Got across to Amritsar from Lahore in an Ambassador that stopped every 1/2 km due to ‘blockage’ in the fuel pump.
Shared the front seat with an angry Aussie. He was wired. Shouting at drunks. Pissed off at having to pay Rs 20 for the ride. You have no idea how many shows I’m missing in London.
Not the kind of travelling companion I want. We parted at the railway station.
I was greeted by two rickshaw walas. One told me there was no way I’d get a berth on the Howrah Mail tonight.
I asked him if he was a ‘jent’, what we call ‘fixers’ back in Pakistan.
Yes, he replied, but an honest one. I do what I say.
Sensing some business he quickly amended his statement.
If you pay a little chai pani I can get a sleeper berth for you.
So I paid Rs20 to the ticket clerk and Rs 40 to the rickshaw puller. Hardly an extravagance for the luxury of a berth. Rs 220 for 1879 kilometers!
After handing over the cash I asked them if there had been any bombings on the rails recently. They looked at me disappointedly.
This is written at the time of your birth. There is no changing it. Bombs or no bombs, when your number is up, its up.
The other broke into a parable.
There once was a man. A mad camel got into his field, so to escape the man jumped into a well. The camel sat outside the well and said to himself, “He’s got to come out one day. And when he does, I’ll bite him.” The camel settled down to wait.
After some days a poisonous snake slithered by and bit the camel. In an instant he was dead.
Eventually the man in the well crawled out to have a look. He saw the camel lying bloated in the sun, rotting. He triumphantly strode forward and gave the camel a kick. His leg sunk deep into the rotting flesh of the camel. His leg got infected and the man died.
So you see, the rickshaw wala said. Even when we take precautions Fate tricks us.
With much encouragement, I set off for Calcutta.