We had been enduring monsoon rains for hours, holed up first at the Cafe del Mar and later at Abba. It was getting late and we still had to pack.
So we made a dash for it and, as if cued by some rueful sadistic god, the rain intensified. Too late to change course, we soldiered into the torrent. Dad helped my pull my bike out of the muddy garbage heap. I was ankle deep in brown water and suddenly grateful that I was: a) wearing my sandals; and b) immunized against Hep A.
We hauled the bike out and I kick started mine while Dad readied his black beast. I moved under an overhang in a futile attempt to mitigate my drenching. As soon as I saw Dad’s headlight round the corner I launched forward into the axle deep river that once was our road. Hooting with glee, I raised my feet to the crash bar and barreled upstream.
Moments later I became aware of the conspicuous lack of back lighting and stopped to look. My foot didn’t make immediate contact with the road and I almost lost the bike. Laughing, I pulled under another archway and smiled at the guard who was peering out from his guardhouse. A few minutes passed and I decided to circle back. I found Dad kicking like his life depended on it. “Out of gas,” I queried. “Yup, I think so.”
A rickshaw eased up next to us and offered his assistance. “Do you have an empty water bottle?” He popped out a moment later with a water bottle and a small tarp, which he kindly held over us while we drained some gas from my tank into the bottle. The way it was raining, we would have taken equal parts petrol and water, had it not been for that shelter. We poured the gas into Dad’s tank and held our breath while he kicked the black beast into action.
We hastily thanked the rickshaw driver and sprang into gear, soaked to the bones and howling with primitive triumph.
The rain blinded me so completely that I wouldn’t have seen the giant lake, even if it hadn’t been camouflaged to look just like the river we were already transiting. Dad fell in first. I almost barreled into him as I considered how impressive it was that he and his bike were both still standing.
We were now only a short descent from the hotel and I was relieved when I realized that I could now run out of gas and still glide home. As we crested the last rise I saw below me an angry river forming a V like the rapids I used to shoot in my canoe. Lifting my legs once more I charged forward into the driving rain. A few blind bumps later and I was at rest in my parking spot, utterly drenched and laughing heartily. Dad’s rolled up and stopped abruptly. “Out of gas!” he exclaimed.
I couldn’t have asked for a better farewell. It had all the components that have made this trip a success: the unknown; the victory of providence over planning; the subtle reassurance that everything in India happens for a reason; and perhaps most important the generous stranger, on hand at just the right moment to turn the tide and save the day.
Thank you India.