There are two times in my life that I thought I was going to die. The first time was after the birth of my first daughter. I had a grand mal seizure right after giving birth, and I could have bled to death. The second time was in 2015 when I was in India riding a tour bus on the foothills of the Himalayas. I want to share my story about the bus ride.
I was riding a large tour bus with my classmates to Rishikesh, India (we were on a study abroad trip to learn yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda). There were 16 students, two professors, the driver, and the assistant driver. The roads in India are dusty and narrow. I remember I sat near the window of the bus heading toward Rishikesh during nightfall. I feared for my life and for the life of my fellow travelers because the driver admitted that he has never taken a bus on this dangerous road before – plus it was getting dark, so the visibility wasn’t good.
The tall, oversized tour bus ventured onto a small, gravel mountain road with sharp turns and large potholes. Several times the bus got stuck in the deep potholes. No one in their right mind would take a huge bus on a narrow, curvy, mountain road! As the bus took ever-so-slowly sharp turns over and over again, all I saw was a cliff heading straight down. I feared one wrong move, and that bus was rolling!
I struggled to find my seat belt. It was stuck between the cushions. I found the seat belt and put it on. Silence filled the bus as I prayed. I was panicking a little – I couldn’t look out the window anymore. I threw my jacket over my head and breathed.
Now that I look back, I see that I was only thinking of myself when I put my seat belt on (at the time I didn’t think of anyone else). I should have told everyone on the bus to fasten their seat belts. I thought about this, and I realized that’s not the kind of person that I want to be – just protecting myself. If that bus rolled down the mountain – many of my fellow student’s lives could have been saved by wearing a seat belt.
My lesson is to not just think about myself! I want to protect other people. I need to be brave enough to speak up!
Thankfully, because of our skilled bus driver, we made it safely to Rishikesh (after two hours of torture). However, we all agreed that we would NOT ride back that way! We loaded our suitcases on the bus, hiked for almost an hour to the other side of the Ganges river, and then took rickshaws to meet our bus.
Visiting India is a lot like riding on that oversized bus on a tiny, narrow mountain road. It’s crazy! You take one step into the unknown, and you have no choice but to trust. India runs on crazy! Nothing seems to make sense, but it all works out in the end.