Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rules of the road

Road TripImage by !borghetti via Flickr
In case, you are planning to take a 2300 kilometre road-trip through the case study of unpredictability that is India in the company of your beyond-retirement-age parents and a permanently immature dog, here are a few handy pointers towards what to expect:
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1. You should accept for a fact that your dad has never been a fan of your driving and thinks that anything above 40 kilometres per hour even on the emptiest and widest of superhighways is 'dangerous driving' when you are at the wheel. However when he himself takes over the driving seat then the speed limits can be doubled or tripled because you see "He has been driving for close to 40 years now!".
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2. The roads of India have a tendency to literally shake up things every once in a while by putting in a huge pothole in the midst of kilometres of smooth road. Too much of a good thing is bad, thinks the Government of India. But when you are at the wheel and hit that pothole with a not-so-pretty clunk from the car's underside, an immediate reaction from your dad will be "You'll break the axle! What are you doing? You'll break the axle!" followed by further tirades about how you were totally insensitive to how a car needs to be protected from the vagaries of the road. A similar pothole when driven over by dad at the same speed and producing exactly the same sound leads to a loud clearing of throats, giggles on the part of the co-passengers and studied long silences on the part of the driver.
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3. Your mom will be the most cheerful of companions as long as the sun is bright outside and the scenery is something to remember. All calls on your never-out-of-tower-range cell phones will be greeted enthusiastically by her, telling everyone and their grandmothers about how much she was enjoying the adventure of this trip. But the moment, the engine starts overheating or the sun is on the wane or there are bad traffic/road conditions (as is a quite common occurrence on an Indian road trip), boy, will she give the male occupants of the car a hard time. "I told you we should have taken the train. My life is so full of people so who just can't behave normally!" will be an oft-repeated refrain which you learn to accept without retorting (that'd be suicidal on your part) for the period of time it takes to find a mechanic/find a hotel/find a clear stretch of road.
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4. You are not allowed to get angry and complain about the wayward human beings who invariably jump out onto the road when least expected and when the slowest of tempos, overloaded and blocking the road ahead, refuses to let you overtake. Any expressions of disgust will invoke a wise "This is not 'your America'! This is how India is and you have to adjust your driving likewise." from your dad ignoring the completely natural expression of bewilderment on your face on hearing the words 'your America'. So now in the eyes of your dad, not only are you a bad driver but also a traitor to your country!
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5. Hotels as a rule are not very eager to allow dogs into their rooms even if it is a tiny miniature dachshund like yours. When you finally convince a hotel clerk, after talking to his manager and the manager's manager about how well-behaved your dog is and about how she would not cause any trouble to other people in the hotel, as proof the dog will step out and pee right on a ground-level board where the hotel's name is displayed. You may hurriedly throw a fistful of sand to cover up this instance of misbehaviour but then later your normally quiet dog will bark her heart out and chase the room service staff out of the room when they show up. Good behaviour at home does not readily translate to good behaviour on a road-trip.
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This is only a sampling of expectations to have and there's of course the more memorable parts of making such a trip. These are times when you really forget that the whole purpose of making this trip was fun.
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3 comments:

R I T I said...

:-D :-D :-D

Kumar Bibek said...

Yep, Driving skills of kids can never be better than their parents. I mean, NEVER.

So, your car held up that long? Wow!!!

Roy said...

@Psychs: Yeah, our trusty silver 2001 Maruti 800.