The pandemic road travelled led to an unusual highway


Memories are our return-ticket to moving time, otherwise lost. Generally, a road-trip is considered a synonym to stress-buster that gives an adrenalin rush reflecting an adventurous experience but………

On June 20, I took a random road trip of 2200 km covered in 42 hrs during the black pages of the Pandemic-history that geographies wouldn’t like to turn. It all started post an Ayurvedic treatment from Tamilnadu to Uttar Pradesh interconnecting Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Did this trip make it to my hall of memory-frame ??

As soon as I met this gentleman, I knew a grand adventure was about to take off — after my first interaction with Mr Velu, the driver (my only companion), I realized he couldn’t understand any of the languages I spoke but was a passionate fisherman musician.

Our expedition started with an interstate road permit from the streets of Coimbatore connecting NH 44, the longest National Highway in India. To my surprise the roads were deserted, it seemed as if our human-clan had declared a travel-war and these highways, which are used to the violence taking 4.5 lakh lives yearly through accidents, were again screaming-thirst for blood. It felt that everything in nature was at my disposal, an envy peep gave only to the exclusives, a chauffeur-driven car flawlessly flying, exactly how the other half likes to travel- The clear sky accompanied wherever we went, with kites flying from rooftops, the air that knocked the windows had a sense of freshness, all of a sudden even mother-nature treated me like I was in her A list.

Since the Indian economic liberalization happened in 1990s, the road infrastructure has drastically improved connecting villages to mainstream cities. After a 2 hr stretch, Velu pulled over a vegetable organic farm, his relative’s establishment. It was a treat to my eyes with farm fed cattle flaunting their freedom no traces of Gods, demons, empires or civilizations around. I think Venu had pre-planned as Mr. Sahu family knew about

our arrival greeted us from a distance. I was elated that they acquired community ambition of safety norms with even children agreeing to the sensitiveness of those times. After exchanging a short conversation they waved to us until our smiles disappeared in the dusty highs of the roads again. We had violated the first rule of not halting unnecessary to avoid exposure to infections. I think Velu and I were friends by now in-spite language disintegration. This was my 1st takeaway, how both of us could communicate through the universal language of affection.

As only fuel-banks were expected-open, we were carrying our food and water. It was about lunchtime and we decided to halt under a nice shady tree hopped on to our food packets of khichdi tasting great with the perfect blend of mustard ketchup. I was floored to find some young lads enthusiastically relaxed indulged with a cricket match, a sport known to get India united in any situation. This is when Velu got these foldable chairs from nowhere, played some Tamil songs and hummed along. Wow…..for a moment I felt to be in the right place at the right time. This was my 2nd takeaway, how some little past experiences can be so innocent yet teach to thank the Almighty for all that is still to be experienced.

The tropical weather refused to co-operate with our new seasonal gadgets (masks, gloves, headgear etc…) gave us a tough time. This time we started the drive almost promising each other that our next stop would only be the destination now. The evening bumped-in the car seemed well gripped on the road creating true harmony between the engine the chassis, speeding at about 120 km/hr. Suddenly, I noticed a fat notebook with Velu, and with his permission, I started to turn pages discovered a gibberish language (Tamil) with many postcard-sized family pictures attached. They all had such happy faces. Velu pointed towards his children and conveyed in sign language that they studied in English medium schools with 5 years left to graduate and that’s when he plans to retire, hitting the seas pursue his hobby of fishing. This was my 3rd takeaway, the secret to a happy life is not to keep looking for more but enjoy the little things we already possess.

Though Velu was not frequent on this route still gave away his memories as the colors of the houses changed noticeable-patterns when we entered the apparatus of one state exiting another. We crossed a well-known cafe that served excellent Iranian tea and bun-maska before the lockdown. All of a sudden both schools of thought emerged that, countless lost their ways to work but another set of people turned from innovators to inspirations in no time. One such hero from Velu #39;s village is Mr. Murari who believes in extending well even if it’s at the cost of his savings. He rode every morning to nearby villages distributing convenience food to the old. Real service is something that cannot be money-measured. This was my 4th takeaway, people who bake themselves with hard work and simmer exposure to innovations can definitely serve something better even during challenging times.

The entire experience exceeded expectations as life could get more exciting when unplanned at times. After meeting Velu I realized it’s not essential to completely understand what geniuses convey, the right interpretation is enough. Sometimes all we need is no plan, a road map, and the courage to press the escalator. Focusing on this Journey gave me some important notifications on what lies between the start and the destination.

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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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