It’s raining quite hard as I lay here with Toonce. The last time I was in such a heavy downpour was when my mother and I were in a foothills of The Himalayas. I remember we boarded a fancy express bus outside of Lucknow. Fancy buses tend not to have glass in their windows. Anyway, I have no idea why we needed to go there but there were, on our way. The driver of the loaded bus was constantly chewing Beetlenut and spitting out its blood red juices, he occasionally would look at the road. My mom had paid for a premium ticket thus we got front seats to the possible disaster.
As the road got narrower, it became a constant game of chicken between us and oncoming buses. An drug intoxicated driver and two fully loaded buses coming straight at each other, now that’s a ride to remember or forget and for some reason the other bus would always veer to the left of us. Our guide mentioned in his best English, “Dont worry, it’s the rule of the road.” Wait to be fair to the driver he did do more than chew Beetlenut, spit and drive; he rolled his cigarettes as he drove…
We later found ourselves on a winding mountain road where to the right of us was a sheer wall of granite and to the left was a mile deep gorge. There were no passing lanes so we would hug the rock wall and the other bus would tip toe an inch from complete and total destruction. I remember my mother softly saying, “Oh God. On the way back, that will be us.”
What seemed like days, we got to our destination of Mayavati. If there had been a television show called The Amazing Race then, the show producers would have ruled out this journey as too intense for the viewing audiences. Oh, did I mention it was raining the whole time we were traveling? The three of us jumped off the bus and we were met by a man in monk garb with four umbrellas. He greeted us with a happy welcome and guided us to the little hamlet.
By the time we made it to the main building, I had picked up a tag along of my very own, a leech. The monk quickly reached down and pulled it from my leg. It’s been 45 years since we ventured there and I don’t remember how long we stayed in that mountain retreat, all I remember is the journey back. This time we skirted the ravine and we veered to the left. This too did pass