For someone who loves driving a car and is used to driving everyday, not having a car in Bangalore really crippled me. Bringing the car I own at my home in Chennai, to Bangalore had a lot of hassles like “Not allowed to drive interstate without company” (read it in a father’s stern voice) and requirement of the car for other members of the family. There was an alternative though. Our family had another car, a nine year old Ford Fiesta which was seldom used and in pretty bad shape. My dad allowed me to take that car and drive alone too (surprise surprise!) as long as I got it fixed top to bottom. He somehow expected me to not do it, knowing my procrastinative nature but I wanted the car so badly that I got it done.
There were some minor issues though, like the unresponsive sound system and an ugly looking outer body. This meant I couldn’t listen to any kind of music, be it FM Radio, CD player or Aux. A road trip without music is like pizza without cheese. So I decided to make use of earphones and Apple Music.
The major issue was, I was going to travel alone. The thing about long distance driving is, it requires a lot of concentration and ability to stay awake and not drift. Add to this my dislike of taking a trip alone. When you tour with someone, be it your best of friends or a stranger, there’s a lot to learn. There’s an opinion on everything you see and scope for a debate over it. You don’t realise the time flying. If you’re alone, you are left with pondering over some thoughts again and again. It’s like lying on the bed and not getting sleep. I’d prefer talking to someone over introspection any day. Without conversation, Coldplay and AR Rahman on shuffle were to become my buddies.
I hit the road early on a Tuesday morning, and there was hardly any crowd on the roads. I have this (bad) habit of not letting cars go past me while I drive. In the whole trip, there was one car that beat me and that was a Mercedes E class. You know a lost race when you see one. I hit 1** Km/h a few times which was a record speed for me on those roads (I’m keeping it censored here so that my mum who reads this won’t call me immediately and scream “1** ah? How dare you? You’re never getting this car again. Or anything else for that matter”). I made it in under four hours if you don’t count the 20 minutes I spent munching idlis and kuzhi paniyaaram in Murugan Idly Shop on the highway near Kanchipuram.
Contrary to what I had in mind about spending some alone time, this trip gave me a lot of food for thought, ranging from my life to current affairs to sports. I got a couple of emails on the way, one that made my day feel a lot better, and one that didn’t. The weather steadily became cooler, as it typically does when you start from a place along the coast to one which is 900m above the sea level. For a change, I observed the marked difference in shops and signboards between the two states as soon as I crossed the border check post. Tamil to Kannada script transition was expected, but even the names quickly got very different. From Kannan and Kumaran Stores to Gowda and Bopanna Hardwares. From Kundarapalli to Yadavanahalli.
When you’re alone, like Sherlock Holmes says, you realise you don’t just see. You observe.