I was wide awake by 5:20 am and was waiting for household noises to pick up. it is not surprising as in hills we all have a habit of getting up early. Not a minute had passed Neelu my cousin came knocking and asked me to come over outside for a hot cup of tea laced with black pepper.
There are times in your life when your inner voice takes over as a proactive guardian and you are made aware of what’s going to happen next!
As I have occasional cravings for tea I got up, after all, it is an enjoyable activity at Lansdowne.
While sipping tea I recalled that I was to visit Chachu’s home in the afternoon as the cousin and her husband have invited me to join them for a trip to Tarkeshwar.
After early breakfast, I went strolling towards Chachi’s home, Lansdowne is hardly a few km’s of the populated area so I love every opportunity for a walk.
While I was on my way a first “brain wave” came over with a pondering question. It asked me gently: “Do you think! The trip is on?.
I was kind of taken aback with such thought, I wonder in a number of ways why such blasphemous thing could occur. By now I was nearing home so I decided to keep those answers at bay and I entered the main gate, reached out and rang the doorbell, before time Chachi Ji greeted and let me in.
By now that gentle “brain wave” fluttered again and heightened my sensors, wanting to hear clues that come with preparations for a trip in an average household. I waited and waited but I just could not feel any sort of energy or motion, not even a chit-chat.
I spent about 10 mints skimming through newspaper and magazines and after a while sound of tap water and little hush in the air gave me a fair clue that both of them were about to “come out of room” and this was the time we had actually decided to leave.
I waited as the late breakfast was served for them and as it turned out “the plan to Tarkeshwar” was changed already and now had more people on board, Chacha, and Chachi Ji and of course, the only problem was that we had to wait for Chacha ji to return back from office early.
So I could do nothing but wait while they finish their breakfast. It was a slow day for me a while later another brainwave struck. “Trip seems to be on! but? will it go smoothly?”. Wow, I must be getting psychic I thought.
But there are reasons for such psyches and they are deep within our layers of the consciousness and sub consciousness of experiences and knowledge we might have acquired from them.
Please bear with me while I explain, you see there were three folks who could have driven the car that day. Me, Dev(Cousin’s Hubby) and Chachu. Now I figured that since the original plan had Dev as a driver we were fine, but not my instinct says “That is not going to happen when Chachu is in the mix!”.
For most of us in the family, dear Chachu at the driver’s seat means a clear reminder of speeding scenes from adrenaline pumping action movies. With extreme positivism that I possess, I kept negating that thought by comforting myself that either Dev or myself will drive. A self consolation thought came, “after all, Chacha will need a rest after office hours… right”?
It was about 10 am I decided to head home and come back at lunchtime when Chacha Ji will get back home. And I was back the house sharp at 1 pm and just a while later I heard a car stopping outside, Chachu has made his entry into the scene.
After the full meal, we all moved outside toward the car. Being a shy a kind, I couldn’t ask for the keys and was hoping Dev’s will take the lead, but by the time we reach near car dear Chachu intervened my thoughts and offered quite merrily “let me drive you guys on the trip”.
And no one was going to question that and my cousin, her husband, and Chachi ji promptly grabbed back seats and I was left obliged to sit at the front. At first, I kind of felt honoured and sat down at the front seat showing no signs of nervousness.
As we moved ahead of the gate the background score suddenly changed to that of a high action car chase. If the abrupt start of the car wasn’t an indicator then slotting of the first gear and instant acceleration must have been. “Brainwave” struck me on cue again “there is something not right with this!“.
Sudden accelerations, surges in a straight line, hard straight line braking before turns, and often changing of gears while on the turn, 5th gear downhill.
We all were pretty much quiet and no one dared say a single word about driving or even the beautiful nature outside and which present many such opportunities.
We all were so busy with our mind and the moving car downhill and uphill that none of us could notice we had reached to reach Chakhuliyakhal about 30 km within an hour.
We chose to move forward and from here on Tarkeshwar was about 4-5 Km of driveable kaccha Sadak and our first action came about fifteen minutes later on a thin stretch of road when we came face to face with a bus coming towards us.
With an authority “I always must have the way”, a sense which only applies to bus drivers from plains he stopped just a little ahead of a place where we both could have passed had he kept a little more to his side.
But of course he clearly had not met Chacha Ji before and Chacha Ji kept pressing forwards towards the point of conflict even though we were clearly blocked. I intervened to make a stop while getting out of the car; guided both vehicles to cross each other.
We had crossed halfway to Tarkeshwar from Chakhuliakhal. Here is a small town and the road passes through it. Currently, the road was under construction and the workers have thoughtfully placed the stones, rocks on the left side of the road facing the valley.
On a thin and curvy road filled with the sharp stones, we were doing Russian roulette with speed. I forgot to recall how much time it took us to clear that 4-5 km but we reached our destination Tarkeshwar safely.
All of us except Chachu took an extra breath so as to come back to reality.
All were very normal and enjoyed every bit of nature’s bounty as we could and to top it all Chachai have brought along with her a box full of Potato Sandwiches filled with cheese as well my favourite dish.
It was about 3:00 PM we decided to make our way back so before leaving we I mean I ate a lot of sandwiches that Chachi Ji have brought along.
Driving back through the kaccha road was a lot nicer this time around, except for the bumps, as Chachu kept up the speed. This time we stopped at Chakuliyakhal and had a refreshing cup of tea in a small dhaba.
As I sipped tea in content I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the scenery on this trip, which is what I always do on hills.
That was a scary realization and as we finished our cup of tea Chacha ji took out the car keys from the pocket and the peace began to fade, wrinkles began to prop up on the forehead.
As soon as we cleared that turn, to our horror (excluding Chachu’s of course) we saw a truck approaching us. To our left was a bottomless ravine helpfully protected by steel railings and on our right was a wall of the hill, the road as it went further towards truck was narrowing down.
If we were to stop now there was space where we could let the truck pass, analyzing that I felt safe and relaxed. but that was not to be just when I expected us to slow down we were actually accelerating. I turned my head towards Chachu and then back at the road to see how far Chachu plans on to go, the truck driver stopped abruptly and started to honk, threatened by consequences of getting rammed by a raging bull, he must have been dead scared 😉
I lowered my guard establishing a fact that Chachu cannot proceed now, seeing that there is no space but the irresistible force continued to slowly bear down towards the truck.
Finally, I broke the silence and requested Chachu to stop, much to my relief he did. We reversed a bit to the last wider spot and the truck driver with a jagged look on his face was glad to get by us.
Curioscase at the back seat
With another adventure over I ventured another look at the back to solve the puzzle I failed to last time I looked back after carefully seeing that there is no oncoming vehicle in sight. Now I could investigate the curious case of cousins posture. My cousin was crouched back while her feet firmly planted on the back of our seats, her hands clutching the underarms of both her co-passengers, she seemed much smaller.
I continued my explorations at the back of the car and realized that everyone at the back had a very good grip of the situation and I mean literally!
They knew what was to be expected from the trip and only ignorant among them was me. I felt like laughing hard, but I did not want to look like a whack so I managed not to, I mean in a situation where you have all manner of threats to your life, it is only wackos that laugh right?
Ah, the fifth one never came you see and we went on being thrown to our left and right rest of the road till we reached back home. My left wrist was in pain when I got down.
On hindsight, I saw that Chachu was actually enjoying the thrill of speed and I hope thrill of being able to control.
And thus ended my only exciting speedy car drive ever.