So here's what happened... i found myself stranded in the middle of a forest at midnight.
We were returning to delhi after setting up the campsite of Route Purple (check www.routepurple.com if u don't know what that is). We have booked a cab from Binsar, the sanctuary near the campsite to Kathgodam (a rail at the foothills of himalayas in Uttaranchal). The car came an hour and a half late (around 7 pm) to pick us up... which meant we won't be bale to catch the 8:30 pm train, since the journey would easily take about 3 hrs on those hilly roads. Anyways me being me, was still smiling. We'll still be in time to catch the last bus to Delhi that leaves around 11:30pm.
The car was old and rickety. By the time we reach Almora, about an hour's drive, the driver announces that he needs to fill some gas. But the petrol pumps (read 'gas stations' if u r American) at Almora close at 8 pm and the time by our watch is 8:10 pm. But our man, the driver is confident he'll manage it. 15 minutes here and there don't matter.
The next moment I hear a strange, rhytmic sound coming from the front wheel. Using all my automobile knowlegde and diagnosing capabilities, I declare that we have a flat tyre. But our man, the driver, wouldn't believe me. He continues driving a wobbly car a few more meters before finally stopping and getting down to inspect the flat tyre. Next he grins and tells me that the spare tyre too got punctured that afternoon.
Soon, our man, the driver and his colleague dissapear with the two tyres to find a repair shop. An hour and a half later we are back on the road with the assurance that we'll get petrol (read 'gas' if u r still American) at the next village, about 35 km away. Our man, the driver was confident as ever.
We reach the next village and find a locked petrol pump. Someone in the petrol-pump-attendant's family died that evening. So they closed the pump and went for the funeral.
Our man, the driver again assures us with all his confidence. He's sure he'll manage to get to Bhowali, the next town, where there's a 24hour petrol pump. And I am stupid enough to believe him yet again.
We are still at about 5000ft in the hills amidst a forest when the car starts stuttering and sputtering and finaly stops!!!! He tries the ignition again. The car breathes its last few breaths and finally dies the death of a patient with tuberculosis... silent suddenly after a long bout of coughing and wheezing and what not.
That's it. A pitch dark night in a forest. A water fall, created by the recent rains, flows down onto the road from the hill on our left. An eerie silence. The valley below on our right. the stars above. A dead car. Trees with their ghostly dark shadows. And us.
The driver and his colleague still give us hope. They pick up a 2 litre empty cola bottle and dissapear into the darkness to find the nearest petrol pump. An hour later they are back and happily announce that even the next petrol pump is closed for the day.
It is midnight anyways.
"so... what do we do"? I ask.
They adjust themselves in the car and our man, the driver speaks matter of factly, "sleep...'.
He sleeps off. We wait till the morning.
But for feeling a little stupid at believing our man all the time, the forest was awesome. You dont really get that kind of a chance willingly... do you?
That was an amazing night... never before and maybe never ever again. And I love it in hind sight!