I woke up five minutes until 6 AM. DN called me to make sure I would be ready before 7 AM. No problem. 😀 Waking up wasn’t going to be an issue, I was too excited to continue sleeping anyway! The only question I had, was… What do I wear? I sorted through my clothes until I found my pink Patiala pants, and the white shirt I have always paired with them. Since the shoulders of the shirt were pretty revealing, I wore my thin black overcoat as well. I put my make up on, got ready, and made sure everything I needed was in my purse. I knew I was going to be gone at least 10 hours. (I calculated driving time only, at this point, because I had no idea how long DN’s exam would take.)
I got a call at 7 AM from DN. He said he was waiting outside. Yes! The journey begins! I grabbed my purse, threw it over my shoulder, locked the door behind me and made my way outside. The silver car was waiting, just outside the hotel. I approached it slowly, as I am shy. DN’s cousin was in the driver’s seat again. I climbed in back and DN sat beside me. We wished each other a good morning, and sat in a comfortable silence for awhile. On our way out of town, we picked up a man who climbed in the passenger seat. I had no idea who he was, and no idea what he was saying to DN, but I could tell that DN was explaining who I was to the man.
On our way out of town, I noticed that the dividers and the concrete borders along the highway were striped black and white. That’s interesting. 😀
We were driving for some time, now. The driver and passenger were talking and listening to music. DN was interacting occasionally. I was watching the scenery and just thinking about random things. DN would check on me from time to time, to make sure I wasn’t bored. He showed me his exam paper, and the letter I sent him. He had it with him! I gushed a little, and told him I had his letter with me also. He showed me that he had the rosary I’d sent him so long ago. Wow… I held it in my hand for a moment. It seemed to have rusted a bit. Perhaps from humidity. I was just so impressed that he had it with him. I handed it back to him and he put it in his pocket. He admitted that he used to take it with him when he would go places. Awesome. ♥
At some point, on the way to our destination, we made a stop at a truck stop. Indian truck stops are quite different yet quite similar to American truck stops. American truck stops are gas stations with convenience stores and sometimes restaurants attached. This truck stop had a very open front. No doors, it was just open. Inside I could see tables and chairs, a counter on the left with a man standing behind it, and on the right, I could see what looked like a kitchen. When the car was parked, we got out. DN guided me around the mud and to the front of the building. He asked me if I needed to use the washroom. I thought to myself, ‘<em>What a perfect opportunity to freshen up. I can wash my hands, fix my hair and be on my way.</em>’ He asked a boy working, who showed us the way to the washroom.
DN guided me there and led me to a bathroom. He must have seen the way I looked at the bathroom, because he said, “I hope you can use it.” He had slight worry written on his face, and started to walk away. I looked down at the Eastern style toilet, which was literally all the bathroom consisted of. It’s definitely not a matter of being able to use that kind of toilet, just that I did not picture THAT when he said washroom. There was a bathroom on the left and one on the right, with a sink on the outside, in the middle. I turned the handle on the sink to wash my hands. I guess that was the best I was going to get. Come to think of it, I had no idea why I had prior expectations anyway. DN turned back around, confused. I tried explaining that all I needed was to be able to wash my hands and… Freshen up. I may have confused him more.
When I finished washing my hands, DN instructed me to wait at the front of the building for him. I went back the way I came and turned the corner to the front of the building. I climbed a few steps and saw how many men were staring at me. I nonchalantly turned around and promptly just stood there, waiting for DN. When I saw him come around the corner, I felt a little relieved, but I think I confused him by waiting for him. Haha 😀 He is my source of comfort when I feel shy or nervous for any reason.
<a href=”http://myhindiheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/truckstop1.jpg”><img class=”size-full wp-image-428″ alt=”Tables and chairs outside of the truck stop. And a doggie. :D” src=”http://myhindiheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/truckstop1.jpg” width=”360″ height=”480″ /></a> Tables and chairs outside of the truck stop. And a doggie. 😀
We walked together to a table. He pulled out a chair for me, and I sat down. He got me some water (which by the way, I’m pretty sure I accidentally left behind) to drink, and sat beside me. I felt like I was sitting in a men-only zone or something. I kept to myself. DN asked me if I was hungry and I said yes. He pulled this small circular tin out from his bag and put it on the table, opening it up. It looked like itty bitty roti. 😀 He told me what it was, but I soon forgot. It had something to do with potato. He mentioned how good they were, and I started to pick one up. “Right now?” He asked. He seemed amused. “Uh… yes?” I asked, confused. “Not yet, let’s wait for tea.” I pulled away, a bit embarrassed. Tea etiquette… Something I know nothing about.
When the server brought the chai, DN took the soft, delicious looking disc from the top. “I will show you how to eat it.” We shared a laugh and then I grabbed one from the tin. DN folded it in half and took a bite. I copied him…. WOW. It was really good! So soft, too. When he finished, DN said, “You alternate.” He then took a drink of his chai. Hmm… Okay. I finished and took a drink of my chai. Very good… ‘<em>Is this part of the rules of drinking tea</em>?’ I thought, and giggled to myself.
The way I was sitting, I was facing a wall, but there was a door. I was spaced out, eating and drinking my chai, just looking through the open door. I could see a field. I saw a few women walking through the field as well. It was a nice day, but a bit cold. The clouds were blotting out the sunshine. As my niece would say: “Mean ol’ clouds!” As I’m gazing through the open door, one of the workers starts moving chairs and bins right in front of the door. I hardly notice him, because I’m thinking of a thousand other things. Maybe at this point, he thought I was looking at him? Because he started showing off. How awkward. I looked to DN, who had finished his food and his chai. He must have taste buds of steel, because my chai was way too hot to drink normally. I managed to finish as well, though I did actually burn my tongue.
DN got up to pay. It’s still almost a reflex to get up when the people I am with get up, but I am learning that it’s not good etiquette to go with the man (or maybe it’s just the person paying) to the counter while they pay. I’m learning. I waited patiently. He turned and started walking to the car, and that’s when I got up to follow. I was almost out of the building when I heard, “Madam.” <em>’Aw crap</em>.’ I thought. ‘<em>What did I forget</em>?’ I thought, maybe this guy was trying to warn me that I had forgotten something. I turned to the man standing behind the counter, who had his phone out and in picture-taking position. “Oh,” I said, with a bit of a giggle, turning to DN. DN stopped and turned to me, also laughing. I turned back to the man behind the counter and tried not to laugh, so he could get a decent picture. He snapped the picture and then gestured in some way, that sort of looked like he meant to say, “<em>That will do</em>.”
I followed DN around the mud and to the car. I got in, and DN immediately started talking to the driver and the passenger in Hindi. I could understand the word “photo”. He was laughing. I laughed too. I had a pretty good idea of what he was talking about. 😉 He turned to me and said, “A foreigner has never come here before. So they were amazed.” I giggled. The driver started the car and we were on our way again.
We drove for a few more hours, with random conversations here and there. When it wasn’t completely foggy, I would simply stare out my window, spacing out. The music was pretty loud, and at that moment, we were listening to “Om Namah Shivaya”. I was just watching everything pass by. People working in fields, people fixing a truck on the side of the road… Houses and shelters in the fields, made from sticks and old clothes or material. Every now and again, the thick milky fog would take over, and I’d snap out of my daze. We passed a couple toll booths along the way. Guards would talk to the driver in Hindi. I had no idea what they were saying, and actually, I didn’t even try to figure it out. I was, however, curious how much they were charging for me. Was it extra to bring a foreigner? That’s a legit question.
I started seeing signs of civilization, as we were approaching a city. As it turns out, we were going the wrong way for awhile. DN leaned forward, with google maps pulled up on his phone, instructing the driver. I glanced at him, smiling, and went back to looking out the window. The streets were so busy… Packed with people selling fruits and vegetables, clothing, and snacks. People were making their way home, and many were shopping. School girls were holding hands and laughing as they walked by. A woman was riding her bicycle in traffic, going the speed of a snail. While we were stopped in traffic, an old woman in a pink saree, crossed in front of our car. Much like downtown Kansas City, the road under the highway had giant pillars plastered with posters and signs. So many things to see… We also stopped to ask for directions many times. Take notes, American men.
<a href=”http://myhindiheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/P1000151.jpg”><img class=”size-large wp-image-429″ alt=”I know it’s hard to see. I was taking pictures through the window, shame on me. This was just a random scene, in passing.” src=”http://myhindiheart.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/P1000151-1024×768.jpg” width=”604″ height=”453″ /></a> I know it’s hard to see. I was taking pictures through the window, shame on me. This was just a random scene, in passing.
<a title=”Lucknow Road Trip Part II” href=”http://myhindiheart.com/lucknow-road-trip-part-ii/”>Click here to go to Part II of the Lucknow Road Trip story.</a>