By train, by bus, by boat, and sometimes on foot, we came from the western edge of Europe, traveling eastward, leg by leg, country by country, city by city. Our small intrepid band of one mother, one boy, and one little girl.
In each country, the local currency could be purchased at a local bank, using traveler's checks, which is how things were done back then.
That is, until we reached Pakistan.
We caught the bus in Kabul, Afghanistan. It took us over the Khyber Pass, and into Pakistan.
There we switched to another bus, which took us onward as night fell, and through the darkness past huge construction projects, bright lights in the night, high up as if on a hillside, or maybe in the sky, remembered through half sleep. Probably bridge or power plant repairs after the recent 1971 skirmish of the on-again, off-again war with India.
In the morning, we arrived. Still in Pakistan.
Not at a town. Not at a border. At nowhere, really, or so it seems. There is a small hut in the distance, and a tea stall right here, and an impressive black hole in the ground.
Everybody off the bus. Bags off the bus. End of the line.
It's sunny, but not hot. Not much to see here. There is that hole...
We look over into the hole. It is lovely, a round gaping blackness under the bright earth... as wide as a person is tall. Deep, with smooth edges around the dusty lip. There is no bottom, apparently. People maintain a respectful distance. There are little tufts of grass around the edges. We can hear water flowing somewhere down there. A well.
The bus is gone. We are on our own. We are told that somewhere around here, within walking distance, we can board the train toward India where it makes a stop in the desert.
No bank. Just some locals, and the well, and the tea stall.
We'll need money to buy train tickets. What kind of money do we have?
Afghani money -- no good. Worthless. Traveler's checks. What are those?
The people at the tea stall understand our predicament even better than we do, and call out to the few people still around.
Within moments, people who probably would never even see India, much less any of the countries we had come through, have gathered the train fare from Pakistan to India for one mother, one boy, and one little girl.