Aug 9, 2012

The Volkswagen Ride

During the time of convocation, all the hotels are booked in R-Land. On the night of 3rd August, 2012, it was no exception. As the plan had been made just a day before the chapo, IMG could get a hotel only as near as All Seasons, which is four kilometers from the campus. That doesn't seem much in a metro like Delhi, but hello, this was Roorkee! Go outside the cantonment area and you get nothing but a highway.

We went in groups to the hotel, as it was not feasible to walk to it. Me and Kshitij took a rickshaw(on a highway by the way), and even then it took us fifteen minutes to reach the godforsaken place. Although it was a pleasant place to be with, we were to be surprised by what was to follow.

It was well past 10 (maybe even 11) when it ended. The girls had left as they had to report to their hostels by 10.  As I and Kshitij had to go out of Roorkee the next day, we decided to leave early. The others (about thirty odd guys), who left even after us supposedly got wet in the rain, had tea at a dhaba and came back to the college in a tractor. But wait, listen to what we did first.

I asked the security guard at the entrance what would be the best way to get to Roorkee at that time. His reply wasn't at all comforting. There were no rickshaws nearby, and buses would not stop at such places. The best (read only) way was to walk.

It was drizzling as well. I had the camera with me inside the bag, which I had got the last year for three hundred bucks. It was waterproof at that time, but not any more. I silently cursed myself for not going for a branded one(I did get one less than one week after the incident though). I knew too much time out in this weather and the camera would be history... My beloved Nikon L120!

As we were walking, we started talking to kill time. Kshitij confessed to me that he believed in (read feared) ghosts. As we were walking, the trees on either side of the dark road seemed towering, and I wished for an animal-free walk, although I knew very well you don't find tigers and bears in these places.

Meanwhile, as the hall in All Seasons was at the basement, I had no network. My parents, who never call me before 10.30 at night, coincidentally, were trying to reach me since 7. They had also contacted my previous roommate, who had no clue where I was. They finally did get hold me after I had started my walk, but to say that I would want to forget that call would be an understatement.

We tried to stop anything that went past our direction. Scorpios, VWs, even cars like the Daewoo Matiz passed us. No one seemed to pay any attention. I noticed an Alto parked on the side, and was in half a mind to ask for a lift, but changed my mind after seeing that it was full with women and children. They might have mistaken us for... well, let's just not go into that.

As we were walking, Kshitij suggested we go back. I was adamant that there was no point in doing so as we had already walked about a kilometer, and it would be okay once we entered the Army Cantonment. It was visible that he was afraid. I tried to remind him that fear cuts deeper that swords (© Game of Thrones). Neither of us had hitchhiked before, and it was certainly weird...

Then came our breakthrough. A Volkswagen Polo finally stopped. Needless to say, it was my extended arm which it responded to, Kshitij seemed too afraid to do anything. He was probably a few meters in front of me, but, as the car stopped, he stood still. I ran towards the driver and asked him if he would be kind enough to drop us at our campus. I was wearing a Batman T shirt, and surely felt like him, although I doubt if I could even have landed a blow, let alone knocking out someone.

He could have taken out a gun, and asked for everything we had. He could have knocked us unconscious. All I had was an umbrella for protection! Every second I spent in there, I wondered what I would do if he suddenly pops out a gun! Kshitij tried to spark up a conversation by asking him where he was coming from. It didn't last long though.

We entered the cantonment area and with every passing second, I relaxed. There was nothing to worry. A guy with a Volkswagen won't be interested in your puny android cell and a semi SLR camera. Well, even though you might be sensing a turnaround here and wondering when I will say- and then he pulled out a gun- it didn't happen. We reached safely. I thanked him for his generosity, and wondered where he got the guts to stop the car for two random strangers on a highway!

It was, nonetheless a pretty good hitchhiking experience...

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