Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Hitchhiking - Waiting for a uncertain vehicle

When I went for a walk today early in the morning, I saw a man with his family waiting for a vehicle on the Nganglam – Pangbang highway. The road is not officially opened yet, but vehicle ply benefiting the people living along the highway even as the construction was ongoing. Without the road it would take at least two days on foot and one day on vehicle – if you use the Indian highway, actually that was the only motor able road that connected Pangbang. Forest check post at Barpita collected rupees 200 compulsorily for using their rough road, normally used for sightseeing, and to see the animals by the tourists on safari. The Pangbang commuters, however, pray that they do not bump into wild animals, especially elephants.

It is very uncertain that the man and the family would get the vehicle, for it would be his sheer luck to come across vehicle going to Pangbang and even if a vehicle comes by chance, the driver of the vehicle should be kind enough to let him and his family, board the vehicle.

Looking at him it reminded me of days, when, I too waited on the road with a packed bag for the vehicle which was so uncertain to come by and going towards the same direction. A few vehicles that pass by would not even bother to slow down and zoom past. It would take days to get a vehicle to go places.

Once during the breaks from the Kanglung College, I with friends from same village boarded the bus and headed for vacation to our village. The bus was going to Samdrup Jongkhar, so we had to get down at Tshelingor tri-junction and wait for vehicle going towards Pemagatshel. We waited for couple of hours, after thinking that no vehicle would come that is going towards the same direction and fearing that waiting any longer would force us to spend the night in the forest without shelter and warm clothing, we decided to walk towards the evening. The destination was 20 km away from where we were.

We started our journey on foot. After walking about two hours covering a distance of seven kilometers, we were relieved to hear the sound of a roaring engine, which became louder by seconds confirming the approaching truck; we sat down and waited for it, for a much needed ride. When the truck came near, we waved frantically for the truck to stop. The truck driver ignored our signal and sped past us. Lots of curses were thrown freely after the truck and some of my friends spat grumbling about the lack of humanity.

We unanimously talked and regretted about not stopping the truck by standing in the middle of the road. But then who knows, at such a place and with such mentality of the driver we would have been turned into a flat meat like that of a frogs that we find flattened on the roads during rainy seasons.

After countless blisters on the feet and tired limbs we reached our destination at around 9 pm. We took rest near another tri-junction before dispersing to our respective homes, another truck approached; it stopped and the driver asked where we were going. We did not answer him let alone looking at him with anger fueled by fatigue towards all truckers.

 “Have you seen my son Sangay? He studies in Kanglung College too, and he was supposed to come on vacation today.” He asked at the top of his voice overpowering of the roaring engine. Before we could answer, Sangay went limping with countless blisters on the foot.was near the truck shouting “Apaaaa”.

If only had we waited little longer........  

The story would have been completely different had there been facilities like, mobile phones. But then such memories would not be there ….