Perils of travelling with company.

A 1400km trip from Bangalore to Odisha.

Location – A hotel room. Time – 1am.

I remember crashing on the bed. After a long tiring journey, one needs a good nights sleep. The subconscious slowly starting to unfurl events of the day.

Right from our bumpy start previous morning to our arrival here. Everything vividly running in the head. Every travel brings in its own sweet little memory, unlike this one which registers more on the bitter side.

Our trip began in the wee hours of the day in the early August of 2020. At that moment, road travels were considered safest, so we embarked on this journey with our month old pup and a friend for company.

Also, accompanying were another friend and his family in their car.

Being the seasoned travellers we are, Husband and I deduced an early start would help us cover a considerable distance before dawn sets in and traffic builds on road. All of us were to be ready and out the door by 4a.m.

Little did we know, things weren’t going to happen as planned. To start with, our other friend’s family took their own sweet time. Probably should have reminded them that it’s not a stroll in the park but a 1400km long journey. Dilly-dallying won’t help.

After an hour long wait, they showed up but by then our pup starting getting anxious, closed up in a car surrounded with people, all this was new to her, reason enough to act out. (I don’t blame her, I lost my cool too waiting an hour for people to show up.)

She could not be contained in her little crate that we had setup in the back seat. I shifted beside her, held her in my arms, trying to ease her anxiety. It took an hour and a half, combined with a giant dose of bruises and scratches, to calm her down, she cuddled up in my lap and slept peacefully.

We were relieved for a short-lived moment.

Meanwhile, our friends in the other car were struggling to keep pace. Alien to the concept of GPS, they kept calling in to check up on our location and made us wait for them to catch up. At this rate, reaching Vizag(our pit-stop for the day) seemed liked a unattainable reality.

Will we make to Vizag today?

Nothing was predictable, given the speed(70kms/hr) we were travelling in, I thought it impossible. Finally, our friend caught up. At 6, we had barely travelled 40kms(our target was 100kms in 2 hours). Not a cynic by nature, I was annoyed. A small whiff of skepticism ran through me.

Travelling requires a certain discipline, planning and speed, we were lacking all that, that day. And just when we finally hit the road in top speed, another call forced us to stop. Our friend got a flat tyre( what more could possibly go wrong) in the middle of the road. Sunlight was not out and there were no people around to seek help, after a few moments of halt, we managed to call the repair services and awaited their arrival. Another hour gone, so was my patience.

Thanks to all the chaos around, Rumi(our pup) woke up, almost dreading and contemplating going back. I took a deep breath, calmed myself down. Travelling can be unpredictable sometimes, that’s the fun of it but right now I am far from being joyous.

Instead of further cribbing, I decided to take control of my emotions and feed ourselves. Food calms everything down, right!. Fed the hungry pup as well. Time spent judiciously. Fortunately there was a petrol station nearby, we filled the car up and relieved ourselves for the long journey ahead.

The tyre got repaired and we were on our way to Vishakapatnam(Vizag). Praying for no further delays ahead.

It was a pleasantly sunny day, skies crowded with white clouds, swiftly moving with the wind. The road ahead was proper, driving was smooth here. Grateful for that.

The map predicted night 9pm as our time of arrival, which was not bad considering the delays we faced. Without further delays we were certain to reach at the estimated time. I, like always, resorted to enjoying the view and listening to music. Trying to bring my “happy traveller” mood back.

The country side is a visual treat for anyone bored with the concrete jungles of city. Lined with an assortment of green trees and vegetation, one can never get enough. Fields adorned with crops of varying kinds, corn, paddy, banana, coconut to name a few, welcome you on both sides of the roads.

vast green fields with clear blue skies in the view.

By now, we have hit a long highway to the next state(Andhra Pradesh), the difference is immediately visible in the changing scenery from one state to other. Unlike the green cover and pleasant weather of Karnataka, Andhra feels like a dry barren land(no offence). Laden with vast paddy fields, maturing brown crop, nothing else is visible. Trees are sparse and the roads not motorable in most parts.

highway roads under construction with a view of a small green hill as the backdrop.

The construction work along the length of roads did not help either, it ate up a considerable amount of our time. By now it was noon, our friends were nowhere to be seen, we stopped for a small break to stretch and have lunch.

(Rule 101 of travelling – Never fill yourselves up to the neck with food, it slows you down and induces sleep, especially during late sunny afternoons. Eat minimally and avoid rice if possible.)

After a short 20 minutes, we continued without waiting for our friends since they were 70kms behind us. They will not be able to catch up given the speed so it was best we moved on. Continuing our journey, we sped up to make up for the lost time and reach Vijayawada by dusk.

It was a long shot but we did reach Vijaywada towards 6pm, which was a huge sigh of relief. Contemplating to wait or not for our friends, who are burnt out by now. We were informed to carry ahead. They decided to stop for the night and continue next day. A good decision on their part, long journeys are demanding, especially the first few times.

Without giving it much thought,we moved ahead to our destination which is another 6 hours, our ETA now 12 midnight. Thinking too much stops you, promotes doubt, its better to act than think in such situations. The road was unfavourable for most part, given the heavy amount of road work and construction (It was not completed even after 3months, when we returned).

Driving in the dark is not something we favour, given the perils and poor visibility. And crossing a state highway with a serious lack of infrastructure is even more dangerous, to add to our woes it started raining that night. I could not even begin to describe the fear that had set in, when I saw the rain falling on top of us and the river Godavari running parallelly.

A lone road lit only by the car's light.

For the unknown, Godavari is a mighty river, with a vast expanse, it floods almost every year. It’s scary to witness it in daylight, imagine the nights. The only time I was this scared was during the Kerala floods I witnessed while travelling home, thus started my ill-fated relationship with rains.

Read that article here.

It was not only me, I could feel the tensed up nerves of the Husband( who was driving) and his friend. Relying only on the car lights we moved cautiously ahead. If it wasn’t for the Husband’s determination and driving skills,I must say, we would not have reached our destination by midnight. Sigh of Relief.

We were more than ready to leave the day behind us and start a new day afresh on a positive note.

After a well-rested night, we got packed and ready to start. Eight hours of travels and home. Vizag was a pleasant city, unlike much of the landscape, this place was brimming with greenery. Maybe its the proximity to the seas and the humidity which enabled such beautiful surrounding. It was a delight to watch, I wish we had more time but we had to move on.

Holding a cup of coffee in hand with a view of beautiful fields in front.

Our target for today, reach Bhubneshwar by 5p.m(which obviously did not happen). The day started on a good note, the roads ahead seemed neat and well-maintained. Speeding up the meter to a 100 seemed viable. Day was bright with no clouds in place, clear blue skies accompanying us with a hint of humid.

Rumi was her cheerful self, playing around for few minutes, then drifting to endless sleep. Not at all bothered by the works of the world, she had a good 20 hours of sleep the previous day as well. Lucky for us. Only waking up to eat and answer nature’s call, she was a dream. We hoped the same would continue today.

Did I mention the vast barren land earlier, once we hit the highway it turned into that again. Not a single shop or food joints in place. Doesn’t anyone travel here across borders? How do they manage without restrooms and food? Thankfully we had enough snacks to sustain us atleast till afternoon.

Atleast this highway was better, we made it to Odisha border by 3pm. Surviving on only packaged munchies and water, famished to the brink, hoping to find food we entered our home state.

Bypassing the Covid infested Brahmpur district, crossing the enormous Chilika Lake, seeing it for the first time, I was stunned with its beauty and vastness. The view from our vantage point above was spectacular. Rain poured in, grey clouds keeping us company all through the way, barring the feeling of fear which crept in the previous day.

Rain drops on a car window with a vague view of outside.

The feeling of home was negating all others. After a gruelling and in-part enlightening two-day journey covering 1400kms, we reached home with showers and thunderstorms welcoming us.

Time was 6pm at night, an hour more than expected.

But home made all the frustration go away.

P.S – Our friends reached home a day after us with enough stoppage and guidance. Don’t think they’ll ever travel by road again.

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