It is not the first time that she influenced me to take on an adventure. She has supported all my crazy endeavours. She may not initiate the trips. But if I proposed one, she would be enthusiastic about the tour, even for the most complicated and risky ones. Pushpa, the wife, is not my better half, she is the first half!
In fact, she just might be better qualified to undertake adventure and risky trips. She takes over the gadgetry, which I have never understood. It is a family joke, particularly by Anand, that it is because of her I can handle my mobile.
She maintains her cool during testing times of the tours. She accepts that adventure trips have inbuilt calculated risks. There were times when we had no shelter, but she had no problems. No food, it hardly made a difference to her. She has understood and adjusted to the whatever the situation has demanded. There have been occasions in our trips together when we had no water to drink, but she didn’t complain. She prefers tap water to bottled, mineral water wherever she is. You and I fall ill, not her!
Once when we were in Tibet, our vehicle stalled in a murky place. It was the dark hour of midnight. There were no villages for 20 kilometers in any direction. The temperature was minus 10-15 degrees Celsius. And there was a slight drizzle. Every drop of rain felt like a needle piercing your skin. Boots were getting stuck in mud with every step. And here she was helping me push the vehicle out of the muck. Ultimately, we had to walk cold and wet for about a km, in complete darkness. We rested in a road side godown (if we could call it that!) where even a beast would be scared. The place had a strong stink. It was badly maintained alcohol den, full of beer and was scattered with used cans and bottles. She has never tasted onion or garlic, let alone alcohol. But she didn’t even wrinkle her nose when she had to lie down there for a couple of hours of much needed rest.
And oh! That place was owned by a man in his 80s or so. He looked like he was straight out of a western movie, a cowboy, only with horrible, excessive make-up. He had a spear in his left hand, instead of a gun. Long salt-and-pepper hair and beard – probably unwashed for a long time. He covered it with a cowboy hat. He was probably wearing new clothes, only that they were bought years ago. His face showed his age in wrinkles. He had extra skin hanging from his cheeks, large red eyes set just above them. Sharp long grey eye-brows. The place had no lights, it was almost all dark. Just a small dim lamp gave the scene a horror movie feel. I was outside, in that freezing rain with a driver-guide to see if the car could get on the road. When I returned, the face of the owner, with extra wide eyes, was almost a foot from Pushpa’s face. She was speechless. I dropped in and engaged our host in slow motion, sign language. Pushpa did not complain even about that day ever.
The moment I ask her opinion about a trip, she always has a positive answer. To the extent that some times I take her for granted and forget to even take her consent. Ghar ki murgi daal barabar!
Once in 2012, on a flight to London I mentioned to her that I wanted to drive one day from home to London. She just replied with a “hmmm”, that too forcibly, knowing that it was one of those improbable dreams. However, I knew it is not unachievable, particularly since she would be with me. She used to drive way back in the 80s when we lived in the Middle East.
A few months ago, she was travelling elsewhere, I called her, “we have a chance to drive to London. Are you interested?” Her reply was the as quickest as it can be “Grab it”. It is all through now to make the dream come true. She is not my better half, she my best half, Pushpa! I am really lucky to have such a lady as my companion for these exotic journeys. She would be my co-driver for “Road To London”!