High beams and Hurdles 

And am not talking of the circus, but sometimes it does feel like the circus. On Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, (Feb 14-16) we drove an average of 600 kms each day and completed a flying trip in the car to Coorg. This blog is inspired by the circus that we witnessed on the roads. 

On Sunday, since it was the day of love, we decided to start by 7 am from Hyderabad. We started a few minutes before 7 and in an hour reached near the airport. There is a gas station just half a kilometer before the airport that has a Heritage milk parlour too, which we frequent to fill petrol on our trips to Bangalore. We stopped this time too at the same place and as is the practice, Krishnan got off to check the fuel meter reading. The first hurdle came in the form of an attempt to cheat. Krishnan told the attendant, that he should fill slowly since the fuel tank was about 75% full and the bill may not go beyond ₹1000/-. The attendant said he inadvertently locked it at ₹400/- and whether he should continue beyond that or not. Krishnan asked him to continue and finally, the cut-off came when the meter reading was at ₹900/-. The attendant coolly asked Krishnan to pay ₹1400/- since the current meter reading was ₹900/- plus he had locked it at ₹400/-. He got his Math wrong and he chose the wrong guy to cheat. Krishnan told him off and caught the bluff by saying, that the attendant had never reset the meter to zero after reaching ₹400/-, he had merely continued till the meter reached ₹900/-. We paid ₹900/- and the attendant didn’t raise a whimper ! 

Do beware. Cheating of different kinds happen and this is one which requires you to be specially alert. The attendant tried to distract Krishnan by asking him if he had a Hindustan Petroleum fuel card and the benefits that it offers.

After this cheating episode, that we successfully dealt with thanks to Krishnan’s alertness, the rest of the ride was relatively smooth. While Karnataka is competing hard to be the “speed breaker” capital of our country, Telangana and A.P have come up with these 100 metre long rumblers  … They make the car rumble :). We got into Bangalore by 3 pm and Manish’s house by 4. 

The next morning we started for Coorg, again before 7 am and the Bangalore-specials came our way. First, was a Maruti Swift that came swiftly from a side road onto the main road without remembering to brake. I was driving and while I don’t behave as a Delhiite often, this time, I still went my way and helped the Swift driver to find his brake. He wasn’t happy but I was. Then came the Silk Board junction and if at 7.05 am it looks like a car rally that went wrong with cars coming from all directions and wanting to be the first in every lane, I shudder to think what would be the scenario at 7.30. We never found out and I didn’t shudder, but I did mutter obscenities at the civic authorities who have created the cut on the left for vehicles to get on to the NICE road, from the Hosur Road, but there is no signboard there. Why ? Did they run out of a few thousand rupees ? If only they didn’t build two of those mini-hills called speed breakers, they could have saved money and put up this signboard. I am happy to contribute some money to this cause because if you miss this turn, you spend fuel and time taking a u-turn further up. 

We reached Coorg after going over the same 120 speed breakers over 250 kms. But we also witnessed a rather strange accident. There was a Scorpio, that was a Zoom car, which had been driving from the NICE road along with us and went ahead when we stopped at Kamat Lokaruchi for breakfast. We found the car had been in an accident and the top had nearly been flattened out. There were several police vans, trucks etc, so we didn’t stop but praying the young men in the car are fine. The condition of the car seemed bizzare… Unless the truck in front of them had suddenly stopped. 

We returned to Bangalore the same day and started from Coorg by 3 pm. By 6 pm it got dark and the high beams came into play. While growing up, there was a rule to paint the headlamps half black… Can we get that rule back ? High beams are required when there are no street lights and it is pitch dark. Most Indian drivers don’t know this, or choose to ignore the pain they are causing other drivers. Every car drives on high beam and hurts the oncoming driver’s eyes. What do you really gain by being such a pain ?? I feel like stopping some of them to ask. 

The other most dangerous hurdle on Indian roads is vehicles driving in the wrong direction and driving at high speeds to save on fuel till they reach their turn off …. Till some great, well known celebrity gets hit by one of these drivers, the problem will not be solved…. All the international standard roads fail to give you the driving pleasure because of this one uncertainty – the joker who could kill you by coming on the wrong side. I tried stopping some scooters and bikes that were driving on the wrong side near Kushaiguda when we were out for a walk – two young mothers were flouting the rules, but no one stopped. One young man told me why should he go all the way and take a turn, he was absolutely right in coming in the wrong side. He didn’t get the point and laughed at me.. Well, I wish him a long life because driving on the wrong side is dangerous. Period. 

The circus on the Indian roads will continue till we punish the offenders swiftly…. And that requires swift action on the political trapeze. Till then keep swinging safely from high beams to cross hurdles and drive safe. Jai Hind. 

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