Story By: Olympia Bhatt
A night without sleep is nowhere as bad as trying to get a jumpy dog, who has a huge compound to run around and hates being boxed in the car, inside the car. That was Luppy, the indefatigable dog whose howling and barking throughout the night did not stop her from prancing and stomping around in the morning.
It was a funny sight me chasing a dog all around the courtyard, and she like a forwarder sans a football managing to escape every time. Her capture also did not mean meek surrender as she used her all-fours against the car door. This wasn’t the first time. On the first day of our travel, she walked all around the car and even tried climbing the dashboard just to escape. She even walked to the driver’s seat thinking the window was open.
On the first day of our travel, she walked all around the car and even tried climbing the dashboard just to escape. She even walked to the driver’s seat thinking the window was open. Thankfully on the final day, the drama of this canine queen came to an end as Vasco went in first and made her feel safe about the backseat.
I could not wait to get home even though we had started late. We had the taken the most circuitous route possible to reach Falgun Haveli. We dared not return on that path and thought we would try an outdated means of travelling in a place without signboards and an over-efficient Google maps: ask around for directions. And it worked! We merged on the state highway from the dusty road and just had to follow it down till we hit the tarred beauty of NH44.
It seemed to be the only constant of our journey who made every moment of the ride worthwhile. However, there was another constant that we hoped we will not see as we inched closer and closer: the constant limbo and badlands (literally speaking) of UP. The national highway was mostly under construction and looked like slightly better than the alleyways of Orchha.
The cool ac breeze was making me drowsy but every time I closed my eyes, I was jolted by a ditch or a sharp brake of the car. I really really wanted to hit the Agra expressway so that we could continue driving on the good roads that we encountered most of our journey.
The highway leading to Delhi especially in this stretch does a constant winding around the borders of UP and MP. After Jhansi, we reached Gwalior which felt out of the blue and for a fleeting moment, we felt farther from our destination. The next major stop was Agra which takes us back to UP. With a cluster of historical towns in such close vicinity, you’d think good and basic infrastructure would be a default feature.
That clearly is asking for a lot! Anyway, our quest and desire for driveable roads seemed nigh as Google maps pointed to Agra town and showed the route leading to The Taj Expressway. Surprisingly, before boarding that road on the left, we saw a gleaming empty road that had “Delhi” and “Jaipur” on the top signboard.
There was no sign of this road on our map but logic pointed to this newly laid “dark path”. For a moment we rationalised that maybe this newly constructed road is a short cut leading to the Expressway which is yet to show up on the maps. Thank God, India was way ahead of some things than Google we said to ourselves.
Later we found out when we hit the first toll that it was a Gwalior-Delhi- Jaipur bypass road. “Is the road ahead this good?” we asked the man behind the counter. “Yes it goes on like this endlessly.” It did not. We hit huge construction sites as we drove along the narrow lanes, sharing our paths with heavy duty trucks and construction machinery. Whatever time we had gained on the bypass, it was all done for in this crawling traffic.
We HAD to find the expressway again. The bypass had taken us to Mathura. All we had to do was locate the expressway. Then I could catch a few winks of sleep. After another half an hour of slow driving, we were soon driving at 140 km/hour, the max speed that Brio could take – you guessed it right, on the expressway. It also helped us avoid the rush hour traffic of Noida, and we were home before 5 pm.
Like the slumberous happy dogs, it felt good to be home.
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