Friday, December 24, 2010

Overnight Bus Ride

Our bus did have reclining seats as promised and the first hour displayed signs of allowing for some sleep on the ride. I thought the bumpy roads and jerky driving would lull me to sleep easily. The bus was only half full and as I was considering moving to the back (the lady reclined in front of me left barely and breathing room) the bus stopped and took on a large and painfully loud family. The peace was completely shattered as they got on. Chaos, kids, and everyone was yelling. They jammed 3 people in every 2 seat space. It was another hour on the road before I stopped getting elbowed in the head, leaned on, and my hair pulled. The men got tired of sitting on everyones armrest and finally laid newspaper in the isle to sleep on.

It seemed like every time everyone started chilling out and ready to doze off the bus would stop for a bathroom break and the whole crew had to get up, get off, and freak out again.

As far as I can tell people on India, or at least people from Delhi, don't talk to each other - they yell. Maybe they are use to competing with the car horns. When they speak to us, they speak in quiet, soft tones, then turn to each other and get back to shouting.

Many of the windows on the bus were broken. They were broken so that you could not shut them. It was midnight and we were heading north into the Indian Himilayan foothills. It was friction' cold!

I could go into detail about all the discomforts on that bus, but I might as well leave it at, "it sucked!". And we had six more hours of it.

It was s great practice for me to be present with that ride. Outside of the physical challenges, I found myself practicing compassion. I was so annoyed at that family and especially the noisy father, yet I realized it was not anything personal and he was doing the best he knew how to take care of his family and get them across country. I was silently sending them love and also hoping they would get off on the next stop.

We pulled in to Rishikesh right at six am, maybe an hour before sunrise. My ass was numb, my knees were bruised, and everyone was totally freezing. We all climbed out of the bus to find a roadside shop with hot tea and coffee waiting for us as next to a roaring fire barrel.

Even thought we could not communicate we connected in the joy of being off the bus and at our destination. We looked into each others eyes and smiled. We laughed at each other through shivering teeth making fun of how silly we all looked wrapped up in every bit of clothing we could find.

I'm glad I kept perspective on that ride. Had I let frustration and hate get the best of me I would have ended up feeling guilty and shamed for reacting to something relatively trivial. I like to think I learned a good lesson and that being said, I ask the universe to avoid giving it to me again... at least in that form. I'm sure we'll have more bus rides to come on this journey. I will seriously weight out the costs of other alternatives after that one though.

Location:Rishikesh India

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