Some called it the road from hell. There was definitely something demonic about it, especially for those who suffered with chronic car sickness. For those who didn’t, it was an amazing mountain drive.
Some got sick on the way up, others on the way down. Some, both up and down.
There were those who insisted on keeping their windows down for fresh air. That also helped when the driver refused to stop for any reason. It didn’t help when you were driving past a dead carcass.
Others swore blind that keeping their heads dead straight and their eyes on the road helped. They lost it when the road disappeared around a hairpin bend. There were over a hundred hairpin bends.
The theories were amazing. Some kept chewing gum, some sucked on nimbus (sweet limes) others thought mints helped. Those who didn’t believe in sucking anything became compulsive swallowers.
People on tour buses seemed to believe that the more they ate before going either way, up or down, the less sick they would feel. They only believed that once. It was an experience they never wanted to repeat.
For us, we tried to eat as little as possible. On our way down we usually left in the early hours of the morning so there wasn’t time for breakfast. I seemed to need a banana quite soon after getting through the foothills. If I was sitting in the front looking straight ahead, it seemed to help a bit but with two small children in the back seat it wasn’t possible to not look around.
On the way home from Delhi we would stop half way and have lunch at Cheetal Grand. It was a small dhaba where we had delicious pakodas and sweet, milky instant coffee. By the time we got to the Shivalik range, the food had settled nicely. We tried everything. Fortunately there wasn’t much actual throwing up but there was lots of queeze and swallowing.
Our almost joint-family-car-sick-experience was when we were driving up the mountain after a long trip. We were tired and Tony was overtaking anything in front of him. That happened whether we were tired or not, but that is beside the point. There was a lot of swerving and speed involved. The more I complained the faster he went. We had all had enough.
A local tour bus was really irritating us. It was going quite fast and wouldn’t let us pass. The name of the tour company was “Panicker’s Travels.” We kept getting stuck behind it on the bends and I was making up stories about how it might have got its name. As we got to a straight bit, Tony put his foot down and started to overtake it. As he did, a woman put her head out of the bus window and threw up all over our windscreen. We all started screaming things like, “Oh Lord! How disgusting! Aaaah!” and other exclamations I have chosen to forget. Tony was the only one who didn’t have his hands over his face. We were all gagging.
Tony couldn’t see properly, but managed to overtake the bus. With all the noise and commotion, he did what anyone in their panicking mind would do to get rid of the mess. He turned the wipers on. He found out a second later that the water pump to clean the windscreen was empty. We drove all the way home with someone else’s lunch smudged all over our windscreen.
Someone started giggling; a gagging kind of giggle. Then someone joined in and then we all started laughing hysterically. By the time we got home, all the tension of the trip had gone but for some reason we all felt the need to have a soapy bucket bath.