Perdition means hell, doom or destruction.
Well my journey wasn't as dramatic but while those 24 hours are something I am proud of today, that day, that particular day, there were a series of unfortunate events that made the day longer than the usual. It both shook up my belief in humanity and restored it in ways one can only experience and not fathom.
It was a usual day, I left from my Airbnb apartment in Prague and my lovely hostess had offered to drop me to the station. We just about made it in time and as I dashed through the crowds with a certain confidence but I was up for a surprise. I knew the track number my train was to come on but, there were no clear indications of platform numbers. No they were not sequential. So, I asked the uniforms but apparently either they didn't understand what I was asking or they didn't know too. When I finally met an old man who offered to help me, he looked at the time and simply started running towards the platform with my big blue suitcase and I simply ran after him. There were no lifts or escalators on this station so without asking or offering he looked at me and just picked up my suitcase and started running up the steps. I kept saying thank you, thank you, god bless you while he came to a slow stop as he reached the top of the steps and we both saw the train get away from us in slow motion. We both just kept looking at the tracks and each other with shock, awe and smiles. We walked down together as he showed me where the information counter was and before I could even pull out my phone to take is name he was gone. Just gone! As if God had sent him in my life only for this task and once it was done he was to disappear.
Travelling makes you a very positive person. I have learnt how to not dwell on the problem but start thinking of the next best plans. I mean what's done is done and our crying can't make it better can it? But thinking of ways to get out or get over it, feel like the right way to me. So I played a happy song and walked to the information counter, cause I knew it was now going to be an adventure. The next train was at 1:40 pm, with 2 changes at Ostrava and Katowice. So happy and positive me found a good spot on the floor at the station, got myself a burger, put on my tunes, found a free internet connection and chilled on the station. I helped some people who asked for directions and shared smiles while I was lost in my music. I knew everything will be alright!
Time came, I made my way to my assigned bogie and soon I was served champagne in the first class and life was good! Lost in my music, I was disturbed by a certain commotion on the train and the ticket checker asking everyone where they had to get off. When I said Ostrava, he said keep sitting. Apparently some train had caught fire on the tracks ahead of us so we had stopped for a bit. I saw the time; I had 15 minutes at Ostrava to swap trains and head to Katowice. We were already 10 minutes behind time, so again the positive me was thinking "There are too many of us, they are bound to make alternate arrangements for all of us.. so why Panic?" In about half hour, we were told to get off at the station we had paused at. The uniforms were going to organise buses for all of us to go to the closest station and then board trains to Ostrava. We were told that we could only get information from there now. So we waited; a hundred of us soon became hundreds of us at this small little station in the middle of nowhere called Cervenka. We waited for almost 2 hours and then buses started coming and though there was method to the madness, I could not board the first 2. Finally succeeded in my 3rd attempt and got on the bus.
It was a long drive but the girl sitting next to me made time fly. A simpleton, mother of two girls who was going to be without her daughters for the first time. She was so nervous and anxious, but as I comforted her with thoughts of books she could read and all the ME time she would get as she pointed out to her house beyond the church in the fields, her tensed body became more calm and relaxed. We reached the next station and all got on the train headed to Ostrava. I was sure there were going to be arrangements there.
Ostrava did not have any escalators. Let me remind you we all had been without food since about 2 pm and it was 7:30 pm now. Tired and exhausted I dragged myself with my suitcase up some 50 steps and down 50 steps to get to the reception and ask for next steps to get to Krakow. The lady hit the keys on the keyboard and after a few sighs and nods to herself, she gave me slips of paper and asked me to rush for the next train back on the platform. It was past 8 and the train was at 8:30 pm. So I picked up my suitcase and went up 50 steps and down 50 steps and waited for the train. I HAD to catch this train to Katowice, to take my last connecting train to Krakow at 9. And as I stood alone at that platform staring at the tracks and time, I heard the announcement through the cacophony of freight trains that the train was cancelled. In utter disbelief, I once again, went up 50 steps and down 50 steps with my luggage, back to the lady at the reception and waited for my turn in the queue.
I looked at her and something inside me gave up. No, I wasn't scared. I think I was just fatigued and hungry and had sores on my hands. My back and leg was aching beyond belief. I looked at her and just said, "Do you realise we all are having a hard day? Could you not have just checked if the train was cancelled in a station where there are no escalators?" And I didn't realise but tears started streaming down my face and suddenly I had the empathy of all fellow travellers, who started screaming at her in different languages while I kept repeating I was just tired. Thomas and his friend, another 2 guys on a Eurotrip like me, comforted me and said, "Come let's pick up a beer and figure out what to do.Let's eats something first". As we walked slowly towards the only shop selling sandwiches and drinks, the guy there; BAM shut the door in our faces, showing us the time on his cheap watch. It was past 9 and the shop shut at 9. We 3 stood there shell shocked! There was all this food infront of us and we had the money but…. no humanity. We just wanted food.
At this weak moment I called my brothers and asked them to just get me out of here, anyhow. I wouldn't dare let them know I was crying but I think they figured. Within moments, they had booked me in a hostel 400 mts from the station. Moravia Ostrava; for Rs.800. single room with breakfast. My Blessings, My Brothers! So with all the energy left in my tired body I dragged myself through the dead silent streets of Ostrava to my hostel.
I met George here. An old, frail man with long hair. His wrinkles were somehow filled with stories. I knew he was interesting the moment I met him. I sat at the dim lit reception doing my check in formalities and telling him my ordeals of the day and he made notes cause he wanted to write to the authorities about it. My room was on the third floor. It was too late to get any food, so I requested George to get me some coke so I could knock myself out with a drink for a few hours before deciding on what to do next. I had the option of taking the all night train from Ostrava station at about 2 am or sleep all night and figure what to do in the morning. As we walked up the stairs, to this almost shady hostel, George took it upon himself to educate me about the place. Bad decision! It was almost 100 years old with a haunted history. Yup! You read it! The hostel was haunted! With 2 ghosts of women. Who walked around the corridors. So again, silly me thought, I'll just get in my room, take a shower, have a drink and sleep. Not step out in the corridor AT ALL. Right? Wrong! It was a room for Rs. 800/- Room. Just Room! The bath and toilets were communal. Which now meant I would HAVE to step out of my room. I remember sing out loud while taking the shower cause I was just so scared that I didn't want to hear any sounds outside my door. But the decision to take the night train became obvious.
Ofcourse I didn't get any sleep! Waited till 1 am and praying hard I stepped out into the corridor and walked down the steps to get to the station. Now you must know that motion sensory lights are only cool sometimes. In a place known to be haunted, they are creepy like hell. As I was approaching the ground floor and the lights came on, I saw a man's body waiting for me. I screamed out loud! George had decided to help me with my luggage till the station. So kind of him but scared the BBBBJESUS out of me to say the least.
As we walked the cold, lonely road to the station he kept talking about how he felt a connection with me, cause it was a full moon night and he had felt a lot of movement in the spirit world that night. I can't begin to tell you how I had the strongest urge to run away screaming my lungs out and didn't. But he was still warm inspite of his cold conversation. It was wonderfully kind of him to help me.
When we reached the platform, I was relieved for more reasons than one. I saw Thomas and his friend Zeger again, and some more familiar people, and we all were finally going to be heading to Krakow.
The worst was yet to come!
Wait for part 2.
This post was originally published on Travelling Boots.