Yesterday’s late night “brainstorming” session meant that none of us could leave the bed at our agreed upon hour of 6am. The cold weather and late night Premiership matches also were partly to blame for our extended resting sessions, but even after waking up no one seemed to be in a hurry. Harsha went for a run, Bibin was staring at the TV – which was off, and I was writing yesterday’s post. Oh and Joe didn’t bother to leave the cozy confines of his blanket at all.
Finally when we did manage to leave the hotel, sun was high in the sky and the watches were just past that classic Titan advertisement figure of 10:10 am. We had 520 kms (approx) ahead of us, though by all indications the roads were supposed to be a treat. To make best of our freshened up state, we decided to postpone breakfast for later and immediately hit the road with renewed zest.
A big advantage of staying close to the highway meant we were out of the city traffic in a jiffy and nipping close to 100 km/hr within minutes. The roads were indeed as good as suggested and therefore spirits were high to aim for an early dinner at Bangalore. Before dinner though, our tummies were calling out for breakfast and we stopped at a little hotel off the road. The place was almost out of breakfast but we were fortunate to get some rather simple idli, dosa and uthapam. I feel it’s the best breakfast before driving being light enough not to make one feel dozy.
I took the wheel for the first part of the day and as we started the GPS unit displayed ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) as 2315 hrs. But with the near perfect roads and minimal traffic, by 1315 hrs the ETA suggestion had come down to 2202 hrs. For once the GPS unit could not keep up pace with Indian highways!
Rest three of my companions were blissfully hanging their heads supported by their window mirrors, sleeping as if there were no tomorrow. It’s both funny and a little irritating when someone deep in sleep suddenly wakes up for a moment and gives you “suggestions” as if he was awake all along. “Abe thoda right mein rakh/ brake aaram se maar, mein dekh raha hu kuch time se, not sleeping.” And immediately after this pearl of wisdom the great man is back into “meditation mode.”
The roads were absolutely flawless, and as I wrote earlier, traffic minimal. It was a rolling landscape though, devoid of any natural treats worth photographing. Surrounded by mounds of red sand and boulders aka Sholey, one could almost feel a dacoits jumping out on a horse. If that would have happened, the poor guy would have been in a fix what with the traffic zipping at 120 km/hr and even more. Best part of the route though, was the absence of diversions/ towns to interrupt the flow of speed. Service roads were well clear and all u-turns were in the form of under passes.
When everyone did wake up it was time to change drivers and my turn to meditate. However as I took back seat there started a heated debated whether the snoring of one of us (I shall not name him here for fear of being showered by abuses) was the reason behind everyone’s lack of sleep. It was hotly refuted by the accused and even hours later there was no final decision, deferred for tonight with video evidence coming into play.
We stopped at 1600 hrs for lunch, which was the simple affair called meals, ubiquitous in this part of the country. It consisted of simple dry vegetable, chatni, pickle, dal and extra-large rotis. Simple yet effective. From here we passed through a windmill farm, though except for the huge towers, there were no flushing meadows with lazy cows that one pictureises by default. There were lots of sugeracane and banana farms along the road, but they quite don’t make vistas like the paddy fields in Kerala.
Again though, what Karnataka countryside could not offer in visual appeal, they’ve more than made up with their roads which are eons ahead of anything found in Kerala. I am mentioning this for the third time in this post because they are that good. And all this when on most part of the road there is widening (to six lane from the existing four lanes) work under progress. Yet not a single diversion/ blocking of the existing tarmac. By the time we hit outskirts of Bangalore, with 20 kms remaining to our destination we were looking at reaching home by 1900 hrs!
And then Murphy struck. I always thought that Ahmedabad had the worst traffic anywhere…till yesterday. Yes I had heard horror stories about Bangalore traffic, but not till I witnessed it first hand yesterday did I realise how mind numbingly bad it is. The roads are super narrow, traffic endless, add to it Metro construction works and you have a perfect dish of chaos garnished with lots of fumes.
Bangalorians are supposed to be gentle and law-abiding people – and while I have no doubts they are – someone certainly forgot to tell them this while on road. It was raving war out there. Two wheelers zipping from every direction, buses and rickshaws squeezing into non-existent spaces. It all reminded me of Aryton Senna’s famous quote after he rammed into Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990, “ If you no longer go for a gap, you no longer a racing driver.” Timeshift to Bangalore in 2011, and it seems, “If you no longer go for a gap, you no longer fit to drive in Bangalore.”
Thankfully after much frustration and swearing we managed to reach our destination with all parts of my beloved car intact. We were staying at cousin’s place at the Air Force officer’s colony behind the old airport, and it was a welcome delight to walk into a quiet, warm and clean home after the past two hours of madness. God only knows what would have happened to us if we had to hotel hunt in this craziness.
Being a fauji’s house, there was another welcome delight – Old Monk, and we sated our thirsts discussing all and sundry with our hostess. No one seemed to be particularly hungry but when my sister-in-law ordered two huge chicken Biryanis, all of it was devoured in a flash. I don’t want to contemplate the situation had the boys been hungry!
So came to end a successful second day on a positive note again. Tomorrow we head to the Nilgiris through Sathyamangalam Tiger reserve. It promises some scintillating scenery and an engaging drive in the mountains, with hair pin turns galore. It’s going to be cold though, and a nice filter coffee at a little roadside place should be just what the doctor ordered. This was our main focus while planning the trip and naturally excitement levels are high. Hence the next post should finally be accompanied with some nice pictures. Till tomorrow then…