While living a fast life in a big city has its own advantages and excitement, the pressures of work, traffic and resultant stress warrants a break once in a while to recharge your batteries. Short or long, breaks are a must. Nothing beats a road trip – solo, with friends or family. Here are some pleasures of a highway ride you can’t deny.
1. The horizon
As you soar ahead with excitement of what lies ahead, you can’t miss the horizon inviting you with widely open arms.
2. The silver lining
Do you try finding figures in the clouds? I love doing that. And it’s an added bonus to capture the sun peeping from behind the clouds.
3. The greenery
The lush green fields with patches of yellow mustard flowers or the dark green densely populated mangroves.
4. The refreshing air
In cities, you rarely dare to drive with open windows for fear of being mugged or contracting a respiratory disease. On the highway, you are free to roll down the windows and enjoy the refreshing pure air.
5. Shuddh Vaishno dhabas
The roadside dhabas and their extremely simple yet finger-licking delicacies. The modesty and purity of the place provides a divine pleasure. Not to miss the dhaba special ‘cutting chai’, aloo paranthas served with a scoopful of white butter and dal makhani.
6. The ‘honest-waala’ posters and banners
‘Asli Meerut waale Panditji ka Dhaba’ or the ‘Original Hi-way Restaurant’ and the likes with ‘genuine’ owners’ pictures staring in your face like actors and politicians.
7. The Especial Menu
Reading menu cards at dhabas is an experience in itself. From ‘Cheese Sandwhich’ to ‘Batter Tost’ to ‘Staff Parantha’ to ‘Bould Egg’ to ‘Shingapuri Noodles’ to ‘Without’. I have always wondered if they do it by mistake or intentionally.
8. Signs behind trucks
‘Hum Suffer’, ‘Put Deeper at Night’, ‘Use Diaper at Night’, ‘Krishna kare to leela aur hum kare to paap’, ‘Buri Nazar Wale – Fairness Cream Laga Le‘ and many others that are proudly painted behind the trucks. These will definitely make you laugh.
9. Selfies and likes
Click, click and click. The digital SLR and mobile phone cameras have made real time sharing an addiction in itself. You get a high counting the Facebook and Instagram likes.
10. The roadside retailers
The road-side vendors with make-shift arrangements selling handmade toys, relaxing chairs, cane furniture and other stuff available at throwaway prices.
11. The bullock cart
Stuffed like cattle in a weekly market, human beings are transported in villages by this safest, pollution-free and fully air-conditioned mode of transportation. And yes, they ride in front of you in their Maharaja style on the highways.
12. The suicidal pedestrian
He fearlessly jumps in front of your vehicle out of nowhere and instead of apologizing starts calling your names. This tribe you can find on any of the highways from north to south and from east to west. They sure teach you a lot about how to keep your speed in check!
13. The ‘mere baap ki sadak hai’ overtakers
They don’t follow any rules, let alone traffic rules. They keep honking in a No-Horn Zone, will overtake you from the wrong side and will confuse you by changing indicators frequently for no reason.
14. Draupadi’s endless saree
The never-ending toll plazas. You would have just managed to keep the change back into the dashboard that you see another toll guy gesturing for toll tax.
The occasional hand-pumps where you stop to refill the emergency cans. I feel they were deliberately installed to help you stretch your muscles. And also the GPS playing hide and seek, which makes you turn your neck by 180 to 360 degrees checking about the route with every random guy visible.
16. The biker gang
The uniformly dressed group of gentlemen with Cruise bikes like Bullet and Harley Davidson, bike gear, a backpack, a make-shift tent and other utility items. They make you want to break-free and enjoy a solo-trip on a bike. I envy them the most.
17. The pee-poo showman
You know what this means! The kids and sometimes adults too answering nature’s call in the lap of nature completely oblivious of and ignorant about motorists passing by.
18. The graffiti on walls
‘Accident Porn Area’, ‘No Parking; Varna Puncture’, ‘Mardangi ke liye yunani hakeem se milein’, ‘Short Toilet – Rs.1 and Long Toilet – Rs.2’
19. The Nazi toilets at dhabas
No less than Hitler’s gas chambers.
20. The chhalli seller
The steamed and spicy Indian corn seller, and the cucumber or fruit salad vendor for the calorie conscious.
21. The overloaded sugarcane tractors
Don’t attempt to pull one out. You may dis-balance the tractor.
22. Quality time
Bonding with family and friends with slow music and an uninterrupted drive is such fun. You get ample time to unwind, get refreshed, introspect and rejuvenate.
The fun is in the journey and not just the destination. The awesome views of sky, green fields, canals, rivers, mountains and bridges, meeting different people, trying local food experiencing local culture and practices makes you a better, knowledgeable and wiser human being. You realize how insignificant you are in front of Mother Nature and no matter how many trips you make, you always come back with some new learnings and perspectives. There is definitely more to life than you may have thought before!