Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chapter Five

In Which I Am NOT A Happy Camper, In Spite Of A Rescue By Our Driver And A Roomful Of Devoted New Friends

The drive out of Khajuraho to Jhansi was not as terrible as the one coming in. Really. For starters, it was daytime, which meant we could drive a lot faster into oncoming traffic, and we could actually see what we were passing by. Made life a lot more interesting. However, this calm state was not to last. Our guide had told us that the train was two hours late, so we took our time getting back, but still ended up getting there a half hour before the originally scheduled departure time. Still, no biggie, right? I mean, we had to wait four and a half hours before, we could do two standing on our heads, I reckoned. At least, I did until I checked in and found out that no, actually our train was - at the moment - three hours late. And then, before we knew it, four hours late. Aish.

We did our best to stay calm and happy, and I wandered the platforms a little, eventually broadening out to the area around the station (which was a little bit scary), and two hours after we were supposed to depart we weren't doing so hot, when who should appear but OUR DRIVER - KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR! wanting to know if we wanted to leave the station and get some food. Can I get a "Hell yeah!"???? So we collected our belongings and followed him back into the parking lot. Now, whether or not he, out of the kindness of his heart came looking for us, or whether one of the travel agencies associated with this trip called and told him to come and get us, I don't know, but he did it, anyways. He offered to take us to his house for dinner, which was a sweet gesture, and I hated to say no, because I didn't want to take him away from his family more than we already had, but I really just wanted to enjoy a nice, relaxing meal without providing entertainment for anyone. So Evil and I gently declined, saying we didn't want to be any trouble. Probably missed out on a great cultural experience, but by that point in the game, I'd had about as much culture as I could deal with. So he took us to a restaurant in the city - a local restaurant, not a tourist one. Evil said it was probably the nicest restaurant he usually went to, and I will tell you that it was good food at great prices and reasonably clean, BUT it was a hole in the wall, and I couldn't help being a little sketched out. More than 48 hours later I still haven't suffered for it, so I guess it was for no good cause.

Anyways, we went back to the train station and each added to the tip we'd already given him, and went back to the ladies' lounge, with me stopping to make sure the train was STILL scheduled to depart at 10 (which it was). When I got to the room, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a full contingent of ajjummas? Yes, when I see Koreans my heart still leaps and proclaims, "MY PEOPLE!!!" These weren't the first we'd seen on the trip, but it was the first time I'd had a chance to talk to any of them, and the lady sitting in the corner by the Evil One got REAL excited when I asked her, "Kanchana-yo?" ("Is it okay?") claiming the only empty chair in the room. It had previously been occupied by a girl's handphone, and when she came and moved it I told her, "Kamsa-hamnida," and it was all over. I was officially the most interesting thing in a roomful of Korean ladies; they wanted to know where I'd lived in Korea and for how long and if I'd been a seong-saeng-nim? Evil was highly amused, I was happily using my bits and pieces of Hang-guk-mal with my people, and the ajjummas were delighted. Fun times all around.

Until they cleared out. Evil and I played gin with her Khajuraho playing cards (procured expressly for this purpose) for a while, and then the boredom started creeping back in. She went back to reading, I went back to embroidering my cossie and intermittently going to check on our departure time. It was extremely tedious, and I found myself, for the third time, wondering if the waiting would EVER end.

Of course, eventually, it did. But it grated on my nerves severely, and if I ever see another Indian train in my life, it will be too soon.

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