Oct 1999.Noida – Dhampur, Scary Drive.
Well this one road trip is quite memorable because it must have been by far one of the scariest road trips in my life so far.Not that it was a fun or great driving,nothing remotely like that but the sheer exciting 4 hours is a must for me to write home about this road trip.
Well to start with night drive trips are dangerous and risky,but if you have a traveller or companion who gives two hoots to risk and danger then you are surely doomed or at the mercy of mother nature.But seriously there is no fun in the drive or trip if it is well not fun.I mean if fear is over riding feeling you cannot get the fun.
Anyways it started by my friend Romani Lenins invite to come an visit his howm town of dhampur,near moradabad in mid UP.It was close to the corbett nationnal park and it was where my buddy had grown up so it surely called for a visit.But what was unusual was that Romani called me around 7:00pm at night saying that he was driving down to dhampur with his mother and wanted me to come along.I said ok thought was little surporsied at the odd hour,but since we had earlier made some motor cycle trips night outings I said ok.
What should have started at 7:00pm became 9:00 when he picked me from our sector 15 house in NOIDA and we drove in his near junk maruti van with his mother towards Dhampur supposedly 200 odd kms and taking only a few hours.
We stopped near Gaziabad after the initialy traffic snarl in Delhi and had a quick dhaba dinner.romanis as usually had his tandoori chicken and aunty had something light and me too something light with our trade marks thumbs up or coke before starting off.
We passed by pilkuwa,hapur and were driving past some small village towards moradabad when the first time his van started stuterring and kicking and finally stopped.It was around 1:00 am in the morning,quite dark in some small village area.
We got down to see what was wrong..I was pretty sure that this would be it as his van to me looked almost ready for scrap sale.initially I thought it was petrol,or engine overheating as romani really was pushing this ol mate.But with both ruled out we push started it as ignition was not starting.It started and we took off romani comforting me that it was maybe 2 hours max from here on.So we started driving.After an hour or so again the van stopped with hiccups and this time we were in the middle of some jungle.It was pitch dark everywhere and the crickets and the bats noise coming and only trees huge trees on both side of the road could be seen.It was 2:am in the morning.I have never been stranded on the road in the middle of night and that too in a jungle without knowing where I was.
Romani was quite unperturbed by his..only annoyed that his vehicle was not running inspite of not taking care of it.for me this was inevitible some day ,but why with me why today.
Very soon i got accostomed to the pitch dark night as both me and romani got out of the car and looked around,I did no venture for more than 5 or 7 metres as i was sure some evil spirit or wild animal would attack me.Aunty was very clam and sat inside the van.We decided to try and stop some vehicvle and ask for help.But nothing came for 10 minutes.By now I was blaming roami that we should not have started out so late,etc etc.Finally a loory headlights and sound could be heard from a distance.The heavy full lights focussed on us from far and we were waving our hands to stop the truck but it just passed by and we had to move out of the way to save ourselves.
Another 10 minutes passed when we heard the sound of another vehicle,but this time instead of coming fast the speed of the vehicle slowed down…we could then see the headlights of what looked like a jeep or van from a distance focussed on us and coming slowly towards us.It must have been on 1st gear at 20kms.Romani had gone much ahead and he shouted back to me to remove my belt and be careful.I was by now almost about to faint when I really had to shake myself up and brace myself for this impending and probable danger.
As the jeep slowly made its way towards us , it lowered its headlights and almost stopped around 30 metres away from us.I could make the silhoutte of a heavily build driver and his co passenger;both middle aged men well built.romani told me to wait near the van and he walked up towards the van with a belt in his hand.He was speaking to them for about 5 minutes and then he started walking towards me.I was not sure what had conspired as it was pitch dark almost and there wasnt even a moon on that night.
Romani walked up towards me and said mathew just do as I tell you and we will be safe.I was by know quite certain that we would be captured by some village gand and then god only knows what.But Romani told that there were some people inside who would help us reach the nearest town mordabad and put us to a garage which might open only early morning.He asked me to enter the jeep and also told his mother to join me in that jeep.
As we entered the mahindra seated inside were at least 6 men who were all drunk and huge built.They made some place for romani’s mom and little place for me.
Then one of them came towards the van and told romani to take the driver seat,while they pulled a small role and tied the rope with romani’s belt and my belt to pull the van behind their jeep.
Slowly what was to became a worst nightmare for me turned out ot be a blessing as they guys who later turned out to be professional smugglers( business men in the fish business ) thats all they told us.But what they really were we need not know cos at 2:30 am in the middle of the jungle ,8 men were driving drunk in a jeep.God knows what their intentional were but they really helped us that day and saved us.
slowly after 45 minutes we reached a petrol bunk and they undid the van ,gave us chai and took romanis mobile number and left us in the petrol bunk with few other travellers in buses for company.
We had crossed the jungle and now were in civilization but the last 2 hours were so adventurous that it was one helluva night to remember.
We waited till dawn and at 4:00am awoke a mechanic who repaired the van with electrical problems,which caused the starting problem and also not taking accelaration.Nevertheless we finished the repairs by 5:00am in the morning and drove down to Dhampur finally reaching it at 6:00in the morning after a night of adventure and a memorable road trip.