I have been fortunate to complete a number of trips in Africa, Nepal and India.
India though is the place that I always leave really looking forward to coming back and I really wanted to share my experience of India with my wife, Mary. My wife though isn’t a biker and wasn’t about to go on the back of an Enfield, so when Alex suggested an Ambi tour of Rajasthan I thought brilliant, I can show Mary a part of India in a car but it will also meet my need to do something a bit different as it’s an Ambassador and not any old car.
We arrived in Delhi and met India face on with a taxi driver to the hotel that fancied he was in a Grand Prix – warning signs were flashing as we squeezed through gaps in traffic that didn’t exist, dodged cows, people, lorries and experienced the noise that is part of driving in Indian cities. My wife was very quiet.
We met up with the team and left the following day, I was having a great time, Mary was getting used to the nature of driving in India and was giving me advice based on a lifetime’s experience of driving in Edinburgh, i.e. totally useless. We had a narrow escape as 3 ladies with grass piled high on their heads decided to cross a 5 lane highway in front of us, I slammed the brakes on and our car veered sharply across 3 lanes. I was resigned to hitting something but amazingly we missed everything and continued to the next chai stop where we found our tyre pressure was about half of what it should be and the tracking was out.
We had survived though and the next few days were amazing, people waving everywhere, roadside chats with locals who wanted photos with us, just an unbelievably happy experience.
But my real story is what happened after about a week on the road. We stopped for chai and whilst I was watching a 90-year-old show us how to do up a turban, my wife went to answer a call of nature! Deciding that the slit toilet at the stop was unusable she went to find a “bush with a view”. Shortly afterwards someone called my name and I saw my wife being helped back to the chai stop looking like she had been hit by a car. It turned out she had fallen down the side of the road as the path gave way. A passing biker had stopped and helped her up and supported her back to the stop – then he melted away, I was unable to thank him. My wife’s leg was badly gashed and it transpired that she had broken her elbow joint. I cleaned the leg at the stop and was surrounded by locals as is normal, one ran off to get an umbrella to keep the sun off my badly shocked wife and to get water. Alex asked Lovely to guide us to the nearest hospital where we got the wound cleaned properly and stitched, the Dr. and his wife asked us to stay for lunch but we had to get to a bigger hospital for the elbow.
At the end of a long day we arrived at the hotel where the staff had been alerted to our situation and were kindness itself. The following day a waiter had seen Mary and brought her hot milk and turmeric which his mother had given him when he broke his ankle and the gardener gave me a red flower for Mary to cheer her up. The kindness, care and concern we were shown was amazing and, with the support of Alex, Vidhya and the others on the trip, Mary decided to complete our journey in a plaster, sling and with six stitches in her leg. I would rather the accident hadn’t happened obviously but it showed us a side to India that I hadn’t seen before and it was quite humbling. We have booked up for another Ambi trip next year!
JAMES’S ADVENTURE TIP
Use the toilet facilities no matter what!
ABOUT ‘ADVENTURER’S TALES’
A compilation of recollections in celebration of 10 years of Adventure Ashram, ‘Adventurer’s Tales’ is a true celebration of a decade of purposeful adventure by our charity partner Adventure Ashram, a small but mighty charity.
Complete with some great adventure tips, it not only provides handy pointers for when out ‘on the road’, but also some thought-provoking insights into the heart and spirit of adventure. Written with humour, passion and integrity, this wonderful book is a fine tribute to 10 years of Adventure Ashram. Click here to buy a copy.
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