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!
I woke up a little early today, was waiting for some household noises, not a minute later Neelu came knocking and offered me to come over to kitchen for a hot piping cup of tea laced with black pepper powder. As I have occasional cravings for tea, I relented as it is an enjoyable activity at Lansdowne.
While sipping tea I recalled my top pf the todo list item and that was to visit to Chachu’s home 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 house as Lansdowne is hardly a few km’s of established area. I love every opportunity worth a walk around here. While I was on my way a first brain wave came over with my inner voice’s message. It asked me gently: “Do you think! The trip is on?”. I was kind of taken aback with such thought, I wonder n number of ways why such blasphemous thing would happen. I was already near home 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 has fluttered and heightened my sensors, wanting to hear clues that come with preparations of a trip in an average household. I waited and waited but I just couldn’t feel any sort of energy or motion, not even a chit-chat.
After a while sound of water flowing through tap and little hush in the air gave me a fair clue that both of them were about to “come out of bed”, and this was the time we were supposed to be leaving! I thought.
I waited as the breakfast was served (I took a nibble of breakfast again) and as it turned out during breakfast “the plan” now had two more people onboard, Chachu and Chachi Ji of course only problem was we had to wait for Chacha ji to return back from office early.
I sat idly stiffing through old magazines, and sometimes turn my head to see outside the window for some action. It was a different day after all as another brainwave struck. “Trip seems to be on but! I cannot see the trip going smoothly”. Wow, I must be getting psychic I thought.
There are reasons for such psyches and they are deep within our layers of conscious and subconscious brain cells. Please bear with me while I explain, you see there were three folks who could have driven the car: me, Dev(Cousin’s Hubby) and Chachu. Now I figured that since the original plan had Dev as driver we were fine, but instinct told me otherwise “That is not going to happen when Chachu is in the mix!”. Since somehow Chachu in driver’s seat means a clear reminder of a scene from those adrenalin pumping action movies.
With “hard boiled will” that I so possess, I kept thinking that either Dev or myself will be the driver, after all, Chacha will need a rest after office hour’s right? It was about 11am and it was decided that either I stay for lunch or come back at lunch when Chacha gets back home. So at 1:30PM I was back at the dinner table when I heard a car stopping outside, Chachu has made his entry into the scene.
Finally tummy stuffed due to “legendary Garhwali appetite”, we all moved toward the car. I was hoping it to be Dev’s car, but my dear Chachu intervened and offered a transcending help quite merrily “let me drive you guys on the trip”. My cousin, her husband, and Chachi ji grabbed back seats and I was left obliged to sit on the front, I kind of felt honored ;) sat down showing no signs of nervousness.
The background score suddenly changed to that of a high action car chase sequence. If the abrupt start of car wasn’t an indicator then slotting of the first gear and instant clutch release was a clear indicator. It struck me that “there is something not right with this!“.
Sudden accelerations, surges in straight line, occasional straight-line breaking before turns, and often changing of gears while on the turn, 5th gear downhill, I saw all that I could during that haywire of a ride to reach Chakhuliyakhal about 30kms. Up until now no one had dared come in front of our speeding car, which is good I say.
From here on Tarkeshwar is about 4-5 Km of driveable kaccha Sadak and our first action sequence came about half an hour later on a thin stretch of road we came across a bus traveling in the opposite direction.
With an authority on “moronic wit” common to a planes driver (they always expect ‘right of way’ no matter what) he blocked us off at a place where we both could have passed had he been a little careful. Meanwhile, Chacha kept moving 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.
I thought the worst was over, but I was wrong, at least that was consistent today ;). We had crossed halfway to Tarkeshwar from Chakhuliakhal. Here is a small town and the road passes through it,the road was under construction and the workers have thoughtfully placed the stones, rocks on the left side towards the valley. On a thin and curvy road filled with the sharp stones we were doing a Russian roulette with speed. I forgot how much time it took us for those 4-5 kms but we reached our destination Tarkeshwar safely.
It was about 3:00 PM we decided to make our way back so before leaving we ate a lot of sandwiches that Chachi Ji have brought along. Driving back through the kuchha road was a lot nicer, except for the bumps, as Chachu kept up the speed. We stopped on our way back to Chakuliyakhal and had refreshing cup of tea in a small hillside dhaba. I realized that I couldn’t recall myself enjoying the scenery thought this trip, which what I do on hills. That was a scary realization peace began to fade wrinkles began to prop up on forehead.
While I was getting into the front seat I also realized that there was much too quiet at the back, considering that there were three folks at back and two of them being women. Intrigued I looked back, on left was Chachi Ji and on the right was Dev and in the middle was my cousin. She had bore a very peculiar posture, suddenly I felt a strong push towards left as we were turning at high-speed again. Instinctively I turned forward and grabbed dashboard to hold onto so not to let myself a make a rolling ball.
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 only protected by steel railings and on our right was a wall of stone hill, the road as it went towards truck was narrowing down. A little further up was space where we could let the truck pass I took just a few seconds to figure that out.
Feeling safe, I relaxed and just when I expected us to slow down I realized that we were actually accelerating. WHAT? I turned my head towards the road to see how far Chachu plans on to go, the truck driver started to honk furiously and within seconds he had halted his movement. Threatened by consequences of getting rammed by a raging bull, he must have been dead scared ;)
I just couldn’t fathom how Chachu planned to cross the truck on the road just wide enough for a truck and a bike. I lowered my guard establishing that fact that Chachu can’t proceed now, but the irresistible force continued to bear down on the truck. I thought of getting out (we were pretty slow at the time) but blocking my door was the ‘mighty shiny’ steel railing.
Finally I broke down and requested Chachu to stop, and to my relief he did. Now when I took stock of the situation I felt relieved, there was no way we could have ever crossed without a scratched, between the railing and the truck. We reversed a bit to a wider spot and the truck driver with a hagged look on his face was glad to get rid of us.
With another adventure over I ventured another look at the back of the car to finally quench my curiosity. I could investigate the curious case of cousins posture. Now my cousin 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 like 5 feet small, I wonder where her left extra 8 inch of frame went ;).
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 didn’t want to look like a whacko so I managed not to, I mean in a situation where you have all manner of threats to your life, its 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 and eternity. My left wrist was in pain when I got down.
On hind sight I saw that Chachu was actually enjoying the thrill of power, thrill for speed and I do hope thrill of being able to control.
And thus ended my only exciting car drive ever. I was happy still as I had to continue my bike ride to Pauri tomorrow.