I ate from the lunch box, brown bread and chick pea (chole with bread, ever heard of the combination? ) as I sat in the arrival of Milano airport. My trip to Venice was still a good 16-17 hours away. I was having goosebumps just thinking about the place, it still seemed unreal to me that this tomorrow I’d be walking alongside the canals that criss-cross the narrow cobbled stone streets of Venice. I had never been so impatient in my life before, please take me there already.
I tried to sleep in the airport and found a really nice spot for myself. I woke up suddenly, like it was some kind of intuition or something, I went downstairs to the metro station and guess what I found out?
I realized, the morning metro, first one in-fact, I was relying on wouldn’t be able to drop me in the Milano station in time. And the last metro of the night was in 10 minutes. I rushed to the ticket vending machine and guess what? It was all kala akshar! Italian! Anyhow I didn’t have any choice, did I? I navigated my way through the Italian menu and after a few hit and trial managed to book my ticket. All just in time.
Phew! I wiped off the sweat trickling on my forehead. But not just yet, I was yet to board the train.
A few minutes later I was on my way to train station and I didn’t like this new situation I was in. I was entering an unknown territory, I knew airports were pretty easy and safe to sleep, but I was not so sure about Milano railway station; and did I mention it was a January night? I could stay in a hostel but it was already dark and I had no idea where to look. And it was only a few hours before the day breaks, anyway.
I found my way through platforms and I found a decent enough place under the closed shutters of a shop. I tried to sleep but I didn’t feel very comfortable even though couple of teenagers sleeping slept nearby. Perhaps, it was exactly the reason I didn’t feel comfortable.
I got up and found couple of benches where people like me were waiting. There was no seat on the bench but there was one guy dozing-off nearby so I made my arrangement and tried to get a nap. The floor was cold like a slab of ice and my blanket was too thin to keep me from the cold.
It was all going good and somehow I managed to catch some Zs. But as the luck had it sometime late in the night I was woken up, there were two men breathing on my neck. The duo were wearing blue uniform, they were Polizia Italiana shouting something in Italian. Maybe they thought I was a homeless guy or something, they asked me to get up and come with them, or at least that’s what I understood from their hand gestures. Nervously, I packed my baggage and one of them grabbed me by my wrist. His tight grip scared me, my whole plan was rattled all because I failed to factor in the Milano airport – train connection.
How stupid of me! Idiot, idiot, idiot! I cursed myself.
But just then one of the police guy shouted loud at a man at a distance. The man gave them a quick glance and ran in the opposite direction.
That was my chance, I picked up my bag and disappeared in the crowd. I finally found a bench to sit, it was in a busy place which was exactly I was looking for this time.
The area was open and I wrapped the blanket and the bed sheet tight around me, somehow I lived the night to see another day in my life.
In the morning the train arrived right on time something people say doesn’t happen often in Italy (Indian railways anyone?)
I validated my ticket in a yellow box before boarding. As it happened when I was leaving Rome I forgot to do that and only remembered when the train was about to leave. What happened then ?
The train pushed off and I felt a surge of excitement run through my body.
Venice was waiting for me…