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Chronicle Of An Adventure Foretold

A curse upon the unprepared vagabond!

INDIA | Saturday, 21 May 2011 | Views [720]

You know the scene in Indiana Jones and the last crusade where Harrison Ford steps off a cliff, eyes closed, confident a path will rise up from the abyss to meet his feet? That’s how I travel. I step out happily into the unknown, confident that the universe will rise up to cushion my feet and guide me to my destination, peppering my journey with joy, adventure and kindness along the way.  I don’t plan I trust. I dance off the cliff, eyes blindfolded, hands tied behind my back whistling cheerfully.  I cross continents on a ticket purchased the night before, land without a pre-booking for my first night’s accommodation. It’s easy: grab a couple of recommendations in advance, ask questions and ask the taxi drivers – they know their city and will tell you where to go. This happy go lucky play it by ear approach has served me well. It’s what I do. It works.


Except in India.


“What do you mean I have to book??”


India is organised. There are bookings. In advance – and I mean days, weeks even months in advance. This is unfathomable to me. What about my free spirited wanderlust? Well, it’s going to have to get in line because not only do you have to book in advance (and online) for a train ticket, but there are waiting lists! Some colleagues book up to three months in advance. They laugh at my shock; I thought I could just rock up at a train station and pootle off to another Indian state for the weekend. Apparently not.


Overconfident non-preparation just does not work here. I discovered this (for the second time, because I did not listen the first time), when I tried to venture home during a transport strike. A sensible person, (a prepared person) would have booked a taxi. Not me ‘oh I’ll be fine’ I breezed, swishing out of the office, strike notwithstanding, confident the universe would as ever, rise up to meet my feet and carry me home.


It didn’t.


And that’s how I ended up on the back of a motorbike, with no helmet, delirious with fear, bruising the poor man I was clinging to in my vice-like grip of terror as we zipped through some of the most dangerous traffic in the world.  

I learned my lesson.


Thankfully I survived and emerged unscathed and transformed  with new traffic superpowers and extra sass and attitude: I managed to cross a street halfway and while waiting to get to the other side, a car drove right at me deliberately, purposefully, in full sight of my clearly visible presence, with the man behind the wheel obviously expecting me to dodge out of the way. I stood there unrepentant, immobile, hand on hip glaring at him, him watching me and silently uttered:

‘Bitch, I’m not moving so you BETTER get outta my way’

He did.

I am a city girl after all…

Tags: delhi, india, stupidity, train travel, travel preparation

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