I am in Delhi these days…the air and light filled home has been locked and the entire clan has descended to the plains. Dogs, daughters, knitted stuff, clothes and water bottles—everything packed in our brave car and driven through 400 odd kms to the plains.
We have done this brave hill-plain journey many a time with noisy diesel cars and shiny young petrol cars. With foggy roads stretching into a white misty wall, with nervous drivers following us and smashing the rear while I would be trying to navigate potholes the size of lunar craters. With suicidal crows flying into the noisy car and killing themselves. With monsoon rains, flooded roads, and we landing smack in the middle of a rocky pit and smashing the brake-pump. With innumerable punctured tires and three helpless looking (looking, mind you, only looking helpless) us waving down someone to change the tire. With an excited maid who just couldn’t stop smiling and puking all the way up and down. With one nervous dog and another dog besotted with the light and shadow displays of passing trees.
Every trip would find us holding our breath till some mishap popped up. The incident would become part of the Srikanth family lore, to be enjoyed in recounting and re-recounting to friends and family and THEN, only THEN, would there be a collective sigh of relief and we would get down to that good bit of enjoying ourselves.
The last all-family trip happened when we shifted to Ranikhet. When the dogs were nervous about leaving a home which been emptied the previous evening, the girls were working at being supportive and not dwelling too long on the fact that home would now mean a long trek to the mountains, and driver me was trying to reach the new house before the luggage truck did. It was eventful from the word “go”. Passed long, long serpentine lines of trucks stretching for 15 kms ; took long, long detours through glowing fields of ripening grain and complete absence of sign posts; survived long, long periods of driving through pine forests to reach the house just 20 minutes before that determined luggage truck.
With that warmly fuzzy, nicely chilly, memorably funny week of family fun inside us, we began to prepare for our trip. A quiet phrase had been meandering through my mind—about self-fulfilling prophecies, about thinking and being and about making our life the way we think about it. Just when we began to talk about our suicidal crow and other such stories, I vowed that this time, we will focus on the good things of a family trip. The good things only….and when this is snapped out by a graying, fierce driver, not even Lady Luck can refute this decision.
• Driving out of cold, starry skied Ranikhet when dawn was just coming in at 5 am—done.
• Dogs arranged as per temperament..nervous Diva with calm ED in front seat, content and calm Pepper with prone-to-motion-sickness YD at the back—done.
• Calm driving with forgotten love songs in solitary CD found in glove compartment (forgot to plan the background music)—done.
• Quick breakfast of deliciously crisp batter coats on spicy soft stuffing..to-die-for-bread pakodas at Kainchi Dhaam… admiring human stares and questioning canine glares taken in stride… quick chat with the man behind the counter, good tea and biscuits for all—done.
• Leave the forests and the fresh leaves, the flowering trees, the monkeys and the birds and drive down the repaired road ( finally!!) to enter the busy city of Haldwani—done.
• Fish out the paper with scribbled instructions from Google Maps to find the tiny town of Suar—done.
• Thank all the Goddesses of Technology for the joy of having detailed instructions about every hall, every ATM, every shop and every village on the highway—done.
• Thinking that these Goddesses need to brush up their talent for sharing actual distances and realizing that the issue was mine, not theirs. (Dry comment from daughters about this maternal trait—“every place is walk able distance for Mom. She will say that Mumbai is walk able distance from Delhi.”)—done.
• Keeping the car steady while bouncing through 4 long kms of a turbulent sea frozen into the Earth (at one time there must have been a road instead of the craters, pits, trenches and stones), and telling no one in particular that bad times and bad roads do not last forever—done.
• Completing that ghastly stretch and driving into a wide green road which took us past mango groves, fields, ancient Rampur town and then, finally, the highway—done.
• Stretching our legs and stuffing ourselves with Gajrola parathas and lassi, watching the constant stream of adrenaline filled vehicles, sugarcane loaded tractors, insolence loaded buses and gearing up to enter the urban world—done.
• Driving the last 100 kms with a cool AC interior, noisy FM radio with Modi advertisements, toll-gate stops, minor traffic snarls at Ghaziabad and finally, becoming a microcosm in that amazing macrocosm called NCR—done.
We reached the totally unrealistic colony of quiet and green in which my sister resides, parked the car in a little slot between many other cars and our journey was done.
With not a whiff of panic, not a whisper of chaos, not a whimper of danger, we had experienced the PC change. Leaving the pine cones and loving the parked cars was not difficult at all!