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    Home >> Memoirs >> The Catastrophic Ride

    The Catastrophic Ride

    By Saruf Alam

    It was a fresh new start of the year 2008 when my parent’s friends came to Sri Lanka to meet us. My parents invited them to catch over old times and also see Sri Lanka. They lived in Holland and were very good friend’s of my father. Mr. Hillabrand Ehrenberg was a very happy fellow; he could light up a whole room from just a smile. His wife Mrs. Bé also had a natural ability to make a gloomy talk lightened up just by her ready laughter and funny jokes. They both had married recently and came to spend the holidays with us. It was a rainy month but pleasant and chilly. The outside temperature was perfect for playing outdoor games or going cycling. With enthusiasm running through my body, we waited for them to arrive in the restaurant at Hotel Mount Lavinia with the same glowing faces and welcoming attitude that they carried around everywhere with them. In seconds after the reunion, my parents and our friends started planning where to go for the weekend. Needless to say, that I and my sister were busy looking at our gifts all through out this discussion. After lots of discussion and argument, my parents decided to go to the Amaya lake resort.

    Amaya lake resort was a beautiful place. The dense greenery covering the land beside the road was welcoming as it felt totally different to what the grey colour of urban civilization felt. The cool and damp weather was strangely refreshing, taking my mind away from all the school work and more. The sun was covered with clouds although it was not raining and there were no signs of civilization anywhere. As we entered the hotel, we were greeted by the staff and were given necklaces with white flowers that smelt like sweet rose. The beat of a huge drum informed the arrival of the new guests at the hotel. We went into our individual cottages and found chocolate cake and a platter of exotic fruits in our rooms. The cottage was well laid out and decorated air conditioned room, with the furniture placed interestingly in different steps/levels like a stair case. I and my father planned to go mountain cycling as the weather was pleasant and his locale very inviting.

    We rented two mountain bikes even though the smallest available size of cycles was too big for me. We quickly got ready and headed out of the hotel full with joy and excitement. The road was narrow and steep but the scenery was beautiful. The side of the roads had an abrupt end and it changed into a rocky cliff going down into the marshy lake- the famous Amaya Lake. The cliff was full of grass and smelt like lemon too. There were no fences or anything else to protect anyone from falling of. We rode in the separate sides enjoying the beauty and weather when all of a sudden a tuk tuk (Tri shaw) came speeding up accelerating in rapid intervals. My cycle was the smallest size the hotel had but it was still too big and heavy for me to control. I turned my cycle to get out of the tuk tuk’s path but could not turn the handles back in time. In a blink of an eye, I and my cycle whizzed through the hill, doing summersaults and hurting me whenever it bounced on the rocks and shuddered like it was going to break. I held my cycle to stay safe but miraculously my hand got stuck between the spokes of the first wheel, I groaned and winced with pain as I crashed into the rocks and pebbles with my cycle while trying to get my hand out of the wheel. Everything was blurry in so much speed and it all smelt like lemon and grease. My father saw the accident and he immediately jumped in to stop me from falling in the lake but tripped on a rock himself, injuring his foot and also ending up rolling down the cliff. I rolled down bruised by sharp rocks and being followed by my father who rolled down behind me. After a while the cliff flattened and we stopped, I was only bruised and scratched but my father was badly hurt with a deep gash and a cut on his right shin and a broken his thumb bone. He was bleeding profusely.

    Slowly we got up and climbed back on the top with our cycles. My father helped me to climb back with that monstrous cycle. As it was a deserted road, very few cars came that way. We raised our hands to stop some of the cars for help but nobody understood and bothered to help us. We had no option but to walk back to the hotel with our cycles.

    We slowly rode back to the hotel with my fathers wound bleeding profusely now. When we reached the hotel everyone’s eyes widened to see totally crushed mountain cycles and two injured individuals. The hotel staff rushed my father and me to the Hotel’s Ayurvedic centre where the doctor used some herbal medicines and balms to treat the wound and covered it with the dressing. Finally my father informed my mother who was resting in the hotel room and our Dutch friends. They all came rushing looking quite distraught and worried. It was a unique experience and pretty horrifying too which I will never forget. Later the hotel staff informed that there had been quite a few serious accidents in the past as well due to very marshy area all around the lake due to which people can easily drown. I shuddered when I heard this.

    Later in the evening we sat down and relaxed and decided to head back to Colombo rather then continuing with our stay. But still we ended up playing and having fun with bruises everywhere and with great pain in all parts of the body. We came back to Colombo the next day and I and my father got treatment at Apollo hospital where they gave us tetanus injection and put stitches on the wound. It was indeed a very close save. What a trip!

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