A Lot Can Happen between Point A and Point B: An Incident on National Highway 1
It was the mid of October; I was standing on a highway in the outskirts of Delhi on the NH1 expecting a free ride to Punjab. Trucks, sedan, hatchbacks, SUVs, bikes, motorbikes, rickshaws, goods career autos and so many vehicles were running for their own life purposes. No one stopped bothering for me. A few of them slowed down, looked at me from top to bottom and moved on. I guess they were confused as Indians are not used to seeing an Indian citizen traveling and hitching the way I was trying to do. An hour passed and the merciless sun started hitting my head hard. I leaned on a railing and kept waiving from there. No heart melt, no curious brain dared, nothing happened for two and a half hours. I started walking on the NH1 highway towards Punjab. I kept walking and stopped at times to waive at an approaching vehicle; initially slow, after a few minutes I found myself walking at a pace as if I would reach Punjab on foot. I didn’t know what I was thinking but I kept walking. After about 20 minutes, a motorbike rider crossed me in a good speed. A hundred meters ahead, I heard a sudden braking and found that the bike-rider was taking a U-turn and was coming to me on the wrong lane. I was wondering why this guy was breaking traffic rules and coming back. I started looking at the road to see if he had dropped something and was coming to pick it up. While I was playing with my head for reasons, this handsome young guy was standing right in front of me.
Hey, bro! Do you want a lift? Are you going somewhere far?
Yes, brother! I’am going to Punjab.
You missed your bus?
No, I don’t take buses. I hitchhike.
He smiled, looked amused. Why were you walking? Were you planning to go on foot?
Ha!Ha! No one was stopping so I thought I’ll change my location and try again.
Come, sit on my bike.
I realized he had no luggage, not even a helmet. I doubted if he was traveling more than 300km in a bike without such essentials. Still, I asked him if he was going to Punjab. He laughed and negated with his head and asked me to sit anyway. Confused, I hopped on and began talking to him. He told me that he assumed me to be a full-time traveler and that he always wanted to meet such people. He expressed his enthusiasm from his voice. He asked me if I would like to spend some time with him and talk to him over a cup of coffee and tell him more about me. As it was still a broad daylight and plenty of time to hitchhike, I agreed. What happened next is a perfect example of the fun and adventure hidden between point A and point B. It reveals that slow travel is far more enriching than fast one and that at times journey is equally-if not more-beautiful than the destination. He called many of his friends and we spent the whole day talking to each other, roaming from one place to another. By midnight, we were three people sitting in a room and no one wanted to sleep. So three of us rode a bike and broke into a professional wrestling ring at 3am and wrestled for an hour. We made our own rules and I was thinking that my ‘Jat’ brother will break my bones as I saw him defeating the other person in the first fight. I was prepared to take the challenge and I ended up throwing him from one corner to another and won the championship. (Click here to see the video)The other boy who was recording was saying, “Hitesh ji travel kar kar ke mar rahe hain”. We were so damn tired after a few rounds of wrestling. I was panting heavily as if I had run a marathon. I realized how cigarettes affect the capacity of our lungs, but I didn’t do anything apart from realizing it ;) . We sat there for some time and decided to go to the bank of Yamuna River which was 7 km away from the ring.
We rode in one bike at 5 in the morning. The wind was chilled, the sweat in my body turned into cold droplets, I began shivering. The road took another turn and we were on a Kutcha road. The place had a rustic smell. The earth smelled fresh and damp. The trees stood sleeping, their leaves swaying in the tune of wind. Upon reaching at the bank, we parked the bike and took the plunge in water. We played with sand the way children do. We made sand houses, we buried ourselves inside sand, and we waited for sunrise to let the morning sunshine lighten our faces. We met a fisherman who offered his boat to us. We rowed his boat to the middle of the river where water level was high and we jumped and swam for hours. Later, we spent the day meeting more of his friends, talking and laughing. At night, again, I was on a highway hitching a truck. (Click here to read about my hitchhiking experiences in Punjab)
This episode touched my heart deeply. I saw a part of Yamuna, within Delhi, that many would not have seen. I saw the place where on one side of the River is Delhi and on the other side is Uttar Pradesh. I saw people smuggling cheap liquor from Delhi to UP for some election, it was like a movie scene (yes, such small things fascinate me). Had I taken a bus, it would never have happened. I would have missed meeting a vivacious person and so many of his good friends. He was much younger to me, but the energy and attitude with which he lives his life, impressed me. We are good friends since then.
I take this platform as an opportunity to thank Antariksh Rana and many of his friends for giving me a memorable time of my life.
And for all you travel enthusiasts, its time you should start being slow on traveling and have fun in every step you take from Point A to Point B. If you have, say, ten days at your disposal, do not plan to cover five places. Instead, cover one but do it the way that it becomes an unforgettable experience for you.