JUST ANOTHER BUMP IN THE ROAD
We’d been to Shimla and had to travel to Chandigarh. We had already booked an Ola the day before. We decided to take a taxi because the trains were fully booked. We needed to get to Jaipur in time to check our garments.
Smooth sailing. I mean, it was breezy, easy and we were all excited-
Andy’s parents, Tim and Rose, had joined us to visit Shimla - Andy’s great Grandad was stationed in Shimla during the war as a medic. We were moving onto the next leg of our journey.
The first ten minutes we spent taking turns watching the dot that represented our Ola driver driving around, seemingly aimlessly, on the app were fun, at first. Sadly, it continued for about 45 minutes, and it definitely didn’t feel like a quick 45 minutes.
But that’s ok.
It’s here, after all.
Our chariot awaits!
“Hooray. Let’s go!”
We were already moving before the last bottom hit its seat. I reached out for my seatbelt quickly - to strap myself in - it felt like this might be a bumpy ride. I turn to check and turn back - there aren’t any seatbelts, at all.
Our driver, for some reason has really started gunning in the time it’s taken me to orientate myself in the taxi. I don’t remember how fast we were going exactly. I felt queasy - it felt like 90 miles per hour.
We drove down a bumpy and rocky mountainside road, which, unluckily for us, wasn’t due for an upgrade - we learned - for some time still. It was the sort of road where corners regularly are only wide enough for one car on the road at a time.
The journey morphed into a subtle but tense silence. It could have been fear tinged with curiosity, but I felt compelled to steal a peak over the drivers shoulder.
I probably should have fought the urge off. The speedometer just flickered around wildly on the dashboard.
For the rest of the ride I decided I’d close my eyes.
The road was littered with potholes. It felt quite treacherous. I felt a heavy sudden movement and opened my eyes again. I know, I should have known better by that point. I found we were alongside a bus on the opposite side of the road.
A couple of deep breaths were audible and we seemed to be in the clear.
We made it -
The car started to slow - the tyre had blown.
We all got out the car to have a look at the gigantic rip in the tyre. Our driver, thankfully, thought this not to be an issue whatsoever.
“No problem, I’ll change this and we’ll go, Ok?”.
He completed this task in what felt like 15 mins.
The ride continued for another hour. The tyre blowing hadn’t forced a rethink on the driving. Tim gave him a little sweetener as a tip for the tyre.
“Maybe he thought we were in a rush?"
We ‘d booked an Uber from Chandigarh to Jaipur four days prior to our Ola ride from hell and we had high hopes that our next ride would be, at least, an improvement on the first. We cram quickly into his car.
“To Jaipur, yeah?” "Let me have a look.”
He looked on his phone.
He’s still looking at his phone.
He turns to Tim and says -
It was taking a while. We booked this four days ago. I wasn’t really sure what was going on. - Turns out that our new diver’s license wasn’t valid in Jaipur.
We emerge from the taxi slightly beleaguered. Suddenly, there’s a harem of taxi drivers swarming around us all. We had an idea of the price from what Uber would have cost. We compared that to what we were being quoted by our new prospective taxi drivers. We were eventually able to secure something expensive, but reasonable.
The journey from Chandigarh to Jaipur is about an 8 hour drive, usually. It was a bit of a relief for us all to get into the taxi. Two hours of the ride pass before any of us had a phone signal. I decided to check where we were.
Miraculously, I discover we’d been driving in the wrong direction. This had just become a 10 hour journey back to Jaipur.
We showed our driver by pointing to a map on our phone. Immediately he pulled a U’ey and we just pretended, probably for the best, that the whole thing just hadn’t happened. Our phone’s battery was perilously low, so we put the SIM card we acquired earlier in South India into Tim’s phone. Tim was able to keep the map open, for our drivers reference.
We’d been driving all day and it was starting to get dark. Things got very weird once we lost the light. All that became visible were the people driving with torches who were shining them off the back of their bull pulling a cart.
I wondered whether we were on the correct side of road. But, then another car would appear dead ahead again moments later. The lines are more advisory, it turns out.
Some time later distant smoke plumes appear - there had been a pretty serious accident up ahead of us. We did another U’ey on to a country road before finding another highway. Thankfully, Google maps found an alternative route with a slight off-road deviation. Admittedly, I just wanted to make sure we were going loosely in the right direction this time round.
It’s pitch black by the time we arrive in Jaipur. We weren’t able to find our hotel. We drove around and around in circles.
We eventually found where we thought it was. Our driver more or less took us right up to the door.
Once arrived at the hotel we basically had to wake the entire hotel up. Poor gent arrives keys in hand still buttoning up his shirt he’d clothed himself in at short notice, but was still basically naked.
The next day we were meeting the tailors, Cham to check stitching, finishing, the diligence to patterns being followed - the patterns. We’d printed in the south of India.
- Written by Howard Ghaus