Are you guys aware of the situation? Sandesh nearly shouted on the phone?
I asked akin kid asking its mother for the first doubts of life – “whats up pal?”
Sandesh said “The last train to NJ leaves at 3.45PM and there is a storm warning due to which there will be no trains for sure”. That was news to us. Back in Bangalore we made it some how!
For better effects, sanjay our onsite lead came on phone and like a buddha said “Guys, please get out now. Some how if you hit the train back today good for you otherwise you are struck for the day”.
Panic hits people in strange ways. Suddenly ignoring the grumbling stomachs we shut down the machines and ran out. The security who had just changed shifts gave us the thumbs up signal when we ran to the metro station.
Not having enough change for the damn vending machine and urgency to board the train are constant constraints in life. Cursing the usual bad luck we got the money and nervously waited along with other people on the platform.
The arrival of the train was instantly greeted by jumping into it. Forget all those nonsence of USA being developed etc. As long as human greed takes over your thinking – nothing can stop you. This was amply demonstrated by everybody there.
A small smile appeared on the face of my tech lead Ankur. In tense anticipation, we completed our journey to NY from NJ.
At NJ the next train was the last 3.45 PM as announced in broken hokkain and English. Thanking our stars we waited near the yellow lines to jump in at first sight. Yes, jump we did into the train. With a smile and thankfull to God for a small piece of place we held on to our hopes and alighted at the Bus stop.
This is where things turned interesting.
The roads were empty, not many human beings in sight, it was 4.05PM and sun was settling soon for his eastward journey – we discovered by a notice that bus service is discontinued after 1PM. That meant we had no transport.
USA has one great thing apart from vending machines which work on holidays – they are called collect cabs!. You can dial them like our city taxi and they would deliver you to where ever you wanted.
We tried the first number – it rang and rang , nobody picked up. We concluded he was thanking everybody else that day.
We tried the next number – we prayed to all known gods of all religion – let somebody pickup please. A recorded voice came back asking us to dail next day!
We tried the last number – we were out in sweat literally despite the -2C temperature outside. One guy with guff voice picked up and declared ‘AL’s cab here’. On enquiry he said that all cabs are off duty and he was sorry!. I tried my autorichsaw trick. I told him we will tip him equivalent to the fare. He had other ideas. I could smell his gum chewing words – “Sorry pal. Some other day”.
Thats when my love and affection to India multiplied by 50 times.
In India, seldome can you get answer as NO. You can make money talk for you. But, not here! Incidentally I was carrying cash worth 500 USD which was exchanged previous day.
With no other option, we realized that we did not even know the way to walk back!
I normally track things using sun and told Ankur that we need to walk against the sun in the main road to get back to Iselin. We put our glowed hands into our pockets and started the hike.
Cold normally takes it grip on you slowly – normally by exhausting you. I just could not even feel my nose!. Hungry, confused and exhausted we trodded along.
Half way through we saw the makeshift Indian restaurant opposite to the Iselin Library and suddenly remembered that one of the primary reason for our fatigue was lack of food. We had not eaten anything from morning and it was near 6PM.
More for the want of room heating and little lesser for food, we got into Maharajahs place as it was called. Believe me or not, we got chitranna, masala dosa and washed it down with hot coffee. ( You cant compare indian foods outside India in taste – something special in this country makes it tasty!)
After a good break we got back to our trek. Our instincts told us we are very near to our motel as we saw the parked motor boat on lawns of one of the house. I had memorized that house due to this boat stuff. Seldom had I seen a Boat parked in front of the house!
We nearly ran the last 100 meters and collapsed in the motel reception out of sheer mental exhaustion. Anything could have happened from mugging to landing in an hospital on that night.
We thanked god for all the mercies and thats why its called the thanks giving day.