I remember the next stop… I exited the bus in front of a restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating. DN stood near the bus and kept an eye on me, as I followed a few other women to the side of the building, where we waited in line for the bathroom. The older woman of the group of three, kept staring at me. I amused myself trying to imagine what she could be thinking.
When my turn came, the older woman watched me enter the bathroom and close the door. Yep – Indian style toilet. Not my first rodeo. 😉 The bathroom was less clean, the floor was cement, and had a strong odor. I cringed at the lack of hand soap in the bathroom, exited the bathroom and doused my hands with hand sanitizer. The crowd of three women were gone, and I met eyes with DN, who was watching and waiting up ahead.
He helped me onto the bus, brought me a plate of chow mein, and went back inside to finish his dinner. I swore off all chai, although he offered. I didn’t want to bring on a bathroom crisis in the middle of a road trip. I took some ibuprofen to combat the heachache I got from (probably) not drinking enough water. When I finished eating, I watched a cow who had wandered into the street just in front of our bus. DN came to collect the plate, and our bus was on its way shortly after that.
At the next rest stop, it was late in the night. I remember sitting down at a restaurant table and feeling cold. The boy bringing our food was unable to speak, but had a really intriguing way of communicating with everyone. He relied on body language, and gave a vocal hum of sorts, to get someone’s attention. I was sleepy, but I wondered about his story… Was he successful in his life?
DN placed our order, but when it arrived, the food was nearly tasteless. Nothing was seasoned or salted. I ate the rice, and for some reason, I really enjoyed the spinach – but that was it. When we finished eating, I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. While waiting in line, a beautiful woman began talking to me. I could see that she was married, and had a son who seemed about 11 years old.
“Is this your first trip to Nepal?” She asked.
“Yes, it is. I’m very excited.” I replied, a bit shy.
“What is your good name?” She asked, smiling.
“My name is Crystal,” I replied, “And you?”
She gave me her name and asked me how long I had been in India. The conversation was short, before it was my turn to use the bathroom.
When I left the bathroom, I found DN, who was waiting by the bus, near the glowing embers of a former campfire. He took a few swigs of water as we waited quietly for everyone to get on the bus. I watched a street dog being chased away from restaurant area, and his sidekick, who was almost successful in getting into the kitchen area. I took a deep breath and listened to my surroundings for awhile.
When the bus driver climbed back on the bus, we followed and I closed my eyes shortly after.
To be continued…