Friday, 24 February 2012

the kindness of strangers

I wondered what i would do when my plane landed in delhi.  i had read accounts of people exiting the airport, being barraged by so many aggressive taxi rivers, auto-rickshaw drivers, bicycle-rickshaw drivers, touts, hotel owners and guesthouse owners, that they ran back into the airport and booked the first plane back home.

I knew enough to know i could find a pre-paid taxi stand and get a ticket and deal with asserting myself into a taxi amidst the hullabaloo.  the huge question was: where would i pre-pay the taxi to go?

i had roughly six and a half hours between the landing of my plane and the departure of my train.  plus, the train was not the convenient northern train station from the old bazaar area of delhi, but the new station for eastward bound trains that was created across the river and far from any tourist attractions.

"i have always depended on the kindness of strangers," said Blanche DuBois.

i could say the same, but under happier circumstances.

Yael beckoned to me at the Goa plane station.  "Would you watch my bag while i go to the toilet," she asked me as I slowly walked around the small waiting room munching on a samosa.

"Of course," i said and when she returned, she sat down next to me and suddenly we were talking like old friends.

It's like that with some people.  You meet them and it's instant soul to soul communication.

She asked where I was going and when I explained my situation, she immediately invited me to come with her.

"Listen," she said, "I'm going to take a pre-paid taxi to the Bazaar District and take a room.  You can come with me, drop your pack in my room and then we can have some lunch and wander around a bit.  Would you like to do that?"

And so it was.  Our conversation deepened.  Yael told me about how her life was changing.  How meeting up with a French Buddhist and going to Bodhgaya where Prince Siddartha Gautama sat under the Bodhi tree and reached enlightenment had opened her eyes and heart and mind.  She planned to return to Israel and change many things.

She insisted on treating me to lunch.  We talked and shared our lives; walked through tiny alleys in the bazaar, past barbers, hotels, metal workers pounding on long rods, tailors pumping their legs on treadle sewing machines, and emerged into sunlit chaos.

We went back to her room, I picked up my pack and headed to the metro that goes to Anand Bihar Train Station filled with love for a wonderful new friend.

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