Friday, January 13, 2012

Adam - Death Ride - part 2

Eventually we get back onto a highway, this time without any painted lanes! Not that they made a difference.

Once again bobbing and weaving through traffic, honking and flashing his lights, our driver stares silently ahead occasionally rubbing his eyes or quickly shaking his head... He seems very tired. As we continue, the frequency of his eye rubs increases and all of a sudden, he pulls off the highway and parks on the side of the road, near some other trucks. My fear kicks in again... What is going on?

Below: a night-time shot of the main drag in Gokulam

He looks at us both and says "Ten minutes... I need ten minutes.". Confused we say "okay...?", and the driver looks forward, places his forehead on the steering wheel and appears to go to sleep... A very awkward, silent minute or so passes. Suddenly the driver gets up, opens his door and gets out. Looking at us he says "I get Chai.", staring back at him we give him the same confused answer "Okay...", he shuts the door and walks away. Looking around we discover that we had stopped at some sort of road side coffee/tea stand. There are several people standing near a small hut behind us, which by our guess was where our driver had gone to get his tea. 'Is he going back there to arrange our robbery?' I wondered to myself, feeling far too vulnerable for comfort or rationality. With the driver gone, Aaron and I have a moment to discuss our thoughts. I discover that he was having the exact same thoughts as me throughout the drive. As we chat, a group of men begins to walk towards our car. I watch them intently again sizing them up. As they continue to approach, my stare intensifies, until... they pass us by. A short distance ahead they get in a vehicle and drive off. I take a moment to let Aaron know how little I am enjoying this random roadside stop (that's a polite way of putting it...). My feelings are reciprocated. After another minute or so our driver comes back to the car, opens the door, steps inside and without a word, starts up the car and continues driving.

Initially, the chai appears to have woken him up slightly, but as we drive on the eye rubbing, head shaking and face wiping continues...

Now two and a half hours into the journey, I ask the driver how much farther he thinks it will be. "Hour and half" he says, looking at me with eyes barely open. As we drive on the roads degrade to dirt paths filled with potholes and the occasional speed-mound. The sights are no more pleasant as we pass impoverished shanty towns, immediately followed by nice villa homes and shops, and again followed by more shanty towns.

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