The comeback

I’m back! I landed on Friday evening, one week later than my original itinerary. I will get into that in my full account of the trip that is soon to come.

First, I wanted to talk about my travel “buddy”. I’d like to get this out of the way as soon as possible, and not let it mar my actual recollection of my holiday. If you’re not on my FB then you probably didn’t know that my travel “buddy” and I parted ways one-quarter of the way into the trip. Now, of course, she would tell you that I ditched her at the train station in Avignon, France. That’s what she’s telling her friends and family, that’s what she’s saying on her blog, and that’s what she’s telling herself.

She is lying.

I’ll tell you what me ditching her would have constituted: I would have met my Couchsurfing host, and I would have beat it before she could see me. That would have been me ditching her. What was it that I actually did? I met my host, I deliberately stood facing the escalator so I could see her when she came up, I made eye contact with my host as we spoke but kept constant watch on the escalator – on her, essentially. Yes, I admit that I walked quickly out of the train. Yes, I admit to not waiting for her to get her bags. I admit this. I was mad, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to travel with her any longer, I seriously contemplated leaving her. I admit to all of this. But she was also really, incredibly slow. She was taking her own sweet time with her bags, as she had been all morning with everything, and I had to keep waiting for her…and I no longer wanted to wait for her. I figured if she really wanted it, she would have caught up with me. Did she? Well…

I had been chatting with PB for a few minutes, and kept glancing at the escalator, wondering if Anjuli was coming at all. I could not see her. I casually shifted my eyes to the left of the escalator and, lo and behold, there she was, standing outside a store. I had not seen her come up. Fine, I thought. Okay. I guess I missed her. And that was when it hit me. She had not come to me. She had to have seen me, as she was coming up the escalator. If she had not seen me, she would not be nonchalantly standing outside the store, pretending to browse. She would be searching for me. Maybe not in a frantic manner, but at least she would have looked left and right, up and down, like a normal person who can’t find her travel partner would. That is, of course, if she were normal. Judging from the series of conversations I had with her prior to boarding the train in Paris, I have serious doubts on this.

As PB was discussing with me our plans for the day, my mind focused on Anjuli, who was standing three metres from us, and who was not getting any closer. I asked myself what I should do. Do I call her? Do I say, “Hey, this is our host. Are you coming?” Or do I walk away, half hoping she wouldn’t follow us? I didn’t know. I most definitely wanted to just leave. That was my first thought. On the way to Avignon, as the beautiful French countryside whizzed past me, I was sitting opposite a sleeping/pretending to be asleep Anjuli, and I was seething with anger. The moment I made this realisation, I had a kind of a panic attack. The French countryside is to the right and left of me, and instead of enjoying the view, I’m boiling with rage?! Do I really want to look back on my maiden European trip and be reminded of how I had the most miserable time because I was travelling with this lunatic?!

I had my answer. And I came to a decision. I was going to wait for us to arrive in Avignon, I was going to ask her to pay me back the money she owed me for her train ticket (nothing bad about that; her card didn’t work and mine did), and I was going to tell her, in unequivocal terms, that I no longer wanted to travel with her. I was going to be as polite as I could have been under the circumstances, but I was regardless going to call her crazy. To her face. Because that’s exactly what she is and she needed to know it, because it was apparent to me that she didn’t.

I stood there, no longer listening to PB, as I had this inner debate with myself. I’m pretty sure Anjuli and I made eye contact for a second, but she didn’t hold it. It finally dawned on me that she was never going to come towards us. She was going to stand there, and wait for me to call her. She knew I was livid, and she knew why. Instead of confronting this head-on, she chose to ignore it, and hope that I would miraculously kiss her royal feet and beg her to come with us. That was not going to happen. She had already spoilt my morning and a considerable amount of the French countryside for me…it was not about to go on for another minute. I took a deep breath and said to PB, “Let’s go.” She stared at me. “Are you sure?” Yes, I was sure.

And off we went. I kept turning back to see if Anjuli was behind us. She wasn’t. And that was the start of my solo adventure in Europe. And oh, how perfect it was! I truly cannot imagine doing the things I did if that whiny bitch had been around. Yes, I called her a bitch. Only because she called me a bitch on her blog. I was going to be dignified but because this nutcase had the audacity to call me a bitch, then I’m going to call her a bitch too.

So what exactly did she do to cause such wrath in me?

Firstly, it has to be said that she never helped me plan this trip. At all. In the beginning, there was some talk about her being in charge of lodging. When it was clear to me that she wasn’t doing it, I suggested Couchsurfing, and that I was going to be in charge of it. Needing to know where one is going to sleep for two weeks in Europe isn’t so crazy, is it? Apparently she didn’t think so, as she never once asked me who we were staying with, and perhaps could she also see their profiles to lend a hand in the judging process. Never. I was the one who sent her the links; she never asked for them and she never asked why them. All she said was, “Awesome.” She markets herself as “easygoing”. This loon is not easygoing. She is lackadaisical. There is a big difference! Not only did she not show interest in our accommodation, she left all the itinerary planning up to me. When I suggested places to go she merely said “okay”. No objections, no questions, just “okay”. I thought this was a good thing at first – it meant I got to go wherever I wanted! But when it got down to finalising the itinerary, that was when I realised that doing it alone was not easy. How were we travelling from one place to another? How many days were we going to spend in one place? What were we going to see and do? I would message her on Skype and FB but would either get no reply, or very late, unhelpful replies. It was impossible to get ahold of her and I was getting frustrated.

So, TFC, why didn’t you tell her to get her shit together or get out?! Good question. I didn’t do that. That was stupidity on my part. I should have, but I didn’t. That was stupid. I was also being an eternal optimist. I figured nothing bad would happen, things would fall into place, I would enjoy myself and come home happy. Evidently, this was not the case. Notable instances of days 1 to 4 in Paris, which had the misfortune of including her:

– Friday, 2nd March
She waited for me at the wrong terminal despite my crystallised instructions to wait at Terminal 2A, and we wasted two hours trying to find each other. And how do you think we eventually found each other? I begged the information counter to make a public announcement for me, in spite of their clearly written notification on the counter – “We cannot make personal messages.” – not once but twice. I asked her if she had ever thought about going to the information counter to do the same for me. “I was going to,” she said. “Eventually. But I thought I was going to walk around the airport some more.” Bear in mind that by this time two hours had passed since my flight had landed.

– Saturday, 3rd March
I was on my host’s computer madly trying to book our train tickets to Avignon on Monday, and instead of standing by the computer helping me out, what was she doing? She was sitting two metres away, reading her book. Initially I would read things out to her, but ultimately I grew tired of it and asked her, still very nicely, “Will you please come to the computer and go through this with me?” I forget what her actual response was, but it was somewhere along the lines of “no”. She never came to the computer. I gave up and decided we would just buy our tickets at the train station.

– Sunday, 4th March
She discovered that her camera would not charge off her USB cable. Apparently she did not try to see if it would work before the trip. Smart people do that. Anjuli is not smart. Hence, precious hours of day 3 were wasted as she was perched in front of the computer, googling for a “Radioshack in Paris”. “Radioshack is not McDonald’s! Change your search words!” I growled. Like I said…not so smart. I was texting my cousin and I took a picture of myself to send to her. So I’ve got proof that at 11:09am on Sunday, 4th of March, in Paris, France, we were still at my host’s apartment when we should have been out at least two hours ago, eagerly exploring the city like the tourists that we were. She knew googling would take time. She knew how particular I am about leaving early on holidays (ask anyone). Did she even try to wake up early to accommodate this? No! I told her to hurry up only once. I waited a while more before I said we gotta go. It was nearly noon when we left.

Oh, I need to address this camera issue, as she has made it into one. (I didn’t think there was one.) She claims that I didn’t “want” to help her find an electronics store to get her charger. She is simultaneously claiming that I didn’t “want” to help her find an electronics store to get a new camera. Now, whilst it is true I didn’t help her google for a Radioshack (HA!), her search eventually informed her that she could possibly find her charger at a Carrefour. Carrefour, being a supermarket chain that originated in France, should, logically, be like air in Paris, that is, everywhere and readily accessible. However, I didn’t spot one. Not that I was actively looking for it, I admit that, but she should have been the one doing so. Did she? I don’t know, as she never once uttered a peep about it, or to my knowledge looked for it. Of course, as it wasn’t my problem, I naturally forgot all about it. I was being human. And this thing about wanting a new camera? First time I’m hearing about it! The whole time she was only going on about a charger, not an entirely new camera. Was I supposed to be able to read her mind? The next thing I know, she’s making FB updates and blog posts about how I didn’t “want” to help her. I did help her. We did go into several electronics stores that were not Carrefour, but they didn’t have her charger. So what is this rubbish about me not helping her?

– Monday, 5th March
We were leaving Paris for Avignon. As our train was leaving at 7:37am, we had to wake up at silly o’clock to get to the train station. Anjuli had made a big show telling everyone the night before that she was going to sleep in the clothes she was wearing on that day, so she could literally get up and go. I didn’t think she was serious. Before we left, I asked her if she needed to use the bathroom. “No,” she said. “Not even to pee?” I asked incredulously. “No. I didn’t drink a lot last night.” Umm. Okay. Those are some amazing kidneys! “Well, are you at least going to wash your face, or brush your teeth?” I asked, still incredulous. She looked at me like I was stupid, “That’s what bathrooms in trains are for.” Well, duh. Of course. So go out into the world with your bed face and bad breath and your BO (you know you’ve got it, Anjuli, you said so yourself), why don’t you! We made our way to the metro, she walked very slowly, she never said a word to me, and when she did, she was grumpy. I asked her if she was mad at me for something. No, she said. Fine. I figured that she’s just not a morning person and left her alone.

We reached the train station, and me being a person who is apparently blind to signages, I couldn’t find the actual platform we were supposed to go to. I kept going the wrong way, and the whole time Anjuli faithfully trailed behind me, saying nothing. Every time I asked her if she knew where we should go, she would reply, “I don’t know.” Just like that. “I don’t know, full stop.” Not “I don’t know…but let’s try here.” Not “I don’t know, let’s ask somebody.” No. Just plain and simple “I don’t know”. Well, hell, I didn’t know either, so help me, goddammit! Eventually I approached a guy in a shop. He showed me the way to go, and we went on our merry way. “I knew this was the right way,” she finally uttered. I spun around. “What?” She repeated herself. “I knew this was the way.” Wait, you knew this was the way and you didn’t tell me and you let me go the wrong way? “I told you but you didn’t listen.” I honestly didn’t hear her tell me that was the way. It’s not that I didn’t listen. I didn’t hear. But she insisted how I didn’t listen, not that I didn’t hear, but that I chose not to listen. I just about flipped.

“Hey Anjuli, can you do me a favour? If you see something or hear something or basically you just know something that you know I don’t, can you please tell me? And if you did tell me but you know I didn’t hear you, because you tend to mumble and you know this, can you please repeat yourself and make sure I heard you? We are in a foreign country, travelling together…we need to help each other out. You can’t let me go the wrong way if you know of the right way, that’s just bonkers!”

Silence. It was as if she hadn’t heard me. I kept on walking, she kept on trailing behind me. Finally I asked her, “Did you hear what I said?”

“Yeah,” she replied.
“Well, are you gonna do it?”
This is the best part – “Probably not.” PROBABLY NOT? Was she serious?
“Why not?!”
This is the best part – “Because if I repeat myself I stutter, and that’s just horrible, so I’m not gonna do it.”
“So because stuttering is such an inconvenience to you, you’re not going to repeat yourself, and you would rather let me lead us into the wrong way?”
This is the best part – “Yeah.”
I could hardly believe my ears. I persisted. “But we’re travelling together! You have to help me! You can’t let me make decisions alone!”
This is the best part – man, there are so many good parts! – “If I wanted to make decisions, I would have travelled alone.”

WHAT. THE. FUCK. I lost it right there. “So if I were to abandon you right now, what would you do?” I asked her, just to see what she would say. A normal person’s reaction would have been like, “What?! You want to abandon me?!” A normal person would have expressed shock, anger. But as is obvious by now, Anjuli is far from normal. She didn’t even flinch. Her response? “Probably spend a couple more days in Paris…” I didn’t say one more word to her. Our seats on the train were opposite one another, and she quickly fell asleep/pretended to sleep, leaving me to look at her face and slowly despise it. What transpired subsequently, I’ve already typed out earlier in this post. I didn’t ditch her. She chose to be proud and egotistical and didn’t come to me. Thinking about the blatant lie of her FB update, I was reminded of a song by Rachael Yamagata, ‘Reason Why’. This was the song I fell in love with RY over. The refrain goes:

So I will head out alone
Hope for the best
We can hang our heads down as we skip the goodbyes
You can tell the world what you want them to hear
I’ve got nothing left to lose, my dear
So I’m up for the little white lies
But you and I know the reason why
I’m gone, and you’re still there
I’m gone, and you’re still there
I’m gone, and you’re still there

I was amazed at how completely apt the song was for the occasion. Even the first verse of the song goes “I think about how it might have been/ We’d spend our days travelling”. It’s crazy! I love Rachael Yamagata. Anjuli can continue to feed lies to her family and friends, even to herself. But she can’t hide from the truth. To her family and friends and on her blog, she conveniently skips to the part where I “ditched” her. What about her uncooperativeness, her self-centredness, her indecisiveness, the ridiculous, obnoxious things she said to me as we were walking to the train station, and the fact that I waited for her but she did not come to me? I do not forget this, and I know that deep down neither does she, and that is enough for me. She says the best thing I did was to leave. The best thing she did was not coming after me.

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