Last week I was at my friend’s wedding reception. A few of us happen to meet after a decade. After having a good time, I left and on the way back I remembered something that made me go cold, the effect of which I still feel and will remember for my entire life…for good.
Rewind around 8 years back, we just had passed out of engineering college and the same friend who got married recently had bought spanking new Swift VDI (In 2010, Swift was THE car to buy). One night, 5 of us drove in his car to a 24 hour CCD and had coffee over silly jokes. While returning, I requested him to let me drive to which he happily obliged. (I have been blabbering about IC engines since day 1 of our college, so they thought I knew what I was doing). I was used to driving my dad’s Zen (approx. 60 HP) and drove the Swift (approx. 100 HP) for the first time.
As we started rolling down the hill, the car picked up the pace and to keep the engine in “happy state” I kept upshifting which was damn easy in the new Swift. Everybody in the car was carefree and laughs were constant, while beats of some English song from the attached pen drive were playing loud on the new stereo. It was a state of trance, a Dil Chahta Hai moment for me. The only problem was, I was not Amir and we were not cruising on Mumbai Goa highway.
As we approached a junction (the lane that connects Pashan and Baner roads in Pune, on the Pashan road), a motorcyclist (a black Pulsar DTSi) exited from the lane and stopped right in the middle of the road. The guy was wearing a black windcheater and a black helmet and must a be an IT engineer (he was wearing specs inside his helmet). As soon as he saw us charging towards him, he dropped his bike and ran back towards the lane leaving a very small gap between himself and the bike.
I gave a small but fast input to the steering wheel maneuvering the car just between the dropped bike and the guys himself. All this happened within the fraction of a second. I didn’t dare to look in the rearview mirror but was sure that everybody inside and outside the car was safe. For a moment there was silence in the car, I could feel my palms being sweaty even when the A\C was running at high speed. Due to the silence, the song was awfully loud.
One friend (who is now settled in the US) broke the silence and said that I made a good call to maneuver the car between the gap else the car would have collide with the motorcycle. I think everyone agreed with him in the car and were in awe of my driving skills. I don’t remember what happened next, but this incident has left a big mark on me.
Deep down I know, that it wasn’t totally the motorcyclist’s mistake. He should have slowed down and checked the oncoming traffic, but given the speed we were (thanks to me) carrying, things were not in his favor in any way. I was not totally right, an open stretch of road in the middle of the night is not same as an express highway. I should have carried only as much speed as I could slow down just before the lane expecting somebody to make a mistake.
What if, it was not our (including the motorcyclist) lucky day? Something would have really gone bad and the chances of we driving over the motorcyclist and killing him were very high. The sole responsible person would have been the 22 years high on adrenaline ME. Instead of sitting in a comfortable A\C with my family today, I would have dreaded in the jail. The family of the IT guy would have an irreparable damage because of my silly but fatal mistake.
Fast forward to today’s time. I was driving pass by the other side of the lane (the Baner side) and what I mentioned above went through my mind again and made me feel exactly the same way as it did that night. I am lucky to be “on the other side, on the lucky side”. This incident has made me realize that how important it is to slow down at junctions especially in the city and why respecting speed limits is uttermost important.
Hence I request you all to learn from my lesson and be careful. Be careful when you ride your bike and while you exit lanes or while driving your car passing by the junctions. You never know….
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