I love this blog. Every time I read it, I want to jump into the car and drive off.
I love the road. I used to love flying till a couple of years back. Now of course the mention of it is enough to make me quiver like jelly. And yeah, trains are fun, because I belong to that group of people who think train food is cordon bleu stuff.
Serious tip: If you ever want to go to Kerala, and for some reason decide to take the train, please catch the Nethravati Express. Dude, Jiggs Kalra can dumpukht himself to glory when he finds out that the best chicken biryani on any side of the world is on that train. And yeah, fried bananas. Gulab Jamuns. Egg biryani, and various other bhajiyas and snacks.
Anyway, back to the road. I think I got my love for the road from my dad. Every time he got transferred, we drove from one part of the country to another. An old ambassador, my dad, mom, I and the dog.
Our longest trips were from Bidar (near Hyderabad) to Hasimara (on the Bengal-Bhutan border). And of course Hasimara to Chandigarh.
These trips lasted for a week to ten days, depending on the distance and the number of temples my mom spotted.
The thing with a road trip is you are the master of your destiny. Flying and taking the train is all dependant on someone else’s skill or whims. (yup, the trains in Bengal sometime stop near the engine drivers house so his tiffin can be dropped off)
So on one road trip, there are four of us and a dog. The three guys can’t drive, which is making me pretty happy, because there’s no fighting for the wheel.
We’re on our way back to Mumbai, the highway is empty, CCR blasting. Then at a small dabba, a truck pulls in front of me.
So now he’s in front of us. Not going fast. Just chugging along, and refusing to give me room to overtake.
Usually I have a lot of respect for truck drivers and they’ll always indicate if you should overtake or not. The guy refuses to do either and keeps swaying in front of me.
I have no choice but to bide my time. Till the road widens and I peek out from behind the truck. The coast is clear. I accelerate hard, pull out from behind him and start to overtake. I’m just about to be level with him, when I see another huge truck coming at me, from the opposite side.
There’s no time to pull back, there’s no time to try and sharply careen out of the way. There’s only one thing to do.
We cross. At one point I’m between both trucks. My feet are still on the accelerator. I don’t move the wheel an inch. And then, we’re out.
The boys don’t talk for two minutes. Then it’s a babble of voices. I’m trying to stay calm. We’re all taking at the same time. And then finally, they tell me both the trucks were inches away from us, and how did I stay so calm?
I smile, and tell them my dad was a fighter pilot. And I must have inherited some genes from him.
It’s only a month later, when we all meet up again, that I tell them the truth. I saw the other truck, I figured we’d just have to drive through, so I held on to the wheel for dear life and I shut my eyes tight till we came out through to the other side!
PS: And yes, I now treat trucks with the kind of respect you’d show to Donald Trump’s bank balance.