My son, Jared, has met up with me in India.
I don’t know why my mother takes comfort in the fact that we are together. We, Jared and I, are made of the same cloth – a cloth that is not prone to give mothers peace of mind. Nether one of us seems to know, very well, when it makes sense to be afraid. That fact made it possible to actually consider the question when Jared posed it…
“Are you ready to learn to hitch hike?”
He is an experienced hitch-hiker, but I had my concerns. India’s outlook on women has never been stellar, and rapes have been a particular problem here in the last few months. So, I asked around, to my traveling buddies who have traveled India a lot longer than I have…
“Do you think it would be ok for me to hitchhike India?”
They had a lot of advice.
“I wouldn’t do it”
“The people here don’t know anything about hitch-hiking”
“No one does that here, they won’t know what you are trying to do”
“No, it would not be ok. Not in India.”
“Are you kidding me?”
One man, though, told the story of a tiny Chinese women who was “as cute as a bug”, and had hitch hiked the length of India in trucks, even sleeping in the cabs at night, and had no problem. He finished the tale with… “I was amazed at that!”
At the end of the day, not one of them said they thought it would be ok.
In spite of the warnings and as often happens with Jared, and with me, and with both of us together, better judgement did not win out.
With me dressed in traditional indian garb with flip flops and Jared in a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt over this, khakis and tennis shoes, we made an unusual site for the side of the road. Even so, it took only a few minuets for the first truck to stop. Jared ran to the door of the huge Lorrie, talking up to the driver who was hanging his head out of the widow. The middle aged driver and his older companion, listened curiously to what he had to say.
“We are going to Panjim.” They waggled their head in the Indian way of understanding.
“Are you going that way? Can we go with you?”
Heads waggled again. We took that as a yes, threw our stuff into the cab and climbing up, up, up, using the foot holes in the side of the truck, clambered into the wide and spacious cab.
Beside the drivers seat was a center console, and then another blank space that had a board across it that the older man used as his seat. Behind this was a padded leather bench where Jared and I settled in, putting our packs on the shelf above.
The older man, who I call Grandfather, spoke the only English between them, so we directed our questions to him. They were carrying silicon powder in their truck, and that’s about all the information we could get. They offered cigarettes and we tooled down the road, wind blowing in our hair, a fantastic view and very few words spoken between us.
The end of that ride came awhile later when they let us out at an intersection where we could catch a bus if we wanted to. We opted for another big Lorrie though, and another pair of drivers. They offered cigarettes too. This driver had a picture of his father hanging in the cab, with LED lights around it. His father had been the original owner of the truck but had died three years before.
Around lunch time we were dropped off at a remote intersection that had one small cafe. If you look at this video, it’s the blue sign you see on the right.
The owners, a husband and a wife, were glad to see us and very attentive. We thought we might be the only foreigners to ever visit this tiny outdoor eating establishment.
After lunch, the father jumped on his motorbike and got their son from school, we suspect, just to meet us. Then, they stood on the road beside us helping us flag down a ride.
But, this time, I did it on my own.
Jared was walking the other way, the cafe family wasn’t looking, a truck came by, I stuck my hand out and WHAM! It stopped! Jared whirled around… “Did you flag that?”
🙂 Yay for me!
In this way we caught truck after truck, five in all, and made our way to the beach town of Gokarna in the state of Karnataka.
Thus ended my first day of hitch-hiking. What a great experience. Never once did I feel unsafe or afraid and it turned out to be one of my favorite days in India.
Hitch-hiking Lorries is now in the running for what I think might be the number one best mode of travel.