Ernakulam to Alappuzha, 58.7 Kms, 1 Hour 26 Mins said Google. 86 mins to cover just 58+ KMs? Google you are drunk I said to myself. It was reinforced when I did about 32 odd KMs out of the stretch in about 30 minutes. Was Google really drunk? You bet!
|Google! You drunk Mate?|
Once out of the Toll Roads, I reached what I thought was the Moon. But I was wrong. I mean I don’t think moon has craters that are this deep. Or have so many of them. Sorry Moon. You are passé! In fact I counted more craters per square inch than are found in an average Medu Vadai!
The journey though was just warming up. The first thing that struck me as I was negotiating to find the inches of road on this surface was a roadside sign which said ‘Maximum Speed 15 KMPH’. I nearly choked of laughter and almost hit a senior citizen uncle on a scooter who decided to stop bang in the middle of the junction to ogle at some Malayalee beauties crossing the road.
The next 300 meters were covered without any major incident. Unless you consider a man who poked his bicycle in front of my car just as I saw an opportunity to step on the gas in his attempt to cross the road, getting stuck in the attempt because of the passing of a heavily loaded truck on the other side. That the cyclist decided to make full use of the inactivity he was subjected to, actually tapped on my windshield to try and sell me a lottery ticket was but a small example of our enterprising Malayalees trying to make an honest living.
At the next, one among the million plus traffic signals on NH66, an enthusiastic biker after negotiating the various minuscule openings between the overwhelming traffic ended up standing next to me. One look at his face, I could detect the smirk. “Haha, here I am on a 50K bike and stuck, and here you are in a 500K Car and stuck!” If looks could kill, he was a goner the instant I gave him my stare. To cut the story short, at yet another traffic signal, I was placed next to a swanky BMW. If looks could kill, I was a goner the instant the BMWer gave me a stare!
One unique feature of Keralites is that they are among the most empowered people among us Indians. Not for them the rules that are made for us mere mortals. So nothing stops them from taking the lane for the traffic going in the opposite direction to beat the jam and postpone their tryst with the snarl up by a few hundred meters. That the same is caused by people going in the opposite direction resorting to the same tactics should not be considered ironic but yet another proof of equally empowered Keralites, direction no bar! Yours truly too took a chance on one occasion only to be stopped by a friendly neighbourhood cop who left his chaya and kadi half consumed and pounced on me to issue a ticket. Empowerment is I presume reserved only for Keralites. Kerala cops, if I may add in the passing, have a special love reserved for cars which are registered in the Pakistani state of Karnataka. (I will fail in my duties if I don’t mention this love is mutual with the Karnataka Cops also reserving their special attention on cars registered in Kerala on their roads. Welcome!)
However one must express compliments where due else you are nothing but a mere nitpicker. There was a stretch where I did manage to touch peak speeds. That the stretch was only about 82 meters long and the peak speed I managed was about 43 KMPH should not derail my objectivity.
Finally I did reach Alappuzha. I found out. Google was indeed drunk. I took a whole 210 minutes to cover a distance that Google said will take 'only' 86. Go away Google. Meet me when you are sober!
Dear Keralites! Never ever ever ever defend your state when anyone, especially me, takes up cudgels against you in an argument. Don’t you dare!
If you throw your literacy rates at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw you public health care system at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw Mohanlal, Jesudas and Adoor Gopalakrishnan at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw P.T.Usha, M.D.Valsamma and Shiny Abraham at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw Onam Sadya, Paladapradhaman and Nendranga Chipps at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw Arya Vaidhyasala and Herbal Massage at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw Sabarimalai and Padmanabhaswamy Temple at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw Rubber, Tea and Spices at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhumi at me, I will throw your roads at you.
If you throw ‘God’s own country’ at me, I will throw the Devil and your roads at you.
And if you in a moment of madness throw my wife at me, I promise I will catch her, gently lay her down and then throw your roads at you.
(For those who came in late, My better half is a Malayalee. Welcome!)
PS: As things stand now, my car has threatened to leave me once we go back to my hometown. She refuses to come home and insists would instead go straight to her maika/porandha aam, into the ever welcoming arms of the engineers at the Maruti Service Centre, to recoup her vigour!
Chaya and Kadi :
Maika/Porandha Aam : The Brides’ parental home.