Monday, August 28, 2006

Life is beautiful

Here I am, comfortably seated on my Google bean bag on a Monday afternoon, the TV playing classics from six feet in front, laptop wirelessly connected to blogger, sunbeams streaming gently through red curtains making soft silhouettes and bathing the room in a coloured light, popcorn making faint sounds as it slowly gets microwaved, a small quantity of vodka lying in easy reach, and movie tickets booked in advance for the 4 o'clock "Cars" show.

Life is beautiful.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Murphy's Law revisited (or How not to go to Goa )

You can fool Murphy once. But you can't fool Murphy twice.

It was a long time ago when Takli and I went riding to Brigade Road from Vijaynagar for a cup of tea and ended up, 6 hours and 120km later, in Mysore. What a breeze of a trip that was: we had left totally without any planning whatsoever, with barely enough money to buy us even the petrol for the trip, reached without a hint of mishap on an evidently accident-prone road, as Banner and others would tell you.

So this time it was not two bikes, but a car; it was from Hyderabad, not Bangalore; and the destination was Goa instead of Mysore. It was a distance of 900km instead of a mere hundred, but with the above exceptions, was it not basically the same thing all over again? - Just a joy ride, unplanned yet bound to be uneventful.

Or so we thought.

As is usual, Shanatanu called up in the middle of the night asking me to get ready to leave for the weekend. And as is usual, I paid no heed, thinking that with it pouring cats and dogs outside, Shantanu, friends and I would probably be sharing a beer somewhere on the countryside, and merely changed into a pair of jeans. 50 km later, I realized that this was no joke, we were indeed on the highway cruising towards Sholapur, then from there to Bijapur, then Chikodi, to a few other places en route and finally, Londa and then Goa. Indeed the trip was altogether uneventful, if a little tiring, till we crossed Sholapur. I observed that as you move further away from the metro areas, the place names become weirder and weirder. So far, so good.

Unlike me, Shantanu, Ankur and Abhinav (my fellow Murphy victims) were a little better prepared, having on them spare shorts, a change of clothing, a camera and several beers. It had been raining quite heavily all the time. It was during a brief spell of dryness that we came out to chill and here is where Murphy's ugly face first surfaced. While opening a Foster's, the bottle having been agitated quite severely over the several 120 kmph speed breakers on the way, furiously hissed and spat all over the back seat. Wanting to capture this moment of insanity with our digital camera turned out not to be, since the batteries were found discharged. Slightly dejected, but nevertheless eager to push forward, we drove on.

On reaching Chikodi, we were dutifully informed by the locals that the way ahead was closed due to heavy rain. We still went on and managed to find the bridge. It was ok, but for the minor exception of being under the water. Car and all, we waded through it with the steering tilted in a direction opposite to the running water and came out victorious on the other side.

Minor hurdles apart, we reached Londa, although it was getting late by now. We calculated that being about 60 km from Goa now, it would take us at most an hour to get there, ie at about 3pm Saturday. But then we saw the road from Londa. Potholes that looked like small barren hills followed by ridges where the road was just not there. After about three km on such track at 20 kmph, a chaiwalah told us (with glee. Oh that bastard. He was actually smiling.) that the next 12 km was even worse. Needless to say, we didn't heed him.

Although we reached the other side, our primary concern was now not to find a beach full of hot firang babes, but where in Goa to get the silencer repaired, and the engine fixed, which by now was leaning at a dangerous sixty degree angle, ready to take leave of the rest of the car any time.

Fortunately, we found such a place, then rented a car, then went to the beach. This is what I learnt: Never go to Goa in off-season. It looks like this.

complete with sari-clad aunty and boxer-clad uncle. A Cafe Coffee Day in Delhi has a higher population density in the middle of summer. And I'm just talking quantity.

By the way, that's Calangute beach. We never got to see the other beaches, because as luck (Murphy?) would have it, the rental car suddenly lurched to a stop a few km before getting there. It turned out the petrol filter had broken and the car was spewing oil all over the road. It took the rental guy two hours before he got there, leaving us stuck miles behind the beach.

It took us the entire night to drink our bad luck away and refreshed, we started back the next day, knowing to avoid the flood and the screwed up road. All went well till Sunday night, till this happened:

Yes, six kilometres from the nearest service place (meant for trucks) and twenty-five kilometres from the nearest town. Don't even ask what happened to the spare. But I guess we were so used to this by now that the three hour wait after getting the spare and the tire repaired, followed by an oh-so-comfortable truck ride home didn't even scratch my bum.

I finally reached Hyderabad around 3pm on Monday, swearing never ever to make another unplanned trip.