Holy shit. My life just flashed in front of my eyes.
I was just in a massive bus crash in India. It was the closest near death experience I’ve ever had. I’m writing this right now on my iPhone notepad, just an hour after my bus completely flipped over the freeway and rolled in the dust, somewhere in the middle of North West India. My hands are still shaking. I can feel my heart beating out of my chest. I just checked my pulse to make sure that I’m still alive.
I was traveling from Udaipur to Jodhpur in the Rajasthan State in Northern India. The bus was scheduled to go overnight, departing at 10pm from Udaipur and arriving in Jodhpur at 5am. The bus was a double decker, with beds on the upper deck and normal chairs on the lower deck. There must’ve been about 40 people on board- almost all Indian men over 30. I had a bed to myself in the middle section on the upper deck left side (if you’re facing the driver). The bus was pretty old and dirty, but it seemed to be working just fine.
Within just minutes after departing Udaipur, I felt uneasy because the bus was making loud creeky sounds and the ride was more bumpy then usual. But I didn’t really think twice about it. I just tried to relax and get some sleep because I was exhausted.
I sent this snap chat to my friends when I got on the bus:
Things were going alright. I was just about ready to fall asleep.
About 35 minutes later, around midnight…
We were out of the city and in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Somewhere around this blue dot on the map:
I could feel the bus was picking up speed as we were cruising down the highway. We were going pretty fast, something like felt like 60 miles per hour.
Then all of a sudden…
The driver slammed on the breaks and sharply turned the wheel sharply to the left (in India, the cars drive on the left side of the road, so he turned the bus off the highway). We tumbled off the road and fell about 10 feet off a mini cliff and rolled down the hill. The bus flipped over sideways and I was on the side that it flipped on. It all happened in the blink of an eye.
Immediately after the bus tipped, I laid there frozen, covered in glass, in a state of utter shock. I had to physically check my pulse and I was happy to have my brain working and my heart beating. I couldn’t really move because I was covered in glass and I didn’t want to cut myself.
Because I was sitting on the side that the bus tipped (left side), My head was facing the ground in the dirt (literally) and everyone on the bus was directly above me, screaming and shouting in Hindi. It was a surreal and haunting experience to peek directly above me and see everyone’s legs dangling and pieces of glass flying everywhere. I’m lucky that a piece of glass didn’t fly into my eye when I was looking up. There were a couple babies on board who were weeping and crying out load. The upper level of the bus, where my bed was, was constructed with glass protector windows (which is a really stupid design flaw), so the glass was shattered everywhere. And I mean everywhere.
As I’m writing this, I keep getting flashbacks in slow motion, and my anxiety levels are out of control. From the time when the bus slammed on the breaks until it laid still in the dirt felt like one minute, but in reality it was more like 10 seconds.
As I laid there frozen just seconds after the bus collapsed, breathing heavy and trying not to pass out, everyone on the bus was yelling in Hindi and losing their tempers. After some time, maybe 7 minutes, everyone started escaping one by one outside of a busted window on the roof of the bus. I managed to shake most of the glass off me and noticed that my right foot was covered in blood.
Eventually, I dragged my 25 pound backpack and myself out the window on the roof. Everyone kept raising their voices and ordering me what to do, but they were speaking in Hindi and I had no idea what they were saying. I was frightened. I managed to carefully squeeze out of the bus and I stood erectly on the roof of the vehicle.
I was alive.
The cool breeze on my body was the best thing I’ve ever felt. Ever. I was so grateful that I wasn’t severely injured. As I stood there on the top of the bus, trying to wrap my head around what just happened, the crazy people starting yelling at me to get down the ground. But I was standing about 15 feet high on the bus. So I threw my heavy bag down, and jumped to the ground into people’s arms.
Here is a photo that I took shortly after jumping down. You can see what it was like:
THANKFULLY, I wasn’t the only foreigner on the bus. At the bus station in Udaipur before we left, I met an Asian couple- one Korean girl and a Chinese guy- and they were sitting at the very front of the bus. They both didn’t speak English well, but luckily, she was Korean so I was able to speak with her because I am conversationally fluent in Korean. The odds of this were crazy because she was the first Korean that I’d met in India so far. Myself, the Korean girl and her Chinese boyfriend we were the only 3 foreigners on the bus full of 40+ Indians. Nobody spoke any English and everyone was still screaming and weeping at each other in Hindi.
Ambulances and cops immediately showed up to the scene. They blocked off the road. We all waited around patiently while others got off the bus. I saw several people injured with blood stains from glass. Some people were carried off in ambulances, and everyone was surrounding the bus watching anxiously as the scene unfolded. The bus looked like something out of a horror movie as it was laid on it’s side and buried in the dust. The wheels were off, cords were hanging loose and pieces of the bus were all over the ground.
After some more minutes passed by, people started gathering more closely around the bus, and I finally realize that there were 2 people caught inside or under the bus. They couldn’t get out. I’m still not sure if the they made it out alive, because we didn’t stay long enough to find out. But I have a feeling that they didn’t make it.
We fled the scene because we got picked up by another bus that was (luckily) heading to Jodhpur. I am writing this right now from that second bus, and still shaken up and scared shitless. Every single bump turn in this bus is making my heart leap out of my chest. I keep getting flash backs in my head of the bus tipping over.
I still have NO IDEA why the bus crashed.
Nobody spoke English to explain to me why it happened. Maybe the driver fell asleep at the wheel? Maybe he was trying to avoid hitting a cow in the street? Maybe he just lost control of the steering wheel? Maybe he got distracted from the road? I’m still clueless.
And the scariest part to this whole story is that it happened in India.
Things here aren’t as regulated or monitored like I’m used where I grew up. Bad things in India happen all the time, and they frequently go unnoticed. I can’t help but think, “Would my family and friends ever found out if everyone on the bus died?
I am very fortunate.
If the bus driver didn’t slam on the breaks at the last second, or if we were driving a bit faster, then I’m sure everyone on the bus would have died and nobody from the outside world would have known about it.
This is the thing that haunts me the most. The first time that I saw my life flash in front of my eyes occurred in the last country that I would choose it to be.
Right now it’s 1:51AM and I’m completely wide awake. I still keep flinching every time this bus jolts.
To everyone reading this right now, please take a second to appreciate everything in your life. Tell you parents you love them. Call your best friends to catch up. Because you never know what can happen unexpectedly.
I think I’m only going to take trains for the rest of my India travels. Screw the buses, I don’t want to risk my life again. This will take some time to recover.
And to end this bizarre story on an ironic note, today is April fools day. But as you can see by these photos, this was no fucking joke.
Here is one more snap chat that I sent my friends when I arrived in Jodhpur.
I love you all and stay safe!