This is an experience from a couple of weeks ago. After having spent some wonderful 10 days at home for the Ganapati festival I was returning back to Pune. Usually I take a bus; but my friend cum roomie, Vicky, asked me to join him as he too was leaving for Pune and had a vehicle. Well lemme describe the vehicle first, cause it’s undoubtedly the central character of this story. It was a vintage military jeep by Ford. My friend who loves off-roading and rallying is very fond of jeeps and he didn’t want to miss out on the chance to drive it all the way to Pune. I was new too jeeps and was traveling in one for the first time. My parents though were not so happy with the idea of me going to Pune in a ‘jeep’. They thought it was a very unconventional mode of transport. And later you’ll get to know how their worries were gonna be proved right. It was me, Vicky and two of his friends traveling. The jeep I am referring to had a ‘slight’ problem though. It had an uncharged battery and the plan was to get it charged as we travel. But the catch was if we end up turning off the engine while traveling even by mistake, we would have to push the jeep to make it running again. I was a bit concerned and was hoping we wouldn’t have to do all the pushing. Vicky, though wasn’t much bothered. And all our concerns and anxieties were answered even before we left the town. The vehicle broke down. But after a bit of refueling and using an another battery to trigger the ignition, we were on our way again. Chit chatting, listening to music, enjoying our journey. “Joyful Day.. Jeep, Me & Friends…!!!” Vicky updated his Facebook status. We had almost covered some 120 kms and were now relaxed, cause we ‘thought’ even the battery must have got charged by now. But as you know, things never go the way we wish.
The jeep broke down, again. We pushed the jeep away from the highway and parked it on a road alongside. And then there was one surprise after another. The battery wasn’t charged at all. And in fact the battery wasn’t the sole problem with the jeep. There was some issue with the bausch pump too. (Lets not go in to the technicalities of the problem.) It took more than 2 hours to fix the jeep. How it got fixed? I’ll come back to it later. After a tiring 2 hours, which included a lot of pushing-the-jeep, we were back on the road. With some 2-3 hours of journey still left, we had already spent some 6-7 hours on road. (Normal journey takes at a max 5 hours.) It was already dark, and after sometime it started raining heavily. Earlier we thought it would rain for a bit and then stop. But things were not meant to go right for us that day. It continued to rain for the rest of our journey. You might think why such a big deal about the rain? We travel in heavy rains all the time. Well, this jeep we were traveling in didn’t have an automated electric wiper like we have these days. It was a manual wiper and we were supposed to operate it by hand. So, with the darkness and the rains, visibility was a problem. Plus an additional worry, what if the vehicle breaks down again in the heavy rains? Because though the bausch pump was fixed, our battery was still uncharged. Didn’t know about Vicky, but I was indeed a bit terrified. It was raining really heavy and there was a lot of rush on the highway too. We saw some 6-7 accidents; vehicles banging each other and against the divider all our way. Vicky though was driving very cautiously. And thanks to him we reached Pune safe and sound. And it was such a relief to reach home after a nothing-less-than-an-adventure journey which lasted for almost 9 hours.
Totally exhausted as we both were, we couldn’t help but think about the events of earlier that day, when our jeep had broken down on the highway in the middle of nowhere. We had parked the jeep on a road alongside the highway. Vicky was unable to figure out the problem. Though the battery should have charged by then, it hadn’t. Helplessly, as we looked around, we saw a house at some distance. We went over there to inquire about any help if possible. An elderly person over there readily accepted to help us out. He took Vicky along with him on his bike to the nearby village to search for a mechanic. They returned with one. The mechanic did figure out the problem but was unable to correct it. He called two other guys to help him out. The three of them spent some time trying to repair the broken pump. At last they had to call upon a fourth guy who they knew would fix the jeep for sure. And he did fix it. After some two hours of working and pushing, the vehicle was ready to ride, again. We thought, as these men have invested two hours on our vehicle, they are gonna demand some real good money. Plus there were five of them. We both knew we had to shed a few grands. As we were ready to leave, we asked how much did the work cost? And the reply we got took both of us by surprise. One of them said, “We don’t help people for money. We do it because that’s the right thing to do. And we come across people with broken vehicles all the time. So it’s not the first time we have helped someone out.” And we both were left speechless at the response.
As we thanked all of them and bade them goodbye and continued with our journey, I kept thinking about the events of that evening. In a world where people have got so selfish and self-centered, it felt so good to meet a group of people, who still believe in helping others selflessly. They took out time from their own works to help out a few strangers, and expected nothing in return. Not many in today’s world care to help even the people they know, let alone helping a stranger. Martin Luther King Jr. has rightly said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns”. And there are a few who live their lives the way he preached, like the ones we met on our journey. This journey was sure memorable for me, not because of the ‘so-called-adventures’ we encountered. People have such experiences all the time. But this journey was memorable because of the special experience we had with those men. Had it not for them, we would had left stranded hopelessly on the highway. We don’t come across such experiences often, do we? For me it was indeed, an experience worth sharing!