Dispatch India 2013:
I traveled for 3 days to reach the far northeast corner of India (north of Burma and east of Nepal), just below the Himalayas on the Chinese border. Grueling, I tell you, grueling. I left Houston at 2:45pm on Saturday afternoon and arrived here in Tuli (sounds like Julie) on Monday night at 9:30pm, making connections through Newark, Mumbai (Bombay), and Kolkata (Calcutta), finally landing in Dimapur (sort of rhymes with “we assure”). From Dimapur to Tuli, the four of us (a driver, two escorts, and me) then drove nearly 5 hours packed air tight into a stifling, tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact over what could best be described as the surface of the moon. Crater-sized potholes littered the sometimes rocky, sometimes muddy, sometimes paved (excuse me while I choke on the word) “road.” After three days of travel, I was exhausted to the point that I could not maintain consciousness, sleeping fitfully while sitting upright, head bobbing, with knees in the dashboard of the tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact as it meandered through the countryside beyond sunset and into the eerie night.
Two icky armed border crossings (each state here thinks it is its own country), a near miss in the pitch-blackness with the rear end of an elephant, and our journey ended when our driver suddenly veered off the so-called “road” into the darkness of the jungle and floored it up an impossibly steep dirt path, heavily rutted and slippery from the rains. We only got about 30 feet up the path when the itty-bitty wheels started to lose traction and slip and spin. The engine sputtered and died as the vehicle slid sideways toward the embankment. Not good, and I had had enough. I shook myself fully awake, gathered up my energy, and escaped the tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact, in one smooth, twisting, flailing, spastic, Spider-Man kind of move, with that Bruce Lee howling screech thing at the end, just in time before the driver let the vehicle free-fall back down the path, nearly squashing a fellow passenger who had also exited, and smashing a parked motor bike. It came to a stop out in the middle of the, ahem, “road.” Since I was already halfway up the path, I preferred climbing the rest of the way up on foot, where at least if I died, I would go down swinging on my own wits. At last, we had reached our home base on the remote jungle hilltop. SLEEP!
You say there was a time change in there somewhere, so it wasn’t really as bad as all that. Oh yeah? That right? Well, huh, who cares what you think? I suffered miserably…for the Savior. And, I’d do it again in a heartbeat (but only in winter). See my entourage below in the tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact. (click to enlarge)
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