It seemed like an extreme challenge of extricating myself from the landscape of Kutch, but I was soon on my way to witness the Olive Ridley Turtle hatchling season that occurs between the months of February and April every year in Velas at Maharashtra. I was joined on this discovery of Velas with three of my other friends and tickets had been booked in advance. A quick stopover at home to unpack and repack I boarded the local state transport bus that same night I’d returned from Bhuj. Two of us were making it that night and would be joined by the other two on the following night.
Where once road travel, particularly by bus and specifically state transport buses sent shudders down my spine because I’d been prone to motion-sickness, the past couple of road trips that too through state transport buses in Karnataka and then only a few days ago in Gujarat had reaffirmed me of my new-found capability.
Dinner was had and we were awaiting our bus. An overnight journey and early next morning we’d be at Velas on the beach. So much excitement. We learnt our bus was slightly delayed by 20 minutes. That didn’t dampen the excitement though. Just as the excitement couldn’t take the exhaustion from having been on the go ever since I’d left home for Kutch about a week ago.
Tired and very sleepy I was looking forward to collapsing on my seat to wake up only when I could see the coast. The bus did come albeit 20 minutes after it was scheduled to and we found our seats, showed our ticket to the bus conductor and prepared to get some sleep.
The bus was a crowded one – which means that people who hadn’t booked a ticket in advance could still purchase one and board the bus but they wouldn’t have a seat for themselves. So that further translated to having a dozen or so people just standing (possibly so for the next 8 odd hours).
But before I knew it I was dead asleep; backpack on my lap and arms wrapped tightly around it. All I could feel for some time was the cool breeze brushing against my face, ruffling my hair up but I couldn’t care anymore.
The experience was short lived. Soon enough the bus was rattling on noisily, its metal structure clanking against itself as the bus bounced on the road. For a brief moment at that time, I blamed it on the road. I was still too passed out to care much about the ‘clanking’ when suddenly I could feel that the bus has quickly swerved off at a bend on the road! The people including an equal number of women and children gasped and shouted quite loudly rather alarmed by what had just happened.
By now I’d experienced too much to be able to sleep anymore. We’d just missed a head on collision with another vehicle.
I realized my fate and the gravity of the situation — this bus driver was no one but Satan’s spawn! And I would need to spend all night invoking whichever divine force would care to hear me out.
Every curve, every pothole, every speed breaker that night was magnified a 100x. This you must believe is no exaggeration.
Thankfully at some point morning did come. This also meant that we’d gotten closer into rural India so the roads hadn’t gotten any better. Neither did Satan’s spawn here have even the slightest change of heart.
I heaved a huge sigh of relief when we finally got off the bus at 7 AM the next morning – even though my spine and legs were rather numb.
We were to take another bus to get to Velas which was now another 50 odd minutes away. Needless to say we were dreading this last leg in our journey. However rather reluctantly we did board the next bus already very stiff from the previous night. Tickets were purchased again. This time around though the bus was nearly as good as empty and even though we were plying on the same rickety roads this driver seemed godsend in comparison. Now we were definitely dead asleep only to be awakened by the first sighting of the coast.
Driving down a hillock in the full view of the sea is a breath-taking view. And we already knew that we were definitely going to love our next few days here in this little hidden from the rest of the world paradise!
For real-time updates do subscribe via email