Just when I was feeling so self-satisfied that I had accepted the traffic conditions in India comes a case of bus travel so extreme I fell back into panic and anxiety for a good portion of the trip. It started out in the usual way, merely honking a lot and heading into oncoming traffic at warp speed. But then as we were bobbing and weaving our way along the one lane highway holding 4 lanes of traffic, I looked out the window and noticed a man on a motorcycle fall off at great speed. He probably died. Really. I freaked out. It wasn’t clear if our bus had hit him or not. None of the other passengers that noticed seemed too overly worried about it a few minutes later, and our bus driver returned to his amphetamine fueled game of chicken. On the 4 hour journey to Pondicherry, we went off the road a few times to pass others and nearly toppled the bus on more than one occasion. Add to that our stopping for every tom dick and harry (make that every suresh, deepu, and amit) to the point that the bus was VERY overcrowded and I started to feel mighty claustrophobic.
Here and I thought I had become unflappable in this type of situation. Then life throws it back in your face and says “Start again, start again…” (that line for you vipassana fans out there).