If you’re looking for some extreme sports, then you should take the NH 66 Express bus from Udupi to Mangalore city, in the state of Karnataka, India. It’s a distance of some 60 kms and you haven’t lived if you haven’t travelled this route this way. And if you get yourself prime seats in the front of the bus then, “exciting” is a mild term to describe it. ‘Living life on the edge’ takes on a whole new meaning then.
The main characters involved in this sport are just 3 – the man at the steering wheel who’s an Ace Formula One driver (I guess), his stooge who does the Marketing (kind of), and the Conductor who’s in charge of the Finance ( he issues the tickets and generally bullies you around); and the passengers be damned ( begging your pardon )………
All through the journey, from the minute we trundle out of the main city bus stand, to the time we roll into the last stop, these 3 guys are in their element. Their main objective (as I understand) is to get as many passengers as possible into their vehicle before the bus behind can do so, while running to a tight time schedule.
So once the vehicle gets onto the highway, the scene kind of unfolds like this…. the driver puts his whole weight on the steering wheel and rotates it around like a machine gun; while handling the gear lever like an executioner with his chopping blade ! Every time we approach a stop with a screech of brakes, the stooge leaps out, yelling and urging passengers to get off and on board and to make it fast, while the conductor keeps a wary eye on the bus running at second position behind us. When that one just about turns the corner our driver steps on it, suddenly, without warning, and the bus lurches forward with the last passenger still with one foot not quite in. And we’re off again on the next lap of the hot highway race. En route, the rival drivers hurl insults at one another through their windows and sometimes if you’re really lucky, the competing buses stop midway while trying to overtake each other, and there’s much excitement with all the stake-holders descending to have a face-off in the middle of the road.
The route is actually a picturesque one with green paddy fields, tall coconut trees and pretty tiled houses on either side of the road…in fact quite a sight for sore eyes; but the passengers – do they have eyes for any of that?? Nope… ‘cos their eyes are either tightly shut or looking heavenwards wondering if their guardian angel is on duty! And at the end of the ride they emerge from the bus – all in one piece admittedly, but with that dazed glazed look which one normally has after one has tottered off the roller-coaster!!
Something like this maybe……..
So, as I said in the beginning, if you’re bored with the mundane…. you should definitely go for it. A couple of tips – a light meal before, some light clothing during and some light breathing exercises 15 minutes before the journey – and you’re good to go…. !
*Title courtesy : Mike Posner’s “I took a pill in Ibiza”