As I begin this Post .. I am in Pondicherry, India .. ‘Pondi’ as it is lovingly called in the International Circle of Travelers .. is a stout three and one-half to four hour bus ride South of the large city of Chennai in the South of India. Technically it is actually named Puducherry. It used to be Pondicherry but was re-named a few years ago to Puducherry ! 

Zilla !  Please do NOT ask me why ‘Pondi’ was re-named !

As I begin this Post it is Thursday .. February 21st, 2013 .. and it is 10:45AM .. and I am seated at my MOST FAVORITE internet location here in ‘Pondi’ .. one I used during my five week stay here in ‘Pondi’ during  January and into February 2012 .. I know and I am remembered by the staff here !  It is like coming home !  Thankfully I treated all here  very well a year ago !  

All went fairly well last Monday the 18th Evening EXCEPT all going fairly well means I am in India and things can and things ARE at best fairly  challenging ..

I was assigned to  a cabin for four (4) people .. I got to the departure platform very early .. I was there at 9:30PM for a 10:30PM scheduled departure of my train  .. BUT I HAVE SELDOM EVER beaten my fellow India travelers and arrived first to my cabin on a long train trip .. in fact it could be NEVER EVER have I been first but I will not flatly declare this the truth since it seems to me a time-or-two I have been first but only on a short trip  .. it was 10PM  when the train pulled up alongside its departure platform ..

By the time I got to my cabin .. there were alreday six (6) other young men in my cabin !   There should have been a maximum of three (3) with me being the fourth ..

Having been  through this countless times .. one man by one man .. I asked each .. “Are you booked into this cabin?” .. to those who said they were not I asked .. “Will you kindly step outside so I may get my bags stored?” ..

And dutifully each did as  I asked .. and I was left with just one young man remaining (he too was settling) since two of the others who belonged in my cabin stepped out as well .. to be very polite is CRITICAL !  And it is a matter far more important  than just ‘Showing Good Karma’ by your own polite actions !

Here is why !  I was going to be with these young men for the next Thirty or so HOURS .. for the next two nights and a full day in between .. these chaps were going to be my constant companions !  And if you want a trip-straight-from-hell .. and I have had several bad train trips as you all know if you have followed along with me for any time .. being cabin mates with people  you are not comfortable with is terrible ! 

Terrible  is an understatement ! 

OK !  LONG STORY SHORT !  As the trip unfolded .. I was to learn that there were TEN (10) of these young men traveling together !  Their ages ranged from age 28 up to age 32 ..

I began my journey of discovery  by asking them collectively .. you see once I was ‘settled’ down myself .. back into the cabin for four  many of them trooped !  I had to smile at this !  They were poised to swoop back into my cabin !

“Are you all together?” .. “Yes” was their collective reply .. “Are you an athletic team ?” .. “No” was their collective reply ..

Slowly .. it was deep into Tuesday afternoon  before I was able to sort this all out !  .. it unfolded that ALL OF THE YOUNG MEN WERE NEW TO EACH OTHER !  Not one of them had ever met the others !  They were ten total strangers to each other !

Each of the ten  young men  were  Diploma Mechanical Engineers .. each were from different locations in the North of India .. each had been hired by the India Railway System and all ten were  going en-masse to a seminar in Chennai for ‘new hires’ and were beginning a one year employment term to find each their eventual permanent job locations !  

You want a BIG DEAL for a young Indian Engineer ?  Well here you have a BIG DEAL ! 

And as all of this unfolded for me .. I kept saying silently to My God of Abraham .. “Thank You oh God of Abraham for my being so cool and for my being so calm and polite as I worked my way through this challenging situation !” .. and to begin with .. it truly was a CHALLENGING SITUATION ..

YOU SEE once I was in my upper berth and set to go to sleep .. I had SKILLFULLY SWITCHED with one of them for HIS upper and gave him MY lower .. I SO PREFER THE UPPER BERTHS BECAUSE during the days I can nap and not have to be concerned with a cabin mate who wants to sit and visit and look outside .. IF I occupying the lower berth .. were I to stretch full out and nap this forces someone to NOT sit on my lower berth !  One who technically belongs in an upper berth !  Of course three can sit on the other lower but you get my point here .. when I OWN the upper I can do as I wish .. be in the upper or be down sitting in my corresponding lower berth ..

So as I stretched out in my upper berth to go to sleep .. four of the ten young men began to play a card game IN MY CABIN that went on for hours into the night !  Again I was cool with this activity !  I was ready to sleep and I did so ! 

YOU SEE these young men were bonding with each other .. the four who began to play a card game obviously had sensed chemistry with the other three and were beginning the getting to know one another process !  VITAL in busines life !  They may become life friends and business associates .. because I had indeed been cool and polite .. NOT ONE SINGLE ONE OF THE TEN OF THEM THOUGHT OF ME AS  A BAD PERSON !  Read on below .. I became ONE WITH THEM !

I know this  because .. GET THIS .. as Tuesday passed .. they invited me into their card game .. a game called LAKRI .. they first explained the rules to me and then  coached me along so I could actually sit in for a game .. once I understood the dynamics of the game .. I watched over one’s shoulder how he played his cards .. actually giving him suggestions on how to play certain situations ..

LAKRI is a four (or more but four seems best) person card game .. one suit is cut as ‘Trump’ Suit .. you must name the number of tricks you bid .. you MUST bid at a minimum two tricks .. and your aim is to take the maximum number of tricks you are able .. my contribution to my one friend was this .. I suggested he bleed out all the trump cards so his own high cards were winners once all the Trump cards had been played .. all 52 cards are dealt out .. and they play thirteen hands and then total their scores .. a game is when a total of thirteen decks of cards has been completely played .. I do NOT fully understand the scoring at all !  IF you do NOT make your bid number of tricks there is a sizeable penalty .. IF you go over your bid number of tricks there is  a small penalty .. it smacks of Bridge a bit .. but there are no partners ..  

I did have one CRUSHING EVENT OCCUR .. I had decided that .. for once .. for the first time EVER .. I was going to try to use my C.P.A.P. Breathing Machine on the train !  I have NEVER attempted to do this ! NEVER !

So when I was ready to go to sleep Monday Night .. I plugged my C.P.A.P. into the  train electrical outlet .. and WOW !  It lit up just like it should .. THEN IT WENT INSTANTLY DARK !  I unplugged my C.P.A.P. and when I got to my hotel here in ‘Pondi’  .. I tried to use it and it REMAINS DARK AND INOPERABLE ! 

THIS is stunning and disappointing and MAKES ME VERY SAD !  Of course I wish I had not tried to use it on the train but  I did ..

I THINK what happened is this .. I blew a safety fuse .. but I do not know where the fuse(s) are located in my C.P.A.P. Machine nor do I know how to get to them .. I DO HAVE EXTRA fuses with me .. fuses that came with the machine .. and this is why I think I blew a fuse because these were furnished with the machine ..  and so here I sit .. 

Between Patti and Ross Blakeney of N.W. Medical in Anchorage .. I will try to get assistance .. I will also seek assistance here in ‘Pondi’ .. I am NOT the only human being using a C.P.A.P. Breathing Machine !  There are many Europeans and many Seniors here in ‘Pondi’ .. and I am optimistic I will get this solved .. I do NOT have a mini-allen wrench to open up a small allen-cap-screw on the C.P.A.P. under which may be the fuse(s) ..

WELL .. as the trip on the train wound down .. my ten young engineering traveling mates .. having themselves found out I AM AN ENGINEER myself .. really got into asking me about myself .. I showed them my two web sites .. and we just got on with the visiting !  All politely shook my hand upon departing and expressed their thanks for being with them ! 

 INTO CHENNAI .. Wednesday Morning .. 8:30AM .. the train just a tad late no big deal. 

OH MY OH MY HOW NICE WHEN YOU KNOW THE PLACE  !   I got money .. I went to the Railway Booking Office .. SAME elderly lady who is the best of the best !  Got my return trip from Chennai North to New Delhi booked for May 1st .. FIRST CLASS AIR CONDITIONED ! 

I got myself to the Main Chennai Bus Terminal at 10:17AM .. I found and I walked up to the ‘Pondi’ Bus .. got on .. it rolled out !  I was lucky absolutely no waiting .. well maybe one minute .. I paid my fare on the bus as it was rolling  !!   Air Conditioned Luxury Volvo Bus .. and MAN ALIVE .. was I tired out !

Into ‘Pondi’ the bus arrived about 2:15PM .. I got to MY hotel .. they gave me a small room saying MY ROOM was not available till Friday and would I like a small room so I could be in the hotel and not have to move around .. I loved this plan !  Then I went up to Nilgiri’s Grocery Store and bought water and a one litre bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and from the French Bakery beside my hotel I bought a fresh loaf of French Bread and then I  crashed out dead in my hotel room.   I slept a few hours .. got up .. walked to the beach for the final daylight .. ‘Pondi’ is on the East Coast of India .. so the sun RISES in ‘Pondi’ and sets in the West.  The evening breeze was phenomenal !  l did this often last year .. this is what I do here in ‘Pondi’ ! 

Then I  ate a small dinner and crashed out dead about 8PM ..

IT IS HOT in ‘Pondi’ .. in the 80s I am guessing .. I am dirty and sweaty and ready to settle into MY room tomorrow or Saturday .. do a washing .. wash myself .. and settle ..

And good friends I think that this will be IT !  Thank you all so much for staying tuned in here .. 

MUCH JOY .. Cap ..