Friday, August 31, 2012

The day with all the drama!

Padum to Rangdum

If yesterday was full of unexpected and unimaginable adventure, today was one of the most dramatic days of travel I have ever had.

I wasn't much impressed with the natural beauty after entering Zanskar Valley. Maybe we didn't give Padum a chance to impress us. Since we reached only in the evening yesterday, we could not spare time to visit the monasteries around. We were thinking we would do it today morning but inquiries revealed that all vehicles from Padum towards Kargil leave in the morning. We decided to skip the monasteries and get back to Rangdum by whatever vehicle we could find.

By 8.30 am we were in the main square at Padum inquiring about vehicles going towards Rangdum. Sadly there was none. The only chance was if we hired out an entire vehicle. That would be too costly. After half an hour there we started walking away just to test if any of the jeep drivers would call us back to negotiate. Sadly none did. However a suspicious looking man approached us. He looked something similar to this guy... Just that he was a foot shorter and a foot wider!

Later we came to know his name HN, and the short thin bechara looking guy with him was MZ

HN offers to take us in a Xylo for Rs. 1000 each! Steep but given the paucity of options we agree. He asked us to wait till he gets the vehicle. Almost a hour later we are still waiting. We walk around and see him again. He takes us to the vehicle. There a gang of 4, is arguing with HN and MZ. HN is the owner of the Xylo and MZ his driver. HN had agreed to a Kargil-Padum-Kargil trip for the Gang-of-4 for Rs. 8,000. Now he felt he had undercharged and is arguing that Rs. 8,000 was for a one-way journey only. Same arguments continue for a while. We walk back to the main market square to look for some other mode of transport. Half an hour later we spot 2 guys from the Gang-of-4 negotiating with a Sumo driver to take them to Kargil. We offer to join them and pay the same amount that we were to pay HN. Six of us get into the Sumo. A quick round of introduction follow - AD, SR, KS and KJ.

I ask they why are they paying this guy Rs. 8,000 when HN could have perhaps agreed for a lower amount. KJ: "We have paid HN only Rs.1,000. If he doesnt take us back to Kargil we will not pay him the balance!"

Score: HN:0, Gang-of-4:1

As we leave, our Sumo driver, SQ stops at the market square to collect some parcels that are to be delivered to Kargil. HN senses one last opportunity and comes back pleading the Gang-of-4 to pay him. SQ comes back. As he is about to start the Sumo, HN climbs up on the roof! Sadly for him a police vehicle is passing by and the Gang-of-4 wave it down. Enter Panga R, the police SHO of the area. He has fondly been given the title Panga for his iron hand in handling all crooked matters. From the minute, SQ told us this story, Panga R started resembling inspector Kekada in my head!

Now the fight is out in the open. Soon almost the whole of Padum gathers. The Gang-of-4 and HN take turns to plead their case.

HN: Sir, taxi union ka rate 9,000 hai sirf drop ke liye. Mai 8,000 mein return kaise ja sakta hoon...
Panga R: Tum union se kam rate mein aaya? Union se aaya ya chori se aaya?
HN: hmmm.... hmmmm...
Panga R (raising his voice): Union se aaya ya chori se aaya? Driver kidhar hai?
MZ (comes out from the crowd): Sir
Panga R (in even higher voice): Union se aaya ya chori se aaya? Union se aaya ya chori se aaya?
MZ (barely audible): Chori se

The crowd are lapping it up. Now everyone is gossiping about who is right and who is wrong and what should be done. Amogh and I look at each other - Kab Rangdum pahuchenge?

Panga R (to HN and MZ): Aise kaam karte aur phir mere paas aate ho?
Panga R (to Gang-of-four): Aapas mein mamla sulza lo. Kisi ka pet nahi katna chahiye

A compromise formula is reached. HN will take all of us and will be paid the initially agreed sum.

KS (to Panga R): Sir, hume iske saath nahi jaana. Raaste mein taklif dega toh?
Panga R: Aap fikar mat karo. Raste mein kuch bhi problem hua toh police ko mera naam dena. Yeh lo mera number. Paise Kargil pahunch ke hi dena

All agreed. As we are to disperse, SQ jumps in to claim his pound of flesh.

SQ: Sir, yeh union ki taxi nahi hai. Yeh passenger leke check post ke paar nahi jaa payega
Panga R: Baat toh sahi hai. Tu inhe le jaa and HN se paise lena

Its agreed that HN will pay SQ 2,000 for taking us beyond the check post 20 kms away. As we are leaving, HN starts grumbling again. Panga R hits his parting shot

Panga R (pointing to MZ): Yeh sayana hai
Panga R (pointing to HN): Yeh laalchi hai
Panga R (to Gang-of-4): Agar yeh checkpost pe taklif dega toh seedhe SQ ke saath nikal jao!

Score: HN:0, Gang-of-4:2

<just beyond the checkpost>

HN again starts to renegotiate and we are back to square one! MZ tries to make HN understand, 'abhi phir se zhagda kiya toh ek rupaiya bhi kamayi nahi hogi'. But HN is beyond logic! Finally Gang-of-4 will go with SQ and dump HN. HN gets wild.

HN: Khuda ke liye aisa mat karo. Tum hamara paisa nahi dega? Tume khuda ki kasam. Tumhari m** #@%$#*&#

Suddenly AD, who is sitting in the front seat of the Sumo starts shouting a la Sunny Deol. 'Gaali deta hai? Maa ka gaali deta hai!' He comes out, picks a rock and charges towards HN! The others intervene and avert a confrontation. We all get back into our respective vehicles and leave. MZ speeds away in the Xylo followed by us in the Sumo! AD is now calmed down and claims he was in control, this was just a pressure tactic! Pressure tactic or not the score reads

Score: HN:0, Gang-of-4:3

AD is quite short, a little over 5 feet, moustache and normally has a serious brooding look. Put in this display of anger and you get the picture... Dedh Footiya!

<1 hour later>

HN has parked the Xylo in the middle of the road. Its a very narrow stretch and there is no way we can overtake. We have to stop and negotiate.

AD makes a smart offer to wriggle out of the situation

AD (to MZ): Gaadi side mein laga de aur hamare saath Kargil chal, yeh HN waise bhi gaadi nahi chala sakta!

For a minute HN is stunned. Luckily for him MZ does not consider the offer

Score: HN:1, Gang-of-4:3

Again arguments start from the very beginning. KS calls Panga R to tell him about the situation. Panga R speaks to each party involved and gives them a piece of his mind! Observing HN's expressions I wonder whether he will end his conversation with Panga R by saying 'Sorry Shaktimaan' :P

Its agreed to revert back to the original agreement.
HN will take all of us back.
Gang-of-4 to pay HN 7,000 at Kargil
Amogh and I to pay HN 2,000
HN to pay SQ 2,000

This time everything is written on a piece of paper and everybody signs. Finally we shift to the Xylo and SQ, with an amused smile on his face heads back to Padum.

As the Xylo starts moving,
SR (to KS): KS, kiska sign kiya?
HN: *#@$#*@$%

The situation in the Xylo is quite amusing to us as neutral persons. HN is scared that they wont pay him in Kargil, so he is trying to be aggressive and after every few minutes hurls some abuses. The Gang-of-4 is worried that he may create problems along the way, and so they are trying to ignore his rants but also not appear scared!

Small exchanges keep on happening. One bag from the overhead luggage falls down. Its KJ's bag. As KJ gets down to pick it up, he realises it has alcohol bottles which have started leaking. He takes them out and leaves them by the road side.

HN: Jaante ho iss mulk mein sharab laana kitna bada jurm hai?
KS (in a very calm and relaxed voice): Phek diya
HN (in a more irritated voice): Jaante ho kitna bada jurm hai?
KS (in the same voice): Phek diya
HN (in an even more irritated voice): Kargil jaake tumhara poora talashi karvayega

Could we have asked for more entertainment? :P

<Around half an hour before Rangdum>

HN, sitting in the front seat suddenly pushes it back. The seat hits AD who is sitting behind him.
Immediately AD launches a tirade, spontaneously joined by KS

teri @#%*^%#@, tera &^%&*%#@, ********, #######......

In a flash HN takes the seat ahead again!

KS rubs it in 'Tumhe kya laga hum gali nahi de sakte?'

Score: HN:1, Gang-of-4:4


We are finally here! We get off. The rest get off too to have a cup of tea. The driver climbs on the roof to get our bags. He looks around and finding HN far away tells us, 'Kargil pahunch ke mai isko chabbi de dega aur bolega nahi karna hai yeh naukri! Customer se aise baat karega toh kaise chalega?' Killer!!!

Score: Knockout!




  1. This was an awesome writeup! Have been laughing like crazy imagining the ride with people swearing at each other and claiming we also know how to swear!
    And Since I know some of the gang of the 4, I can only imagine how crazy it must have been.

    But the best was the way you wrote it!!! Amazing entertainment!

  2. Glad you liked it! It was indeed a crazy trip!