NINETY SIX

I go on several road trips in our car to nearby places. I have traveled 3000 kms on one road trip which was the longest road trip for me. And while I have been on these road trips, there have been several occasion when I have wished I had known ahead of the trip what all to come prepared for or bring with. Mind you while on the road it is never possible to predict what emergency you might encounter. In fact, not always will the arrangements you make before you start prevent the emergency situation but at least if you come prepared there is a 80% chance you will be able to handle the situations that do crop up on the way and you can be sure that your fun and adventure are not curtailed by fear of the unknown events.

So, without much ado I give to you the list, my checklist, after many road trips, some impromptu, on a whim trips too.

Things to Remember before you start on a Road Trip:

  1. The Car : This is your ride and it is important that you are aware of condition of your vehicle. A well maintained car means less headache before the trip. By well maintained, I mean a car which is taken care off. Sending the car for routine service is important but more importantly ensuring that the car is kept in best shape all year round. Getting the wheel alignment, tyres, break oil, Engine, AC unit , Coolant checked is important. The service people will do that for you but as the owner of the car, you should know how to run some basic checks before you start the road trip. This becomes important when you go an impromptu trip and also while on the road. Make sure your headlights and tail lights are in order, along with your windscreen wiper, without these you will have a tough time negotiating the Indian highway. Ensure the spare Tyre is in good shape and has adequate air pressure. The car comes with a kit for handling your flat Tyre in case you get one. Make sure you check it before you head out. In case you do end up using the spare Tyre, get the flat Tyre repaired as soon as possible because you may need it. On one of my trips I saw another driver use a hand held air pressure checking device along with a foot operated air pump for his tyres. I am yet to invest in one. But in case you are confident with handling such a device you can invest in it. I am strictly against keeping spare fuel. As per current regulations petrol pumps do not allow you to take fuel in canister.
  2. The Destination: First you decide on the destination, that’s the easy part, the difficult part is planning the route and navigation. If this is your first road trip my suggestion would be to take it slow. No need to try and drive 12 hours or overnight. Focus on doing a certain number of kms per day during day light and accordingly plot your stopover and stay. By stopover I mean to suggest pit stops which are very important to keep you from getting fatigued, to relax your muscle, and believe me you will need it for your leg muscles will strain. Even if you are not on a long drive of say more than 300 kms, eventually you will stay overnight somewhere, so plan that stay accordingly. It is a good idea to check online for resources, for example there a re many blog entries by people having done a similar road trip, that may provide you with some inputs. Now that you have zeroed in on the destination and you have the kms chart in front of you and a approximate idea of how long you will be driving let’s get to the part about Navigation.  
  3. Route & Navigation : In this day of Google Maps everyone is reliant upon technology, but when you are in India where 4G network is sketchy in the City, imagine what can happen when you are out on the highway passing through several states. My point is do not depend on just one thing, especially an internet dependent technology. Does it mean you have to buy a map and trace the route on it? No, I only mean to have a offline source of your route and not remain dependent on Google Maps. Google maps has a option of saving a route offline which means even if your internet is not working your Phone GPS will still guide you. Initially when we started our road trips, we used to take prints of the entire route from Google Maps. Along with the description and directions you can easily take prints of the bifurcated sections of the route which gives you better details. While you are plotting your route, please remember to do it before hand, what Google Maps does is it pics up your current location and gives you a route from there, best not to do that, because we have been taken on a wild goose hunt by the map. Also remember the Google maps is designed to pic the fastest route , even if it is faster by 3 mins and 5 kms extra. Don’t go blindly by what the map says, that is why it is important to plot the route before you set out.
  4. Fuel and other consumables: If you have internet, you can figure out stops for rest rooms, eateries and fuel stations but on a longer trip it is always better to do a little research before hand. This means calculating how much fuel you will burn on your trip and around what point on the journey do you need to refuel. Mark these important pit stops on the map. These will come in handy. In consumables I would club everything from Drinking water, Dry food items, medicines etc. Let me break these down for you in case you think these are easily available and can skip them. Drinking adequate water while on the drive is scary because you worry about finding Rest Rooms on the way. It is true in India the availability of clean toilets are an issue. But remember to stay hydrated. Carrying at least 2 bottles of drinking water from home, this will have you covered in case you don’t get any places to buy water, also the packaged water you get in some locations may be locally packed and very dicey in nature. Apart from this, it does make sense to save on cash. I would also suggest keeping a separate bottle of water for washing. This is meant for your dirty windscreen or your self. You never know when you need it. Keep some dry food items like sliced dry fruit cake, biscuits, a few fruits like apple & guava, some chocolate this is to keep your energy high and snack in between rest stops. A small first aid kit should always be there in your car glove box apart from this carry your regular medicines, in case you use some, for other medical emergencies, carry a basic supply of cold, fever, stomach upset medicines.
  5. Miscellaneous:  These are the stuff which no one tells you about and which I have come to realize do come in handy. A USB full of great songs, a small concealed knife to be used for both helping you cut fruit and a weapon, a box of dry tissues, some wet wipes. Remember to pack your car charger, a drained phone is of no use. Bring with you some old newspaper. Why you ask? Because a road trip shouldn’t be only about being on the road, you may want to take a break from the driving and find a meadow and sit down to spent time with nature. Remember while you are planning your trip to remember to keep the driving to exploring ratio balanced. You don’t want to end up only taking the highways and being completely drained by the end of the trip. Take a detour, explore a field, sit at a roadside dhaba and drink some tea. When packing luggage remember to keep a separate bag which contains a change of clothes and a scarf, you can keep this in the back seat while the heavier luggage can be in the boot. Keeping a small cushion handy makes sense, this can be used to support your back while driving and in case you wanna take a nap in the back seat.

The above list is not all inclusive there maybe several things which you may require to add according to your requirement. But the most important non materialistic things to carry on your road trip is your confidence, intelligence, common sense and sense of adventure. So, what are you waiting for, plan that road trip and go for it, don’t forget to enjoy the views and click pictures.

EIGHTY NINE

Yup, I saw that, didn’t I? Your eyes widened for that millionth of a second and there was a flicker of astonishment and amusement at the same time. You hadn’t seen me walk in but just as you turned towards the door I was right there in  your line of sight. And that’s when your eyes said so much and so little all at the same time. My nature is to avoid making eye contact but this time I knew I was going to look into your eyes and see something, anything.

I think I blinked first when I said “Good morning” with a plastic smile on my face and you caught me off guard with your “Good Afternoon”. I fumbled losing the eye contact but just before this I saw your eyes glide over me head to toe. What was there in that glide over? A bit of the aforementioned amusement and astonishment and may be a tiny little interest. You recovered at the same time I did. So we made eye contact again. And an amused smile spread from your lips to eyes with mine about to respond.  But I shrugged my shoulder and walked ahead letting you catch me walk away from you and the rest of view, as they say.

So who won that round fella? 

You say.

I think right now we are 2-1. The first time you took me by surprise and i lost a point somewhere in between the ‘beginning to like you’ and ‘we can’t be friends’, but don’t you worry I have been around longer than you and played this game more often.  Let’s see who breaks the impasse first.  And I can promise you I won’t make it easy for you.

TO BE CONTINUED …

EIGHTY SEVEN

I’m still thinking about you. I guess you don’t know that. I doubt you even think of me. There you go. Even in doubt there is the hope that may be when the loudness of the world has receded at night. When the quiet solitude takes over; just for a flicker of a second my face flashes in your mind’s eye. Your thoughts disappear when life takes over. But when  there is no more thoughts left, this one thing lingers on my mind. The thought of you looking at me from the distance through your prescription glasses with that half a smile hanging off your lips.
That’s how I am going to remember you for life isn’t it? There is nothing more left with me but that memory. Strange how even in the days now social media and camera phones I still have to rely upon my memory of you sitting across the table. You looked at me through those glasses squinting a bit in the dimly lit room. I can almost hear the music playing in the background. I can’t remember what song it was. But I remember every time we would go down to the pub, they would play that song. Strange how one associates good memories with songs. Come to think of it, is this the good memory I have you? May be. Yes, I think out of the several memories I have of us spending time together what haunts me are those eyes looking at me. They had some questions in them, I wasn’t interested in answering them. Because I was too afraid. Yes I was young and afraid.

I was slow. I was stupid.

May be we were friends, lovers, companions,  the definitions felt too constricting.

Perhaps I will remember the evening when we walked on the river bank watching the moon rise and shine across the dark waters. Or how easily a 2 min update about your day 0 placement became a 20 mins conversation.
No may be I won’t remember any of these.

I may only remember how I held your head as you sobbed and your garbled words of apology mixed in the cold crispness of a winter night. I may remember how you held my hand and said it’s just been 2 hours, stay for 15 mins more at midnight. I may even remember time when you looked into my eyes like there was no tomorrow and all my worries were negated by your one word and the night would melt into morning.

But the world is cruel and so is time and we are each responsible for the seeds of misfortune we sow thus, all I can remember now is you stepping away from me and your words like daggers ripping through my soul. ” I don’t think we can be friends anymore.”

SIXTY TWO

When you start the day on a positive note there is always a possibility that the day will have a positive outcome. Life has too many occasions to turn that smile into a frown but what makes life worth living is looking out, taking a deep breathe and observing life instead of concentrating on the self. A long time ago a friend with a philosophical bent of mind had said that what is happening to us is that we looking inwards and concentrating on the self, on the losses,  gains and unfulfilled desires. Instead if we were to look beyond us to observe the world we would find calmness and reduce questioning our self worth.
So yesterday morning when i was stressing out about a tough day and a few other commitments pressing on my   time, i decided to look outside observed the world around me. The people commuting to office,  the harried folks rushing in and out of Metro station,  the relaxed students chattering with friends… Suddenly there was a calm that i felt descend on me. The usual carpool was late which meant i could take the earliest Metro, that made sure i reached office on time and by then i had planned my day. I knew i would complete my work on time and leave on time to keep my other commitments. I couldn’t help feel thankful for the day, it was a perfect example of whatever happens is for your own good. A thought i believe in and always find to be true when i stop, observe and look at my life from a different perspective,  through a positive lens,  without judgement,  without letting negativity fill my mind.
I don’t know whether such things are only tricks of mind but another day passed in this city and it wasn’t so bad.  It was okay. That gives me hope.

THE END

FIFTY FIVE

I am a cat lover , doesn’t mean I am a dog hater, I like them both but I love cats. Here is an interesting bit of information I gathered while prowling on the internet.

The Indian Cat Federation has been formed to provide much needed support to the Cat owners and Breeders in India. The ICF is a National body recognized by The World Cat Federation (WCF). There are millions of Cat lovers in India and the Breeders of Pedigree Cats are growing rapidly. The role of ICF will be to increase awareness about the various aspects of Pet care for all types of Cats in the Country.

WCF has over 30 years of Experience to provide overall Cat care.
Please visit www.wcf-online.de

How about that? Isn’t it a fabulous bit of news to have for cat lovers. And what’s more there are cat shows too. In case you are in Delhi/NCR and you are a Cat Lover, check this out.

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I do love cats… TIME they got a bit of the limelight.

THE END.

 

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