Monday, February 13, 2006

Having taken Friday off, I was going on this ride this weekend. As I went by upon the Bombay highway near Khandala, I saw the road sloping downwards and swiveling away to the right without warning. It is a matter of complete amazement to me as to how drivers and riders actually pass by it and manage to stay alive, given that they go along the preceding straight at 80 and upwards, and thus hardly have time to notice the curve.

Of course, they that do crash may be considered fortunate, for, if you manage to clear the first curve at 80, there's no way you'll get past the next one that lies just 20m ahead unless you're at under 30 with your foot hard upon the brake, which curve is comprising of a road contorting itself into a grotesque reflex angle, making you wonder about the purpose of such a road, one so unnavigable. This second curve, unlike the first and like the subsequent ones, doesn't offer you the cushion of a wall to crash into – you miss the road, you fly off the cliff.

But then, such are the roads that surmount the ghats, that lace through the hills, as I found through the weekend that these curves inaugurated. It was just that I was new to driving on this sort of terrain. On these, or for that matter on any hills, your most important assets are your brake and your horn. You can forget your accelerator at home.


Death is a familiar passer by upon the Bombay Pune highway. Two motorcycles lying lacerated upon the ground in small puddles of glass shreds – giving no hints about the fate of their riders, one lorry 10km ahead, rammed into the wall of the tunnel causing a mile long clot in the traffic behind, another lorry lying overturned further ahead, with an enormous smear of red upon the tar around it, 3m of the all too frail and inadequate stretch that was the railing gone missing, having been driven through, making all too obvious the fate of the car which'd have sliced through it and taken a leap down the rock face.

Amid the mile long congealing of the vehicles, a police van flits by noisily, an ambulance rushes in with its shrill alarm. Slowly the crowding gawkers disperse, one particular motorcyclist weaves away amid the 4 wheelers to the front of the traffic jam, the jam dissolves, we all instinctively move into gear 4 and begin to accelerate, firmly convinced that it always happens to someone else.

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