Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Journals: Written Proof of Your Stupidity

I’m an AW blog chain virgin here, so don’t get all huffy if I screw this up. Well, let’s see, this chain started out with some lies, then we moved on to hatred and jealousy, and next up was years from hell. But Family on Bikes did throw in a bit of travel, and growing from experiences, so I’m going with that.

I go though fits and spurts in my life when I keep a journal. One needs to chronicle such events as First Real Boyfriend (he’s sooooo cute!) and My Mother is Mean (grounded! the nerve!) But my last real journal was from 11 years ago, when I spent a month volunteering in India. By myself, which was a) a big deal for me at the time, having lived a fairly cloistered life and b) incredibly stupid, and probably pretty dangerous. I reread a passage recently, and realized the importance of writing things down, if only just to focus on your actions for a little while.

I had a couple of days in Delhi to explore on my own before catching a train to eastern India. Being what I thought was an intrepid traveler at the time, I took off on foot from my hotel, which was a huge white Hilton, you couldn’t miss it, right? Um, no. After a few hours of walking down dark passageways, through parks that looked familiar but not quite, it began to get dark. Shit. “Hilton? Heel-ton?” I would ask rickshaw drivers and shop owners, pointing to where I thought it was on the map. No, no Hilton there, miss. Of course I didn’t know that the name had recently changed.

A very scrubby-looking man overheard and offered to take me there. “I know this place,” he said, “You come with me.” That didn’t sound like a good idea, but as my other option was to camp out on the street, I went along. He told me he was a Kashmiri refugee, and he lived with his brother in a park. We crossed busy streets, him just holding up his hand for cars to stop, me trailing behind trying not to get run over. I pictured myself walking into some tent, being sold as a sex slave and never heard from again.

Finally we found the Hilton, in all its palatial glory. Of course this man would want some money. “Helpers” always want money. I tried to think of where I’d hidden it on my body, hoping he wouldn’t notice the rest of the bills and mug me. I pulled out some notes and handed it to him.

“No,” he said, “Don’t do that. I took you here because you were lost.” I still remember the hurt look he gave me, just before he turned and walked away.

Auria Cortes
Life in Scribbletown
Polyamory From the Inside Out
For the First Time
Family On Bikes
Writes in the City
Elf Killing and Other Hobbies
Rotating Bear
Fantastical Imagination
Asian Business
Spittin' (Out Words) Like a Llama
As Yet Untitled
Mad Scientist Matt's Lair


Anonymous said...

HA! I've been there and learned that the FIRST thing one does upon arrival at a hotel is pick up a card and put it in your pocket. I've been saved many a time with that little card with the hotel's name and address on it!

I've also been there where people rescue you from a night in the street - and want nothing more than your safety. It's a nice feeling knowing there are people out there who are only looking out for your best interest.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Wow, that's an amazing story, Wendy. I hope you get the chance to blog about more of those experiences. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow... That's a lovely story.

Anonymous said...

The kindness of strangers - never underestimate it!

Anonymous said...

People in this part of the world are by nature very hospitable to foreigners. How I know? I live in the next country of eastern India, Bangladesh. Most people are very warm and friendly here. Yes, there are many women who are sold as sex slaves (prostitutes) in South Asia but that is another story related to poverty.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

It is scary sometimes looking back at the situations we get ourselves into. I'm glad it worked out for the best and you were able to write about it!

Anonymous said...

I've been on the receiving end of the kindness of strangers many times, and I'm continually amazed. It goes a long way towards restoring my faith in humanity, too, and I definitely prefer to remember the kind strangers over the other kind any day. :)

colbymarshall said...

I had a situation while traveling and had a blownout tire...and I know it's ridiculous, but I'd never changed a tire before in my life! I stopped into a gas station to call someone I knew to come and help, but the owner siad he'd change my tire for me. He did, and I tried to give him a few bucks for his trouble. He just shook his head and said, "What kind of world would this be if we didn't help each other out?" So true.

Anonymous said...

All you have to remember is pay it forward. That man will get something nice his way for doing that and you return the favor for having it down to you. The world would be a better place for it.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post very much. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

That's quite a story there. We all have to do strange young and stupid things, I guess - life would be a lot less interesting without the time to reflect on them. Glad to hear you made it out well there.

Anonymous said...

Awww, now that was wonderful, I like that story a lot!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting story.