Me and DN were already in the metro train, by the time Via and Ash reached the rendezvous point. We were late, and I admit that it was mostly my fault. It took quite a while to get ready. I’ve only been in the metro train a handful of times, but I mastered it, at this point. The first few times, I would stumble around as the train began moving and as it was coming to a stop. These days, with a shift in my stance, it doesn’t effect me.
We stood the whole time, as seats were full. Every time a seat would open up, DN would try to rush me to sit, but it was always taken before I could comprehend what he was suggesting. Props for trying, DN. I was comfortable with standing, as long as I clung to the bar closest to me. As I stood, I stared out the window. I watched buildings, temples, statues and neighborhoods pass by. Two little boys were playing by the window. I looked over at them, smiling.
At the next stop, people poured in, and the train became so full that I was pushed away from my original post, and squished in between DN and a plump older man with a beard. For a moment I felt my anxiety spike, as I had come to the realization that I was surrounded by people and in a tiny space. I shook it off, and soon enough the crowd faded. Shortly after that, we arrived at our stop.
We walked for awhile before Akshardham was in view.
Man… It was nice to feel the breeze after being stuck in a metro train full of people for an hour. DN gave me a briefing on what to do with my purse and passport, later. I couldn’t take my camera or phone, or any electronics. Which was fine. I’d hoped to get pictures, but I was kind of glad I wasn’t obligated to. On the way in, a lady at a desk quickly scanned my bag and handed me a small slip of paper. I stuffed it into my purse and we moved along.
DN made a quick call to Via, as I stood amazed at the crowds and crowds of people. When DN finished his call, he turned to me and said “It’s Sunday, that’s why there are so many people.” I nodded, still looking around. We worked our way around the lines of people and made our way to the checkout station. We started walking through in, DN ahead of me, and as I passed the man in charge of that section, he stopped me. He asked me for the ticket, which I couldn’t produce, because DN had it in his hand. I shyly pointed ahead at DN. DN finally stopped and turned and talked to the man. We had to fill out the form. I handed DN a pen from my purse, and he quickly filled out the form. I handed him my purse. An older man behind him asked to use my pen. “You stay here and get your pen, I’m going in. Wait here.” I agreed, and off he went.
When the man was finished using my pen, he handed it to me and thanked me. I stood patiently waiting, and looked for DN. Spotted! He was in the crowd, along with many other men carrying bags for their friends, mothers, sisters, etc. He waved and I smiled. The man in charge of that section looked at me and said “Madam…” and began speaking in Hindi.
I knew what he wanted me to do, even if I couldn’t understand his words. He wanted me to move somewhere else. However, DN would be freaked out if he looked back and I was gone. I blinked and looked away.
Frustrated, he called on a man nearby to instruct me. He spoke in English, so I couldn’t get away with ignoring him. He asked me to move to the other side of the fence. A handful of men and many women were waiting on this side of the fence. I stood close to where I was before, as close as I could get, to make it easier for DN to see me. As I stood there, I saw Via and Ash walk by. I looked right at them, hoping they would see me, and wait for DN with me… But they didn’t seem to notice me. I turned away to find DN.
When I saw DN, he was looking at me. He waved again. I smiled again. He gestured for me to move closer to him. I walked until I was near him, remaining on my side of the fence. He seemed satisfied. I took the time to look around. I saw three children to my right. Two of them, a boy and girl, were whispering to each other and pointing to me. I smiled at them, but they looked at me with unsure eyes. I smiled anyway. A woman my age, or perhaps younger, walked right in front of me. I mean, she was inches away. It seemed like she expected me to move for her, but she gave no regard to me. I watched her walk by and I looked at DN. He was on his way back. I turned to meet him near the exit.
The next hour was spent stuffed next to DN, in a crowd full of pushing people… Until the final security check, where DN and I had to separate as I followed the women’s crowd. We stood in line for what seemed like forever, before my crowd was allowed through. As I stood waiting to be checked, I saw DN at the exit door, waiting on the other side. Each girl was scanned and frisked and allowed to pass through. The actual security check was fast, but my god, the rest took forever. I was glad to finally have made it through.