Readers please note, I am not at all a crazy guy, crazy things happen to me.
It was a fine morning at Avani(Tripuradevi(near Berinag), Pittoragarh, Uttarakhand), I woke up at 5am, having a full 5 hour sleep. Wrapping up final documents, packed my luggage and bidding adieu to friends at my internship. I had two parathas with tea for breakfast. I stood outside the campus for about half an hour and no one was willing to take me to Raigar, from where I had to take a bus/shared jeep to my Train Station Kathgodam. Finally Vikram Da who works at Avani decided to drop me in their jeep.
As soon as we reached Raigar at around 10am, the last bus to Kathgodam was leaving. I fortunately got that. It was raining heavily and there were landslide scares throughout the way. Robbed of sleep for past few days I finally got some for around 2 hours. At about 12:30pm, I was woken up by hard braking by the driver. When I looked out of the window, I saw soil flowing like water at a distance of about 30m from my bus. The edge of the road was on a steep mountain which had a violent river flowing about 300m down from the road. I thanked God for I knew how close I was to testing my swimming skills :P . As the slide slowed down and settled, a stupid truck driver drove it into the slide and it got stuck halfway. I enquired from the gathered people and they said it would take not more than 2 hours as the crane and bulldozers were coming. I went back to sleep in bus.
When I woke up, the land slide had become larger, there was a bulldozer on top of it, ‘trying’ to clear the slide, but instead adding 4 times more the soil from top. It was still raining heavily. My bus drivers and conductors had run away with money. I found out that the last bus from the other side of the landslide had returned(towards my destination). My luggage was in the trunk. I then tried to search through the conductors cabinet and found the key, took out my luggage and walked to the landslide. I was dripping wet and the slide was still in a bad condition. I took my suitcase which had become twice as heavy due to rain, on top of my head and started walking through the soil. I managed to cross it with my jeans completely soiled. I started walking through the same road thinking at least it takes my closer to the next village. I walked down 2km when I was filled with ecstasy. The last bus had stopped on a restaurant for lunch and was just leaving. I shouted on top of my voice and ran down 200m. The bus was already full but conductor was kind enough to share his seat. Later I found out that this landslide took 2 days to clear, and that was really the last bus to leave that place.
Not more than half an hour had passed when the driver stopped suddenly and asked everyone to stay quiet. A stone of size of a washing machine fell down 50m ahead of us. I was awestruck at his hearing capabilities. The bus then continued on its way to Almora(the next main stop, half way between my starting point and Kathgodam). The bus stopped again. This time a tree had fallen across the road. It was not completely uprooted and we did not have a cutting tool. 20 of us went down to move it and found out it was stuck in a u-shaped part of another tree. We could not move it an inch. And as we tried to, stones and soil came falling from the mountain slope on us, as it was on the side of a small landslide. Since it was raining cats and dogs 12 of our group went back to the bus. Eight of us had to catch a train to Delhi so we were still searching for ways. Then a jeep arrived and two pehelwaans got down from it. I tried lifting the tree from the end and managed to lift it a foot high(trust me as heroic as it may sound, lifting was infinitely easier than pulling). The pehelwaans and rest of my group started pulling it. My job was almost done and we tried to hold the tree in a bent position for about a minute till the bus driver got courage to pass the bus through the gap. We washed ourselves in a nearby waterfall, I thankfully washed the pile of mud on my jeans and got back on the ride. I happened to figure out that I would not be able to catch my train, so I sent a message home to cancel it.
Just before reaching Almora, we had heard that all routes to Kathgodam had been blocked by landslides which would take atleast 2-3 days to clear. A lady in the bus, did manage to find out that a car had manage to travel through one route via ramgarh and nainital. But bus driver said he has had too much for the day. We got down at Almora it was 6.30pm and it was getting dark. I quickly had samosas and tea and got back on road. Now I had two options either to find an accommodation for next 2-3days which was supposed to be difficult and costly and too complicated for me, or to go ahead and walk on the route and try my luck for a ride. I decided to take the road through Ramgarh-Nainital. I kept walking for another 1km when I found a Jeep stand and there was a jeep jam-packed with passengers. I enquired from the taxiwalas and they said that this guy is crazy, he is the only person who is taking these people to Haldwani(near Kathgodam) from such a dangerous route. I said, ‘lets see how crazier it can get.’ I pleaded that guy to stuff me in, some way. He shared driver’s seat with me, which essentially meant I was robbed of the right to even yawn.
The road was very depressing. It was dark, there were huge stones in middle of it, small landslides. There were a lot of clouds and fog on our way which meant extremely low visibility. Even the driver was shit scared as there was no way you could look at a landslide coming from up at night. He drove for another hour, when one van passed us from other direction, which meant the road was clear of blocks. After about 2 hours of driving, the jeep bonnet exploded and it shut down. I was like, “Man, today is a really screwed up day”. It wasn’t that bad I suppose as they fixed it in half an hour. We soon hit the national highway-87(I think). It was nice to see a road with its edge protected and glowing.
We reached Haldwani at around midnight. I had missed my first train, which meant I had to speed up my trip to Delhi in order to catch the next train home. Just when I reached there, the last bus to Delhi left in front of me and I couldn’t catch it. I enquired that next bus would come at 6:30am. When I started walking towards the railway station, people on the way warned me its not a good place for night and there were no more trains till morning. Still I wanted to enquire about it and probably buy a ticket. When I reached there the station was empty and dark. Everything was shutdown. I did go the ATM there and took some train info from the guard. I went back to the bus depot as it seemed a safer place to rest at night as I dint want to spend money on a hotel for another six hours. I ate a big pack of tiger biscuits and drank slice. I spread my bedsheet, chained myself to my luggage and slept. When I woke up in morning I found a black puppy sleeping beside me. I clicked a pic with him and then shooed him off :D. I finally got the first bus in the morning which would give me approximately 2 hours of head start from Anand Vihar Bus Depo to Nizamuddin station where I had to take train home.
No surprises on this bus trip though, I found a paper which was stained with coffee sugar I had shoplifted(I did buy a desert there :P)
I wanted a bath very desperately. Delhi was kind enough to shower the entire city for me, but yeah travelling in an AC metro wasn’t that pleasant after being wet. My friend at intern Shubhda had praised an Italian Restaurant Big Chill, Khan Market, Delhi so much that missing it would essentially mean I would literally die if I would not go there. With the time constrains I now had I made a promise to myself, If I reached delhi before 3pm, I will make a run for it, if not I would not even think about it. I reached the Metro Station at 2:57pm. Damn promises. I made a run for it. I reached there at about 3:40pm. The restaurant guy gave me an impossible look and asked me if I was with someone, I wasn’t L. So I requested if he had a place for me. He gave me a corner one, probably to save me from everyone’s sight. I read the menu book and the only freaking thing I could understand was the heading called Pasta, rest was all Italian bullshit names. I managed to find one which contained mozzarella cheese, so I ordered that just because there was something familiar, and I requested them to make it fast. I also ordered the much praised desert Banofi Cream Pie. When my pasta came, I realized why it was not for a single person. I was hungry since 2 days, so I finished it in about 10-15min. and to save time I asked them to pack the desert instead. I went on to pay the bill and there was 100Rs of fucking taxes on top of it. I had just 30 more rupees in my ATM card thankfully. But I did have some cash too, so it meant I would try washing vessels another day J. I then took an auto to nizamuddin station and reached there 20 minutes before the train. I was gonna do a really crazy thing there too due to a request but then I decided it was too much for me, finally.
Train & The End
By the time the train came, my legs were falling apart, I could feel every muscle of my body crying help and my head ready to blow off, just the sight of my train sent a cheek tearing smile of relief. I took my seat and opened the big chill package and yeah it was the best desert I ever had.
To conclude, it was a beautiful ending to the best summer I ever had. Life has been kind enough to be brutal enough to give me a lot of stories to tell. Moral of the story, the same famous one – Kids, Stay Hungry Stay Crazy.. (to be famous probably and it even kinda rhymes ;)