Horn OK Please

Image for representation only


Your columnist is happy to report that he took a couple of days off in the week gone by, and was in Panchgani during those two days. He is extremely unhappy to report that the two days fairly flew by, and he is back in the oven that calls itself a city.

Location Courtesy : Prospect Hotel, Panchgani

Panchgani was cooler than Pune (although that isn’t really saying much, is it?) during the day, and it was actually clement after sunset. The undersigned dearly misses Panchgani’s weather, and would part with a significant fraction of his kingdom to be able to go back there. Today’s column isn’t, however, about the weather. There actually isn’t all that much to write about the weather. Hot as hell is an entirely accurate, all encompassing description, and three words do not, unfortunately, make a column.    No, this column is about truck drivers.

It pains me to have to say this, but while truck drivers may be the salt of the earth, and good folk generally speaking, their IQ seems to be inversely related to the tonnage they are responsible for on the highways.

This is an observation I make on the back of many a trip on assorted highways across the country, and it is one that brooks little or no argument.

Not every driver was put on this earth sans brain cells, I hasten to add – but it is a description that fits rather well on the majority. Sooner or later you’ll spot them, trundling along on Indian highways without a care in the world, tootling their horn merrily as vehicles pass them by, while they themselves drive on unhurriedly… in the fast lane.

And it is this, dear reader, that gets my goat every single time. I am, as my near and dear ones will attest, a largely fair and broadminded individual. To each his own, I always say, and far be it from me to criticise unknown strangers.

But if this unknown stranger chooses to drive a large, ponderous, dangerously overladen vehicle at speeds not exceeding those of an addled tortoise while in the fast lane on a national highway – then I think it is entirely justified for me to ponder the question of said stranger’s ancestry.

Nothing seems to work. No amount of signages on the highway, no amount of patrolling by the police, and certainly no amount of yelling at them has even the slightest effect. Do what you will, they will stay in the fast lane, and they will trundle. It is we who must arrange ourselves around them, and make the best of the space that remains. Which involves dangerous lane changes, swivels and dodges and other driving habits that do nothing for the blood pressures of those of us who man the steering wheels.

My personal favourite bit is when one gargantuan tortoise decides to overtake another.

There they are, large leviathans, overflowing with cargo, lumbering down the highway side by side, while a small and increasingly frustrated flotilla of cars form a little flotilla of sorts in their wake. Eventually, one backs off, and the other proceeds to chug out front, allowing the little flotilla to overtake them. Until, of course, they encounter the next pair – and so it goes.

Location Courtesy: Prospect Hotel, Panchgani
Photographs: Jaisurya

Which is, come to think of it, the real reason I miss Panchgani so. The weather was nice, the food was excellent, and the hotel we were staying in had a very nice pool I made extensive use of – and all of it was wonderful.

But above all, it was the fact that the hotel was in a little cul-de-sac that simply wasn’t frequented by truckers. And at the end of a journey made by road, allow me to assure you, the absence of truckers is all one could hope for.


Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni