Before setting off on this adventure across India, I knew there would be tears. I just didn’t know that they would well up inside me from from a place I didn’t expect whilst negotiating Pune’s morning rush hour.
The night before saw us blow a gasket at sunset, and wait in the dark for three hours whilst another kind stranger, who had already driven 20km to pick up a mechanic, was sourcing a new part for us from the next town. Surely that would be enough to evoke some eye leakage, right? But nope; we happened to parked up at a coffee shop at the time, and chose to count our blessings instead (in the form of multiple cappuccinos).
Once we were back on the road, we drove through the dark 10 km to the next town, which was decidedly devoid of hotels except one garish, bright-green monstrosity of a place with the ill-fitting word of Palace in the name. The owner expertly identified us as sitting ducks, and wanted to charge us a ridiculous price for a grubby room, but we weren’t willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater and risk being homeless for the night after a long day on the road (and by the side of it).
After a much needed but all-too-brief sleep, we hit the road at 6 am, heading for the city of Pune, which we hoped we’d clear before rush hour. Only, it’s always rush-hour in India, and when it was my turn to drive, we had just entered the city’s outskirts.
I got into the drivers’ seat and made my way through the intensity of the city roads, a feeling of utter apathy washing over me. Exhausted doesn’t begin to describe the complete lack of enthusiasm I felt, which was soon replaced by a healthy serve of anger sprinkled with self-pity.
I had tackled Ahmedabad’s city streets, as well as the hellish highways of Gujarat, and survived. Thrived, in fact. I didn’t know what my capabilities were before starting this journey, and I now knew I was capable of things I never thought possible.
I said out loud, “I know I can do this now, but I just don’t want to do it anymore!”
And then it all started catching up with me, especially the part about missing Tyrhone so much for the last four weeks I’ve felt as though a vital limb has been missing. I’ve been limping through, not wanting to admit that I miss my boyfriend like crazy, and that as much as I have had a wonderful time with so many fantastic people, I’ve missed the life we created together so much it hurts.
As motorcycles cut in front of me and cars sped past, everything melted away into the milky, smoggy air – my fear, my lack of faith in my abilities, even my desire to be independent and adventurous. Perhaps that was the major lesson in all of this for me, to recognize the love I have for my life and the person I choose to spend most of my time with, like really, understand how great and amazing it is, and stop looking at the tiny things that make it not-so-great, like the fact that he never does dishes.
And there I was, the picture of ridiculousness; a 32 year-old woman driving an orange auto-rickshaw through heinous Indian traffic whilst quiet tears snaked down my cheeks.
Then we got a flat tyre, and my meltdown was rudely interrupted by a problem that needed solving. And after it was solved, we cleared the city limits of Pune, headed for warmer climbs through southern Maharashta to Goa.
I felt better, lighter, and able to have a quiet giggle at my mid-morning melt-down, content in the knowledge that although the lessons I am taking out of this journey are not what I anticipated, I’m learning exactly what I need to learn.
But I still miss my boyfriend.