A Strangely Eventful Drive



I was out with Payal on the drive that I do (usually alone), the airport expressway, the Outer Ring Road, then home via Gatchibowli, Hitech City, Jubilee Hills, etc. We were on the airport elevated expressway, viz. the P.V. Narasimha Rao Expressway doing a cool 80 kmph, having a chat, when I noticed the car in front of me. It was a white Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire with a yellow taxi number plate. There was definitely something off with the way the car was veering a bit too close to the central divider. I stopped talking and pointed to the car and yelled “Holy shit! That guy’s going to hit the divider!”

And he did. Multiple times. He kept veering towards the right, scraping the divider, then vaguely steering back away from the divider. The other cars seemed to notice this and moved away from the white Swift. I overtook him from the left and tried peering into the car as I did so. There was a black blind on the left window so I could’t clearly see anything inside, but I thought I could make out two people, but only just. I went in front of the car and kept checking it out in my rear view mirror. He kept swerving into the divider, and then lazily back again towards the middle of the road. His front bumper was already coming off the car and scraping the road.

While I suggested he must have been exceedingly inebriated or high, Payal thought he could even be suffering from some medical condition, like a stroke or a heart attack. We dialed ‘100’ the infamous emergency number and someone picked up the call. Payal had trouble explaining to this brilliant emergency hotline operator that this was an emergency indeed. What really made my blood boil was the fact the operator asked Payal under which Police Station’s jurisdiction this came under. She clearly repeated herself that this was happening right on the elevated airport expressway and that it was towards the last one kilometer of its stretch. How could we explain it any clearer? By then I had descended the flyover and I couldn’t see the car anymore in my rear view mirror. Another kilometer or so and we had reached the next red light.

As the light turned green, I was behind a brown Honda City (the 2005-2008 variant) and he seemed to be crawling and even slowing down below 20 kmph, then 10, then he was literally crawling at snails pace. I yelled out “NOW THIS MORON RIGHT HERE! MOVE IT!” He moved out of the way (not to my bellowing, because our windows were up) and suddenly out of nowhere, two cows came running down the highway at full speed at us! I managed to yank the steering wheel to the left and the car just managed to get out of their way. The last thing I expected was two stampeding cows, hurtling down the National Highway! I breathed a sigh of relief. My pristine Type II would’ve been severely damaged had I not brazenly swerved left.

By then the police had started calling us, asking for more details about what we had seen. Where exactly this was happening, what the number of the car was (we didn’t know), etc. We answered two such calls, providing as much information as we could as we continued our drive towards the airport and then onto the Outer Ring Road (ORR). The ORR was a pleasure to drive on as usual. 25 kilometers flew by without much fanfare (compared to what we had just experienced) and then we descended into the Hitech City – Gatchibowli 7:30 pm traffic. As we were driving home on the Gatchibowli main road, a guy on a two wheeler, wearing a typical company ID card around his neck slowed down next to my window and gestured for me to roll down my windows. He then proceeded to ask me if I wanted to sell my car. I repeatedly denied his request. He kept smiling and saying that he already had two Type II’s and would be glad to buy mine as well. No siree bob! Not my work of art.

We pulled up into our parking lot, wondering if the strange divider slamming taxi was okay and if the stampeding cows had reached where they wanted to in such a hurry.