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BELLpeppers by Rashmi Oberoi.-October 22.2015-Pasta on Highway







Bell peppers by Rashmi Oberoi-



Indian truck-fnbworld

Nothing can beat the exuberance of long drives and road trips to holiday destinations and family visits. A carload of happy people, good music, ecstatic pets and the icebox filled with goodies always sets the mood in motion. Road journeys in India are exciting of drive through picturesque landscapes with breath-taking views, experience a myriad of emotions and eat some of the tastiest roadside food possible. On the flip side, driving through our country roads is a challenge and one has to be a ‘responsible driver’ to overcome all the bumps.

On a recent road-cruise from Panchkula to Gurgaon, I decided to make note of all that I saw and experienced during the journey. Fifteen minutes into it, we noticed two cars driving alongside with their window panes down, maintaining the same speed and distance in between. A strange sight indeed on a highway and naturally it became more of a hazard for other vehicles trying to overtake them. I finally saw them pullover on the side, taking cover under the shade of the huge neem trees scattered along the route. Not giving them a second thought I went back to watching the road.


Stuffed paratha-fnbworld

The highway was dotted with policemen that morning...standing at regular intervals of a distance of maybe half a kilometre or so between them. Some wielding sticks, others walkie-talkies, bored out of their wits as I noticed them yawning, scratching and other filthy antics. It was quite obvious that they were waiting for some ‘bigwig’ to drive past. Half an hour later, we heard the familiar sirens of a motorcade egging motorists to clear the way. A minister’s cavalcade of SUVs/Cars/Jeeps of various sizes zipped past us at full speed...all breaking rules and flouting the stipulated speed limit with no care for the safety of others and leaving all of us behind in a whirl of dust.


Minutes later, we saw all the cops rushing back home or wherever they needed to be on that Saturday morning having saluted the great ‘VIP’ and the agenda of the day being completed with aplomb. We decided we needed a break and stopped for a piping hot cup of tea. Nothing can beat the ‘kadak’ and sweet ‘chai’ of a road-side ‘dhaba’. But naturally, we too succumbed to a delicious stuffed ‘paratha’ each topped with blob of butter that was served to us in minutes. In between bites, I noticed a host of fast-food outlets that had sprung up around the small village. Having a penchant for picking up whiffs and smells in a jiffy...yeah, faster than a Blood-hound perhaps, I thought I smelt ‘pasta’ but how could that be possible in ‘paratha highway’? Curiosity kills the cat as they say and on further enquiring I learnt that after the ‘death’ of Maggi...the birth of Italian pasta in ‘instant’ food had set a new precedence. Not really a favourite of mine, I turned up my nose only to notice umpteen paper-plates of pasta being wolfed down all around. Hmmmmm!

Roadside pasta-fnbworld

Once back on the highway, I noticed the ‘Two Idiots’ once again in front of us...but naturally since we had been satiating our appetites. They were back to driving side by side and having a great chat with windows rolled down and not a care in the world. I think the cacophony of glaring horns had them off the road again in no time. I just couldn’t fathom this need for a tête-à-tête on a freeway. 

The beautiful Panipat flyover had a ‘runway’ horse on it... trotting down the opposite side of oncoming traffic. My vivid imagination, of course, conjured up images of the animal fleeing from a horrid master or running away to meet his mate! But I was soon distracted by ‘aunties’ in traditional rural attires trying to cross the berms and road dividers, unhinging parts of their clothes caught on the railings and nearly toppling over in the bargain. I glared at a lad on a motorbike with earphones on as he swerved his bike to the beats of the music he was listening to. The car ahead of us braked dangerously trying to avoid a ‘man with a pail’ who strolled across as if he was on a walk in the park. Tractor drivers raced past us as though competing in a rally. Sometimes, it all seems too much and you wonder if you’ve held your breath too long while dealing with the highway maze and then let out a deep sigh that distracts the driver momentarily. But you don’t want that so you go back to staring and glaring at the windscreen and keeping your eyes peeled on the road.

There were accidents aplenty on the highway that we came across. Some tragic...some seemed not so serious. The worst was when cars on the extreme left suddenly switched lanes and darted across to take a right turn and a few drivers so busy on their blasted phones that they failed to notice their erring ways. You also have a few who come down the wrong side of the oncoming traffic...heading straight at you that for a moment you think you are in the wrong lane and nonchalantly push you off to zoom past before you can even react. The only time I saw traffic slowing down suspiciously was when a police jeep was spotted way ahead, facing the traffic with the speed-gun clocking the miles of the errant drivers! It was rather funny to see ‘organized’ traffic and ‘obedient’ driving at that moment. The most infuriating episode being where a canter refused to pay toll based on ‘religious’ grounds citing that he was carrying ‘priests and prayer material’ and the great standoff resulted in all those in queue including us, reversing all the way back and moving into another line! So much for excitement in various forms.

You know that saying: It’s all about the journey and not the destination... Well, that surely stands true in our country!

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