The past week, traveling up 20,000ft, over 2550kms, I saw death naked too often and too close. I saw at least 5 trucks lying crumpled on the river bank 1000ft below, having gone off the edge of the narrow Himalayan road. The odds of my bus being down there with them were not too low. I saw nomadic tribes of less than 50 people living in patched tents, the only living beings within 400km, I hadn’t even seen a bird fly over the desert for 200km. The tribes have no doctors or even a medicine shop, or electricity or water. I was reminded way too often of the fragility, the fickleness of life. How easy it is to lose it.
Yesterday, riding on those meandering roads with its pencil sharp bends, I saw fog waft in from above and slowly settle on the mountain, until not more than a feet was visible in front of my bus. And then, just as gently, it floated off to another mountain in wisps and curls.
Today, I looked ahead, and thought another bout of fog was settling. But this time the white smoke wasn’t gentle, it seemed to be hurtling down from the mountain top in smoke and dust. As my bus rushed forward, I saw the landslide come straight at me. I slammed my window shut and rubble rammed against the window glass and dust coated it. I turned back and saw the landslide rush down. A few seconds this way or that and all that rock and rubble would have fallen on my bus. I looked at the driver, shocked. He was unfazed- another day in the life of a Himalaya Road Transport Corporation driver.