Riding a bus in India: ‘So this is how I die’

by Lacey Black

In November 2015, I found myself in India with my boyfriend at the time, Ian. We had planned on taking trains for most of our travel, but messed up on booking tickets in advance and ended up booking a tour bus for a portion of our trip. Lonely Planet’s guidebook pointed us in the direction of one particular bus company, so we got our tickets and loaded the bus. It was an overnight bus with bunks instead of seats, and we were on the top double-bunk, settling in for the next seven hours of rolling sleep.

The last thing I remember is hearing glass breaking, like someone had dropped a glass bottle on the floor. Then everything went black. The next thing I remember is coming to consciousness and finding myself standing in the very narrow aisle of the bus, with gasoline spewing everywhere, hearing people yelling and moaning and everything in between, thinking to myself, “So this is how I die.” I had suffered a concussion and nothing was making sense – I couldn’t figure out where I was, what language all these people were speaking, why I was in a bus of all things, or what had happened. Ian, meanwhile, had fared much better in the crash and had already figured out how to exit the bus from our compartment’s window. I heard him outside, yelling my name, telling me to get to the window. I climbed back up to our bunk, threw him my bag, and somehow didn’t impale myself on the shards of window glass or the mangled metal of the bus below me. With the help of Ian and a couple of passersby, I inched 14 feet down to the ground safely, then assessed the damage while Ian helped more people out of the bus. In the aftermath, we discovered that our bus was on the wrong side of the road, possibly driving with the lights off, and had collided with a concrete train bridge pylon at 50 to 60 mph.

Ambulances came, and the most injured were triaged and transported. We were basically OK – walking and talking. They took us to a bush hospital that was only a few kilometers away to get my ear and head looked at. Apparently, my ear was kind of hanging on by a few threads of skin and cartilage, so stitches ensued. I had never been in an ER or had to get stitches before, so all of this was a first – in INDIA. I ended up getting a CT scan, confirming the concussion, but also confirming that everything else was OK. Other people on the bus died, so I just felt lucky to be basically fine, and flew home the next week.

Lacey BlackGot a travel story worth telling? Write it in about 400 words and send it to [email protected]. If you’d rather tell your story, send a brief synopsis along with your full name and phone number to the same address. Either way, your story should be true.

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