Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Gotta Catch that Train!
I often use this space to update you on my course in life, or even share meaningful moments I have had along the way.... but this time I want to just share an exciting story. So enjoy!
Beep-beep Beep-beep 5:45am my watch rang- it was time to begin our journey to Kolkata. Little did we know, the sound of my alarm also signaled the start of a race- a race to catch our train that had started boarding before we even left our beds. Unfamiliar with how to correctly read boarding times on our international train tickets, we leisurely enjoyed our granola and fruit breakfast, pleasantly surprised on how our taxi was a “minute early” at 6:29am to take us to our 7:15 departure. Tic tic tic. 6:29 we sat at a train station, a place packed with local peoples, cha venders, street children and disabled begging for our change, mosquitoes buzzing about us. The cha vendor assured us we were in the right place. Naively we plopped down in a pool of all our belongings to wait for our train. 7:13- I went to ask the conductor “Which side of the tracks we should wait at?” One look at my ticket, his face told it all- we were not in the right place.
(My friend Pip who we stayed with in Bangladesh while studying Bengali)
Clearing a path in the crowd, he pointed to the train across the way “Dhaka Containment station! Go!” In the chaos of the moment I gathered from his Bengali conversation with the observers that there were actually 2 train stations, international and domestic. A concerned observer stepped forward to lead the way. It was a boy, just crazy enough to believe we might make our train. I started to believe him too. At 7:15 (the time of our departure) we found ourselves running across train tracks with all our belongings to catch the wrong train that was headed towards the right station.
(I got a haircut in Bangladesh)
The train bellowed it’s horn, signaling that it the engine was turning it’s gears just as the girls loaded their gear on the train. Still on the platform, with 30pds on my back and 20 pounds in my hands of luggage, the train started to gain speed. My first attempt to jump aboard failed. I had too much weight to jump 2 feet onto a moving train- go figure. Recalling this scene in a movie I knew what to do next, I tossed my valuables into the carriage and pushed with all my strength to board the train again. Luckily, two men joined my efforts and pulled me and my pack inside to an upright position. Temporarily relieved, I looked at my watch….At 7:20 we were on the wrong train at the wrong time pulling away from the wrong station. We looked at each other. It was written all over our faces; the prospect of catching the only train this week to Kolkata was fading like our mistaken train station was into the distance behind us- faster and faster.
(7 layer tea in the Shrimongal Bangladesh gardens)
I searched our tickets, were no instructions about “what to do when you sit at the domestic station and miss your international train by an hour”. So we sent our silent prayers as we imagined another week in Dhaka. I looked over, the boy had not a worry on his face. Within minutes the train pulled up to a much nicer platform, one that made our last station look so obviously intended for domestic travel. Observers cheered us as we jumped across the 4 foot gap, luggage and all. When I turned around, a man pointed across the tracks at the most beautiful train I have ever seen- a modern steel carriage that contained our only hope of reaching Kolkata this day. “You have 3 minutes, Run!” he said.
So we scrambled off the platform, luggage and all once again, over the tracks and up again onto the platform of the other side. Men pointed the way, the boy ran ahead with our luggage. “No time, no time, run!” the observers cheered us on. Running past security, out of breath, handing our tickets to the customs officer felt like what I imagine it might feel like to cross the finish line of a triathlon. As we caught our breath, our little hero said not a word. He even refused to take any money for his help, but still we insisted. Without him we would be $60 short and another week in Bangladesh. It figures before our adventure in Kolkata even begins we would have an adventure in getting there. I can only hope the next six months have half as much excitement in store and that this is but a foreshadowing of how God will continue to provide for us along our way.
(Kolkata here we come!!!)