Indian transport has a reputation for being a bit wild and having traveled around the country before, I was ready for anything. My weekend vacations have involved eventful travels, sometimes frustrating, sometimes amusing and sometimes downright scary! So I’m going to summarize some of the craziest things that have happened to me so far while using public transport in India…..
One of the first weekend trips that I took was to Amritsar to meet a friend from university. I took an overnight bus and slept in a small compartment attached to the wall, much like a display cabinet, it even had a sliding glass door. In the middle of the night I was woken up by angry shouts. Looking out the window I could see a crowd of furious men screaming at the bus driver Things escalated quickly and before the long they were throwing bricks at the driver who quickly retreated into the bus. They then started pelting the bus with stones and bricks, one of which smashed a window! I was pretty confused as to what was going on but after a conversation with another passenger I learned that there had been an accident and that the bus had hit someone. I’m still not sure of the details, I only hope that it was a vehicle rather than a pedestrian and that no-one was badly injured. It just made me sad to think about the impunity in India and the fact that a bus could have knocked someone over and just driven away from the scene.
On a slightly lighter note, my journey back from induction, while long and boring, was broken up by a few amusing incidents. Firstly, the sheer ridiculousness, of a bus having to swerve to the opposite side of the road to make way for two cows having sex made me laugh. Cows can really get away with anything here. Secondly, after the bus driver took a wrong turning he proceeded to drive full pelt down the motorway in the direction of oncoming traffic! And no one in the bus seemed at all fazed!
Finally, what should have been a perfectly ride home from the neighboring town Suratgarh turned into something entirely different. This was definitely one of the more frustrating rides that we took. After an afternoon shopping for groceries and materials for our projects we decided to try and catch a bus rather than a rickshaw home as the bus is so much cheaper. A bus was beginning to leave the station and I shouted to the ticket man to ask him if it was going to Rangmahal, which he confirmed, so we ran to the departing bus and jumped on just as it was taking off. The problem is there are two Rangmahals close to Suratgarh…. It seemed like the bus was taking a strange route out of the town so I asked the passengers if we were going to Rangmahal-Jogi (our Rangmahal) or Rangmahal and everyone confirmed that we were going to the right place. However, we took off in the wrong direction! Me and Mae were getting really confused by this point and a bit nervous as we continued down the motorway, getting further and further away from our village! So I kept shouting “RANGMAHAL JOGI??” and everyone kept responding “YES!” So I told myself that maybe they were just taking a strange route. They weren’t. Finally, we got kicked off the bus at the other Rangmahal. Even at this point people were telling us that we were at the right place, even though it clearly wasn’t!!! A few people who finally understood what we were talking about told us that we would have to catch a ride back to Suratgarh and get the correct bus home from there. By this time we were so fed up that we didn’t bother trying to save any more money and agreed on a rickshaw. ;)
So thanks Indian transport! You’ve made the travels to my destinations become a very noteworthy part of my vacations!
Louise King - UK
Project Manager in RangMahal