In 2007, on my first assignment abroad in the UK, I realized that of all the new things I encountered, the worst was that I will have to sleep alone, in a single room, with pindrop silence all around. Because, I was to live in a tiny village which had just one 100m stretch known as the High Street. It was an extremely slow street compared to streets in India.
Let me also tell you the geography of the village. My village had a travel time of 4 hours from London via bus, train and tube. . It was in the middle of nowhere, literally. It was one hour away by bus to the nearest train stations in a radius. It was a perfect postcard village.
During one of the weekends, I was invited to visit my cousins in London. I was glad to be back in civilization. London is a lot like Mumbai – the crowds, the cabs, the red buses, the architecture and a lot of Indians. I had a fun two days and had to return on Sunday. After a hearty lunch, I took the tube to King’s Cross station to catch the outstation train.
As it was my first visit, I had asked my colleague to call on my cell phone if I didn’t reach back by 8pm. He did not have a cell phone.
There was only 1 train to my nearest station Kings Lynn every hour. I took the train at around 3.30pm and reached Kings Lynn at 4.45pm. Just outside the train station was a bus stand. Again there is only 1 bus which goes to my village every hour.
On Sundays, the last bus was at 4.30pm which I missed as the train was late. I was told the next bus was at 6.30pm. Since, the village was 28 miles away, I decided to wait for the bus. It was summer and the daylight lasted till 10.30pm so I wasn’t worried. But when the last bus came at 6.30pm, I was told that it will go only upto another village which was half way to my village. As it was the last bus, I decided to board the bus and walk it down to the village if needed.
The bus dropped me at its last stop. I waited at the bus stop which was a transparent glass structure. It started raining and got colder. Now, I was getting worried.
First I decided to stay in the bus stop but felt I will die in the cold. Then I thought of knocking at the doors of some villagers but thought better of it. I sat in the bus stop and thought about my next plan of action when I remembered that my colleague will call on the phone at 8pm. I had an hour to kill. The roads were deserted by then.
I knew that all my education, my money, my friends, my colleagues were useless right then. That’s when I remembered that my colleague had made a single call to our taxi driver from my cell phone. I had not saved the number. But, I scrolled on my phone and found it. I called up the taxi guy. Since, he didn’t know my name, I wondered if he would remember me. I told him I am the Indian lady he dropped off at the factory. Since, there were no Indians living there, he remembered me. He agreed to pick me up from the bus stop. And when he came, I was so glad. I have never seen a sweeter face.
I reached my B&B in the village at 8. My colleague was just about to go find a phone to call me.
Now I know that no matter where I am, I will find a way to come out of it. Keeping your head cool and using common sense is one of the best ways to face a crisis. I grew up a lot that day. I was used to my father or husband taking care of me till then. They decided what was best for me and I would follow. I was free now. Free to make my own decisions and to face the consequences. It changed me forever.
Linking this post to the Cherished Blog fest and
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