A long weekend drive on a bright sunny day on the wide streets of Rajasthan, what more could one wish for. I woke up in my house in Jodhpur and the enchanting weather urged me to hit the roads. I usually travel alone as it gives me a perspective and this time the destination was Jaipur on the pretext of visiting Abhishek, a childhood buddy. Well, I was unaware that the journey would change my thoughts for life.
350 kms to Jaipur and I was to pass a few fascinating places like Beawar and Ajmer on the way. Car tyres checked and I was zooming past the scenic views of Rajasthan by 11 AM. Such sudden unplanned adventure drives were not new to me and in fact I enjoyed them more than the strategized ones.
Once out of the city, the crowded two lane roads gave way to long six lane highway stretches, tempting me to test the car’s escalations in three digits. The desert land revealed its true colours and the morning hues soon turned into scorching rays, failing the air coolers engineered to perfection. I covered the first 100 kms before stopping over to grab a bite. It was 12.30 and I wanted to be at Jaipur before 4 PM. 10 minutes of body stretch and a quick supper and I was back on the road, enjoying the rustic appeal of the ethnic state.
One that caught my attention was this aged man in a traditional attire, guiding a flock of sheep in broad daylight. His big round earrings, colourful churidar pajamas, yellow angarkha (traditional top wear of Rajasthani men) and saffron safa (a turban mostly worn by folks in Rajasthan) portrayed the rich cultural heritage of the state.
100 kms further and I was in Ajmer, a vibrant city cushioned in the Aravalli range and famous for the shrines of Brahma and Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. Post Ajmer the traffic was negligible and my speed was inversely proportional to the surrounding crowd. I was zooming across the broad avenue adjacent to the divider in the range of 150-160 km/hour when my phone buzzed with a text from a friend. Now this is something we all do, check our phones while driving and I was no different. Funny it was and I got so engrossed in the message that didn’t realise the steering wheel moving a bit too much to the right.
The next moment had me gliding across the divider and me pressed on the wheel, turning it to the left and there was the car drifting for another 40-50 meters on the muddy side lane before coming to a halt. I was startled and took a few minutes to get a hold on myself and step out to see the car. Scratches on the right and front bumper decorated with a huge dent, my car surely had a treat. A look to the side and I saw the 3ft high divider, thankfully narrow enough to prevent the car from toppling. Phew!! Luck was indeed my side to not have me killed to a meagre message.
The next 80 kms were difficult as I was desperate to reach Jaipur and take a shower to calm my nerves. I had a narrow escape but the incident confronted me to the golden truth: death isn’t too far and wraps us in its cocoon even before we realise our slip. It’s an invisible entity that gets provoked with the slightest miss, opening its victims to scary realities.
Till date, glimpses of the accident hinder me, wondering the consequences of my casual self. If the car had toppled, I wouldn’t be narrating my story here. What a drive it was and what it could have led to?