Himalayas draw both of us like a magnet. It is the roads leading to the Himalayas that are a different story. The serpentine roads induce motion sickness in us and Avomine is a must. However, we are pretty used to the medicine by now.
But there is something else on the mountain roads over which I have no control. It is the tendency of the drivers to imitate Michael Schumacher (the formula one race car driver) or whoever may be the latest champion now, on the narrow curving roads.
We met Toni
in Ladakh. He was the driver of the Toyota quails jeep that took us to Pangong Lake. He was not a rash driver but the way he would negotiate the curves on the road would make my heart skip quite a few beats. Snow, water on the road, nothing would deter him. When we would ask him to slowdown he would tell us, “I have done this route so many times, don’t worry.” And I would think, “You may have done the route so many times but for me this is the first and I hope not the last!”
This time in Sikkim, the very first driver who took us to Pelling from New Jalpaiguri was an aspiring F1 candidate and he would talk or listen to no one (but he was not really rash). He seemed to be in a foul mood due to some reason and I was glad when the journey was over. But apart from him, everyone else in the Sikkim trip preferred to drive safe, or so I thought, till we meet this real deadly person on our way out from Gangtok to Siliguri. He was driving rationally for most of the journey, not even a hint of F1 aspirations. But when the town of Siliguri was about 15 km away, god knows what went into him, he started accelerating rashly. All the passengers protested and he would slow down for a while and then try to overtake someone as if he had a death wish. And he nearly got it.
Indian roads are chaotic, to say the least. When a pedestrian might run across or a cyclist will materalize out of nowhere, you can never say. Many roads are single lane and that means you have to mind the traffic coming from the other direction too.
On such a road, this person once again went into an accelerating spree. Suddenly out of nowhere two young chaps on a bicycle came in front of our jeep. Now the driver was breaking like maniac. Still, he had a contact with the rear wheel of the cycle. The kids escaped just with a bent rear wheel but they were really really lucky. After a short while of name calling, everyone went their own way. But this time every passenger in the jeep had given a piece of their mind to the driver and the idiot managed to drop us safely to Siliguri.
Apart from this single incident, I have found the drivers in the hills really responsible, whether they are imitating Schumacher or not.