Sunday, December 7, 2008
Day 5--And So It Begins
Liz offered me space on her bed since there had been a mix up with my booking and I was without a place to stay. We decided since we were basically carbon copy versions (only with 5 inches of height difference but otherwise similar in appearance), both Canadian, and both in love with Smoking Lily clothing that it wouldn’t be weird if we crashed together after only hanging out for a few hours. Besides, the next month was going to involve living in a tent with a complete stranger anyway.
Enjoyed my last warm shower. Oh yes I did. Made a mental note of its greatness knowing it would be a long while before I felt the sensation of an overhead spout drizzling warm water over me. I know it is a cliché but we really do take a lot for granted in our day to day lives.
The group met at some ungodly hour in the hotel lobby. There was some quiet confusion and chaos as we eyed each other up. Some people had come in groups or with friends, others were solo travelers like me. A lot of big hiking packs and newly minted outdoor wear appeared on our tired and un-caffeinated bodies. We loaded into several taxis and headed for the train station. I believe there were 21 of us total but I could be wrong. If you’ve heard the phrase “cat herding” then you can make a visual representation of what we looked like in the train station in Delhi. Most of us had a large pack on our backs and a little day pack on our fronts. Okay maybe less like cat herding and more like deformed turtle herding.
We were divided into groups of 6-10 and given our assignments for seating on the train. I was at a booth-like seating with a handful of the group and another cluster sat a few tables away.
We clamored to get our bags into place in on the metal rods that ran along the upper sides of the train. Every seat was full and every square inch of space in the luggage area was occupied. I pushed and stuffed and squeezed my heavy day-pack on top of my big pack, directly above our table with the hopes that I could easily access it for various means of entertainment when needed.
Turns out I was the entertainment that day.
After we had been served our thermoses of hot water for tea and coffee, Leba (one of the members of the group) handed over her hot water to me, not wanting it. I was, for some reason making two simultaneous cups of tea when the rocking of the train caused my day pack to slide off the top of my bag and land with a major crash right on the table causing both cups of tea, several opened packets of coffee mate, and sugar to fly up into the air in a magnificent arc and land directly on my head and lap.
At first I was stunned. It happened so fast. One minute I was about to enjoy some sickly sweet tea, the next, said tea was dripping off my nose, down my pant leg and onto the floor. A light dusting of dried creamer and sugar covered my face and hair. Everyone on the train burst into laughter. Even has I write this it makes me chuckle and wince. All I could hear was Napoleon Dynamite saying “IDIOT” in my head.
Thankfully I was wearing my arcteryx rain pants so the tea just beaded and rolled off, but my pink shirt was not so lucky. I grabbed as much newspaper as possible to clean up my mess but it was a disaster. Somehow in the tea-water-fall I was the only casualty. It was amazing.
I scuttled to the washroom and offered my trip-mates some soggy newspaper on my way by “current events anyone?” John radioed Liz in the other car “Erin has had an incident with some tea but I think everything is fine now, over”.
The rest of the day was thankfully uneventful. We took train after train after train and finally arrived in Shimla around 2000h. Hungry and tired we wandered into the hotel meeting room and did group introductions. I got a pretty good vibe off of the gang, mostly young 3rd and 4th year med students, a few residents, Deb (the NP), 2 dentists, John and Liz (attendings), and me. Deb and I switched things up so we could board together. I liked the fact that she was older and seemed totally chill. In a possible world of type-A-overachievers I wanted to secure a roommate that was going to be mellow.
Tonight I take my sore-from-sitting-for-the-last-three-days-self to bed and enjoy the last time a mattress is underneath me for the next three weeks.