Tag Archives: Driving in India

Post 123. “Let’s just get home.”


It was an amazing few weeks.  We were tanned and had our fill of fresh fish and yummy pancakes.  We had been on long drives and discovered some beautiful little isolated beaches. OM beach was one of our favourites.  The only people there were old hippies from the sixties who were half naked, still stoned and had given up their passports decades ago.

I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive back to Mussoorie.  I was well into my seventh month and quite a bit bigger than when we arrived.   We packed up our camp and put everything into the jeep.  After a few hours I could feel my feet swelling and I needed lots of toilet stops.  Tony was the “see that tree?” type.  We all saw the tree but that tree was somehow not good enough.  By the time we stopped we were frantic.  He was good this time.  When I got really uncomfortable he stopped and I got out of the car and walked along the side of the road.  He drove slowly behind me.  I got lots of strange looks from people in cars, but I didn’t care.  I could imagine people saying, “Shame, that poor pregnant woman must have had a fight with her husband and is determined to walk all the way home.”  We had to stop more often,  which meant staying in more hotels and spending more money than we expected to.

We were still a long way away from home when we ran out of money.  On our last night, we got permission from the security guard in a hotel parking area to sleep there for the night.  It wasn’t the safest place in the world but we had no option.  We pushed the front seats forward and extended the bed onto the dashboard.  Tony made up the bed and when it was ready we crawled in to find our place.  I booked mine near the window.  Tony locked all the doors including the back one.  I opened my little window, excited about getting some fresh air.  Within minutes we realised that air wasn’t going to be an option.  There were SO many mosquitos.  The girls and Tony were ok with no air, but as I lay there, I started to get more and more panicky.  Tony kept encouraging me to try to get some sleep.  It was going to be a long time before sunrise.  I lay there with my eyes brimming with tears, trying to control my hormonal claustrophobia.  Tony heard me sniffing and asked if I was ok.  That was it.

“Babe, I need to get out of here. Like now.  Tone?  Please let me out.  Can you please open the door?  I really need some air.  Tone!”  He was doing his best to put his hand below the wooden bench to get to the door handle.  I couldn’t wait.  I opened my small sliding window and tried to get out with Tony telling me my stomach was going to get stuck.  I didn’t care.  I needed air.  My legs were out when he finally opened the back door.  I was close to hysterical.

We folded the bed back and the girls fell asleep quickly.  Tony and I tried to get some sleep in the front seats.  It was impossible.  By that time we were wide-awake.  Tony was buzzing and I was full of adrenalin.  We looked at each other and said, “Let’s just get home.”  We thanked the chokidar who seemed happy to have seen some action in his quiet parking lot.

It had been a long, full day of driving and we still had the whole night ahead of us.  We had money for food and diesel and that was it.  Night driving in India was full on.  Every truck had “Please use dipper at night” and not one truck driver knew what that meant.  There were thousands of trucks, bright headlights, no streetlights, bullock carts with no reflectors, bicycles, and animals and people running across the road.

I kept slapping Tony’s head and he kept slapping his face.  We tried everything to stay awake.  When we drifted off the road, we realised it was time to stop.  We pulled to the side of the busy road and closed our eyes.  Within half an hour a policeman was hitting our window with his stick, telling us to move along.  There were no coffee shops to get a caffeine shot so we kept moving along.

By the time we got home Tony was speaking another language.  The drive up the mountain was slow and scary.  We got a few minutes here and there to close our eyes but exhaustion had overcome us.  He was actually delirious.  I couldn’t understand a word he was saying.  We left everything in the jeep and climbed into bed.  Tony, still mumbling, said, “Babe, we have just driven a thousand kilometres.”  I rubbed my tight tummy and swollen feet and said, “Yeah, I can feel it.”

Post 83. The big drive


Our last couple of weeks in Goa were excellent.  The friendships had developed so deeply and quickly and it was hard to say goodbye.

The night before we left, we packed our jeep until there was just enough space for the girls.  On the roof rack was a mattress, a metal trunk full of kitchen things, plastic buckets tied on, the girl’s little plastic table and chairs and our four different sized suitcases.  Inside there was a guitar, more boxes, pillows, a few snacks and us.

We left Goa at 3.30 am on the 21 March 1992.  Our blue Gypsy was surrounded by lots of teary and blurry-eyed friends and neighbours who had come to say goodbye to us.   Rosey and Melvin were there and so was Melba.   Chuppa had been naughty once too many times and had been released into the trees. The girls missed saying goodbye to him.  There was no sign of Shorty.  It was too early for him.


Goa-Nasik-Indore-Mau-Agra-Delhi-Mussoorie (Dehra Dun)

The plan was to leave before 4 am each day, which was the best way to avoid most of the traffic in the small towns and villages.  We would drive for 7-8 hours, spend the afternoon and evening in a hotel and do the same thing the next day, until we got to Mussoorie.  We worked out that it would take us under a week.  Our route was Goa, Nasik, Indore, Agra, Delhi and finally Mussoorie.

It took us 8 days.  We stayed in all kinds of places along the way and loved seeing more of India.  As we were entering a town called Mau, we came across young men who were covered in coloured paint.  They were obviously not in their right minds and were creating human road blocks along the way.  There was no way we were going to stop with our girls in the car.  Teenage Tony wasn’t nicknamed “Crash” for nothing.  He put his foot down and they flew in all directions.  They could see the blue Gypsy wasn’t going to stop for anyone.  We took the wrong road and ended up in the middle of the town of Mau.  We drove through the narrow street  surrounded by wild looking men who were hitting our car and shouting for us to get out.  That was our first experience of the Hindu festival called Holi or “The Festival of Colours.”   People throw coloured water and powder on each other.  It is a time to get full of Bhang (hash) no matter what your age.  All the way through the towns and villages we were confronted by drunk and “bhanged up” people trying to get into our car to cover us with colour.  The girls were quite scared and started a game called, “The Pinkys are coming!”

We stopped in Agra to see the Taj Mahal on the way.  We were so exhausted, we couldn’t really appreciate the beauty or romance of it.  Mussoorie was just one day away and we couldn’t wait to get there.


Old Delhi was quite a place.  We stayed with a pastor who Tony had met on his survey trip.  Asha and Zoes had fun with his two little girls who were simliar ages.  It wasn’t long after, that we heard he had been put in prison for misappropriation of funds.  We were really sad.

Asha and Zoes were such excellent travellers and our days of making them sleep anywhere really paid off. They spent their time entertaining each other on their “bed” at the back, in between sleeping and eating.  We sung all the songs we could think of, teaching them harmonies and how to sing in rounds. We played I-spy and colours of cars.  They made up a game that nearly drove us crazy.  There were thousands of trucks we had to pass every day.  Whenever we were stuck behind one, they would chant, “Truck, truck let us go, truck truck let us go.”  They only stopped when we overtook and then started up with the next one.  When they got bored of that game, they made a “NeeeeEEEEOwwwwww” sound every time a car past us.  I wished I hadn’t taught them that one.