I started this poem after catching a hair-raising bus trip with Storm from coastal Kochin up to Munnar in the highlands in Kerala, India. It’s supposed to have the meter of the Man from Snowy River – in case that wasn’t evident from the title… See also this post from the trip
The Man from Three Rivers (Munnar)
There was movement at the station as the people milled around,
A beggar shook his cup in mournful tune.
The rubbish danced unnoticed as it fluttered from the ground
And rising sun saluted hazy moon.
The Munnar Man stood poised to write in History’s book by hand,
Every muscle in his torso set to rock.
Pensive in reflection, slowly masticating paan,
Six hours, twenty seven read the clock.
So many days have come and gone, a score of years at least,
Since raging Sanjay Gupta left his mark.
3 hours 43 he took to drive his metal beast,
From old Kochin to hinterland Munnar.
The people say it can’t be beat, with the traffic on the run,
With every thing a passing chance to hit.
But he knows that his bus is fast and skill is matched by none,
He’s whittled down the margin bit by bit.
So the people clambered upwards for a place in future glory,
Or else a death in some unknown ravine.
And last aboard the ticketman, who’ll feature in this story,
Shuffled forth collecting gold and green.
Blazing through the outskirts with his horn and screeching tyres,
Reaching speeds that only dawn allows.
Crashing through the odours of the streets and pavement fires
Dodging rickshaws, buses, cars and cows.
So to the hills he races with his lurching beast restrained,
The curves a blur for all of those onboard,
Soon will come the moment for which he’s ever trained,
The record his for now and ever more.
Round and round the corners as the bus would ever climb,
Hitting potholes, drifting left and right;
Right before the summit came a ‘clunk’ in space and time,
And for a tick the beast he drove took flight.
But nothing could deter the man on this his day of fate
3 hours 41 had come and gone,
When ladened bus with ghost-white folk did pass through Munnar’s gate
And stop outside the crowd in winter’s sun.
“Hurrah!!” He yelled “I’ve done it!” and he turned around with speed
Looking for the ticket man to say
“Congratulations Munnar Man, my watch fulfills the need,
Of proving that the record’s yours today”
Alas, it was this moment when he saw it was for sure
That the ticketman had sent his quest astray
And in this fellow’s absence were the taunting open doors
For you see he’d fallen out along the way…