Our travellers were out in the world all of 2014, exploring, discovering, and learning more as they travelled. Not all trips unravel smoothly, even when planned (errr… especially when planned). We got our merry bunch to send in some stories of travel gone wrong. After you read them you might even wonder why we even bother to head back out! But isn’t it for exactly these unpredictable moments that we leave the comfort of our homes? It is these moments that make travel memorable and make those moments that always linger on. And like Kalpana said a few days ago, trips like these translate into great movies. We wanted to begin 2015 with some hilarious stories to keep you holding your stomach well into this new year. As you plan and plot your next trip, always remember, sometimes it’s the mistakes, mess-ups and OOPS moments that actually make your trip. Over to our merry band of travellers, writers and dreamers…
Elita (Nomadic Thunker)
In August earlier this year I was aboard a Tempo Traveller with the world’s most reckless driver for company on one of India’s most dangerous roads (Manali to Spiti). Rajesh AKA Satan’s spawn was my worst nightmare come true as he’d overtake HMVs at 12000ft. above sea level and race through roadless routes while averaging well above the prescribed speed limit. I can now claim to have been on the ledge during torrential rains, and even snow, with a nonfunctional wiper and survived to tell this tale!
Rushikesh (Breakfree Journeys)
While returning from our Lonar trip, we were to board the Nandigram Express at Jalna. The train was delayed by an hour and when it finally arrived, we found it to be very crowded. Our Sleeper class coach was packed like a Virar local during peak hours, we couldn’t board our coach but had to squeeze in an another coach and then wade through the sea of people to reach our compartment which we shared with over 15 people until Nashik. We never expected it to be this crowded but it also brought to the fore – the connectivity issues that locals of the Vidharbha region face. Inspite of the inhuman numbers, people were accommodating and adjusting and tried to make space for us to pass. It was quite a memorable journey for us!
Deepa (Wheels on Our Feet)
Good and bad make your experiences. Ironically, it is our Shirdi trip that defined the ‘trip gone wrong’ in 2014. It happened when the bus we were coming back in, caught fire in the Nashik-Mumbai Expressway — the driver-conductor duo refused to call for another bus from Nashik and no one from the booking office responded to our calls. We were worried about the impending dark; finally hailed down a state transport bus after about 3 hours of waiting in the highway to reach the railway station at Thane. From there we booked a taxi to take us back home safe, though exhausted and appalled at how service-providers can get away with such callousness and unaccountability.
Pragnya (Pragnya Wakhlu)
On our way back from Chandigarh to Delhi, we booked train tickets on the Shatabdi for the 5:00 p.m. train. We were returning from a friends wedding and came straight from the function dressed in ornate clothes, carrying huge suitcases. When we found our seats we saw that there was already a family seated there. After a confused conversation it dawned on us that the travel agent had booked tickets for the 5:00 a.m. train and our train had already left! We were asked to move near the loo and wait there. The catering fellow felt sorry for us and gave us each a vanilla ice-cream cup meant for the passengers. We sure made quite a sorry, albeit comical sight, dressed in fancy attire, finishing off our cups of vanilla ice- cream while making way for people to enter the bathroom… and this was all the way back to Delhi!
Priyanka (Our mommy traveller!)
When Sidd (my son) was about 6 months old we took an ambitious food focussed trip through Napa Valley. I had stopped breastfeeding and was looking forward to lazy afternoons sipping wine at the famous Michelin starred restaurants. We had everything planned, we made reservations late in the afternoons and evenings so our meals coincided with Sidd’s sleep schedule.
Our very first meal was lunch at Bouchon Bistro where reservations were made weeks ahead, we get there happy with our perfect timing. Fellow diners glance at us anxiously as we enter with a stroller but quickly relax when they see a content sleeping baby. We jump into action, wine, oysters, special tasting menu appetizers are rapidly ordered and consumed. 2 drinks down and half way through our meal, Sidd starts to stir, we panic, we start rocking the stroller hoping he will go back to sleep. Unfortunately he wakes up and starts cooing… pleasantly. Whew!! He is in a happy mood; we relax and hand Sidd a breadstick. We are beaming with pride, a well behaved 6 month old, tipsy parents and admiring strangers, this is how life was always meant to be.
And then, Murphy makes an entrance, I notice something black, something that looks like mud along Sidd’s legs, I make a mental check of all the places he’s been to that morning but nothing ‘muddy’ comes to mind. I shriek, as I realize what has just happened. My happy cooing 6 month old had just pooped his pants and was now happily squishing it everywhere!
What a way to kill the buzz!
Supriya (Tea 4 Travel)
Visiting the haats (local markets) of the Chhattisgarh tribes has been the most immersive travel experience of 2014 for me. On an October afternoon as I walked the streets of Tokapal haat, an old tribal man came up to me and threatened me to leave. Severely reticent and guarded about their culture, such a warning is to be taken seriously in that part of the country. The fierce look in his eyes, support of a few other men and a language gap that left me incapacitated to explain why I was there, I grudgingly turned back. This was important for a book and I was in no mood to leave. It must have been something about the disappointed look – suddenly my right arm felt a fierce pull and my body followed, swinging behind it. I was taken under the wing of the village women, who were drunk on landa, the local brew made of rice. A little hitch in the journey that could have abruptly stopped but for the kind drunk women. Of course, I sat and had a whole leaf full with them!
Faye Rodrigues (Pages of My Waking Life)
This took place about 10 years back, but it’s still fresh… On a family holiday in Goa, we had taken a short day trip to a nearby hot springs. After an eventful day filled with fun moments, we returned home and immediately crashed. A couple of days later, the family wanted to see the pictures that had been captured. My uncle immediately went to develop the film and lo and behold! There was no film! I guess we’re really thankful for digital cameras, but what if we forget the memory card this time?
bhavani (merry to go around)
We were on our way to find those fireflies at Purushwadi, on a trip organised by Grassroutes. They had promised it was a simple drive from Mumbai. We began, of course, after consulting Google Maps and made our way down the highway, took this right turn that the woman with the American accent told us to and then another. The road meandered along pretty rural areas and we were quite happy as we went up, down, twisted and turned. It was a rather long drive till we reached a tunnel. We went in only to see that it was blocked at the end. We stopped, looked at this wall and wondered if there was a way out. The village, our destination, was just on the other side of this mountain. Confused, we turned and made our way out of the tunnel… There were two security guards sitting on plastic chairs and sharing a cup of chai. Just as we rolled down our window and began to ask them, one of them said in a loud voice, “Oh aap internetwale hai? Internet wale log bahut aate hain…. Ye tho kab se bandh hain.” Yes, we were the ‘internet people’ who had landed up there, like the many other ‘internet-people’! It was a long journey back to the highway, and in a rather eerie way, when we replotted our destination on Google Maps, it said we were off-course. Yeah, like we didn’t know!