This is the beginning of a love affair, something that initiated multiple road trips to my favorite hang out Goa. It was October of 2010 , the month of my marriage anniversary ,it was my third marriage anniversary . Every year on this occasion , we go for a holiday, this time I made a plan to stay in Kodaikanal for few days , relax and have some good time with my wife and our 10 months old son Abe now Aryaman. I planned my route and expected 12-14 hours on road, by car. I planned to leave early in the morning around 5 am , so that I can reach Kodaikanal before evening and relax there.
Change of destination
In the morning, I was not able to locate my sunglasses , which is a necessity on my travels . Finally, I called my friend Kumar Jayant, who lived nearby. I asked him to give me his sunglasses as I need them all the time. He came to my home with his Ray ban shades, we had a brief discussion about my travel plan to Kodaikanal . He suggested, why not go to Goa? as it would take same amount of time. Moreover, he knew about my promise to my wife Jyoti, to take her to Goa after marriage. That promise still had not fulfilled. Considering that, I changed my travel plan in the matter of few minutes , over a cup of tea with my dear friend Kumar.
So new plan was to go to Goa, bags were already packed, we just had changed the destination. My wife was ecstatic. I had a GPS enabled smartphone and used famous maps in it. As per the famous mapping site on my cell phone, from Bengaluru till Dharwad it’s a no confusion straight drive. However ,just before Dharwad, I had to take a left and the route was going through villages and forest, connecting to main highway to Goa.
While, I was on highway, things were fine. However, journey became interesting in the evening around 5pm , when I left main highway and took route through the jungle. For initial few kilometers, the road was fine. But then I started hitting bad patches full of potholes. Later, the road was all filled with potholes. It was difficult to go above 20 km/h, I had to slow down. Due to bad connectivity , I was not getting routing information properly. Furthermore , there were multiple lanes in those villages in the forest. Soon it was dark, we had a new twist to the story with potholes filled with rainwater and mud. In dark with car headlights on, it’s really challenging to judge how deep a pothole could be. So, with every passing minute it was getting difficult to drive with a consistent speed.
To add to our horror , in the middle of this forest, in complete silence and darkness there came a train halt signal , I had to wait for 20 minutes to let the train pass. Those were few moments of deep introspection and guilt , I looked at my wife and my son, then the woods, with sound of crickets all around us. I felt how careless I can be . There was no clear route, potholes seemed endless. I was cursing myself for being in that situation. I was really worried with the increasing darkness , scared of unknowns. On this road apart from potholes, there was no one, not even incoming cars or buses. But my luck struck positively this time, as just before the train passed, I briefly got connectivity and found that highway connecting to Goa was 20 km from there. With this new hope , slowly I started moving forward.
Decide – Forward or backwards
In 5kms, I was face to face with one of the weirdest potholes, completely filled with water and mud , there was no other way out, earlier I already had a narrow escape with another monster hole where my car almost broke down. To go through that additional one , I needed some faith. It was scary to imagine broken car . There was no backup plan in worst case scenario. I even for a moment considered to turn around and go back. But even that was of no use, as internet connectivity was intermittent, I did not have backward route either. So, going back was even more stupid. Finally, I gave it a try. I prayed almighty and drove my car into that giant pothole . It made all kinds of sounds and almost stopped. Luckily, it came out of that, but apparently silencer got hit.
Out of the woods
My knowledge of cars, is strictly limited to driving, practically no knowledge of car’s internal systems and repair. So, whatever the condition of the car was, I had no clue. It was sounding like Ferrari or any sports car, when you push its accelerator. It seemed it would break sooner. Finally we were on highway. Apparently, worst was over. But I could not accelerate enough due to cars noise. Later, I kept speed of 40kms/h.
After some time, I noticed one of the sign boards that suggested Ponda was around 100 km. Ponda is a town in the vicinity of Goa. In few hours we reached Ponda. There I found lot of tourist hotels , I picked one of them , parked my jumbo jet. It was 11pm , we had nice dinner , nice sleep. Before falling asleep, I thought about the evening I had in the jungle. We managed to come out safely in time. This little adventure made this road trip really something to remember. All the next experiences in Goa became sweeter and a beginning of a love affair with Goa.
to be continued. . Next post