If you have already gone through one of my earlier posts, "All Roads Lead to Hell Part-1", this can very well be considered a sequel.
I had told "Kochi is a city of 200 million potholes of varying sizes interrupted very infrequently by remnants of what has been certified as 'Tar' by the PWD ! Welcome to Monsoon Tourism in God's Own Country. Ayurvedic Massage for the battered backs is our USP!"
I take back my words. After 6 weeks of very decent rains, we don't have potholes in Kochi. Absolutely no potholes. There are no roads in the first place. So where will you get potholes? Miles and miles of gutter with just three decent roads is what we have today.
|Thammanam - Pullepady THOAD - Gutter In Malayalam|
Some of the huge craters on our roads can put to shame the Chambal Valley. Especially the Thammanam - Pullepady road I used to drive through has become a sight to behold. I am reminded of our holiday in Kullu - Manali 11 winters ago. The drive is as perilous and treacherous as the drive through to Rohtang Pass. No exaggeration, honest !
|This stretch has no tar whatsoever|
I must thank Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi for keeping me alive. It is their songs that have helped me to keep my equilibrium through this madness.
So what do I do? I start a quarter of an hour early from home. And I start back home the same way in the evening. Why? To beat the jam. What else do I do? Well, this is what I mean by, "I Take the lesser trodden paths".
There are fortunately over a hundred small pocket roads in Kochi connecting different parts of the town by bypassing the traffic clogged main roads. These are the roads I take and there are 5 reasons.
1] Only small cars, two-wheelers and auto-rickshaws can traverse through these roads. Buses and trucks are out and that is a huge relief. Well, mostly so !
2] The out-of-town tourist vehicles can't solve the jigsaw puzzles of these roads and hence they stay off. The alien vehicles and a large chunk of women drivers are the worst traffic * Congestors *.
* Congestors is my humble contribution to the vast and rich English language. If someone has already used this word, I am not aware. I don't claim IPR for this *
3] Almost 80% of natives of Kochi don't know where these pocket roads will lead them. And average Kochiite isn't an adventurous animal. That helps semi-adventurous beasts like me.
4] Due to lesser traffic, these roads are like virgin forests. The roads aren't great, but there aren't any craters. All you need to keep vigil is of small boys bumping into you on bicycles or sometimes tricycles.
5] Almost as a rule these roads have their regulars like me. Most of them stick to their time and know when the school or college hours begin and end and hence when to avoid these roads.
So the chances of getting caught in a quagmire are narrower compared to the relatively broader main roads. So most of the times it is 'All is Well' on these roads. I can't be complaining. But there are some freak incidents that add to the charm and also the harm.
One particular mad evening, I took my regular road at quarter past four. But an arrogant Auto-Rickshaw driver while trying to overtake a car had got the whole place jammed. I had to beat the retreat.
Somehow managed to get out of the mess to enter my second pocket road. Lo and behold, a mini-truck fellow had decided enough is enough of main roads and joined our bandwagon. But the problem was with the the road. It was so narrow for him, the poor fellow got stuck in a bend and couldn't move either forward or backward.
I escaped pulling out on the reverse through a long lane of honking vehicles. And to my relief, I found the next pocket road with lesser congestion. And as I went three fourths the distance towards escape, I realized why it was lesser congested. One Tata Sumo had fallen victim to the incessant rains. It had ended up in a gutter; thereby breaking through the culvert and completely cutting off traffic through that road.
I had to retrace again and head towards the only way out; 'The Main Road' leading to Kaloor International Stadium. I took the widest pocket road towards the stadium. But was crammed for space by a Tempo, an Auto-Rickshaw and then a 60s model Willis Jeep.
To complete my evening of misadventure, a little boy on a bicycle leaped in front of my car from behind a parked Tempo and banged my car head on. Thankfully he wasn't hurt. Quite shaken, I pulled down my windshield to protest and give him a tongue-lashing. But instead of raising an alarm and creating a hullabaloo, he actually said "Sorry Uncle!".
That was a surprise. There is no appeal after 'Sorry'. So I drove on and reached home twenty five minutes late.
I told my story to my anxious family and went to take a shower. After my evening cup of tea and snacks, my father asked me, "Did the boy say Sorry to you?". I said, "Yes". My father quipped tongue in cheek, "No wonder he did, KL-7 is missing from your number plate, only BD - 6826 is remaining!"
|KL-7 Missing after Action !|