conversation started but at some point, I said:
“I’m Lama from Lebanon”
I spent the next hour chatting with Renu and her family. They don’t know where Lebanon, they never heard of it either. I showed them pictures, told them about labne and hummus, the twenty minutes needed to go from the beach to the mountains, the multilingual “hi! kifak ca va?”. Renu and her parents in law taught me some Hindi phrases and inquired about my stay in India.
“Suundar!” ( = Beautiful)
I ended up telling them some of our stories. Camping in the desert, being followed by cows and so on. Renu took care of the English-Hindi translation. The whole family was amused and they shared some stories as well.
The train stopped. We have reached yet another unpronounceable station.
“Goodbye Lama! Very nice to meet you!” said Renu. “Papa” shook my hand and asked me to repeat the Hindi sentences he just taught me one last time before he left.
“Chalo, chalo!” waved Mama.
And they left.
I took out my notebook and wrote about the train ride so far.