The Bus Journey from Hell (2)

Throughout the night, the bus tore its way through the streets of Mehalaya state. Up and down, jolting away, only stopping for a brief snack somewhere in the hills. For the first time in that journey I put on a jacket and shivered my way through the night as the bus ripped through the countryside, every jolt being felt by every passenger. Dawn arrived and I sleepily gazed out of the window. Outside, there was lush forests as we had begun out descent back into the southern part of Assam. Suddenly there was a halt and everything stopped. Passengers started to wake up and then the engine switched off. Curiously, everyone got up, and some decided to get out of the bus, in order to see what the matter was…

The rest of the bus journey from Hell – on video – CLICK!

Simple to say that during this journey the bus broke down. Trying to make up for lost time after the landslip, the bus driver hurtled along the track until a crunch was heard and he basically smacked up the gearbox and clutch. After that we were basically scrambling around on every available bit of transport to get to Tripura state. Hanging onto the back of an Auto, then a shared taxi for a bus load of passengers. ‘Pooja’ then realised that they could not fit everyone on board one van, so they had to get a second shared taxi.

There were checkpoints to negotiate, due to insurgency and kidnapping in the hills of Tripura. If you could missed the army convoy, then you were sent back. Yes, we were sent back. In the end, the journey from Jorhat to Agatarla took 50 hours. It was an adventure to say the least…

One passenger on the trip asked me why I did not fly to Agartarla. Yes, I could have bought a ticket, but for me, travel, wherever I go is not about flying overhead in a sealed vessel, watching the landscape below like some grand Lord of the Skies. I enjoy ground level transport. Sure, when the need arises, I will take to the skies. But I had the time to travel to Tripura state by land. And also, I wanted to see the countryside. It was a journey from hell, that thoroughly exhausted me. However, I got to see sights that no normal tourist would see.

I met refugees from Mizoram and saw the communists celebrate their winning of Tripura. The town of Ambassa was more than a blip on the map and the warmth and comradary shared with my fellow travelers could never be repeated on a 45 minute plane journey. Plus flying wrecks the environment.

I cannot pretend that I understood what I saw, or who I met. I never realised there was inter-ethnic clashes in Mizoram state. I have no clue what the Left-Front stands for and much of the time my passengers spoke Bengali, a very difficult language for the foreign ear to interpret. But I experienced a time that will be remembered into my sunset years. I saw a part of the world that will change beyond recognition in the coming generation. I saw a way of life that was both fascinating and sad to witness. More importantly, I lived a life a little less ordinary. Yes, bus journey in India are hellishly uncomfortable, inconvenient and relatively expensive. But these are small prices to pay compared to the experiences that I gained. When I travel, the destination is the primary motive. But the journey is most definitely half the fun…

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2 Comments

Filed under asia, india, places, tomfoolery, travel

2 responses to “The Bus Journey from Hell (2)

  1. Pingback: Charlie’s Second Holiday to Poland – a look back at Poznan | The Blog of El Director!

  2. Pingback: Leaving London without style – Victoria Coach Station | The Blog of El Director!

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