train travel india

A Friend from Afar

As we were in the planning stages of our trip, our intentions of Asia caught the ears of our friend Cam, who inquired about a tag-along session somewhere on our travels. We said the more the merrier, just let us know when you’re coming, and we’ll let you know where to meet us!  So with a lot of back and forth communication, plans were made and we were going to be tour guides to places we had never even been to.  Undaunted by such thoughts as the blind leading the blind, we came up with the itinerary, figured out hotels, buses, trains, and what not and made our way to the agreed upon meeting spot of Mangalore.

We arrived at our hotel the night before Cam just to make sure everything was set and he would have a hotel room waiting for him after 30 + hours of traveling. I had the idea of making a sign and meeting him at the airport. In my mind few things could be funnier than walking out the airport gate to see an unexpected sign with your name being waved by a friend in the crowd. I did, however, talk my self out of this idea for two main reasons: First, there is something to be said for that initial “WTF have I done” moment felt when walking out of an Indian airport, bombarded with all the noises and sounds and lack of understanding by the locals on how to form a queue and proceed in an orderly calm fashion. There is something in the experience of trying to find a cab and hearing the horns and realizing lanes and even direction of traffic are mere suggestions on roads to be followed only to the point that it would impede your ability to get from A to B quicker.  This initial assault on your senses and western concepts of order and rules and safety is part of the quintessential experience of coming to India and I simply could not rob Cam of this by giving him a friendly face that would reassure him and provide a sense of peace of mind. The second, and definitely more over-riding factor, was an all-night bout of travelers diarrhea that had left me absolutely exhausted. So, I chose a nap over cabbing out to the airport and back. The compromise we came to was to wait in the hotel lobby for our new travel companion to arrive.

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When Cam walked in, we could see the instant relief in his face at the site of familiar smiles. After we got him checked in and settled in his room, we invited him over to our room to go over the itinerary. I think the best sight he had all day was the Kingfisher (Indian beer) I pulled out of the fridge, which was required before we could get too deep into the planning discussions. And with that, the next stage of the trip began and we set-off as a group of 3!

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