Friday, January 13, 2012

Adam - Death Ride - part 3

For a while I had noticed our driver's head had begun occasionally bobbing slightly. Paying more attention, I realize that he is fighting a losing battle trying to stay awake at the wheel. We approach a curve in the road, only our vehicle makes no sign of taking the turn. Looking at the driver I get ready to say something, when suddenly, just as we are about to drive off of the road, the vehicle jerks to the right and we round the bend.

A moment or two passes, I try to tide my growing anger, then suddenly "Do you live in Gokulam?" (the district of Mysore we were traveling to) Aaron asks him. "Ya, Gokulam" the driver says. "So... when you drop us off you're gonna get some sleep?... You seem pretty tired...".

Laughing and agreeing, the driver finally opens up a little (his english is better than he let on...) and tells us his story. He wasn't supposed to be the one to pick us up. The man scheduled for us wasn't able to come and even though our driver had driven all day and night the previous day, he was called to pick us up as they had no one else.

Realizing our driver was a decent guy who had just got the short end of the stick and was extremely tired, we were able to have some sympathy for the man who had taken us on this terrifying death ride.

Still, an hour left in our trip we continue our ride with a driver who, like us, hadn't slept in 2 days. The final hour is the worst of the journey.

Still on the highway, our driver bobs and weaves through traffic, now occasionally nodding off at the wheel. Several more times we almost drive off the road, every time the driver wakes at the very last moment and swerves back onto the highway. Through the window I see a sign indicating a speed mound is ahead. For a brief moment I wonder if our driver had seen it, or would be conscious enough to notice the mound as we approached... WHAM... Nope.

Luckily that mound was smaller than the rest and we didn't become airborne or loose control. Later, as we approach another collection of cars on the highway, barely conscious, the driver decides to ride the bumpers of, and pass several vehicles. The car next to us a foot or so away, he nods off again and slowly the gap between our vehicles closes... Once again, just inches before collision, he stirs and the gap grows.

Finally, we pass a sign welcoming us to Mysore. After a few minutes we're off the highway, moving through the city. The driver takes the time to point out a few key locations for us in the district and describes to us the path we take to get from our hotel to the Shala. A moment or so later, we reach our destination. We get out and are handed our bags. In the email confirming our ride, we were told the price for our 4 hour (death) ride would come to 2,200 rupees, or about $44 ($44?!? We could hardly believe it). We ask the driver and he confirms. Having finally chatted with him a little and feeling grateful that he came to pick us up (had he not we'd likely still be at the airport, or have had to pick some other random driver to take us to Mysore... Mind you, that may have been a better journey...) we give him a generous tip, all things considered, and make our way into our hotel.

Below: Urban Oasis, Gokulam

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