The drivers leave, and with them all of our hope. Resigned, we settle in for what proves to be one of the longest nights of my life.
Did I mention it’s freezing? How did we end up in this concrete room in the middle of nowhere?
I pull out some cards and try desperately to remember the rules to Bullshit, a game I learned 7 years ago in South America. And with a name that aptly describes our situation, it seemed rather fitting. I give up after about 20 seconds. My hands were too cold.
The owner and his guys start making our dinner (in hindsight we never should have eaten that food – the kitchen…oh god, the kitchen…) and we amuse ourselves by staring at the walls, trying to sleep, and trying to figure out what was happening on the fuzzy TV.
We eat, and after they clear the plates away (the food was actually decent), the owner brings us the bill. San opens it, and there’s just one figure: 3,500.45. A thousand rupees more than what we originally agreed upon. And where did the 0.45 come from?? San’s eyes go wide, then he looks up at the owner, who is sitting in a chair opposite us, leaning against the wall. He sees San look at the bill, then up at him, then he closes his eyes. And pretends to sleep.
We call out to him multiple times, and he ignores us. Is this dude for real?! Eventually, he “wakes up” and saunters over. I guess he didn’t anticipate us putting up a fight, because he is not very pleased to be pulled from his slumber. Everyone then launches into a heated Hindi/English discussion over the justification of the price. Eventually we win (America 1, India 295), we pay the guy the original fee we agreed upon, and settle in for the night. And by settle, I mean remain seated in the chairs and look at each other.
An hour later, the owner gets up and turns off the TV. The other guys all put on their coats and start shutting the garage doors one by one. I’m fidgeting in my chair, watching them. If I didn’t know any better, it would look like they’re about to kick us out and close up shop. They get to the last door, and shut it to where it’s only halfway open. Then they start turning off the lights.
Juana and I keep looking at each other, and I’m feeling rather uneasy now about our little concrete haven. The owner walks over to those of us still awake and makes a motion with his hands that he wants to sleep.
When we make no indication that we’re leaving, he motions for us to get out. Just where the HELL does he think we’re gonna go??? Then another heated discussion ensues, about how we need to leave, but no in fact we are actually staying, but no he wants to go to bed now and can’t leave us alone lest we destroy his concrete box (blink blink), but you said we could stay until the morning, and so on.
Eventually, he pulls out his cell phone and makes a call. That’s when I think he’s calling for backup. Great. I am about to die in India and no one will ever find my body.
Juana and I start to gather our stuff like we’re just gonna head out (where?!), but the guys stop us. “We’re not leaving. He said 2,000 rupees for the night, and that’s what he’s getting. We aren’t going anywhere.” And they don’t budge. I had to admire the resolution, and I was so grateful for them at that moment. So, we stay put. And wait to see what will happen next.