It was not a race for a million Norwegian Krones, or for a Championship Trophy like the Grand Prix. The stakes for this race were much higher. And things were about to get very, very hectic.
When Ralph, the driver of the Blue Bus, set out from Geiranger harbour to Dalsnibba, at 1500 meters, Europe’s highest fjord-view from a road, neither he, nor his passengers, anticipated the crazy adventures that were in store for them. He expected the trip to be like any other routine journey- Reach the top, give passengers 10 minutes to take photographs of the fjord, and come back safe and sound to get ready for the next round. But as I said, today was going to be slightly different.
Till the height of 950 meters, the journey was fairly uneventful. Passengers were going shutter-happy as usual, and flashes from various cameras and phones lit up the inside of the bus. But then, suddenly, Ralph saw a very strange sight, one which he had never seen before.
Almost two kilometers below it, on a bend in the road, he saw another bus approaching at a very fast, nay, maniacal speed. And the sight of this bus filled Ralph with dread, for this was the White Bus, driven by his brother Alph, and it was not scheduled to start for the next half an hour, so that Ralph got ample time to reach Dalsnibba and come back on the narrow single-lane road to the top.
Ralph quickly took out his phone, and speed-dialed his brother Alph, but the phone kept on ringing, and there was no response. That scared Ralph even more, because it was for the first time ever that his brother had not taken his call, or, to be precise, any call, for he was what psychologists nowadays call, a ‘mobilamorous’, i.e., he loved all kinds, shapes, and sizes of mobile phones, and had a huge collection of 2935 phones in his cabin in the mountains, which he could only reach three months in a year, the cabin being snowed in for the rest of the year. But, I digress.
Ralph looked on with dread that Alph’s bus took on hairpin bend after hairpin bend at breakneck speeds which made Lewis Hamilton look like a tricycle rider in comparison. The distance had now narrowed down to just one kilometer.
Worried stiff, Ralph called up 911, and apprised them of the situation- There was a renegade bus on the loose, and the presence of 52 hairpin bends over this short a distance meant that things could get really hairy. Emergency Services immediately dispatched a helicopter to try and intercept the white bus. But it would take at least five minutes to reach them, and as things stood right now, they would be five minutes too late.
So Ralph accelerated to the maximum speed that he dared to go to on these treacherous roads. One false move, and they would fall directly into the rocky ravine, or the fearsome frozen lake.
But it just wasn’t enough. Alph’s bus was now just a few meters behind Ralph’s bus, honking rapidly and repeatedly, as if willing the sound energy of the horn to convert to kinetic energy and physically remove Ralph’s bus from its path.
Ralph tried to stick on for as far as he could, but Alph’s bus was kissing his bus’s bumper now, and he was left with only one option of he wanted his passengers, and more importantly, himself, to survive. He pushed his foot on the accelerator, his sole almost touching the iron floor of the bus, and then, at around 50 meters ahead of Alph’s bus, he braked suddenly, stopping the bus diagonally in the middle of the road. Alph’s bus now had run out of road on which it could run.
But Ralph had underestimated his brother’s driving skills, or should I say, madness, for the second bus didn’t decelerate on seeing the road blocked, but actually accelerated, aiming for the valley-side of the road. And Ralph looked on with incredulous horror, as the bus tilted as it reached his bus, and with only the two left-side tyres on the road, and the right-side tyres hanging over the deep valley, it rushed past Ralph’s bus casually, as if it was no big deal.
And this made Ralph angry as he’d never been before. He quickly restarted his bus, and started following the other bus. “Just wait till I catch up with the bugger,” he muttered to himself.
And suddenly, before he realized it, Alph’s bus stopped with a loud screech that shattered the silence of the hills. They had arrived in Dalsnibba.
Ralph quickly jumped out of his bus, his hands curled into a big fist that he wanted to punch his brother with. He had just reached Alph’s bus when the driver’s door opened with a jerk, and out stepped….He had no idea who it was that stepped outside, it was some random Indian guy. The passenger door opened simultaneously, and a lady who appeared to be the Indian’s wife got out. The entire bus was empty apart from them, and his brother Alph was nowhere to be seen.
Ralph was filled with anger, and he ran and stood in front of them, his 6-feet height and 6-feet girth presenting an imposing figure. “Who are you guys, and what have you done with my brother Alph,” he thundered. The Indian guy looked at him calmly, and said, “Alph? Oh, you mean the driver of this bus? Actually, he had gone to the loo, and I locked the door from outside, stole the bus, and came up.”
Ralph was horrified at this guys’s chutzpah, and said, “But why did you steal the bus, and drive like a Polar Bear in heat? Don’t you know how to drive?” The man looked up towards the sky, and replied, “No, I don’t even have a driving license, have never ridden a bicycle also, forget a huge bus like this. But…but… we’d never seen it in our entire lives, and the lady at the Tourist Office told us that it will come for only a few minutes today. So, you see, we had no choice, for if we’d missed the narrow window, God knows how long we’d have to wait for our chance.”
Ralph was now scratching his head in confusion. he asked, “What on earth are you talking about? What haven’t you seen? What will come only for a few minutes? What window”
The Indian couple were still looking up, towards the sky, and suddenly, their faces lit up, and they broke into wide grins that stretched from ear-to-ear, and the Indian man opened up his palms, catching the last snowflakes of the season, and said, “This!”