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Country Roads....take Me Home!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Srama, Mar 4, 2024.

  1. Srama

    Srama Finest Post Winner

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    For a change and a strange reason, I had not slept the previous night. I found myself waking up at 1.30 am, followed by 2.30, and 3.30, and by then I was done waking up every hour. I pace around for half an hour with a cup of coffee, take a shower and get ready, light a lamp to the God, and I am on the road by 4.40 am or so. I had of course checked out the route considering the hour of the day and though a tad bit surprised at the presented route, I chose to trust the GPS and head out.

    I find it a surprisingly warm morning for this time of the year and while happy about it, am kind of worried about the fog. Before I know it, the GPS is soon taking me onto a country road. Country roads are not my thing, not at all. I wouldn’t have worried this much if not for the hour of the day and that unexpected fog! For now, I am grateful that there is a car here and there and that I can follow them. But, suddenly and out of nowhere I am on a two-way street, that is not only undulating, and narrow but curvy as well, and the fog, to put it mildly, is all-enveloping and very dense! I am pretty sure the visibility is less than 50 feet. I try hard to focus on the breaking yellow median, able to see only three lines at a time to my left. I know there is not a soul for miles, and wonder what could be around, and strangely I am thinking of Robert Frost and his woods that are dark and deep.

    The woods are dark and deep, and it is not even a snowy evening. There is no doubt about that! But are they beautiful, I wonder? After all, I don’t know how my surroundings are! The way I am driving clutching my steering wheel tight and looking ahead, leaning forward like an old woman with a vision problem, you would advise me to keep the beauty part to another drive if you were with me. Well, let me assure you, even if I wanted to, I could not! It is after all only 5 am and still very dark, very very dark, and foggy. As I drive down the road, I am thinking of Frost for I know that there are miles to go and that my GPS can attest to before I sleep, and no doubt promises to keep – literally. I need to make that drive for those promises and then get some sleep.

    My GPS, as wonderful as it is, cannot know anything about the visibility around me. My car warns me of a severe storm if there is one, but my GPS is blissfully unaware of anything other than the road ahead of me. Its only goal is to reach me to my destination. I want to pray, but all I hear are all those romantic Hindi songs that I am playing on my Pandora first thing in the morning instead of some sahasranamam. I don’t know why I have chosen so! I want to change, but I dare not touch my phone on that road by letting go of my steering. So, I decide to enjoy by singing along for two reasons. One, I am alone, and I don’t care how I sound and two, keeps me alert.

    I continue to sing, pretending that all is okay and there is nothing to fear but fear itself, that my tank is full, that no strange animal has come in front of my car trying to cross that road…..so far. I feel like I am driving into an abyss like I am passing through space with a star shining here and there. For some strange reason, I am reminded of a story that there is a danger of being lost in the jungle or falling into ditches without a guide when one is on a spiritual journey emphasizing the need for a guru. I can finally understand that story. I do not know my route, don’t have a guide, and just out of blind faith, just follow the road that is showing up in front of me, only a few feet at a time. It indeed feels very scary, somewhat spiritual, and in a way very exciting. Imagination runs riot as I wonder how this route would be during broad daylight. Perhaps there are ditches right by the road, maybe some leafless trees are lining up, or maybe there are fields all around me. Maybe…….well, who knows?

    Suddenly I see the light of a car through my rear view, behind me pushing me and I refuse to budge. I cannot risk going off that shoulderless road, not knowing what’s next to me, without that guide by me. How can I? But, at a convenient time, that car overtakes me. I am delighted. Now there is something in front of me. I very bravely start following it albeit from a very safe distance. In my opinion, the driver is not being safe enough with the speed. I also kind of memorize the plate number, just an old habit of mine that helps me keep awake and amused at the same time as I play with the numbers in my head.

    I am very tempted to take a picture of the road I am on – imagine your plane going through those clouds and all you want to do is feel them with closed eyes but here I am unable to let go of my hands from the steering. I would have enjoyed the drive if I weren’t alone. But now, I cannot wait for the Sun to come up. I know I have a good two hours even before I can feel any semblance of light. I very hesitantly look at my GPS. I still have a long way to go. I look at the two eerie red taillights from the car that has overtaken me and decide that I have found my GPS-guru positioning System on this dark and lonely path. It is after all true that when a student is ready the guru shows up. I start speaking loudly asking the car to slow down, to allow me to follow it.

    My excitement ends soon as my guru decides to speed off leaving me desolate again in less than an hour. But the journey has been splendid so far, we have crossed perhaps 6 to 7 train tracks, one flashing light, many many curves, and a couple of stop signs. Thank goodness for the taillights! Finally, the early rays of the sun begin to show, and I am surprised looking at the world around me. There are nothing but miles and miles of empty fields around me with ditches on either side of the road, fences at some points, and undulated hillocks at others. I am grateful for that Surya Bhagavan as I slowly relax, leaning back onto the seat. A signal shows up at a distance, finally. As I slow down, who do I see? I recognize that number. It is none other than my guru. I see that the bumper is all mashed up. Poor guru – he must have been beaten hard by disciples like me is all I can think. I have no choice but to continue to follow the car on that one-lane road and suddenly it occurs to me that perhaps that person is also going to the same event as I am! Who else could be crazy to be on that road at that hour? And all that speeding only to be caught up by a slowpoke driver like me?

    As I continue to follow him, he takes a left just before my right turn for my destination and I smile. He must have been a local. Now the speed is well explained. Bringing my attention back to my GPS, I look around to get a feel of the town, memorize a thing or two, and take the right I was asked to. I am there bright and early. I slowly go through the gates, passing some bleachers, a couple of barns, some animals, some tents even, yet not a sign of the event I have come for! I reach the main door and park to see only two cars in the place of two hundred cars I was expecting even if I am a little early for the start of the event. As I sit contemplating about going through that single open door, I begin to wonder if all that long arduous journey with guru and all was only to be brought to the wrong destination! Imagine that!

    I get out gingerly and walk in. There is a woman with her daughter at the table with a big banner that reads the name of the event. As soon as I see that, I smile singing the song, “Country Roads Take Me Home”. - in my head. The country roads indeed did bring me home, for that day. I finally heave a sigh of relief!
     
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  2. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Sabitha,

    I am glad you reached safely to the destination. Believe it or not, I had encountered fog covered I-75 while going to Gainesville, Florida. You are right about not able to see more than 50 feet. Most of the time, we are on autopilot while driving and it is important however to keep our mind focused on the road.

    Once a guy who was coming from Tallahassee to our city to attend a spiritual retreat and asked for direction. I gave him clear directions how to get to our city. However, he was listening to bhajans and kept driving on the highway listening intensely to the bhajans and by the time he called again, he was 35 miles away South of our city. I told him to switch off and focus attention to the direction. I understand why it is better to listen to lighter music than intense Slokas while driving if we are driving long-distance or roads that are winding or fog-covered.

    Sometimes, I prefer state roads when compared to interstate as the speed limits are reduced and we come across more towns on the way, if one needs a break. Even though I don't like neon signs that distracts me when I make a spiritual trip, I welcome those neon signs and passing towns while phsically driving.
     
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  3. Anisu

    Anisu Platinum IL'ite

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    Srama,
    While reading this , i was with you during your ride and experiencing every emotion...
    Enjoyed reading your snippet and went back to my memory lane of our drive on bisile ghat...
     
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  4. Srama

    Srama Finest Post Winner

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    Dear V sir,

    As always, thank you for your response! So sorry about the delay in responding. I prefer the interstates sir -- perhaps the fact that I have a destination to reach and prefer the quickest and familiar way? As much as I love nature, love the country side, am not the one for country roads. I absolutely love the highway system here and will not trade it for anything unless I am forced, like I was on this trip! I made sure to drive back during daylight and the only thing I can tell you sir, I am so glad I didn't try to pull over! Phew!

    I wish I could lose myself in bhajans while driving, but......Hindi songs it is! Thank fully, the GPS always makes sure that I am on track and am very grateful for it.
     
  5. Srama

    Srama Finest Post Winner

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    Dear @Anisu ,

    So nice to see you here! Ghats sections in India only bring to mind the stomach-churning experiences I used to have growing up! Been ages since I have visited kukke subramanya! Thank you for your warm words Anisu! My apologies for the delayed response.
     
  6. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan Finest Post Winner

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    I hv neither experienced driving through fog but for about ten days every night drove over 30 km on a highway and country roads up and down blind spots narrow streets during blackout when India engaged in war to liberate Bangla Desh. Vehicles mainly trucks ahead were moving in snails pace headlights blacked out it was terrible to drive. It was before internet era no GPS.
    I hv experienced difficulty while driving through dense fog in early mornings on Eastern and western express highways in then Bombay & monsoon rains cloud bust when too the visibility almost turns to just few yards.
    Kesarinandan - Jai Bhajrang Bhali
     
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  7. Srama

    Srama Finest Post Winner

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    Dear @Thyagarajan sir,

    Thank you for your response. I can only imagine driving in the rain during monsoon. Freeway driving is fairly easy here but I have never experienced that kind of fog, that too for all of the drive for about 21/2 hours. Blackout, war....I am sure those experiences are different, way different.
     

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