Before reaching Kanpur they made a stop in a university town. While at a restaurant they pretended they were Russian communists and hammed it up. Being Russian was intriguing to the university students and they were invited to their dormitory. This afforded them a few free nights lodging. They were also offered the opportunity to stay for a couple of months to get their degree as doctors, it would only cost a few rupees and they would be able to practice anywhere in India! Now the hospital Dan was in was making more sense. They were in no hurry to move along from here as long as they were getting free accommodation and food!
Kanpur was the centre of the Indian railway system. All trains in the country came there and left from there. Dan and Mick met a kid whose last name was Reubin, he had an English mother and a Jewish Indian father who was an engineer on the Indian State Railways. They ended up staying with this family for three weeks. The boys had been to a shell service station on the edge of town and the owner wanted to buy the motor out of their jeep. So they sold the motor for $300 and the shell owner put his old engine, that didn’t work, into the jeep. After that they took the jeep to a compound and sold it for 600 more dollars with an engine that didn’t work. A few nights later, after a delicious dinner, Mr. Reubin told them they had to leave the next day because people were looking for them to get their money back. They got their things together and in the morning, at Mr. Reubins suggestion, they went with him to the train marshalling yard and hid out in the steam engine.
Looking up inside the cab of this huge mountain of a steam engine they saw that the Canadian Pacific Railway had donated it to India. Around 10:00 p.m. after all the passengers had been loaded on and things calmed down, the engineer let Dan drive the train for about half an hour. This was the highlight of the train trip for him. There was a bar that you pulled down to go fast or push up to go slow. This train went 55 m/h tops which was restricted due to poor maintenance, the British trains could do 70 m/h. Two guys were shovelling coals into a twenty-foot bed of hot, hot coals, you could see the heat. For the first time Dan could imagine what hell is like, not a place you want to go. They were then given a comfortable compartment to sleep in for the rest of the trip to Calcutta.
Arriving at the train station, they had no idea where they were and spent a whole day trying to find the Mission of some family friends, Mark and Hulda Buntain who had a PAOC church there. With the equivalent of 900 rupees from the sale of the jeep, they wanted to exchange it for travel outside of India, but Mark was reluctant to help. They spent a few days with them but then were sent on their way to the Salvation Army Hostel where they stayed a few more weeks.
It had been over two months since they had corresponded back home and mom and dad were worried. They had gotten in touch with the diplomatic service to find them and so Danny went to the British High Commission to let them know they were okay. The British High Commission was about three km away, so they got a rickshaw to take them, which cost one rupee. They offered the man double if he ran. This poor little guy ran with the two guys in the back the whole way and was totally exhausted by the time they arrived. They gave him three rupees, which was a days wages and big money for him.
One of the vivid memories was of walking down the street at night on the way back to the hostel and seeing bodies wrapped in blankets to be picked up in the morning and thrown on a cart. Life was so cheap. By 6:00 p.m. you couldn’t get near the temple because it was packed with people camping out all around the building. During the day, with all their earthly belongings on their back, the people would do business on the street and then at night whole families would come to the temple grounds to sleep. Memories of India include filth, poverty and an overwhelming stench. Not a pleasant place, especially if you were in the wrong part of town.
The major of the Salvation Army said that 50% of the population of Calcutta had TB. With that knowledge it was a bit unsettling to be staying in a big dorm room with 50 beds! A maintenance man who worked there had borrowed money from a moneylender and was only able to pay back the interest every week, never able to pay anything on the principle of the loan. He was friendly and helpful, telling them where to go for this and that, so the boys decided to pay off the loan for him. They asked to go directly to the moneylender to make sure the money went where it belonged. It was only twenty or thirty dollars but was a mountain of debt for this fellow and there were violent consequences for non-payment. The moneylender was so angry that they had paid this debt and accused them of taking bread from his children’s mouths. Now he would not have his weekly interest from this poor exploited man. What a clear picture of Satan who wants to keep us in bondage, he doesn’t want us to be free of our debt of sin, ever. Jesus paid for all our debts, we’ve been given unmerited favour and a clear slate. This humble worker’s life was so hopeless, he was in debt for the rest of his entire life because of another man’s greed and selfishness.
The government of India had been given 10,000 tons of rice, but a due to corruption it sat in bags and rotted because there was no money to distribute it. What kind of system could do that to their own people? Children’s legs and arms were broken in infancy so they could make more money begging. It all made them so angry, Danny has never wanted to go back to India, and never has, it left such a bad taste in his mouth.