Although this bench was probably this thin young girl's home, I just thought how beautifully simplistic this was. Sleeping in a loud noisy train station, not caring and looking so peaceful.
(from left to right) Same, me, Elizabeth, and Michelle.
June 10, Wednesday
It was so hard to get up at 6:30am...just for the sake of maybe-you-need-a-little-laughter-in-your-life, let me rewind and tell you why this was so hard...
I wasn't able to sleep in the first place because Elizabeth and I stayed up playing around 30 hands of Gin Rummy...I told her at 11:30pm if she hadn't won a game then we are calling it quits and going to bed. She agreed and at 11:31 we finished up our last game. I won...and with the look of dissappointment in her face I told her we had time for one last game (you see, I had the watch and she had no idea what time it was...or that it was past the deadline I'd set). She eagerly played one last game and to my amazement beat me fair and square (later the next day I told her my secret strategy that Randy taught me and so now the playing field is even). Finally, we closed our eyes and went to sleep.
It was so hot, Elizabeth and I just rolled over laughing because we were literally laying in pools of sweat. (When these kinds of things happen...I think of you Mom lol..do you think you could rough it?) We started wrestling for some reason and got into a tickling match..mainly using our legs to push the other away..resulting in utter failingn to actually tickle the other person. No one won and no one lost. We switched directions thinking the fan would hit us more directly in the face, and laid there for a few more moments. Then, She got up and drank some water and when she tried to hand me the open bottle I, on accident, spilled a little on her side of the bed. She started laughing just as hard as I was, and she tried to splash a little on me, but missed and it landed again on her side of the bed. I was laughing at that time so hard (it was one of those "church laughs" [Ali you feel me on this one] where you HAVE to be silent or at least semi quiet because Michelle was still asleep on the floor)...I actually peed my pants..yep.. After trying to clean up everything and everyone (me) we just did the three year old thing and covered the water with a towel so we could just go back to sleep. She ended up switching back to the regular direction because she didn't like sleeping on the soaked up towel...haha. When we settled down it still took a long time to fall asleep because of the heat. Plus for some reason my toe was throbbing...
Where was I...I was so hard to get up at 6:30am, but we had to leave by 7 to catch a bus to get to the train station to buy our ticket and actually catch the train to Chennai.
Our train left at 8:30 and we were off to Chennai. It was my first passenger train ride. The system was so unorganized. We boarded the wrong section of the train. We were supposed to be on the 2nd class and we ended up in the reserved seats and they never checked our tickets. (If they would have checked them, we just would have had to pay them extra money is all like 90 rupees (2 bucks))
Around 11 we payed for a pre-paid auto that took us to Spencer's Plaza. It made me laugh because it was their mall and is was soooo different from American malls. There wasn't a chain of clothing stores or anything. They were home-owner stores, each small, and every store seemed to have the same thing just a little different...I found just about a 100 different kind of wooden elephant figurines.
Honestly, most of the time I was miserable. It was my own fault though. I was so tired and my toe hurt everytime I walked. Plus every store seemed to burn incense and to me, it smells sort of nice, but I don't like how thick it seems to make the air. hellllo asthma anyone?
Sam, Michelle, and Elizabeth went into this shoe store, but I decided to go next door where I spotted several chairs to sit on. I told the guy working his store that I had no intentions of buying anything and he said that okay, he just wanted to sit and talk to an American. He asked me several questions about my opinion on politics and different apparant cultural differences etc.. We talked for a while until the girls came over. Then the guy started talking about his home town he showed us all pictures of it in this book. ame and the other girls were like, "oh, tha's nice, but we have to go," but to tell ya the truth I secretely LOVED looking at the pictures of his culture. He was from Kashmir, northern India, close to Pakistan.
We ate Subway for lunch and I had a chicken seekh sandwhich. Ha...It was definitely the Indian version of a sandwhich but still tastey and refreshing.
After a few hours of shopping, we were all out of money and energy. There were no benches to be found; therefore, we parked it on a couple of steps out of the way. We waited 30 minutes, then caught an auto back to the train station.
At 3:15 we went to look for our train. WE got onto the right section this time..it was a tight fit, and definitely the 2nd class...or was it the 3rd? hmmm yea thats about how bad it was.. Elizabeth and I took seats across from each other by the windows. Then I realized we had to sit in our assigned seats.
This old man told Elizabeth to scoot away from the window because that was his seat, making me on the aisle seat, Elizabeth squished next to me, and this his seat.. The weird part was that after making such a big deal about her moving, he refused to sit by us because we are girls and he was Muslim. So he stood up for a good 20 minutes, then sat across from us for about 30. Then finally got over himself and sat in his seat when someone asked him to move because he was sitting in their spot.
These 2 men sat across from Elizabeth and me and they asked us in Tamil, poor English, and hand gestures if Same and Michele (who were sittin across the aisle from us ) would switch them seats because they wanted to sit by their friends. We were pretty much playing musical chairs!
I have never seen so many blind people in my life, not to mention I've never seen so many beggars in one place in general. Several were selling thinkgs like bendy pens, rubiks cubes, clappers, or maps of Chennai, but also many were just begging for money without anything to offer. There were at least 10 blind people. 2 of the women (not blind) were selling flowers strung together to put in your hair. 6 or 7 guys were selling coffee (cahfayyyyyyyy) or chai tea (Ch-eye-ahhhhh tee-ahhhhhh). 6 or 7 more men were selling nasty lookin Indian food or water, and then these 2 ugly-A eunichs came up to us wearing sarees and they acted like women, but they had muscular hairy arms and deep voices. When they came through the train all the natives were handing over all their money. Sam told me that their is a legendary rumor that if you dont give them money they will curse you and the curse will come ture. When the two eunichs approached us they boomed in their scratch voices something in Tamil looked at us 3 girls, Michelle, Elizabeth, and me holding out their hands with money already in them. Sam translated.."WHITE PEOPLE, GIVE ME YOUR MONEY!" We didn't give them any and they didn't curse us haha. we just laughed about this for a while...SO WEIRD!
This one man that was begging for money came through towards the end of our journey. He scooted on his bottom using his hands, but somehow he crumpled up into a ball. With an absent knee joint his knees were facing the ground (while still sitting on the ground mind you) and both of his feet were by his head. His waist and rib cage was malnourished and smaller than a 5 year old's. Sam said he has absolutely no muscle so his body was like jelly. I felt so bad for not giving him money and seeing his condition I almost threw up right then and there. Not to mention it was bloody hot with no airconditioner on the train, sitting so close together the body heat wasn't helping the situation, I was exhausted and fatigued, and by that time my toe was throbbing and was so swollen. All of these factores just made me sick. To compose myself I closed my eyes and held my breath.