Continued from iDemystify | The Spitian Enigma
Prologue | Things I was told prior to departure --
Prologue | Things I was told prior to departure --
“Temptress you” griped one when offered the option of accompanying me.
“You never take me on these fun trips” texted another while wishing me well before I was leaving.
“Have a crayy (sic) trip yo!” said another fellow slow traveller.
“Just go and enjoy yourself” and “Have a superb trip” read the other texts.
“Listen! The next time you need company let me know…” offered yet another
Epilogue | Things I was told post arrival --
“You’ve tanned a little and you look great”
“There’s something different about you. It’s like this is an Elita version 2.0”
“I want to travel with you and learn how you do it”
But there’s a story of what happened between the Before Spiti and After Spiti…
…Spiti, like I’d mentioned in my earlier post wasn’t on the cards as the next destination. Well, I never have a ‘next travel destination’. Anyhoo, I was being accompanied by a friend and her friend and the three of us were a part of a group who’d be experiencing and travelling to and through Spiti together.
Outside Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station awaiting the taxi
The cabbie --
Train tickets were booked from Mumbai to Delhi. We were cabbing the route onward from Delhi to Manali. Our cabbie, whose identity wasn’t revealed to us until 30 minutes before he’d pick us up (much to the exasperation of my dear friend who was almost certain at one point that no driver or cab would show up) was a jovial Sardarji who’d spent some of his early years driving a taxi in my very own city of Bombay (Bombay because that’s what it was called in the 1980s).Between his hoarse itchy throat and chats about how drugs have infiltrated the minds and lives of the youth in Punjab, we’d managed not just lunch but also reached Chandigarh around 5 PM. We’d travelled a good 5 hours so far.
Skyline on the outskirts of Delhi
Traffic in Chandigarh
Enter Murphy --
Once welcomed into Chandigarh, we realized we were being apportioned off to another driver. Reason cited: Dear old Sardarji had been driving through the previous night as well and needed rest.
New driver (who from this point forward shall be called Murphy; also because I cannot recall his name) took the reins (in this instance the steering wheel) in his hands with us – three women passengers - in the taxi.
We took a 8 PM halt for an early dinner and that’s when I phoned the guesthouse owner in Manali to inform him of our coordinates to which he responded (in Hindi) by saying, “So you aren’t reaching Manali tonight huh. You’ll reach only by 4 AM... in the morning. Why don’t you call me only once you’ve reached?” I somewhat dumbfounded me murmured a half audible “Okay” and hung up. I exchanged a look at my friend and we decided to ask the driver how long the journey would take. To which he said, “We’ll reach.”
Funny signage this.And it is for real.
Source: The Internet.
Full disclosure --
We weren’t supposed to cab it to Manali from Delhi. We’d booked ourselves tickets on the Volvos buses that ply in the evenings. As luck would have had it, we’d been misinformed about the time of departure from Manali by the organizer. Later we were told it would be 5 AM on Sunday, 10th August. If we took the bus, we were scheduled to reach only around 9 AM. Hence fate led us to Murphy.
Fast and Furious with Murphy --
I wonder if it’s a function of repressed memory or perhaps it was just the sleep deprivation that caused it but I cannot recall at what point during that night Murphy lost mind to become an F1 aspirant. Repeated talks yielded short, real short term results. No crater or speed breaker or curve in the road mattered.
Act 1 – Scene 1 --
Having travelled the night before on the train for about 18 hours and then been on the road since 12 PM, exhaustion had begun to take its toll on us. Between random swerves, we jerked ourselves in and out of sleep. Having grown up on Tom and Jerry, one of my favourite visuals is of Tom with matchsticks to keep his eyelids open. That was me that night. At one point the proverbial matchsticks gave way and before any of us knew it, Murphy had driven the car over a road divider bang in the middle of nowhere!
Stepping out to inspect the scene, we realized we we’d driven 2 meters over that divider. To make up for the lack of any supporting visual imagine a ‘ghat’ (so it’s a windy road up the mountains) with no lights whatsoever and the time now is 11 PM. So if anything’s moving on that road it’s mostly heavy motor vehicles (i.e. trucks, tempos, buses).
Fortunately (yeah even this part of the story has a fortunate side) there were small shops one of which was a garage with some men around who came up to help get the car from the middle of the road divider to the road itself! A couple of futile attempts later, the car jack was positioned and the car elevated off the ground to be driven over the divider and brought to the side.
With that the moment was salvaged. We resumed our journey.
Act 1 – Scene 2 --
30 minutes after that fiasco, when we’d barely resumed the journey at 12 AM sharp Murphy who’d driven over some stones on the road presented his passengers with a flat tyre. Yet again three women alighted from the vehicle in the middle of nowhere.
There is a fortunate section here too. At this point in the journey, I’d begun to wonder whether it was this disposition of mine that allowed me to neither flip out nor lose my cool or breakdown! Back to the story the fortunate bit was that there were street lights. The car jack was summoned again and Murphy was put to task this time all by himself.
In another 30 minutes later we were well on the road again.
The journey with Murphy continues here