By: L.A. Kohl
February 17, 2005
(Published in the Wed., Mar 9 2005 edition of the "Bull's Eye", Vol. 1, #20)
The guys with the map, in the back seat of the taxi, finally figured out what the nearest town was...Muzaffarnagar. When they called to let us know, the information was not met with enthusiasm. Shaloam, an EMI staff person who was a native Indian, said that of all the cities he’d ever been to in India, Muzaffarnagar was the worst – the one he’d never want to be stranded in, especially after dark. Not what we all wanted to hear, especially the Americans in a hi-jacked taxi. But the next few series of events were just affirmation of my belief that worrying really is a waste of time.
It “just so happened” that there was a friend, Oopie, visiting Shaloam that night. After explaining the situation to Oopie, he mentioned that he knew a pastor in Muzaffarnagar. We quickly told the guys on the phone – who were hoping for some kind of advice on what to do – to call back when they got to Muzaffarnagar and hopefully we could give them a phone number for a pastor there. Shaloam began pulling out phone directories.
Meanwhile, Nate, Tim and Shawn were getting closer to Muzaffarnagar, and the taxi driver had fallen into a drugged sleep. They began debating what to do. Should they just leave him and his taxi, and go find other transportation? But what if the guy killed himself or someone else when he took over the wheel again? Maybe they should take him to the local police? But they were the ones who had hi-jacked a taxi, and depending on the perspective of the police, the guys could easily wind up in jail over such a thing. They decided to just pull over as soon as they got to Muzaffarnagar, and see what God might do.
A lone man “happened” to be walking along the road when they pulled off. There was little chance that he could understand or help them with their problem, but they decided to try anyway. As providence would have it, the man not only spoke English, but spoke it fluently. After hearing their story, he became irate – not at the Americans, but at the taxi driver, who was standing there dazed. He chewed the taxi driver out in Hindi, and then for the benefit of the guys, translated what he had just said into English! This man then insisted that Nate follow him to the police station, with the taxi driver, and let the police handle it. While Tim and Shawn called us to get the pastor’s phone number – my husband hesitantly followed this man to the police station. Alas, the policeman on duty spoke no English, and the taxi driver began to quickly plead his case. But the local had stuck around, and came to Nate’s defense. In the end, the pastor showed up and the policeman took the taxi driver’s keys. Probably had the guy sleep it off in jail – like Otis in the Andy Griffith show!
The pastor was very gracious. He not only allowed Nate, Shawn and Tim to sleep at his home that night, but also had his personal bodyguard drive them back to Mussoorie the next morning. (You see what kind of city it was, when a pastor has his own bodyguard!)
All’s well that ends well, I suppose – but it made for a few tense hours, and lots of laughs over the following days. During our two month stay, it was hands down the most frightening “view” from our Mussoorie front porch.