To take up where we left off. On the ghats. With a petrol tank on furiously blinking empty reserve. Steam emanating from my nostrils. Hubby calmly rolling down the windows and shutting the AC off to minimise petrol consumption, letting mud of the vilest red powdery variety and pure sun rays from noon day sun enter the confines of the car. If the seatbelt hadn’t confined me, I would have been hopping up and down and sputtering invective, having clamped hands over the child’s ears before hand.
“There used to be a petrol pump here,” said the spouse in lame self defence, in the midst of wilderness, with steep drops to one side, and mountain to the other. I shot him a look, that if was of them killable variety, would have done said execution in a millisecond.
We did the regular yelling about how he should have thought of the petrol situation before getting onto the ghats and how I was supposed to be the navigator and I needed to keep an eye out on the fuel indicator, until we realised we had managed to complete the ghats with no further incident. We drove on looking left, right and forward for a petrol pump. Red dust had clogged up my nostrils so bad, only an electric drill would allow me to breathe again. The brat made cheerful conversations about accidents and how ‘Peepul got kilt.” in a vain bid to cheer us up. Needless to say, no one was quite as amused at the prospect as he was. I could already figure that the morning’s bang was going to be embellished to apocalyptic levels in the classroom and the park.
We drove through miles and miles of winding road, with no petrol pump in sight. Many verbal daggers were flung back and forth. We passed little villages and asked them about petrol pumps to which they smiled happily and pointed us forward. We drove on, I waited grimly for the moment when the car would sputter to a stop and I would have to despatch the man off bearing an empty bottle in his hand or jump up and down on the highway asking a kind soul to stop and give him a ride to the nearest petrol pump, leaving me stranded with a child, a young girl and an elderly lady in the middle of nowhere (yes, I had drafted out the divorce papers in my head already), when we spotted the HP sign. Collective exhalation of breath and we pulled up to find it not functional. We set off grimly again, through many winding and unfinished roads, and tonnes of red dust which infiltrated ears and eyes like it had no earthly business doing. Finally, when we had all but given up hope and we consigned to a fate of dying without petrol in the merciless midday sun on a deserted (ah well, not so deserted to be honest) we spotted the Indian Oil sign in the distance. The petrol pump attention was must amused at our unbridled joy at seeing him. If it would have been acceptable social behaviour, I might have just hugged him in sheer delight. Petrol filled, windows rolled up, we made our way, in cool airconditioned comfort to Baga and found our way to the hotel. Which was all cute and colonial and bang on the beach. And I went ahead to check in and check if lunch was available for starving travellers at the restaurant and such like, when the spouse came up and informed me gently that the boot wouldn’t open. Ergo, all our luggage was in the boot. And to get the boot opened we needed to get the car to the Honda servicing centre. Which was in Verna. Which meant another hour of driving. Which we were informed would not happen without the surveyor coming across to assess the damage for the insurance claim. Which in turn meant, I did some hopping around and pulling out of hair in clumps. The child, the niece and the grandmother were deposited in the cool confines of the room, room service ordered and a little partaken of, and we drove off to find the Honda service centre in Panjim. Panicking, of course, because it was almost 4.30 pm. And knowing the brilliant work ethic in Goa, we might just land up to find the shutters downed on our faces at sharp 5 pm.
(To be continued….)