Our trip to India last week began normally: up too early, breakfast, taxi to the train station, and leave the station on time. But half an hour down the tracks, the conductor announced, “Everyone must get out at Neubeckum. The track ahead is blocked by a train that ran into someone.” Nothing more. In Germany this usually results in a two to three hour stop of everything.
Our train stopped at the next station. We all got out. There was no one to help anyone.
We had a flight to catch in Frankfurt and a lot of kilometers to go yet to get there. Our schedule called for this regional train to take us to Essen where we would catch a fast Inter City Express (ICE) to take us the rest of the way. That would get us to Frankfort at 12:49 giving us 2 hours and ten minutes before our flight. It was already 9:35 or so.
But now we walked through an abandoned and boarded-up station in a small town asking each other, “What now? Is someone going to help us? How are we going to continue?” We went outside. Petra and I wandered around through the crowd.
Petra spotted a woman in a black Mercedes across the street. Their eyes met. Petra walked across to her and asked her, “Do you know where I can get a taxi?”
The woman answered, “They are usually over there.” There were none.
Petra explained our situation and that someone had killed himself. “So we were all left off here so the train could go back to where it came from.”
The Woman said, “I am here to pick up my sister. Now I know why so many people are getting off the train?”
Petra asked, “Has your sister called you? Do you know where she is?”
“No, I have no phone. I left it at home. I have to go there to get it.”
Petra said, “You can use our phone. Do you have the number?”
“No. I still have to go home to get the number. Maybe I can take you to the next station along the way. You can probably get a taxi there.” We got into her car.
As we drove, the woman remembered something and began to fiddle with the knobs of her radio, Soon a list of phone numbers came up on her screen. She selected her sister’s number from the list and called it out to Petra.
Petra called. Our phone was almost out of money, but Vodaphone let us put the call on credit. The sister answered.
The woman spoke with her sister a bit and handed the phone back to Petra saying, “You are lucky. She is stuck in Hamm so you now have a ride all the way to Hamm.”
Hamm is a larger city with many train connections. There were no expressways to take us the 40 kilometers (24 miles) to Hamm. But she was up to the task. Out on the regional roads, she gunned it. I glanced at the speedometer. It was sitting at 140 kph (87 mph). We went the distance slowing down for slower trucks, cars, and villages only to speed up again when she had passed them.
At one point as she sped down the road, I said, “You are our Angel today.”
She answered. “You have to tell my husband that.”
In Hamm there was a parking place right by the station where her sister was waiting. We got out, said hello to the sister, thanked the woman, headed into the station, asked our options at the information desk, and were on a departing regional train is less that ten minutes.
We were on our way to Cologne where we caught a fast ICE train to Frankfort airport 20 minutes after arriving. The train sped down the tracks at 280 kph (160 mph) most of the way. One time it was up to 299 kph (185 mph). We arrived at 13:30 only 40 minutes later than we had originally planned.
This was a day of angels. Without the woman (angel 1), nothing would have happened on time. Without Vodaphone (angel 2) advancing us a couple minutes, we would have been much later as the woman went home to call. Without the open parking space (angel 3), we would have missed our ride to Cologne to catch the ICE. And from the other side, we were angels (angels 4 &5) to the woman: without our phone, she would have spent a lot more time finding out what had happened and calling her sister. Thank you, Universe, for lining that all up. And finally, thanks to Petra for following her intuition and contacting and going with the woman in the Mercedes. The German Railroad would have taken care of us in time. But we chose a different path and made our flight on time. Of course, you are free to see these as serendipities or even just as coincidences. We see them as the intervention of angels.
The rest of the way was basically routine flights, first to London, then Mumbai, and finally Goa.