K had said it a hundred times by now but decided to repeat it once again,” I am going to settle down here. The girls are so damn beautiful.” The second part of the statement was hard to argue and the first, well K is known for exaggerating.
Greece was turning out to be as beautiful as or rather more beautiful than we had imagined it to be. Ofcourse Greece had its own set of problems-Illegal immigrants being one of them. A Pakistani shopkeeper warned us right on our arrival that we should keep our passports safe as they are the most stolen thing in Greece. But it was not a problem to our travelling as long as we paid heed to his advice, which we did. We had planned to visit Athens, San Torini and Olympia (if time permitted). Our first stop was Athens which was living lesson in history-the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, Ancient Olympics stadium and so much more. The two days we spent in Athens were a treat if we ignore the incidence when M & A were stopped on the street by SWAT type police officials and asked to lean against the wall with hands up. They were left alone after passport verification etc. Though A remained in shock for some time but he got relief from the fact that they were policemen and not muggers.
As we took a ferry to San Torini we were all super excited to have a look at the trademark white houses of the island(Remember Tauba Tumhare Ye Ishare) and the beaches of Black and Red beaches of the island. For anyone who has been to San Torini would know that it is impossible to explore the island unless you rent a car or a bike. We chose All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). That is when things started to go a bit wrong. ATVs are not the easiest thing to drive and M soon realised that as he banged into a car whose driver started shouting stuff in Greek which made no sense to M but he did catch the word “Police” to which M’s only response was “No Police!” The driver agreed to that bit but only after M paid him 300 Euros.
Things became smooth after that as M,G,H & K got comfortable with the rides. After having seen arguably the most beautiful sunset in the world, all of them headed back and returned the ATVs. Next day started off with a visit to the Nea Kameni Volcano but we were free by around 3 PM and our return ferry was to leave at 10 PM so we still had a lot of time so we decided to head off to the Red Beach on the island. Hence we again rented the ATVs which was not an altogether unanimous decision. As we reached the destination, we parked our ATVs and were about to walk towards the beach when A, who had been riding pillion to M all this while asked H if he could drive his ATV. So A took a very small round at incredibly low speed with H following him throughout to make sure nothing unwanted happens. Watching this, B, who had been pillion to K throughout asked H if we could also ride the ATV? So this was B’s turn. B also took a small round and he decided to test the ATV a bit more and took it straight which was slightly uphill but it was fine. The problem was the journey downhill. As B brought the ATV downhill, He didn’t realise the road had a slight curve towards the cliff and the ATV slowly kept moving in that direction. H shouted frantically and asked B to press the brakes but B had lost control by then and he went off the cliff along with the ATV. Meanwhile, G & M were being photographed by J on the other end of the cliff and hence they saw B and the ATV flying. After the initial shock of a couple of seconds, everyone ran towards the cliff. Underneath there was a sea of sharp edged rocks and water was constantly gushing against them (SEE: Bandra Bandstand). A fear gripped everyone and we shouted B’s name and were relieved to see him not his head. K & M headed down to bring him back. M made a brave attempt to bring the ATV back as well but it was not the easiest task in the world. M immediately headed for a doctor alongwith B. J & G left to look for a pick up van whereas K, A & H waited.
A lot happened in the following 3 hours but it was nothing compared to what had happened just now. Otherwise, a dog getting on top a scooter and being up against G’s chest and G&J escaping after letting the dog get on top of the person who tried to help them would have been a story in itself.
As the night set in, we were feeling better as the doctor assured that B was fine but having paid 1800 Euros for the ATV, who could have been fine. To top it all, one of us lost his phone.
As hours went past, we started to get a bit relaxed again. Everyone was trying to cheer up everyone else. It felt great to be with a bunch of people all of whom were standing up for each other in the times of trouble. We headed for our ferry with a hope that the bad luck may get over with San Torini but the sadly, it was the Greek Tragedy not the Tragedy of San Torini.
As we got off the ferry at Phireaus, we decided to get our tickets for Italy booked and that is when it dawned upon H that he does not have the Eurail Passes of himself and two others he was carrying. As everyone searched their bags, calls were made to the hotel guy in San Torini if something was found in our rooms. We made efforts of getting a replacement but the stupid Eurail rules don’t allow that.
Tired and gloomy, we headed for Patras to head back to Italy. After having reached Patras, we relaxed for sometime at the port. Just when we thought that the worst is over, H realised he had lost his sunglasses in the bus. But ironically even H himself didn’t feel very bad about it. After all that had happened it just seemed like a drop in the ocean.
As we were heading into the ferry, we were asked by the port authorities to wait as we were required to be checked by the port police. We waited for some time patiently but soon anger and anguish started to grip us as all the fair looking people were being let into the ferry without any checking whatsoever and we saw this as a racial discrimination without a shadow of doubt. We tried to argue with the port authorities, asked them check our passports but to no avail. M & A went and talked to some official inside the port who finally checked our papers and let us go. But this was after we had been standing there for a good 2 hours. By the way, another fellow who was not even European and was let inside by the captain of the ship despite a couple o people asking him not to. A few Euros must have been exchanged there. Alongwith us another person was let in who later told us that he had a fake passport. If this is how they check, Why Check at all!!
And hence ended THE GREEK TRAGEDY!
And who am I you must be thinking. I could be anyone of A,B,G,H,J, K or M. We all suffered the same, just the money that got burnt differed.