Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

The overnight taxi to enlightenment nearly killed my inner peace

The author in a more peaceful moment in India.

Courtesy of Marcia Walker

Sometimes things don't go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures from the road.

The yoga festival started at 6 a.m. in Rishikesh in northern India. It was 10:30 p.m. and we were still arguing with the airline attendant in Delhi

"There is nothing I can do. The flight is cancelled," she said again. Then she leaned over her desk and whispered, "Unless you take an overnight taxi. But it is dangerous. I do not recommend it."

Story continues below advertisement

The seven of us, all North American women anxious about missing out on enlightenment and inner peace, nodded in agreement: We'd take the taxi.

Prospective cab drivers appeared, phantom-like, out of the thick hovering exhaust fumes of the parking lot. The first lumbered toward us, scowling. He wore a nametag that said, "Hello My Name is Ravi."

The second driver had a black patch over one eye and his other eye wandered uncontrollably toward the bridge of his nose.

I made a beeline for Ravi.

By midnight we were on the highway. Fabiola, Jamie and I crammed into the back while Amy sat pale and terrified in the front. Cars raced towards us, veering away at the last moment, missing our car by inches. Horns blared. A motorbike carrying a family of four zoomed past, nearly causing a collision with a bus. Ravi yelled out the window cursing them. The child on the back of the bike threw his samosa at us. Amy screamed as bits of potato and curried peas smeared across her window.

I suggested singing Beatles' tunes to lighten the mood, beginning with their earliest albums and working our way to Abbey Road.

I thought we sounded pretty good but Ravi made an audible groan during our encore of Hard Day's Night. I stopped at Rubber Soul when I realized I was the only one belting out "Baby you can drive my car."

Story continues below advertisement

After several hours of slogging through late-night traffic, Ravi barked: "Where are we going?"

Groggy and unsure if this was a metaphysical interrogation I answered, "Rishikesh?"

"That is too far," he said, slamming his fist on the steering wheel.

He was clearly having second thoughts about whatever deal he'd made with the airline. I was having second thoughts about the yoga festival. Who needs inner peace anyway?

Around 4 a.m., Ravi stopped the car and had a cigarette. Then he stood next to my window and said, "No further."

"I don't think this is Rishikesh," I said. Two emaciated cows stood next to an abandoned shack.

Story continues below advertisement

Ravi had a long heated conversation on his cellphone, kicked his tire and got back in the car. He drove the rest of the way like a suicidal maniac.

At sunrise Ravi dumped us at the Rishikesh Bridge next to the Ganges River. He drove off, laying on his horn, almost taking out a fruit cart on his way.

I laid out my mat at the yoga festival, reeking of cigarettes, still in a flop sweat from the drive. People "ohmed" in lotus position. Perfect, I thought, I'm ready for my transcendental experience.

And then I fell asleep.

Share your 500-word travel adventure with us. Please send it to travel@globeandmail.com.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.