It was 2am when I was viciously shaken awake by my travel companion. This is our stop. We need to get off right now. I was still frantically shoving my sleeping bag into its cover and strapping on my backpack as our train eased back into motion. We weren’t going to be able to get off. We were going to miss our connection.
By this point, I had been vomiting consistently for three weeks. I was exhausted, I had no clean clothes, and adding to the piss on my feet courtesy of the splash back of the squatters, my recent bout of food poisoning saw me wave bye-bye to bladder control and I’d wet myself approximately 2 hours prior to this moment. Right now, defeat was not an option. I needed this win. I was going to make this connecting train if it was the last thing I did. And given the speed the train had picked up by now, it may well have been the last thing I did.
Channeling my inner ballerina, I held my breath and made the leap onto the quickly-vanishing platform. I watched to my right almost in slow motion as my friend mirrored my leap a few metres further down. The jump itself was admittedly impressive. It was the landing that could have used some work. As gravity took its course, I crumpled, sandwiching myself between a hard slab of platform and the 25kg of scarves, spices and anklets that I’d somehow been talked into stuffing into my now bulky backpack. The combination of the weight of the bag and my complete exhaustion left me lying there resembling some kind of immobile tortoise, or rather an immobile tortoise that was bleeding from all of its limbs.
Anything I had in my hands and anything that was previously in the outer pockets of my bag was now splayed across the platform. And any blood that had previously been held beneath my skin was now making a grey area of what was body and what was the fabric of my oversized elephant pants. And there to welcome us stood a hoard of wide-eyed onlookers, shocked into silence by the two idiotic foreigners that had just belly-whacked into their town and were now bleeding all over their footpath. But heck, we made it, didn’t we?
Slowly peeling ourselves from the pavement and sheepishly collecting our belongings, we scoured the departures board for the platform of our next train. And that’s when we noticed the station’s name. It really was too bad that we’d jumped off one stop too soon. You win this round, India.