Wednesday, August 27, 2014

iDemystify | En route Spiti with Murphy continues

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Just to recap: So far in this story life handed me over to Murphy and in turn Murphy drove us over the road divider and then presented us with a flat tyre. What happens next? Read on...

The interval --
All was well thereafter. I’d resumed back to my matchstick mode when between being lulled and then jerked out of sleep I heard the driver mutter to us that he wanted to sleep for about half an hour before continuing the journey any further. In my own state of sleep induced delirium, I thought that it made perfect sense. At least he’d be able to focus (read: drive better) after a power nap. I checked the time. It was 2 AM. We were still some distance away from Manali. We still had the group to meet and bus to catch at 5 AM. But half an hour wouldn’t hurt. Right?

Showers of blessings --
Murphy, who’d reclined his seat under the pretext of sleeping for half an hour, had to be woken up by ‘yours truly’ who now jolted-from-her-sleep realized it was 3 AM. We had two hours to reach Manali. When quizzed on how long it would take, Murphy promptly replied, “Two hours”! And so we set out; the pace much smoother than earlier in the night. But that’s not where this story is going. Because at just about that same time, it started to rain!
On the outside the long uphill winding roads continued. No lights on the roads continued. And in addition we had the rains too.
Sleep was still hard to fight. And there was only so much I could and chose to fight.

When I trained my eyes on the road some time later I tried to catch the milestones to make sense of how much more distance was left for us to cover. There was a slight tension in the air only because we were suddenly certain of not making it to Manali by 5 AM. The idea of checking in into the guesthouse to catch even one hour’s worth of sleep long since chucked out of the window into the ravines next to us.
So imagine the look on my face (because I don’t know what it may have been) when Murphy asked me to check my phone for directions and (fortunately again) network complied only to inform us that we’d driven 15 kilometers in the wrong direction (towards Manikaran. Refer to the image of the map below. Frost spoke of two roads diverging in the forest. My friend Murphy here took the one not required).
Already in the race against time and struggle against wondering what the hell what up with the writers of the story of my life we had Murphy take a U-turn and get back to road we were meant to take.


The horizon --
Daybreak was somewhere in sight. We decided to give the tour organizer a heads-up that we were running behind time only to be told that we should call and speak to the driver. A second call was made and the message delivered. Driver of the bus, a certain Mr. Prem, sounded sympathetic. My concerns were seemingly allayed.
And the distance was gradually reducing too. In retrospect, I gave up on (and hence have no memory of) how Murphy drove the rest of the journey.
Not until we were stopped at the check post by the cops. My friend and I exchanged a look – our journey was far from drawing to a close it seemed because as fate would have it, Murphy didn’t have the required permit papers on his person.
So while conversations ensued between Murphy and the cops, I was dialling Mr. Prem for a second time in less than 30 minutes only to be given a number of THE driver! At this point I believe I did roll my eyes out (the only time I did react since all things "this" had transpired).
Apparently as I did learn then, Mr. Prem was not going to be driving our group from Manali to Spiti so I would need to speak the man who would. Another frantic call was made and a word was had with this new driver who was nonetheless equally sympathetic.
Before we knew it Murphy’s matters with the cops were also now resolved (or so it seemed) and we were off again.
Manali a mere 10 kilometers away.
I could hear my heart thump.
It had been a long night.
And an even longer journey where it was just dawning on me that the entire time I’d been sitting cross armed; my fingers digging into my arms being the only response my body mustered through all the madness. But this would be over soon.
If that were the view. Mayhaps it would be easier to accept.

It was 5:30 AM. 
We were already 30 minutes behind time.
The group was going to be furious. My friend decided to phone one of the co-travellers to keep them in the loop. 
We’d get there soon.
Not quite actually because we were stopped yet again by the cops at the other end of the check post!
We were a mere 3 kilometers away from Manali by this time. I groaned and I called the bus driver requesting him to pick us up while Murphy fought his own battle with the cops. We were done with him. However that wasn’t to be the case.
Murphy extricated himself somehow and was to be the person to deliver us to Rajesh – the bus driver who was now replacing Mr. Prem.
And so at 6:30 AM, after a night full of exploits of every kind and form during what had turned out to be a 18.5 hour taxi ride from Delhi (though Google says it is 11 hours 15 mins - refer map above), the three of us stepped out of the vehicle to board the bus of seemingly disgruntled fellow co-travellers in Manali (and with reason as they’d woken up around 4 AM and we’d caused everyone the delay in departure).

But the ice would thaw sooner than we’d anticipated. 
And we had no one but Rajesh to thank. 
More on that in the next post! 


The journey continues here... 


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