The squeaky spark plug


My friends have been waiting for a blog from me for months. Just like Sachin’s hundredth ton. it has taken a while. Although my insignificant blog is nothing compared to Sachin’s feat.. it needs to be out.

So i think, what should i write, that will  make you think?

The mind is as empty as a clean sheet of paper. The imagination, as white as the empty canvas. The thoughts still, the ideas minimal. What I am having is perhaps , Inertia of the brain.

For months I have been reading, and persuading myself just to remember what I read. Now to make new thoughts, I think my neurons have forgotten how to ignite the spark.

The brain is Blank, blank again as an unsigned cheque.

I try to focus, concentrate I tell myself. There is perhaps a story, something that is unsaid lying somewhere in the incomplete gutters of my brain.

I close my eyes again; maybe a deep breath will help? Medical jargon erupts out; waiting to come out, like slimy goo that threatens to comes through your nose, when you have a cold.

Since i am in a mental stalemate, anything anything at all means progress right? And i am thinking ,maybe there is a memory that could help me something that will ignite a spark. But my spark plug is squeaky. Today, there are no stories, there are just musings.

There is this thought that has got stuck in my head, I better let it out. It’s not a thought, it is a learned fact. Do you know memories are stored in something called the “limbic system “of the brain? The limbic system comprises of a lot of structural entities with specific functions, sometimes they even integrate with each other. The top rung in memory generation and storage of the brain is the “amygdale”.

Now this amazing amygdale, that is rightly described as,”the seat of memory storage and processing” is just a walnut shaped organ in the brain. The brain per say is almost one kilogram in weight, and the amygdale just a few grams.

When someone is described as “brainy”, they usually have an immaculate memory or rather like we put it, a “photographic memory”. Come to think of it, the most important function we rely on our brains for is memory and yet it is such an insignificant piece of the gigantic brain.

Why is it that everyone knows about the brain, the blood clots in them, yet the dont know about the small little amygdala that makes them remember what they are?Why do we leave out on the small things of life?

Memories we so craftily weave . We let them play hide and seek with us. Doesn’t everyone have a Pandora’s box of bad memories. They try to hide. But alas, the sad part is the more we deliberately try to forget, we in fact make those memories alive, the brain syncs and integrates those thoughts deeper into the depths of our mental hard discs.

Rather if we just relive good memories, the ones that make u smile and laugh, the old insignificant ones fade, neuronal connections weaken and then they are lost forever. The pain is forgotten.

What an easy way to cleanse the brain, yet we take the tough route of deliberation and it proves to be disastrous. Reliving macabre events, which integrates itself into our system , leaving us scarred forever.

I close my eyes again, to think of happy memories, the ones that made me laugh so much that i cried or at least the ones that bring back the smile on my face.

And the best ones, the ones which make me lips break into a giggle always involve loved ones. However, How ironical it is that these loved ones hurt you the most too, or rather to put it , isn’t it their privileged to hurt u the best. Or is it that our minds have been tuned to let no one else hurt as much? Are we immune to strangers, and susceptible only to emotions that come out of familiarity?

Is the mind and the heart really poles apart, or is it that the mind thinks leagues ahead, where as the heart is impromptu, careless and carefree..

Why are there two words to describe the same thing , but have such a wide disparity in the nature of the content, isn’t fragile and delicate almost the same. But yet, the first word is filled with a negative beam and where as the second one is a cherish able trait.

Who comes up with these intrinsic differences? why does man attribute face values to things, and make them good or bad ?

Man is intrinsically alike, every human desires the best. But the point is the quest to nirvana or peace ends only if this desire ends. The end point of all desire is the coveted seat of nirvana.

And thus my mind wanders, or rather a figment of my mind wanders through unknown spaces to discover something new.

But these wanderings mean progress, it means freedom, it means that i am alive and breathing.

Ps. These thoughts are just dots, prospectively they don’t string, but perhaps retrospectively they could mean something and unless i let them out and they make their noise, it feels like the death of an unborn child.

Why this mantal kolaveri di?


Its 2012, and it’s the fourth of January already. This year seems to be on some real hurry. It seems it was just yesterday that it was 31st, and the flu knocked me right at the knees. I have been so awake yet I have been held in some trance. Two hour sleeps and fever, I tell u they are a deadly combination. So the state I am in is what we medicos describe as febrile delirium.

Its 2 30 am, I slept two hours back, by pushing myself into a carbohydrate coma. Five tablespoons of forest honey. That makes me some kind of winnie the pooh no? Well self experiments conducted by an allopathic medic who believes in naturopathy, gave this result, that honey smoothens inflamed airways as in asthma, and forces your brain to sleep.

It almost felt like the sweet release in a codeine starved addict.

But like all good things coming to an end, I have woken up from this deep solid sleep, and I feel like I have eight glasses of coffee in me and I need to move mountains to tire myself to sleep all over again.

Text books are real heavy weight champion u see; they bog u down so much, that you forget that life just went by. Two months back I had to forgo my daily rituals of highlighting newspapers to those solid good drives to even cooking.

So in this inebriation of my mind, I tried the booty call number to no avail. Most people on my side of the continent sleep by one-ish. So who else is available? Only derrick, my faithful dell laptop. Even he was too lazy to boot. Finally he is up and hence this “cerebral salad”.

I need to catch up with this scooting year, priorities are changing. The clock is ticking and the responsibilities adding up.

So let me wish you all a belated yet an energy packed new year.

I think I just got my mental orgasm in this word-shag .

In lady Macbeths tone, “to bed , to bed”, of course after some more honey, and hitting the submit button!

Note : sincere apologies to anyone who got up, because of an email update that some insane sleepless soul in febrile stupor posted a blog. Dont ask me : why this mantal kolaveri di?

Note2 : thank your stars and my ultra slow net setter, that this dint get published that day!

Death


Death

Oh loved one, how I await you

Your tender embrace

Since the time I opened my eyes

There was nothing I was surer of, than you

This world is a myth

But you, darling are a reality

I wait and wait endlessly

Hoping and knowing that someday you will come

And rescue me from all this pain

And when we meet, there is not a doubt or a fear

And I know your hand is sure.

NB: short poetry written in five minutes, due to a certain discussion.

Introducing : The man with the golden heart.


Yes, we all  agree that corruption has crept into our system silently, steadily n stealthily. Everyone, including our national leaders to the auto guy and paan waalla wants to cheat you and make some easy money. Red-tapism and nepotism has shrouded the democratic republic that once was India. We all claim that our country is on the highway to hell and even  the “Anna” cannot rescue us.image

As a doctor, I regret to accept that our medical system is also hijacked into this dark world. Every doctor, every lab, every pharmacist wants to extract an extra rupee. The feel of the notes satisfy more than the contentment of the patient.

Having experienced this sad plight of overcharging patients even in so called “mission hospitals”, I had given up on trying changing the system. I just became another blind mice in the maze of corrupt medicine. I just took to writing, to vent out my frustrations about this gross injustice.

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However, in one of those social networking portals I came across a man called “Morpheus”. I was jarred with his conviction to clean the dirty waters of medicine where doctors happily waddle in. He told me that healing profession has to be cleaned, somebody has to make a move, and somebody has to start it. At the end of the day the patient should not suffer.

When I stumbled upon someone with so much dedication to right the wrongs, I was jarred. When we doctors just sit around and do nothing to even initiate a change, a man with no medical background whatsoever has done his homework about the clutter that warps the medical system of the country. And he is resolute to tidy the place up, one state at a time.

Let me introduce you to the man with a golden heart: Mr. Raghavendra Chandrashekar Rao , a 36 year old gentleman from Bangalore. Although he graduated in arts and was in “sales”, he serendipitously charted into “medical “waters.

In 2001, he secured a job in a pharmaceutical company called TTK health care. In a short while he toured most of the cities in south India and did a pilot survey about the existing system. He was moved byt the pathetic model of health care practiced in most states. He vowed to bring about a change.

He moved to Reliance science labs in 2003. Although he had a job description of sales analyst, he moved into other functional areas of the lab. He took the first few steps in his medical marathon here. The most difficult thing in health profession is acquainting yourself with the Latin lingo.

His hunger to understand his job better made him do extensive in depth analysis of everything that goes around in the lab. He self educated himself by reading online, buying basic medical text books, taking help from the doctors and the para-medical staff around.Later he attended workshops within reliance life science where they would improve your medical skills. He was taught to do a phlebotomy, measure the blood pressure, blood sugar

In a brief span of time from 2003 to 2008, he pretty much earned a medical degree. Starting from absolute basics of medical language, he self tutored himself about the various disease conditions and their pathology. He mastered the microbes. Learnt basic medical transcription , pharmacology and their usage. He even tried hard to bridge communication gaps between the doctor and the patient by patiently explaining to the patient ,about their medical condition and slowly answering all their queries.

Although he briefly quit the medical field to be the director of a prestigious advertising firm. He quit his job as he realised that the health system was his real calling.

In 2010 he set up his first diagnostic centre, Medixx diagnostics, in Hyderabad.

Medixx diagnostics is a  medical laboratory system conducting basic biochemistry, pathology and microbiological test. Medixx diagnostics is under liberty health foundation, a charity set up by Raghavendra and his wife.

The initial plan was to use the profits from the lab to set up a free clinic. However due to the slow turnover of patients and the soaring cost of placating doctors who send their patients he has to decided to go ahead with launching the free clinic without waiting for the butter to rise from the milk.

The free clinic was set up in Hyderabad, on October 3rd, 2011. It has been set up in the same grounds as the Diagnostic centre. The clinic has initially started as a evening clinic. It has a dedicated team of doctors and other staff, who share the same spirit as Raghavendra. The clinic caters, to anyone who cannot afford private care. It provides free consultation, medicines and investigations if required. There are no fees whatsoever. The clinic is not funded by any NGO or charitable organisation.

Ragavendra envisions increasing the number of free clinics, health reach out camps for slum areas, blood grouping and haemoglobin camps among school children. He also intends to set up a free diabetic care centre, to cater to diabetics without proper support in the state. He also plans to start a low cost mother and child hospital in the next five years.

His agenda is outright simple, health is gift and it ought to be kept free.

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Note: this is not an advertisement. Since, I was moved by this genuine act of humanity. I thought it needed a mouthpiece.

To know more, kindly contact @morphius1375 or @libertyhealthf on twitter .

Mr.Raghavendra Rao, Medixx diagnostics,#1-5-86/2, Gangaputra Colony, Old Alwal, Sec’Bad – 500010

Telephone- +91-040- 27973944 ,27962944

Disclaimer : information and images, as provided by Mr.Ragavendra.

Kid sister’s life changing gyan !


I have a younger sister; she is ten years younger than me. And she is a proto-type mid teen girl, anorexic, gothic and thinks the world of Zac Effron. Her daily source of energy comes from the iPod she blasts around, it never leaves her hip. She is a walking encyclopaedia on international brands, their prices and where their showrooms are located.

K prefers hip hop over bharatanayam, a keytar over a clavinova. She thinks Indian classical music is synonymous with Susheela Raman’s salt rain.

She hates being stuck in my sleepy town and New York, is her dream destination. She aspires to hold the green ticket to freedom in America.

Since my parents are on the other side of fifty, they hardly have the energy or the patience to deal with her hormone filled teenage angst. So they leave the dealing with the tantrums and mood shifts she has, to me.

Thus being an elder sister, coroneted with parental powers, I hate to abuse either of them. So I try hard to explain and understand her.

I hate to admit that, even though all we have is a ten year gap, we do have a world of a generation gap! How did that happen?

Some ten years ago, let me to describe to you what south India was; let me start with Kerala.

Cochin was indeed the “capital “of Kerala, Trivandrum had lost that battle ever since monarchy ended in Kerala. And in Cochin life circled around kacheripadi, and maybe on marine drive, shopping was restricted to Seemati and Jayalakshmi and occasionally Parthas.

The rest of the state was quaint and quiet, no shopping malls, no international brands, everyone was happy to use the “levy genes” instead of an original Levi!

There were occasional hi-fi places, which put up hoardings saying “American- burger” and “Italian-pizza” of course with hand-drawn pictures. We all were happy with buns and cutlets and they were quintessentially burgers.

Even Chennai, was all about just Spencer plaza, Pondy bazaar, Nalli silks and walking along the Marina. Everyone marched around brigade road in Bangalore and Banjara Hills summed up Hyderabad.When I used to go to Dubai, for my annual vacations, everything from the city lights, to the massive malls, the speeding cars used to make me ditzy and my eyes blind!

But it was not like we did not enjoy life, we had our paperback novels instead of kindle, our taped-music instead of torrents, the TV with some thirty forty channels instead of high definition. We had museums to visit instead of youtube video’s to watch, encyclopaedias to look up instead of goggling it , school homework to do rather than face-book status’s to update! Life was perhaps slower, but that did not make out 24 hours less fun filled.

Initially I was sceptical to accept, this new way of living. But slowly, I have changed, from fully depending on my ATM, to carrying currency. To having a sub-meal, instead of kappaand fish curry. I am learning to read my paper online rather than depending on the roll outside my door step. I gave in to the materialistic ease of Americanisation. But till late, socially, I kept myself within high walls, secluding myself from imaginary predators online.

Last year my life, which I believed was a well oiled machine went out of gear, and spiralled down into some bottomless pit. At-least I felt that way. To save myself from embarrassment and questions, I shut myself up. Changed cell phone numbers, deleted my face book account. It was not denial. It was not the lack of acceptance. It was just that I thought I needed privacy to deal with a personal tragedy.

That transition was a real eye opener for me. Family and friends, who I thought would reach out from across online portals, simply believed that I was unreachable.

Months later when I was more in control of myself, I felt an unfamiliar void: The lack of friends and social associations. It was then that I took my kid sisters advice and decided to loosen up a bit. I joined twitter.

I was surprised that people, who never knew me, just accepted me even though I hid behind the veil of anonymity. Behind handles, were real people, with real lives and real dreams! They enlightened me; made me believe that impossible is nothing. They pushed me to reach out for the stars. It was a more mature world, far above photo-shopped pictures. Beyond the webs and mazes of the internet, they extend their love and with single sentence’s they showed me they care.

It was indeed a good decision on my part, to trust my little sister, and let go of my fears. I am glad I listened to her, got on to twitter, and got myself inspired, instead of sulk in my own cocoon.

I still have to teach her a lot, change her mind set and her obsession with the stars and the stripes. But till then, I have to thank her and of course twitter!

Note : this post is dedicated to @sedwinsv @drwiz @jay_ambadi @morphius1375 @vivekpoduval @aashkey @ashwinissac @dr_lax @radic533 @gaurravg and the list continues..

Remembering Richie


September 24th, is the birthday of one of my oldest and best-est friends. He should be 26 this year. He should have finished his studies by now; and perhaps even joined his dad’s international business.

He should be flying in and out of the country. Definitely, be a frequent flier with multiple airlines. The flight attendants would know him by name, for very few men would be this young, yet have his polite gentlemanly demure.

He would be soberly dressed in double breasted jackets and waist coats. He would be more of a blackberry boy than an iphone guy. But if you look closely, there is a wild side to him, his rudrakshtra beads and Israeli cast-no-evil-eye bracelet will peep out from under the sleeve of his crisp shirt. The tie might even have some funky Buddha motif on it.

He would be a combo of Hrithik in ZNMD and Neal Caffrey in White collar, with Caffreys sense of humour and Hrithik’s looks. He might even wear a hat! Quirky yet sophisticated, he would give John Abraham a run for his money any day.

Happy Birthday Richie!

Let me take you down for a small walk, through some of my memory lanes.

I met Richie in august 2001, when I was in tenth grade, at my mathematics tuition class. Yeah ten years, long time .Lot of memories, lot of stories , so little time.

We had no mutual friends, no common grounds. We went to separate schools, had different family circles, but our heart was at the same place.

Since, by august more than half of the school term was over, my tutor asked me to help him out with mathematics. That is how we started talking.

He started doing well in mathematics; our friendship grew just like a math problem.

A couple of days before his birthday, he told me excited, “I am turning sixteen this Monday!”

This was the era, before schools students started having cellular phones. There was only one network in Kerala, airtimes were exorbitant, incomings were charged and mobile phones were chunky, grotesque with a 1 X 2 cm mono-colour screen.

At midnight I tried his landline number, knowing very well that I will be one of the least important of his friends trying to wish him at the stroke of twelve.

To my surprise, the phone rang. The phone rang its whole length and then got cut after its standard ten rings. Bewildered I tried again, scared that I would wake up the family.

Richie picked up. He said “hello”, in a very puzzled voice.

When I was sure that it was him, I replied, “hey! Happy birthday Richie! “

The happy birthday conversation stretched out for around two hours, no one called all that time. I asked him why, very inquisitively.

“Its Kerala yaar, no one wishes till after their morning puja

This was our first conversation, over the telephone. He was just telling me small stories about his life, about this and that. Stories, which we normally don’t talk about in our strict tuition class.

Suddenly, he stopped and said,” hey Sandy, I love this girl, she has been my classmate since forever. But I really haven’t told her. She knows that I love her, but she pretends otherwise. I don’t know if she loves me back. But at least I expected her to call me. “

Back then, I was relatively new to the world of love and mush. In my convent school, having a relationship was a taboo. But then I had to console him, I needed to show him the silver lining in the cloud. He was pretty much a friend now.

“Maybe she sleeps early. I am sure she will call you first thing in the morning “ , I said half hoping that he would be believe me, half hoping that she would call.

“Yeah, I think you are right “; he said sighing and smiling at the same time.

By December, our friendship grew thicker. We were unlikely friends; no one understood our cosmic connections.

After our half yearly exams, Richie called me over to ‘City Centre’, the only shopping mall in my city then. He excitedly told me how the “Juliet’s” birthday was around the corner and that he needed me to pick up a card for him.

He wanted the card to by anonymous, so I scripted the card with all of his emotions.

Couple of weeks later, he introduced me to her. She was initially sceptical about this “new friend”, later on we all became best buddies.

Talking to her, I knew that she loved him, but she never wanted to let him know that because of varied socio-economic reasons.

The board exams got nearer, Richie and I started studying longer hours together all over the landline. He understood politics and history much better than me. He explained to me the uncanny associations of demand and supply. While, I explained to him about the marvels of science.

During the three long months of vacation after the boards, he was mainly travelling abroad, while I was learning all those things I missed out on. We still kept in touch, via emails, discussing the myriad intricacies of life, world politics amid other things.

The results came; it was a whooping win- win situation for both of us. He gifted me a watch. When I asked him, what it was for, he said in one breath: “for everything”.

I turned the watch, on it was engraved: “you know what to do, to say you care.”

That evening, Richie called me. In a very sombre tone he informed me that he was leaving the country, to be with his parents for a while.

I was a little disturbed to be honest; I didn’t expect us to part ways so soon. But the hum-drum of being a bio math student, really takes a heavy toll on you, and soon I got immersed in the world of calculus and quantum physics.

Richie kept in touch with me regularly, and just like before updated me on everything that was happening in his life. I had the same old classes, coaching, MCQ’s and more coaching compared to his roller coaster trips crisscrossing Eurasia.

Sometime before his next birthday, he found love again. This time she was in the form of an extra cute Konkani Brahmin. He met her at some family party. They were living a dream in London. He brought her to Kerala, during the next summer. He wanted me to meet her.

She was pretty much a cute doll. But I knew Richie needed something more than a doll.

That evening there was an unexpected heavy downpour, the power lines got cut. Richie called me, I thought he was going to ask me what I thought about the “doll”, and I was mentally prepared to give him a mono-syllable “nice”. Instead he surprised me, he asked,” Sandy, you want to go for a walk in the rain?”

“Its 11:30 pm! I can’t come for no walk in the rain with you”, I retorted to his craziness.

“I am not asking you to come out of your house. Pick up your umbrella, and the cordless, go to the terrace. I will do the same, and we can walk in the rain together and talk.Simple!”, he cajoled me.

That was perhaps the best walk in the rain I have ever taken. We spoke till the rain ended. He left back to London a few days later.

In 2004, I finished my twelfth and moved out of Kerala, to medical school. Shortly Richie and the “doll” landed up in Bangalore. He joined a 5 year animation course, she wanted to do some course on Indian history and try her hand at modelling.

During the weekends, I would sometimes drive down to Bangalore to meet them. Apart from some occasional tiffs, he told me they were happy. Somehow, I sensed the “doll” transforming into a “black swan”.

Couple of months later, the tiffs became bitter fights. Finally they broke up, stating reasons of ‘incompatibility’. She left in a whirlwind back to London. Got drunk and got married to an absolute stranger.

I went over to meet him. He was calm. He just said “I guess, she was just not the one”.

For his next birthday, his dad gifted him an R-1 super bike. Elated, he drove 600 km over to my college, to celebrate his birthday with me.

After the bike came in, we started drifting apart. He started going on long distance trips to Mumbai. The trips grew longer, the distance grew wider. He informed me was planning a trip to Leh-Ladakh.

For around two months his cell phone was unreachable. Emails ,grew scanty.

I guess sometime around the time I was studying pharmacology, Richie discovered drugs too.

For six months I had no trace as to where he was. Not just me, most of his friends.

For his next birthday, he came to meet me, out of the blue. We had a quiet dinner, cut cake on the lawn outside my hostel. He started talking about what happened in the last one year, about his disappearances, his living on the edge and his carelessness towards life.

“However “, he said, “There is this classmate of mine. Her name is Ekta. She is Punjabi. She really cares about me a lot. I want you to meet her. “

I promised him that I would come to Bangalore in the next couple of weeks.

I did go to Bangalore. I did meet Richie, however Ekta never met me. We were relaxing in a coffee shop on brigade road. It was raining. Through the glass panels we were watching the quiet rain.

After some fifteen minutes of quiet, he said,” don’t you think it will be great to lie in a glass house and watch the snow falling on the roof?”

“Yeah”, I said. “It would be beautiful. We could set up the glass house in Canada.”

He gave me an ear to ear smile and said “the Canadian glass house should be our goal.”

We walked in the drizzle to the Chinese place in the next by- lane after brigade.We had a quiet warm meal. He hailed a cab for me, gave me a bear hug and saw me off.”

I looked out through the window, I saw him walk, hands in his coat-pocket, maybe due to the cold, or maybe he was fishing for his keys or his phone.

That was the last time I ever saw him.

Friends who lived in Bangalore say that Ekta brain washed him to a runaway wedding. A few others tell me that he went into drugs again and went fully bonkers and lost his memory.

I went more than fifty times that year to Bangalore searching for him. I was at a loss.

By some luck I managed to speak to him for his next birthday.

I said, “Happy birthday Richie boy”

He replied, “thank you. Who is this? “

“I am Sandy ,Richie.. Dr.Sandy , remember?”, I managed to get those words out of mouth. It was too painful to see him like that.

“Please don’t call again; Ekta doesn’t like strangers calling me”

Speechless, I mumbled,” happy birthday, birthday –boy.”

I have lost two of my good friends to cancer, and one to the cosmos! And even macabre death is easier to accept than a missing person.

On some days, when I miss him a lot, i just close my eyes and think: that he is somewhere under the same skies, breathing the same air, maybe even thinking of Canadian glasshouses. It re-assures me, that some day we both can just walk in the rains and wash all this away!

Note: Maybe, Richie will never read this, but Ekta ,maybe you will read this and you will know that I really do care about him and so do most of his friends.

The highway man!


Why do all good things come to an end? “, ever heard that song? Nelly Furtado? The rest of the lines in the song are written in some drunken stupor, about a dog howling in the moonlight. And it makes no sense. But this line- it is golden. Because, almost every good thing in life, comes to an end. And that is the blatant truth, to accept it or not is your choice!

One of those things that I am extremely possessive about is my car- a Chevy spark. It was a gift from my dad on my 21stbirthday. Blood -red, vibrant and full of life. She complemented me perfectly. Together we have journeyed across thousands of miles, seen many a setting suns. Chased many a moons, just like the dog in Nelly’s song.

A couple of weeks back my dad unexpectedly dropped a bomb on me. He said it was time to sell the Chevy. With a heavy heart I had to agree. The truth is that she was three years old and I had covered pretty much covered the entire Indian subcontinent with her. However, it was just too difficult for me to accept that our time together was over.

More than the agony of separation it was a nagging fear. Who else will understand my feelings, my needs, and my recklessness? She knew my mood swings better than me. Every day, happy or sad was complete only if I had taken my Chevy for a ride. Who else will soar with me with just the press of an accelerator, yet be so under my control. I have achieved the unachievable, surpassed the unsurpassable with her. I have seen rivers and mountains; man and animal just zip past by. Yet, every trip has been meaningful .Every kilometre has been well spent. All the riding alone was never lonely.

It took me a week to reign in my emotions , nurtured by the cancerian ego within me. The girly part of  me wasn’t helping either. I decided I needed one last trip with her, one last long distance drive to make peace with myself and her.

This Independence Day extended weekend I took the last drive with her, I decided to drive up to Bangalore. The distance by itself is close to five hundred kilometres. It would take me close to six hours. Yet I decided that I had to close this chapter on a high note. So on the 13th of august, the bags were packed, the boot was closed the music was on and it was just me ,my car and the expanse of the highway ahead!

I know the route pretty well; I must have done it at least a dozen times. Trichur to Coimbatore is usually a pretty decent drive. Two hours tops. Green ghat roads, winding and tortuous, some are even notorious like the Kudhiran range. Once you cross Palghat, the green turns into the blueness of the unreachable stretch of the Nilgiri range.

The Coimbatore by-pass is a dream. Larsen and Turbo have constructed one of the finest and oldest six lane-d bypasses. It has been there since I was a child. The toll-gates are state of art, where-in you need to pay only once at the beginning of the highway and at the rest of the toll-gates , your number plates are pre-read before you reach and the gate automatically opens if you have payed up for the whole stretch of the bypass.

Come Avinashi and the road becomes a night-mare. Due to some technical errors in the upper rung , there is a segment of the highway some twenty kilometres which does not belong to L & T nor is it a part of the golden quadrilateral which covers the rest of the highways in Tamilnadu ,Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. This segment is un-tarred and zigzagging. And all you can drive at is some twenty odd kilometres per hour.

Till then my player was playing tracks marked “the blues” and I was driving at spinal level. Suddenly I sat upright in my seat; traversing such roads needed more than a hundred per-cent concentration. I was on gear two, slowly winding with the bumpy road.

Suddenly, disturbing my peaceful reverie was a screeching annoying honk-honk. I checked my rear-view mirror. A grey Ford-Figo. Impatient, like a bull charging towards the matador in some Spanish bull-fight, the Figo came charging towards my red spark. He narrowingly avoided kissing my bumper, and vroomed past me.

One word struck my mind- Dashing! The ultimate modern highwayman!

I never race on the highways at all. Mom has prohibited me, her logic being that the other driver, who invariably will be a male, will feel taunted if I overtake him and will follow me and might lead to unnecessary complications.

But at that moment or I should say nano-second when the Figo overtook me there was an irresistible urge to take the bait and race him. And I listened to my heart.

What followed was, an exhilarating adrenaline charged ride straight from one of those Vin-Diesel Jason Statham movies, across two hundred kilometres till Salem. It was a tough race. Especially all the pit stops at the toll gates, where I had to play the “who- gets- the –coins- out- faster” game.

We reached the Salem junction, halted at the traffic lights at the very same split second. He indicated that he was taking the left turn and heading to Madurai. I had to head straight towards Krishnagiri.

If we were on horse-backs , I guess it would have been the time to tip our hats and say goodbye. I rolled down my window, Mr. Figo rolled down his window too. We did the modern “cheers-salut thing “with our hands. The signal changed I sped towards Bangalore city.

I should say that it was the most phenomenal trip I had ever taken with my Chevy. The best part was she never let me down. If I have to be un-biased, the Figo has a better pick up than the Spark. However that dint matter, in my heart she will always be the Queen of the golden quadrilateral.

Two things I was uncertain of became clear that day, firstly, your first car is like your first love… perfect, but never meant to last forever. And secondly, my next car is going to be an all male Ford Figo!

Note: I gave my spark to my cousin brother in college, so that she would be around a little longer.

Here is the link to Nelly’s song via Youtube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=in-sZ20G3F8