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On crashing a motorbike

Posted by on Feb 23, 2007 in Personal | 2 comments

…. and where there’s a highway, what’s a little bloodshed here and there, eh?

Twas a dark and stormy night. Okay, not really stormy. One half of the National Highway 4 was barricaded for repairs. No warning boards. An area of darkness. You hear yourself crash much before you manage to see anything blocking the road.

At 75 kilometres an hour, the only sound you hear is of the metal slamming into asphalt. Of mud and gravel ripping through your clothing, of sand tearing into your skin and fusing into a mishmash of blood and flesh and earth and mud and pebbles, as you’re dragged along by the collapsing steed. That’s a lot of sounds, eh?

Poop. It doesn’t feel all that dreadful as you’re conditioned to believe – my knee and heel and everything in between all have a sharp tang emanating from them – but it’s more like irritation than agony. My perception is much heightened; I can sense more acutely the minutest sensation in my lacerated arms and legs – it’s a combination of a gazillion crawls, each different from the other. The ankle feels wet from blood trickling down it – it’s a bit of a change from the dry dirt that’s been stirred and mashed into my flesh these last few seconds; it also reminds me rather abruptly that my throat is parched.

I turn the key, and sit down on the road. I decide the nonchalant dude act is in order – nonchalant dude picks up bike, drives home, washes wounds, and doesn’t think about it afterwards. Aaaah, it’s a *little* tough bending my knee. Or for that matter lifting the bike. Or walking. Pfoo – I drag self from underneath bike, wobble towards the streetlight, recline on the divider, and stretch legs.

For the first time, I see my arms and legs. Aaaaaargh! How the hell am I going to clean all that up? There’s mud a mile deep into my flesh, all along the enormous openings in my skin, there’s red everywhere, lightened occasionally wherever the earth has pitched in, and garnished where the pebbles have volunteered. Aaaah – someone’s going to have to rub the wound a million times to get all that mud out of it.

I decide I’ll not think about it. On an impulse shut my eyes to try and do nothing but feel, sense as fully, as completely as I can the itch, the burn, the bristle in my arms and feet. Aaaah.

Gentle reader, you’re perhaps wondering if I haven’t heard of hospitals or doctors that I had decided to sit down in the midst of highways and bleed on to glory. I must point to the fact that it was a half past eleven, and so the only alternative to being nonchalant dude was to wait for reinforcements.

In due time, a solitary auto showed up. Chap picked up the helmet that had flown off my head on impact, the cell which had decided to do a triple jump from my pocket, and of course, parked the bike, which had dragged me along after having completed the formality of getting its face smashed in.

“Nah, don’t hold me, I’ll walk inside”, saith I once we reach the hosp. Aaah dammit, I haven’t the strength to speak – my vocal chords are stretched, and yet hardly a whisper emanates. Three staggering steps, as the auto guy apprehensively looked on, before he rushed to hold me. “Get a goddamn wheelchair”, I could’ve been screaming, but every word could only struggle out of my lips.

Aaaah man, I plopped into the wheelchair, it hit me as to how completely physically deflated I was. A while ago, it was almost as if no amount of bloodletting would do anything to me, and now, ah, I was so devoid of energy, or for that matter the will or the life to be able to do anything – the only resolve I seemed capable of making was to determine to do nothing, and let people take care.

Got hauled into a ward, it took a while to get all the mud cleaned – it was a strange sensation finally seeing the expanse of blood and flesh all by themselves; free of all the earth that I thought would never get away from it.

Pah – still cant speak- water please! No avail, I’m talking in hoarse whispers. Could I at least write my name? My right wrist isn’t going to jump at the idea, thank you very much. The doc let it pass.

‘Trauma’, wrote the doc, in large friendly letters. Gaah, trauma it seems – I contemplated a protest at being described thus, before surrendering to the superior, yet sweet forces of sheer fatigue that quietly embraced me.

**

Tis Immutable law time again!

One: The day you desist from wearing your jacket and shoes is the day you crash.

Two: Your insurance policy always expires two days before you crash.

Three: Time wounds all heels.

**

One does, however, look at the brighter side, which in this case was that one was compelled one to pick four wheels instead of two, which, you will admit, has its merits.

**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light at the end of the tunnel?

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All about roads.

Posted by on Jan 15, 2007 in Personal | 1 comment

Where there’s a

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will, there’s a highway.

Boo!

 

Reflections on bus exteriors.

 

 

 

PS – Click on them pics to view them better.

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Portraits of the driver as a young man – II.

Posted by on Apr 21, 2006 in Personal | 0 comments

Sunsets and sunrises are the among the most common motifs in art and aesthetics, yet they never bore you or cease to hold your imagination. Out in the open, on a highway in the middle of nowhere, watching a sunset all by yourself makes it a first hand, close up experience, much like riding across nowheres, that makes you feel closer to, in proximity with nature, with the sunset.

Sunflowers! Bad photo, but REAL sunflowers! Not on TV or in a tourist album, not even a fleeting glimpse through a speeding bus or train, but field after field of glaring yellow running away to infinity – right here, right now, right around me. I hopped off the highway, parked on the side road that coursed through the midst of these fields, sat down upon a the edge of a little bridge. Their calm was infectious. It helped that it was late morning, and that I’d been driving since sun-up and so was in need of a break, so much time could be spent here.

 

This was another of the times when I wished I had a much better camera. This was a swampy stretch that I viewed from the ledge of a cliff outside Hospet on NH13. I parked upon the stones on the

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roadside, regretting as one does on such occasions – that things like these, those that we love the most are those that we cannot stay forever with. Some half an hour was all that could be devoted, for sundown, alas, approached, and a town had to be gotten to before dark, before the killer trucks would begin to go on the attack.

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Portraits of the driver as a young man – III.

Posted by on Apr 21, 2006 in Personal | 4 comments

The Re-loins stations. Very neat, very well kept, amazingly spacious and comfortable – with hygienically prepared horrid tasting food – it tasted equally bad in the couple of stations I went to across three states. The perfect places to stop over and take a nap, after you’ve had lunch elsewhere.

Eh? Why should I give a caption for every pic?

That’s un-burn.

The phantom steed.

Still life with unkempt hair.

 

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On driving in the dark

Posted by on Mar 27, 2006 in Personal | 3 comments

The steed was de-lighted. Her lights were refusing to work. That fact came into my cognizance only after I’d slithered onto the Bangalore highway on my way back home. Which fact, you’ll quite agree, is distinctly unfunny at a quarter past ten in the night on a dark highway, particularly when 15 km of that thoroughfare has planted itself between you and home.

During previous rides, the headlight being in order had quite attenuated my sensitivity to the fact that there were, in fact, no street lights on the said highway. I could, of course, navigate the steed by the lights of the city that loomed beyond the knolls and go at 70 or so, but proceeding for some 10 meters sufficed to convince me of the hopeless inadequacy of the said so-called illumination for the requisite speed.

I was by now 10 meters ahead, which quite ruled out the possibility of going all the way back into the city and clutching the old highway. There was lethargy pertinent to the extra distance to be driven, there was also what I was trying to tell myself was pride, and how I’d be proud to have driven at 70kmph in pitch darkness – tale for grandchildren and that sort of thing.

Easy does it, I thought. All I need do is latch onto another motorcyclist and follow his tail light. Other motorcyclists were quite at the desired speed, so I let go as soon as the next whizz went past, and charged ahead. Seeing a blot of red 20 meters ahead and heading straight on in that general direction shouldn’t be that difficult, I told myself.

A curve announced its arrival by the shoving the road away to my right, and this I had to negotiate without the benefit of any sort of illumination, for the red dot lit no part of the road, and illuminated nothing but itself. Being on the edge of the road, ambitious of touching 70, it isn’t the easiest of tasks to avoid contemplating the possibility of the tar underneath your wheels sprinting off to your right and giving way to gravel, or worse – to bushes and vegetation lining the road, or to ditches and drains that were in equal abundance, or for that matter to air which would gladly proclaim its presence whenever the road would prop itself upwards.

Thoughts of the sort, therefore, walked into my head, checked in and made themselves comfortable. By now, the red spot had drifted away. The gently rising embankments of the hillock lay both to my left and right – those on my right being pockmarked by sparks, by dots of various shades of yellow and white of the city lights that punctured the darkness like shards of broken glass glinting in sunlight, but which sparkles stubbornly refused to be bright enough to show me my way ahead.

There were other red lights I could chase, and I could even do so at 60-70. But to do so and simultaneously stay on the road was, I reluctantly admitted to myself, rather beyond my abilities, considerable as they might be. I therefore resigned myself to having to take the steed along at 30 or so. Due deceleration was effected.

Given the highway was this one, I feared that a pace of 30 odd would amount to sheer torture. The next swing of the road to the left drove into exile such, and all other thought, for I was by now really paying attention, really looking, concentrating, on what I could see nothing whatsoever of. Call it survival instinct if you must – not wanting to end up on a hospital bed, I must humbly confess, does come rather naturally to me.

For the first time since I had begun driving, I was actually looking ahead, forward, and not sideways. What was my sole concern was what was immediate, and not any of the accompanying frills or sideshows. Sometimes, while on the road, when you see, love the people, the landscapes, the hills, the rivers, the skies, you miss the road itself – it’s easy to skip the obvious.

I could today see the dull, dark twin blotches stroll away ahead of me, and see nothing but that. There were occasional shimmers of the radium signposts flanking the path, there was the yellow-white stripe on the left edge following it loyally to the end of the world, there were thickets that you could only see the outlines of – that earlier rides had told you were the clumps of bougainvillea that had sprung from the dividers. The road waved about left and right in curls whose roundedness I had never noticed before – somehow all that seemed to have mattered before

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was the speedometer reading. Mohandas had told me too – there’s more to life than increasing its speed. The smooth curvature – like that of an infant’s cheeks, looked like one huge, unconcerned swoosh of some cosmic paintbrush.

Sometimes embracing the hillocks, sometimes breaking free to be all by itself, sometimes taking a peek at a the shimmying of a lake that lay downstairs, occasionally crawling underneath bridges, sometimes wiggling between cliffs, at times going up on its toes to skip across rivulets, the road stretched itself out upon its back as it lay down underneath the blanket of the inky sky, even as the occasional roar of an overtaking vehicle dissolved into a crimson speck in the distance.

It moved on seemingly in ripples – flutters that used to be concealed from you before by speed, preoccupations, everything else you thought was terribly important. It gently, softly sauntered up, making of itself a mound that you felt you could almost slide off, and as it leisurely ambled down the rise I saw a glimmering stream of golden yellow, which was all you could see of the lights of the few oncoming vehicles there were at this time. It was an incandescent dribbling brook of gold that sputtered irregularly forth from far ahead, and lay before you in a neat straight line comprising of fluorescent droplets. The intermittent, discontinuous garland of approaching embers threaded together by the black of the road gave out a dazzle that glared into your eyes as it approached, and for that reason I had to try all the more harder to see the road directly ahead, immediately underneath my tyres.

***

One is reminded of these verses. Also these, and these.

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