with strict orders to get me across the border into the Indian town of Banbasa and then put me on a bus to Hardiwar.
The little ole’ Rickshaw driver started off peddling with all his force up a hill; he then got off to push the bike up it and I jumped off too to walk beside him. He protested saying that I should stay in the cart, but I looked at his 90 pound 5’3” frame and said, “I am not a princess, I will walk”. He laughed and said OK. He helped me through the Indian Immigration and on to the town of Banbasa peddling through a major street, onto a bridge over the River Sarda which separates Nepal from India (A security guard on the bridge informed me that I was forbidden to take photo’s…for some reason). After passing over the river (and the security guard), we drove along the river as the sun came up.
We went off the beaten path or took “shortcut” as my driver informed me
and finally made it to Banbasa where my driver said “wait, I will help you”. I wasn’t sure what help he would seek out, so I set my bags down at the bus stop and I had a couple samosas and yummy cup of chai while waiting for him to come back.
My driver soon came up to me with another equally little and equally old man and was informed that this man was going to Hardiwar on the same bus and he would make sure I get there safely. I was, in a sense, ‘passed from one man to another”. After this exchange, I offered to buy the driver some chai, but he pulled out a hand-rolled cigarette and said “this is my breakfast” and laughed as I wrinkled my nose at him. Finally it was time to wave goodbye to little ole’ man #1 and say hello to little ole’ man #2 when the bus arrived. My bag and I were escorted to our seat and little ole’ man #2 promptly sat beside me like my own private little oompa loompa security guard. I had to laugh once we got moving as I had a strong feeling of my dad’s presence around me. The laugh came because I could just imagine my dad cracking up at himself for sending me an old frail Nepali speaking ‘protector’ instead of a strong handsome young man who could converse with me.
It was 9pm (about 12 hours later) that my bus arrived in Hardiwar and I hailed a taxi to take me to my destination for the next 5 days – Sri Ram Ashram! Once there I settled into my room I fell exhausted into bed soo happy to NOT be on a bus!