…so where was I? Ah yes, the best laid plans of mice and men. And the plan was that we would all be bathed and ready by 8 am, shovel breakfast down our gullets, keep the brat on minimum solid intake given the drive back which hits the ghats within the hour and reach Pune by the evening. Ergo, frenzied headless chicken packing happened, dirty clothes of which, actual mountains had accumulated in the closets, which we taken out and dumped into laundry bags given that we were to dump it all into the boot of the car (ah the pleasures of travelling without needing to pack the dirty clothes and the clean clothes together in one suitcase, and me being a little, ah well, a lot, OCD about these things), things left all over the rooms were gathered together and put into suitcases, along with the half of the Baga street shopping we had procured, and we were set for breakfast. The family traipsed out to the hotel breakfast buffet, fed ourselves, I went to the reception to have the bills settled, and the spouse went to get the car upto the driveway to have the luggage loaded. We had the luggage taken out to the lobby, waiting for the car to roll up. We waited. And we waited. And we waited. And finally a hassled little man scampered up asking me if I was the lady whose husband had full white hair. Errm. The husband would have preferred handsome, dashing, well built as descriptors I would assume, but nonetheless, I nodded. He’s calling you, I was informed by breathless, sweating man, who mopped his brow.I rushed off down the lane towards the man I had plighted my troth to 15 years ago. Make that 16 this January. Said whitehaired spouse stood there shoulders slumped. “This car is not starting.” I looked at him. “So get a mechanic!Call the on-road assistance service. Call Honda.” Obviously he had thought this thing through. I hadn’t. “Today is Sunday.” Sunday, as any person who has visited Goa even once would know, is the day you can’t get anything for love or money except food and drink. The entire place shuts down. Completely. Nothing stirs except a gentle breeze. And that too if one is lucky. He had called up the Honda workshop. It was Sunday.
I smote my forehead in despair. We asked around. A curious crowd of onlookers gathered, each claiming great experience with cars, and adding their two cents were the various drivers who had accompanied their employers on vacation and the tourist cab drivers loitering around outside the gate. In addition to the topic du jour of how to get the car started, earnest discussion on the state of the boot happened. The possible speed of the car behind us was analysed taking the extent of impact and damage into consideration, surely with such expertise they were all ex-forensic experts who had cut their teeth on accident scene forensics.
Finally it was decided that a kind taxi driver would, for a nominal sum of money, help us find a mechanic who could come across and help us find a mechanic. So off went the spouse to find one, while we cooled our heels, metaphorically speaking, in the hotel lobby area, because WE HAD ALREADY CHECKED OUT. Of course, those plastic bags with the dirty clothes would come back to bite me on my rather substantial butt, they were there out on display for everyone to see and remark snidely about the quality of people who travelled carrying clothes in plastic bags. Oh yes. Had one of those Mother Earth Swallow Me Now moments, right then. The child draped himself on the lobby furniture in limp asparagus manner whining about the boredom that was assailing him. The niece buried her nose in a book. And the mother in law and me decided we could still fit some extra shopping into those bags, and would Just Go Down To A Couple Of Stalls Down The Gate. Ah well.
And returned to find the spouse back with a lean person with a grimy tshirt as befits his profession, toting a battery and looking all knowledgeable about jumpstarting our battery, which we had been told had most probably been drained out completely. In ten minutes he had the car purring, and we were warned to jump in throw in our stuff, tie the boot back together and take off, without stopping for at least 50 kms. And not switch the AC on. The luggage was hastily loaded in the boot, the cord was secured firmly, the child, the niece and the mother in law deposited in the back seat and with a quick prayer, and cussing of the heat, we took off on our trip back home, peppered by occasional pipings in whiny voice from the backseat about how we forgot to buy a boddel of Pepsi.
The time? It was almost noon. The sun was high as were tempers. We had no AC on, a grumpy spouse driving, a sweaty me navigating, it was the perfect recipe for some divorce paper worthy skirmishes enroute….
(To be continued….)