Monday, December 5, 2011

train from Goa to Mumbai

I got back from Laxmi's, packed my bags, paid the week's rent, and tried to find Nadine. I hadn't seen her at all today but I did manage to find her and Pascal having some food. She said to meet them at 2am by the beach entrance and that a rickshaw would bring us to the train.

At 2am they were nowhere to be found but it wasn't like the train would be on time anyway! Eventually, they came up the beach, Pascal lugging her big backpack. From the first time we'd met, he didn't try to hide the fact that he was in love with her and it was tough for him to say goodbye. Apparently, they lived in separate parts of Switzerland which didn't seem like an issue to me, being from Canada, but they weren't sure when they'd meet again. He told me to take good care of her and I let them say their goodbyes.

We only waited about 45 minutes for the train, which felt relatively like it was on time... We found our seat, unloaded our bags, and just as the train began to pull out of the station, we heard the hair-raising scream of female voice outside. One of the men next to us pulled the emergency brake and the train stopped.

Judging by the scream, I thought someone was dead but it turned out she had the same problem I'd had waking up in time for Palolem but instead of waiting for the next stop, she tried jumping from the moving train, backpack and all. She lost her footing, fell, and cut her head. She might have been afraid she was going to roll under the train, which would explain the scream!

The men next to us were on their way home from a forty-day retreat and hadn't laid eyes on a woman in that time, so they were pretty excited at the sight of Nadine, to say the least. She didn't seem bothered by them, though, and even got a palm reading from one of them. They didn't seem at all interested in reading mine!

Another potbellied, mustachioed man who spotted Nadine came by (maybe from the same retreat) but wasn't nearly as gentle. "You are such a magnificent beauty. If you kissed me, you would be the most beautiful girl I've ever kissed," he began and begged her for a kiss. She strated to argue but before she had a chance to say much, he captured her face in both of his palms and kissed her mouth. I guess I was too surprised to react right away and Nadine shouted, "Joseph! That's what you're supposed to be here for!" There wasn't much I could say. I'd just failed my only duty as a "guy"...

He came back a couple of hours later, when Nadine was sleeping, and I quickly jumped up and got him to turn around and go back. Luckily, it wasn't an overnight train ride, so I waited until Nadine was awake before I took a nap. We didn't see him again until we arrived in Mumbai and he was waiting at our door on the platform. I jumped down right in his face, blocking him from Nadine and told him to get away from us and leave her alone. With a smile, he said, "Yes, yes. Just one last look." Then he headed off.

It was too dark and hectic to appreciate Victoria Terminus from the inside, but once we've lugged ourselves outside and got into a taxi, we passed in front of it before turning north, toward Gamdevi. Victoria Terminus (now officially known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) was the highlight for me the first time in Mumbai and I enjoyed getting another brief look at it through the window of the taxi, as I had the first time.

Nadine had a Swiss friend who worked at the Swiss Bank in Mumbai who she was going to stay with and he told her I could stay as well. The bank provided him with a flat in one of the nicest neighborhood in Mumbai, along with his personal house keeper. 

Whether it was to impress Nadine or not, I don't know, but he had a party planned at his house shortly after we arrived. After a week in the beach hut I was almost feeling a bit of shock being inside his modern place. I hadn't seen leather furniture in a long time! 

The party was a mix of his Swiss and Indian co-workers and there was lots of good food. I did my best to stay awake but was feeling a bit grimy and out of place. I somehow got into a conversation with one Swiss and one young Indian man who were comparing the two cultures. Mostly the Indian man was taking about Indian culture, saying how Indian's obey their parents much better than we do and can never go against their father's wishes. Somehow, he started talking about how sex crazed and violent the West is, which I thought was a bit ironic after the trip I'd just had with Nadine. He honestly believed that everyone in North America starts having sex at age twelve. I told him I was twenty-three and he looked shocked. I said some people start young but most people don't. I asked why it was that people had these ideas about the West. He said, "From Hollywood movies..." Again, I was struck by the irony that here I was in the city synonymous with Bollywood being told that some one's opinions of Westerners were being based on movies. If Bollywood movies were reality, the whole country would have to be on acid to keep up! Maybe that's what makes Hollywood movies so convincing, though. They are used to Bollywood which is so fantastic it can't be believed

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