Speed 3: Dhar’ to Amritsar

Ode to a bus driver

He’s pledged to get us there
In 5 hours and a quarter.
The word on the street is 7, 8, even 9.
Odds stacked against him
By those of little faith.
The night is deep, dark and cold
When he pries himself from sleep
To answer the call to duty.
Small? Yes. Rude? Yes? Longing for a chai? Yes.
But this is a man with a mission,
A man with a bus to drive.

His noble weapons two:
Accelerator and horn,
And he’s not afraid to use them.
No twisting mountain path,
No damaged, potholed road;
No congested village street,
Nor oncoming traffic deep
Can stop him from overtaking;
This man with a mission,
This man with a bus to drive.

“Didn’t hear me the first time?
I’ll just sit on the horn longer.
Maybe a minute will do,
To get my point across!
Need a bathroom break?
Ok, I’m nice like that:
Here’s a meadow behind a wall
On the side of the road for ladies.
And a wall on the side of the road
For the gents. Now, chalo, let’s roll!”
Thinks the man with a mission,
This man with a bus to drive.

Never stopping, only slowing,
Exchanging passengers in a moment;
He is determined, fixed on his goal.
Never slowing, only speeding
Over holes in the road,
His bus shakes like thunder,
Hurtling towards its destination,
Passing all in its way
Till we arrive – a wonder! –
On time at the final stop,
Thanks to this man with a mission,
This man with our bus to drive.

By way of background, nearly all the trains I’ve taken in India so far and many of the planes have been late – sometimes by hours. Knowing the state of the road between Dharamsala and Amritsar, I’d accepted that the bus journey would be excruciatingly longer than stated and had just braced myself for it. When we pulled up to what was clearly a major bus station at 10:15 in the morning, we were shocked to discover we were already in Amritsar. Our bus driver was insane on the road, but he is also my new hero! 🙂

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