Monday, April 30, 2012

My first road trip.

(1983) I was in my 3rd standard when my Dad - a Banker, got his first transfer. The first that I could have remembered. As my elder brother told me - we all loved those transfers when my Dad will get big wooden boxes and all we were supposed to do was pack all our stuff as soon as we could and mark the boxes appropriately before the movers will come with a big lorry and take the boxes along. I loved the smell of those wooden boxes as it felt like freshly made specially for our packing and moving. They always glowed orange in color and one needs to be very careful to not to touch them bare handed or you may get some rashes cause of the rough surface of the wood. Don't know what kind of planks they were made off.

My Mom hated these transfers as I could tell from their arguments and my Dads excitement for the new city and challenge ahead. I could sense that he was always over excited about moving to new places - may be he was a born nomad who couldn't settle anywhere. I couldn't tell as may be I was too young but I actually loved that feeling to go away from home for a new home which I could never imagine how it would be. I loved all my bus rides and always loved peeking out of the window to see where we were going. While the bus almost overtook everything on the road. I always wanted to sit next to the driver to see the road ahead but I guess my Dad never liked the idea and usually I was made to sit on the centre of the vehicle from where the road was hardly visible but still I loved those passing farms, trees and the vehicles that the bus would anyways overtake.

It came as a surprise and indeed a great one at that, as my Dad declared that we would neither be taking a train nor a bus to the next destination that we were going to be for the next three years of our upcoming life - as in a Bankers job, one usually gets transferred every three years. So how would we be going? We will be driven in a car. I can't seriously put my happiness in words here. Although I was too young but still sitting inside a car and traveling 200 km at a stretch with windows rolled down on a hot summer day was way too exciting for me. But I guess my Mom wasn't at all happy.

My two elder brothers were already busy making their own plans as to what all they are going to do while traveling. They never let me be a part of their gang and I was always left out with Mom as a full time dedicated helper to her. But it made me feel important to be of any use to her. I felt more closer to her, to be always around her. We all waited with the bated breath for the D day to arrive. Our school session had already finished and I guess the documentation was already done, as my Mom made me bid goodbye to our class teacher vimal sir, who I hated like hell cause he would never let me sit with my favorite classmate and will always make me sit with a doctor's dumb son, whose mother played a major part in my taking birth in this planet - so I was told.

The long awaited day finally arrived. The lorry got loaded with our stuff. We bid the final good bye to our damn good neighbors and grandparents. We were too excited for the new life that we never actually realized what we were leaving behind but, when I now look back - it makes me think we were too young to understand it anyways. My most cherished dream arrived in the form of a white ambassador car with a very happy sardar driver. Who I think was as happy to take us for the drive as we were. The car was loaded quickly. The lorry was already gone as driver said that they won't be going too fast anyways and we will be able to catch up with them in couple of hours. That's when I realized the total travel is going to take some 6 or 7 hours. Even that made me double happy as longer the better.

Finally, the journey starts. First we clear off our colony, where we had lived for quite a while. As far as I remember, we all were born here only and that's why till the end of the road almost everyone to my surprise knew our Dad and Mom. Finally, after the first railway crossing the site of the state highway gave us the feeling that our journey had actually started. Once the train passed and we all waved at the unknown passengers as tradition goes, we moved on. First time sitting on the front seat of a car was too exciting for me. All I remember now is the big sardarji twisting and turning the huge steering wheel of the car. It had another small steel steering inside the big one, which he banged quite often and the car honked with every bang. I so much wanted to push it once, but never could gather all my guts to do it. The long stretch of road was a memory which I could never forget. The only vehicles I could see were a couple of bicycle riders, a bullock cart now and then and a couple of trucks sometimes. It was way too good.

Next what I remember is, I dozed off somewhere watching the road on my dad's lap who was with me all this while and I was woken up by the exciting voices of my elder brothers offering me a limca bottle, as it was too hot and it looked like we were taking a break on our journey. I was shocked to know that we had come half the way already, as obviously I lost the count of time - as if I knew how to see time on a watch :). We had some samosa's with limca. I did not like it that much as it was way too tangy, but the great trick that my bro taught me that day, to close the bottle top with your fingers and shake the bottle vigorously and then let go of your fingers a little. The cold drink shot in a spray and it was damn funny. I almost finished a two third of my bottle that ways and drank the remaining. It was a fun break.

I tried my level best to stay awake for the rest of the journey and could see some bridges over the river, where we were allowed to throw some coins. A couple of hills passed too, some never ending farms, a factory with bad stench and bang!!! I dozed again.
Finally, we reach our destination. I woke up to the commotion and realized that even the lorry had arrived, the boxes were unloaded to our new house which was the ground floor of an apartment. It was very heartening for me to pick up my little bag from the front seat of the car before sardarji took it away. This was my final opportunity to get inside and press that little steel steering to blow the horn - I did it quickly, afraid of getting caught red handed doing something I was not supposed to do - but nothing happened. I couldn't hear a thing, tried again - but no!! It just won't budge.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Like Father Like Son.

(Year 1979): As far as I can go down the memory lane. I have hardly any memories of our road trips, but one trip that I have some vague memories of, was this one that we did I guess in late 70's. When my dad again got transferred from a small town called Jaisinagar (Sagar) to bhopal. I am sure cause of those genes and blood - it excites me to go everywhere as long as I can go Driving. I got that one thing too from my dad other than love for western music and movies.
Dad and mom got all the stuff packed and shipped to our new location and decided to do a road trip on my dads scooter. That was I think a 1964 Bajaj. Now when I look back and talk to them about it - it actually sounds unbelievable. Never knew my dad was that adventurous. Everything except his music system which as per my mom "was his heartbeat" he packed and shipped. He actually tied the two big speakers of his Phillips Record Player (LP) to the spare wheel on the back of the scooter - well packed and covered for safety. My elder two brothers were already picked by my uncle as obviously we all couldn't have done that trip of around 155 KMS in a scooter together. I was only 3- 4 years old hence had to be with them.

We set off right after our break fast and with very heavy heart my mom said good bye to our nice house on the basement was the bank where my dad used to work. It wasn't a very big branch or something. I remember we had to climb down a huge flight of stairs to see him and hand him over the lunch boxes and I could never forget that guard posted on the main door with a huge double barrel gun on his shoulder. His mustache was huge and although he always smiled looking at me but it was a terrifying feeling going close to him.

My dad was wearing a helmet with big goggles inside them as if he was actually going to fly the scooter. He was looking very funny. Mom was ready too in her bell bottom pants and a hat on the head. She looked sweet. I loved standing in front on the foot rest holding the handle of the scooter and my dad allowed me to press the horn button from time to time. It was great fun seeing the open road and oncoming traffic. Although my dad was a very conscious rider - he hardly ever went above the speed of 50 KMPH. - I liked that flickering needle on speedometer showing how fast we were going.

As we kept going straight on the road suddenly due to the speed and wind my moms hat flew above her head and we had to take a break so she could run back and pick up her hat, which was lying on the mid of the road. As we parked on side of the road and mom went back to pick it up. A mischievous monkey dropped from a tree and picked it and vanished up on a tree quickly. That was fun. They tried their level best to shout and throw some pebbles on him but he just won't budge and we decided to move on without it.

As usual I was too young to remember much and was about to doze off standing in front when my dad realized and sent me back on mothers lap to sleep, while he rode all the way. I slept peacefully on my mothers lap as they kept talking about the things loudly on the way to my granny's home. We almost reached after lunch hours and my grand father wasn't too happy with dads decision of riding all the way but he was glad that we made it on time. All my uncles were admiring his ride and dad stood right there with his scooter proud like a hero who returned from war after killing all the enemies.

I guess it was the journey of a life time for me and the one that I could never forget. That I believe inspires me to do my road trips today and I so much love them.