Journey to the Jungle Book through the Jungle

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What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word “Road Trip”.

Does it bring a smile or a hope to experience it someday? 

Road trips are never about the destination but it’s about the wild stuff that happens along the way. In India, there is one road trip that most of them fantasize to experience with their close friends. Road trip to Goa which is famous for amazing Portuguese architecture and nightlife. This Road trip for most of them it’s a myth for some it’s a reality.

Which one is it for you????

I stay in a coastal region called Mangalore and Goa is just 7 hours by road. So for me, the road trip to Goa has been a reality several times. But my most memorable trip was not going to Goa but it was within Goa. Are you confused??? 

Allow me to share with you my story.

One fine day after numerous sessions of diplomatic talks and negotiations for months. I and my friends decided on a trip to GOA…….Again!!!!!!!!

We had been to north Goa several times so this time we decided to explore east Goa. According to the treaty of “Trip to Goa” which was finalized, I booked a resort named “The Jungle Book” which is near Dudhsagar waterfall. I loved this beautiful place because of the cottages, waterfall, plenty of trees and elephants. It is deeply rooted and connected to nature which I prefer most of the time. My one group of friends was reaching Jungle Book at 8:30 PM from Mumbai. I and my friend Leona reached south goa at 7 AM. From South Goa to Jungle Book resort it usually takes 1 hour by road. But that day we didn’t know what was waiting for us on this journey. We decided to explore south goa and then leave to the resort around 7 PM. First things first, we needed a bike to roam around. We found a rental shop. It was a peak season of tourists and 2 wheelers were not available but finally, we had one option. There was one old black Dio available, it was in fairly good condition. Good enough to travel locally. Leona was not at all interested to rent it out, I made her understand we don’t have an option and it won’t be that bad too. She reluctantly agreed. We were crisscrossing around the Benaulim beach. I realized there was one problem in the vehicle if I stop, sometimes it would turn OFF and take 5 minutes to turn ON, I chose to ignore it which I shouldn’t have. We traveled quite a few places and Around 5 PM we went to a beachside facing restaurant in Benaulim Beach and I ordered yummy double cheese stuffed mushroom. It felt soooo yummy in my tummy and reminded me of my mummy. I can still feel that cheesy taste. As I was looking at the beach I was thinking Goa has this very different vibe. Mild music and tourist were chit-chatting in the background. Leona was busy clicking photos of food, tourists, and the sunset. Her phone’s battery was draining as the sun was setting. After the sunset, we decided to leave the resort. I did the most obvious thing which travelers do……. open google maps. My phone had 15% charge left so I asked Leona to switch on the maps on her phone. But it was too late, due to excessive photography her phone was dead. As we were traveling towards jungle book, after 5 minutes the vehicle started stuttering and the headlight turned off. Leona was already mumbling and grumbling, “I told you not to take this vehicle”. But I was not much worried because street lights were ON and people were moving around.

What could go wrong?? I wish I knew it back then.

As we were traveling, after 10KM the terrain started to change, the roads were getting narrower, no street lights and no sign of light anywhere. Our headlight was not working, so I switched ON the indicators.

Have you ever tried riding at night with INDICATORS???

Trust me it’s a bad idea but I didn’t have a choice. Now at this point, I was a little worried but I didn’t want to stop. I followed the tail lights of other vehicles passing by, I managed this for about 15 minutes. After a while, the roads were getting narrower again, no sign of vehicles and I realized we were in between the jungle……………ALONE!!!

It was pitch dark and we could hardly see the sky. The huge monstrous trees were covering the sky. We could hear weird sounds. Leona started panicking, I said “Chill just a few more minutes” in a confident voice, just trying to fan the flame of courage in her. I told her to switch ON the flash on my phone. I could see crossroads ahead of us one right and another left, I asked “Leona which way”, she was not responding. I asked her again “LEONA WHICH WAY RIGHT OR LEFT”. She said in a trembling voice “The map is not working; I think we are lost”. The situation was tense but I didn’t want her to be frightened about it. Now we were at a point where we couldn’t go back because we were low on fuel hardly 20KM we can manage, so if we go back we will be stuck in the jungle, if we take the wrong turn we don’t know what waiting for us, if we take the correct turn we will reach our destination.

 As I slowed down the vehicle speed from 60 to 30 I had to make a decision right or left. I asked for her phone I slowed down the vehicle to 20 I didn’t want to stop the vehicle. In split seconds I had to make a decision. I closed my eyes and took the left turn with the hope that it would be right. At this point, my phone had an 8% charge and no network coverage. Google Maps was loaded in the app, all we needed was GPS to be connected. As we were moving ahead, it was the end of the tar road and the beginning of the bumpy muddy road. No houses around us, it was pitch dark, and we could hear owls hooting and crickets cricketing. Suddenly out of nowhere something passed in front of us, I hit the brake as hard as I can. I can never forget the screeching sound of tires on that scary night. Luckily we didn’t fall.

I asked, “LEONA are you fine”. Pointing towards a tree Leona started screaming just like those passengers who were screaming before the Titanic sank. My heart was pounding. I realized I took a wrong turn. I hoped it was not too late.

Have you also taken the wrong turn in your life??

What did you do when you realized it??

 I turned immediately to go back but the vehicle wouldn’t start. LEONA was terrified. She pointed the flashlight toward the tree. We could see a shadow moving and lights reflecting on red eyes. It was very unusual, something came out of the bush. Leona started screaming again. After a moment we realise It was a little wild boar; which looked like Pumbaa from Lion King. All I hoped was not to see Simba, even though it was my childhood fantasy. We took a deep breath, I said “ Hakuna Matata” and I hit the self-start button just like hitting the buttons while waiting for the elevator hoping it will start quickly. The engine stuttered and sputtered but it wouldn’t start. I tried it again and again. The engine stuttered and sputtered just like our courage. I took a deep breath, calmed myself and looked around. All I could see was darkness, misty fog and the wolf moon. We were all alone, I was scared after a very long time but I held on to hope to cope with fear. I tried again and luckily the engine turned ON. I zoomed the vehicle like superman flying through clouds. Finally, we reached diversion and this time I took the right turn. After 10 minutes we could see the street lights and signs of a human. I was never happy to see light and especially humans in my life like this before. We finally reached the jungle book resort and My friends from Mumbai were already there.

“Where were you guys? We tried contacting you and why did you turn off the headlight and using indicators? why is her face red like a tomato? why is the flash turned ON.?”

As I was about to turn off the flash, my phone switched off.

I asked my friends, “Do you have a beer; I will tell you a story”.

Now when I look back, this experience brings a smile on my face and to some extent I feel good that I didn’t allow fear to paralyse my thinking process in a difficult situation.

We all take wrong turns in life at some point, don’t we?

But it’s never too late to turn around. Are you worried about getting lost in the darkness and encountering uncertainty, unpredictability and adversity? Sometimes you might feel your life has taken a halt and no matter how hard you try, it is not moving forward. But you need to stay calm and don’t let fear paralyse you. Hold on to hope it will help you cope with challenges and zoom through it. Eventually, you will be able to reach where you want to be. Give yourself some time to breathe and say “Hakuna Matata”. In the end, you might be holding a beer or a cup of coffee feeling proud and telling your story to someone about holding on to hope to cope.

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