My workbench

My workbench

Friday, December 11, 2009

Penn station

I had an amazing privledge last night.  While waiting at Penn Station for my $1.50 bus to Boston to arrive, I noticed an older woman trying to get help from a few passerbys.  She was speaking in a foreign language, and as she approached me I recognized it as some form of Arabic.  Now, my Arabic is CRAP.  A few words is my limit, barely enough to communicate.  Still, I know what it's like to be lost in a transit station, where nobody speaks your language, and you just want to get out of there.  While unable to properly communicate, I smiled as sweetly as I could and motioned for her to stay put.  I walked around to various different Amtrak officials, asking if anyone working in the station might speak Arabic.  Naturally, all looked confused, stating quite certainly that nobody spoke Arabic and that they couldn't help.  The transit police booth stood empty, another dead end (where's a cop when you need one?!).  I collected the woman and walked over to the service desk, where she showed her papers to a customer service rep.  The rep realized that she was trying to collect her luggage, and sent us over to the luggage claim area.  Closed.  I asked a nearby janitor what we should do, and he pointed to the next stall over, where a gentleman was standing behind a desk.  I motioned for the woman to follow me, and explained to the man behind the desk that the woman was trying to collect her luggage.  She gave him the tickets and luggage tags, and he dissapeared to a back room.  A moment later he returned with two large rolling suitcases, and she was overjoyed.  "Shukran, Shukan," she said to me (Thank You in Arabic).  Next, she wanted to go and find the taxi stands (I now know why).  We took the elevator up...and waited.  She pulled out a piece of paper, which had a cell number written on Arabic.  Sadly, I've forgotten my Arabic number system (SHAME), but she punched in the number.  I spoke to a man, whom said that he was waiting at platform 11.  We took the elevator down, and soon enough the woman was reunited with a man and a young boy, whom I assumed to be husband and son.  He thanked me many times, and I was overjoyed to see the smiles on her face.
Often, the greatest reward for helping someone is just that, helping them.  She also gave me a backage of dried figs (they taste great!) and a redbull (ehh) which she had in her bag.  As I mentioned, I know what it's like to be in that situation, and I would certainly hope that someone would help me out the same way.  Come to think of it, more than once folks have gone out of their way to assist me in foreign countries, especially Egypt and eastern Europe.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Jan 25th, from LAX to Hong Kong via Taipei.  $466, one way. 

I found a flight on Etheopia Airlines for $153 from Hong Kong to Bangkok on the 1st of February. 

I won't be traveling with a return ticket.  I spoke to Zsuzsanna last night, and I think it would be hella fun to go clean RTW and head back through Europe.  This, of course, incurs additional cost, but I'm not truly worried about that.

...Maybe I can make the 3rd European HHing festival...