like an extreme challenge of extricating myself from the landscape of Kutch,
but I was soon on my way to witness the Olive Ridley Turtle hatchling season that
occurs between the months of February and April every year in Velas at Maharashtra.
I was joined on this discovery of Velas with three of my other friends and tickets
had been booked in advance. A quick stopover at home to unpack and repack I
boarded the local state transport bus that same night I’d returned from Bhuj. Two
of us were making it that night and would be joined by the other two on the
road travel, particularly by bus and specifically state transport buses sent
shudders down my spine because I’d been prone to motion-sickness, the past
couple of road trips that too through state transport buses in Karnataka and
then only a few days ago in Gujarat had reaffirmed me of my new-found
had and we were awaiting our bus. An overnight journey and early next morning we’d
be at Velas on the beach. So much excitement. We learnt our bus was slightly
delayed by 20 minutes. That didn’t dampen the excitement though. Just as the
excitement couldn’t take the exhaustion from having been on the go ever since I’d
left home for Kutch about a week ago.
very sleepy I was looking forward to collapsing on my seat to wake up only when
I could see the coast. The bus did come albeit 20 minutes after it was
scheduled to and we found our seats, showed our ticket to the bus conductor and
prepared to get some sleep.
The bus was
a crowded one – which means that people who hadn’t booked a ticket in advance
could still purchase one and board the bus but they wouldn’t have a seat for
themselves. So that further translated to having a dozen or so people just
standing (possibly so for the next 8 odd hours).
But before I
knew it I was dead asleep; backpack on my lap and arms wrapped tightly around
it. All I could feel for some time was the cool breeze brushing against my
face, ruffling my hair up but I couldn’t care anymore.
experience was short lived. Soon enough the bus was rattling on noisily, its
metal structure clanking against itself as the bus bounced on the road. For a
brief moment at that time, I blamed it on the road. I was still too passed out
to care much about the ‘clanking’ when suddenly I could feel that the bus has
quickly swerved off at a bend on the road! The people including an equal number
of women and children gasped and shouted quite loudly rather alarmed by what
had just happened.
By now I’d experienced
too much to be able to sleep anymore. We’d just missed a head on collision with
my fate and the gravity of the situation -- this bus driver was no one but
Satan’s spawn! And I would need to spend all night invoking whichever divine
force would care to hear me out.
every pothole, every speed breaker that night was magnified a 100x. This you
must believe is no exaggeration.
at some point morning did come. This also meant that we’d gotten closer into
rural India so the roads hadn’t gotten any better. Neither did Satan’s spawn
here have even the slightest change of heart.
I heaved a
huge sigh of relief when we finally got off the bus at 7 AM the next morning –
even though my spine and legs were rather numb.
We were to
take another bus to get to Velas which was now another 50 odd minutes away. Needless
to say we were dreading this last leg in our journey. However rather
reluctantly we did board the next bus already very stiff from the previous
night. Tickets were purchased again. This time around though the bus was nearly
as good as empty and even though we were plying on the same rickety roads this
driver seemed godsend in comparison. Now we were definitely dead asleep only to
be awakened by the first sighting of the coast.
Driving down a hillock in the full view of the sea is a breath-taking view. And we already knew that we were definitely going to love our next few days here in this little hidden from the rest of the world paradise!
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