Against all odds

How many things do you think can go wrong in a single trip? And how desperate do you think the guys would be to still carry on?
It was Friday night and we 3 vacation deprived colleagues decided to go on a road trip
1. The plan was finalized at 1pm, but was followed by the usual dance of Yes and No… People agree to the trip, then start cooking excuses for why they are terribly busy and cannot make it. (sometimes I believe girls are less fickle minded than my friends) However by 10pm all were in sync.
2. First vehicle breakdown: Friday 10:30pm: My vehicle battery got drained due to insulation issue. (please note that all the 3 persons were in 3 different centers)
3. The never ending rains that evening making even the slightest logistic movement impossible due to never-ending traffic
4. 11:00pm finally we started, however within 200m the second vehicle was driven into a crater (3 feet wide pot hole without a bottom) It took us 30 min amidst heavy downpour to lift one of the tires of the car and slide it back to the road (getting a tow truck was impossible and the crater was too big and deep for a jack to operate
5. My shoe was a casualty of the entire exercise dooming me for the rest of the journey as I was not carrying an alternative.
6. The music system leads also got disconnected creating a lot of awkward silence
7. There was endless traffic at the toll gate followed by a second queue at the Tamil Naidu state entry resulted in us travelling a distance of ~40km in 5 hours on a 6 lane national highway.
8. At 3am when the road cleared up, I am getting frustrated as the car is travelling at 40km/hr. The driver is complaining that due to heavy rains, and possibly a headlight problem he is not able to have a clear vision to speed up.
9. BTW I forgot to mention, the 3rd friend was so delighted to find the back seat to lie down, that he started snoring (no stereo to drown the irritating noises)
10. So I forced him to park the car, with the clear intention of snatching the keys and commandeer the vehicle. However I discovered the tire that landed in that ditch is busted. It is wrong to call it a puncture when I can stick my finger in the hole.
11. We discovered that although there is a spare tire, the car does not have the right tools to switch it. So we traveled to the nearest mechanic, banged the door enough times to be greeted by the cursing of the guy who has just been woken from a deep slumber. (He changed our tire for less $2/- and yet we felt he was over paying him… God I love India)
One thing I must admire about my friends, they had been awake for the past 22 hours, worked hard the entire day and it’s almost dawn and we have another 6 hours of journey ahead of us. Yet in spite of all this mishaps (I would like to call adventures), nobody cursed the trip/planner/driver/car/weather/ location. I guess even the God yielded to our determination and it stopped raining and we could see the first rays of the sun.
We were back on the road, reached Kodaikanal by 12:30pm, slept till evening, partied at night, and drove back by 7am.
The remaining trip was also not boring. We had to literally drag our tired ass to 7 hotels before we could find one that had a vacancy. On the way back one friend had a minor case of motion sickness, while the other was so thrilled that the stereo was miraculously restored that he entered into an endless loop of breakup songs.
In short, I have been vacation deprived for the past 6 months and this trip was a real stress buster

street, Bengaluru South, Karnataka, India

5 replies on “Against all odds”

THe unforgettable and truely a stress buster….. BTW you missed one point – while returning back.. one of the famous south Indian food restaurant doesnot have a menu in the restaurant .. they only tell and you have to order .. never imagined or experienced before .. a restaurant without a menu … woow…

If you stay in some metro and want to enjoy a good holiday nearby, then go when no one does. Start on Sunday night – not Friday. You can see the traffic crawling back the opposite way. Hotels will give you a fantastic discount – whoever comes on a Monday! No one in the pool, water-park or garden or restaurant. The whole resort is yours. Leave – get you boss to allow you to work from home!! And let him into the secret!
Similarly Tuesday is supposed to an inauspicious day for Tirupati. Ever heard of something inauspicious connected with God? So Tuesday it was in Tirupati. The deity had only a few devotees and no one pushed you.

Well imagine if your trip was to Uttarkhand recently. Any way here are my rantings on the event – some published, some yet to be.
The Home Minister announces that no politician will be allowed to go to Uttarkhand and promptly we find the yuvraj making his way there as if he is the country’s greatest expert or rescue missions. Why couldn’t the Home Minister prevent his own party’s Vice President to go there? Because Shinde’s shendi and other dangling parts are in the hands of the yuvraj and his mama mia and if he opens his mouth too much he will really go ‘home’.
Are most Indians mentally and physically equipped to go for yatras, particularly to hazardous areas like Uttarkhand Char Dham? From what we have seen on TV – no. People dress in the most inappropriate attire with loose flowing parts and walk in chappals! Six month old children! Do they carry water for at least 4 days and keep replenishing it? How about a bright orange or yellow cloth big enough to be seen from 5000 feet? Even the minimum of a walking stick is missing. But why blame the aam aadmi? Even the newscasters of TV channels have not taken elementary protection like a helmet or knee and elbow caps. In some areas even a life jacket appears necessary. But assume that we supply these items to the yatris, will they wear it? No. It will be treated as unnecessary impediments and they will say God will protect us. Well, God sometimes does not. Let rules and fitness standards be prescribed. And also a limit on the number of yatris who can visit per day.
There is no doubt as to who the real Bharat Ratnas are – the armed forces – who have once again held up the pants of the political class, the babus and the darogas. Is there a way of awarding the Bharat Ratna to a force? There is. After World War II the entire island of Malta was awarded the George Cross – the second highest award in the British Empire. But I have a reservation. The Bharat Ratna has been awarded to some real creeps and unless these are withdrawn, the award has no value.
Dear Honourable PM
Your appeal to the people of India to contribute to rehabilitate the people of Uttarkhand is adding salt to injury. You and the opposition, when they were in government earlier, having looted the resources beyond tolerable means now have the gumption to ask us for our hard earned money on which we have also paid you taxes. Your legislators have had a 100% to 500% jump in assets in five years and we know how that happens. So take it from them. I have referred your appeal to my personal UDRS – my inner conscience. It says neither did you pitch the ball in line, not did it hit in line and is missing the stumps by a mile. Your appeal is therefore rejected and I hope the others who read this, assuming the media has the guts to publish this letter, also do the same. As far as I am concerned the government, both centre and state and the administration can take a running jump. Being a fair man I give them the choice which river they choose – Alaknanda, Bhagirathi or Mandakini. I will be there at the Bay of Bengal to see their bodies. As far as you are personally concerned – half a glass of water will do – because that’s how small you have made yourself in the last nine years.
I am a little foxed by the media calling the Uttarkhand event as a natural disaster. Nature cannot and does not have disasters – it is dispassionate. What happens is in the natural order of things. We suffer because we have interfered with that order beyond tolerable limits. And what is there to worry about the dead – even if all the 50,000 stranded die, it is just a day’s installed capacity of this nation that adds 20 million (ie one Australia) every year. The death toll has already been more than made up. How to prevent future disasters? Hand over all the religious places to the Chinese. Look at how they have maintained Manasarovar. No litter and garbage and the ecology is maintained by controlling the number of people which can be environmentally sustained. No permanent structures. In fact Lord Shiva is also happy to be in Chinese territory. If he were in India he would have been surrounded by dung, garbage and excreta. And that is how we must also control – limit the number of visitors by charging a hefty fee that is used to provide first class facilities. But will this work? Every political party, religious outfit and the media will scream for democratic and sacred rights. So let the government just not bother, like now. Those who suffer are destined to do so. And deserve it.
Every time there is a natural disaster, since the Koyna earthquake struck in 1967, we have been hearing of the formation of a Disaster Management Force. The present NDRF appears to be a big apology for a rescue force. Dressed in red T-shirts they look more like a Mumbai Govinda troupe and are hardly likely to inspire any confidence. When crisis of the magnitude of Uttarkhand strikes, then things get tough and only the tough get going. And the tough wear OG. People in khaki beat a fast retreat and in any case are totally incapable of any physical or even co-ordination of resue efforts at base camps. The IAS and IPS are just careers. They are for service to the establishment mafia and not for the aam aadmis.
Why a separate NDRF force? We have a ready-made force that can be renewed every year right under our nose to tackle such situations. About 1500 officers and 30,000 other ranks from the armed forces retire every year at a very young age, a policy necessitated by the need to keep the regular army fit. Many are from the Corps of Engineers, Army Medical Corps, Signals Corps, Electrical & Mechanical Corps, possessing the very expertise necessary in such situations. Even those from the Army Service Corps who deal with the task of feeding, fuelling and transporting armies, the size of which civilian authorities never deal with, would also be useful. Others from infantry, artillery etc can lend muscle power. All that is required is to mobilise them into a versatile DMF that can rush and commence work as soon as a calamity strikes. They require no training whatsoever. Since the armed forces personnel hail from all states, the force can be organised in a manner that ensures that those knowing the local terrain and language, at least the majority, are sent where necessary. Psychologically, an affected population takes a kinder and more amenable attitude towards ‘outsiders’ who come to help since the ‘insiders’ are seen as responsible for their plight and would probably be stoned! The armed forces also have the respect that others do not have and their presence would also boost the morale of the affected population.
The above plan has several advantages. The regular army in peace stations, resting after a grueling stint in the forward areas need not be disturbed and external security is not compromised. The civilian staff of the government, least experienced in tackling war-like situations can be employed in the administrative work relating to such situation. The Disaster Management Force however should be under the overall control of a 3-star General of the Army and whenever the force is requisitioned, the entire area and command of the situation will pass on to it. All, including the police and the civilian administrative machinery will function under its supervision and the Force Leader will only report to the concerned Chief Minister. At other times, such a force can be employed in restoring environmentally degraded areas. Many calamities like floods, drought etc. are due to such environmental degradation and in time the impact of such disasters can be lessened if not altogether prevented. In less than a decade the environmental savings from such a force will pay for itself and there will be no need to impose taxes, surcharge etc the proceeds of which are never used for the purpose for which they are meant.
This is probably the sixth time I have written this letter in the last ten years – after the Tehri earthquake, Bhubhaneshwar cyclone Latur earthquake, Bhuj earthquake, Tsunami, Mumbai 2005 floods etc.- modifying it suitably each time after every disaster. All of them have been published and perhaps I will have to write the same stuff many more times. No need of any further proof of our “action”.

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