It’s Thursday, the day of the week to start off into our holidays to Nepal during Durga Puja break. In order to to not miss the bus, we skipped our last class of today – obviously a very German thought – as it turns out that the bus is broken and has to be “repaired” for around two hours. Why “repaired”? Well, as far as I can tell there are five people only taking parts out of the suspension of the bus. Not really replacing it.
Well, at least that buys us more time for chai, right? We’re leaving Kolkata with two hours delay. Shouldn’t be a problem so far. We are supposed to reach Siliguri (560 km) at 9 AM in the morning and our flight from Bagdogra Airport (17 km from the bus station) should leave at 13:55.
At some point during the morning at our third stop we realize, we’re not gonna make with the bus. It’s 9 AM, we’re 250km away from Siliguri, the roads are shitty and our maximum speed is somewhere around 40km/h.
Two options: (a) Cancel the tickets, we can merely squeeze out 800 IND Rs out of each ticket, which is roughly 10 €. Or (b) we get a cab. The latter is the more challenging though, as we’re driving there is no cab stand in sight and we need to time it perfectly and obviously there is no information about the traffic ahead available. After a few calls with SpiceJet and discussions with various local ‘experts’ on the bus, I hear one of our Indian fellows shouting: “Chalo [Hindi: let’s go/move], we’re gonna show you some Bollywood action!” A passenger calls a friend who’s supposed to wait somewhere down the road.
It’s 10 AM something, we got around 200km ahead of us and a dark, determined face is awaiting us with the doors of his cab wide open. We jump in, I shout “Chalo Karthikeyan, let’s goooo”. Karthikeyan is in fact the first and only ever Indian Forumla 1 driver there is. Kumar Ram Narain Karthikeyan, born in Chennai [Tamilian, yeeaaaah], was quite a good driver, but during his 46 Formula 1 races he never won a single race, but he got some leading laps during his career, which I celebrated a lot. This is what I trusted in. My – or rather – our hope lay within our determined Narain Karthikeyan. His abilities, his car and his style should lead us in time beyond the finish line of the airport.
The motor howls, we start sweating, the first thing he does is taking a sharp turn to the right. Yeah, shortcut.. NOOO! Pit stop.. obviously he wants to secure that he receives his promised money.. so we tank up, we pay. Now, let’s go.. we can see that he’s hell of a driver.. taking short cuts, cutting buses, motorcycles and what not.. driving on the wrong lines.. But as a recent Bollywood movie quote says: “Story mein hero ho ya na ho… story hero honi chahiye.” The story may have a hero or not, but the story itself must be a hero. In this case, just as if it remains Karthikeyan’s destiny, he might have been the best driver of India, but the infrastructure just didn’t allow more. We arrive just in time to say: a beautiful rear can also endear.. and we glance at the shiny red aircraft in front of us, leaping into the sky, towards heaven, without us.
Everything happens for a reason though. Kyun? [Hindi: Why] Well.. you’ll hear soon what happenend next.