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 was wide awake by 5:20 am was waiting for some household noises, not a minute later Neelu came knocking and offered me to come over outside for a hot piping cup of tea laced with black pepper. As I have occasional cravings for tea, I relented as it is an enjoyable activity at Lansdowne.
While sipping tea I recalled my top of the to-do list item for today and that was to visit 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 the polupated area. I love every opportunity worth a walk around here. 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 nearing home. 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 has 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 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 room” and this was the time we had decided to leave.
I waited as the breakfast was served and as it turned out during breakfast “the plan” now had two more people on board, Chacha and Chachi Ji, of course, the 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 turning my head to see outside the window for some action. It was a slow day after for me a while later another brain wave 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 the conscious and subconscious brain 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: me, Dev(Cousin’s Hubby) and Chachu. Now I figured that since the original plan had Dev as a driver we were fine, but instinct told me otherwise “That is not going to happen when Chachu is in the mix!”. While Chachu in driver’s seat means a clear reminder of speeding scenes from adrenalin pumping action movies.
With positivity that I 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 10 am I decided to head home and come back at lunch when Chacha gets back home. So at 1:30 pm I came back to Chacha’s house 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. I was hoping it to be Dev’s car, but dear Chachu intervened and offered quite merrily “let me drive you guys on the trip”. 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 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 sequence. If the abrupt start of the car wasn’t an indicator then slotting of the first gear and instant acceleration must have been. Brain wave struck me on cue again “there is something not right with this!“.
Sudden accelerations, surges in a straight line, 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 which present many such opportunities. I saw all that I could during that haywire of a ride to reach Chakhuliyakhal about 30 km and it was about close to an hour when we reached. Up until now no one had dared come in front of our speeding car.
From here on Tarkeshwar is about 4-5 Km of driveable kaccha sadak and our first action sequence came about fifteen minutes later on a thin stretch of road we came face to face with a bus coming towards us.
With an authority on “moronic wit” common to a planes driver (they always expect ‘right of way’ no matter what) he stopped at a place where we both could have passed had he kept a little more to his side. Meanwhile, 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.
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. Currently, 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 to recall how much time it took us for that 4-5 km 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 kachha 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 a refreshing cup of tea in a small dhaba.
As I sipped tea in content I realised that I wasn’t enjoying the scenery on this trip, which is what I always do on hills. That was a scary realisation and as we finished our cup of tea Chacha ji took our the Car keys from the pocket the peace began to fade wrinkles began to prop up on the forehead.
Now that I was in realisation mode while boarding the front seat I also realised that there is too quiet in the back seat, unusual as it was 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 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.
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 stone hill, the road as it went towards further ahead truck was narrowing down. If we stopped now there was space where we could let the truck pass feeling safe I relaxed.
And just when I expected us to slow down that 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 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 slowly bear down towards the truck. I thought of getting out but blocking my door was the steel railing.
Finally, I broke the silence and requested Chachu to stop, much to my relief he did. There was no way we could have ever crossed without a scratch, between the railing and the truck. We reversed a bit to a wider spot and the truck driver with a jagged look on his face was glad to get by us.
Curious Case of the back seat
With another adventure over I ventured another look at the back as my first left me in the puzzle so now seeing that there is no oncoming vehicle in sight 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 realised 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 whack 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 till we reached back home. 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 hope thrill of being able to control.
And thus ended my only exciting speedy car drive ever.