Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Radio Roti Roadtrip

Your dad wakes you up at six, which was supposed to be your planned time for departure, but no matter how seriously your parents tell you on the previous night that they want to leave for that road trip early morning, they're just as habituated as you when it comes to hitting the snooze button multiple times on an almost winter morning. As you take a hurried shower, you know that your mum is either making toasts in the kitchen or neatly rolling aaloo paranthas in aluminium foil. A quick wash later, you get out to dust the car and place the bags into the boot. While you wonder how calling shotgun is never an option for you but only your mum’s prerogative, the others rush out soon enough and the engine grunts a good-to-go.

You thought while in the shower that you'd catch up on some sleep in the car, but you blame the constant shaking for your inability to do so and decide to read a book that you picked up for the road as the radio plays a morning Kishore Kumar song. As your eyes glance up from the words for a moment, you notice how pretty the city looks in the morning. The India Gate through a light mist and the surrounding grass fresh from the dew seem more interesting than the book in your hand and you get a feeling that the day will be just as relaxing as you wish for it to be.

While the eyes go back to tracing words on a page, you realize a few minutes later that the words entering your ears no longer sound like a Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas. You look up to notice that you've almost exited the city and the radio blares something about a person whose name rhymes with saliva doing the Lungi Dance.

Mumma, song change kardo.
“This isn't any better. Play 95 FM.”
“Just go through all the channels once, then I'll tell you.”
*click*... *click*... *click*
Haan, woh last wala sayi hai, 93.5

While the sister orders the mother to change channels one after the other, making her stop at a station that plays her favorite song, your father complains about how the lyrics these days make absolutely no sense. He switches the channel to something that plays a Mohd. Rafi song and you join your sister in telling him that you don't want to listen to boring songs from a dadaji generation. Kishore Kumar's good, but that doesn't mean one has to play tunes from the sixties for six straight hours. The mother gets irritated and gives up on the chore of switching channels, and you wonder why you always forget to get an aux cable for your stupid car stereo. More so because the holy mother leaves the radio at 102.6 FM Rainbow and there's nothing you can do about it. Ironically, the song that perfectly fits the situation at that time is “Aey Aaay Aaaaar. FM radio. All the taaa-ime.”

Staring blankly into the moving fields outside, you look back in when your mum hands you a rolled up parantha that leaves your mouth feeling dry immediately after. Not a good sign. You know it's never a good sign because it requires you to balance the water bottle with both your hands and ensure that you don't spill any water on your clothes. You keep sitting with your mouth open, gathering the guts to tilt the bottle enough to pour out water that would fall directly at the back of your tongue. A speed bump, and you lower the bottle only to try again ten seconds later. Eventually, no matter how hard you try, you have more water on your clothes than what went through your throat and the ten minute exercise feels like a waste. You normally boast about being sober even after four drinks; and here, just holding the bottle makes you act inebriated.

You take your arm out from the window and feel the wind push it backward. As you open your mouth just a little to taste the air, you feel a tickle down below. A pair of efficient kidneys and a cool wind almost always aggravate the need to relieve oneself. After a few minutes, you can't control yourself and voice your concern about badly feeling the need to take a leak. The car will be stopped at the next petrol pump or dhaba, you're told, but the lack of a Vaishno Dhaba for the next five kilometre stretch makes you want to give up all shame and stand anywhere on the road side.

Just stopping on the road side doesn't help. When you finally find the perfect bush to water after a ten minute search, you end up standing at a place from where the only thing in view is a sarson ka khet with a wall that reads the advertisement, “Dr. Sheikh: gupt rogi yahan milen”. You could've been lucky and seen an Ambuja Cement ad instead, but there's only so much that a man with a tiny bladder can ask for.

You get back to your car to notice your dad buying two kilos of amrood and a dozen bananas from the fruit vendor standing close by. “Who's going to eat so much fruit”, you ask your mum, and then don't care to pay attention to the response. You know it's to keep you from complaining about being hungry till your parents discover a nice place to eat right in time for lunch. If nothing else, a Verka booth would be enough to keep you happy.

While your sister gathers the courage to demand a change in radio station again with the excuse that the network is getting crappy, you know that you'd have managed the song situation pretty well if you were behind the wheel. The sister knows it's only a false belief because the mother freaks out if you try to touch the radio while driving, especially when she already complains about you being a rash driver even at the speed of fifty.

You get back to reading your book, take off your shoes and put your legs up on the seat. You notice the neat lines that slice acres of land into little square farms, the trees whizzing by, a hand-pump somewhere, a solitary tree in the middle of a farm and dung cakes that remind you of the time you asked your parents how cows could defy gravity and poop on the walls. Road trips with friends seem to be more fun, but they don't let you hold a book in hand and enjoy the sights of the countryside like one with your parents. Also, the fact that you never have to worry about paying for a wonderful meal that comes with sirke wala pyaaz through the whole trip more than makes up for the radio, the bottle and the susu, while guaranteeing a second smirk at Dr. Sheikh’s gupt treatments.

Image Source: blog.gumtree.com


  1. Oh, those road trips! They used to be more exciting when all of us cousins could fit into the back seat of our beloved TATA Sumo! But even now, family road trips are fun because of all these little peculiarities.

    As for your post, while the water bottle situation is funny and absolutely true, that question about gravity-defying cow poop took the (dung) cake!
    Amazing, and worthy of a thousand sweet jalebis! :)

    1. Thanks, man, T-BUB! You leave such nice comments everytime. Best hai tu! :D

      P.S. Dung cake XD

  2. Can easily relate ..all these little incidents are the best part of the road trip
    Wonderful post :) @@@@@

    New visitor to your blog..you write brilliantly..descriptions are really good !!

    1. Thanks, Aneesha. I see that you have a very pretty blog too with pictures of "pyaare bandar". Looking forward to reading it :D

  3. such a good read! :) reminded me of good old days. love your humour..keep writing~

  4. a very sweet and simple article with subtle humour................as expected from u....

  5. @@@@@
    totally goes with our family.....
    though i already arrange the songs a week in advance....
    and yeah my mum also gets irritated changing the channel!! :)

    1. How? In a pen drive? Or an aux cable connected to your phone?


If you had 5 Jalebis, how many would you give me for writing this post?

None = You don't deserve any >:O
@ = Soggy and stale! :(
@@ = Stale! :|
@@@ = I'll need a samosa to digest this with! :P
@@@@ = Sweet and Crisp! :)
@@@@@ = I'm opening you a Halwai Shop! :D