Sunday, April 29, 2012

Never Travel Alone

Specially on the trains in India (if you can avoid it).

On my way home, while waiting for boarding, I asked a French woman sitting beside me if she’s been on the train.  She said, "It’s a movie experience".  For me, it was quite a scary movie experience.

There were eight of us who opted to take the 12-hour night train ride to Abu Road, Rajasthan, India and from there it was just a one hour bus ride to the university on top of the mountain (The other option is to take the plane then a 5-6 hour private bus or car ride.). 

Of course, I would take the more adventurous route.  I never rode the train in my 2 previous visits.  This was my  first time to experience the India I saw in Slumdog Millionaire.  (The parts of India I often go to are the most peaceful and beautiful places I’ve ever been to in my life.).  The terminal was recently renovated and quite clean but there were a lot of people including beggars asking for alms. 

The drama happened when the brother (we call each other brothers and sisters because we are all children of One Father) who brought us to the train station left for awhile.  I saw several people watching us.  There was an old man in an old suit and a backpack scanning the scene.  A lanky man was intently looking at us from behind.  Around 5-6 other people were discretely moving around our group.  They all pretended to be train passengers waiting for their ride, but, their eyes could not lie.  They were restless and dark.  I felt that they were part of a gang looking at us as targets.

We were all women, 6 out of 8 were senior citizens.  While everyone was busy taking pictures and chatting, I alerted them of the situation.  The senior citizens continued with their carefree ways while the two younger ones stood guard.

Now, what could 2 young women do to scare off the bad guys?  The other sister brought out her long stick (a climbing stick that could be mistaken for a weapon) and practiced her sword drills with it.  While, I stayed calm and meditated for awhile.  I remembered what I heard in class the previous day, silence is power.  "Time to tap on this power", I told myself.  After meditation, I instinctively kept a stern face and stared at each one of the villains (though it’s very difficult for me to even look angry, my siblings think I’m still joking with them even if I’m  red-hot-mad already).  The gang seemed uneasy but unperturbed.  One of them even went near our group and asked for a picture (probably to distract us), while I saw the rest of them closing in on our group.  My companions agreed to have the picture taken while the two of us clutched our bags and kept our stern gaze on the mob.

We did the staring game for what seemed like eternity.  Finally, the brother and our train arrived. 

I breathed a sigh of relief.  Only to find out that they were on the same train and they were not giving up on us.  One of them was billeted in a bunk bed near us. (Each cabin has 3 double-deck beds with curtains as partitions.  Two beds are facing each other while a single double-deck bed is placed near the aisle.). While, another co-passenger had the bad guy aura (i don't think he's part of their gang).  I brought out my secret weapon again- silence.  This time after meditation, the signal for me was to use the sword of kindness.  So, I looked at them as my brothers and chose to see them as good souls (our 2 other bunk mates seem really  kind and harmless).

I’m with the younger sister (The senior sisters were quartered elsewhere with good travel companions.).  She immediately chained our bags, so that secured our luggage (a smart idea!).  Before going up to her bed on top, she warned me not to talk to our bunk mates.  This, I disobeyed.  I offered our food pack and ice cream to them (they serve this on board).  The one with the bad guy aura accepted it.   I also gave all our bunk mates blessing cards (They all speak & understand English!).  Then, I meditated and stayed on guard until midnight (we practice open-eyed meditation so I look alert and on-guard even when i'm doing yoga).  When the gangster saw that I’m not going to sleep, he eventually left.  While, the other bad guy slept.  Sensing that the villains finally decided to stop the chase, I slept peacefully for the  next 4 hours.  And I woke up with all our baggage intact.     

Now, I learned that in times of trouble, I could draw on silence as a weapon and it will and protect me- always.

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