By Pratishtha Dobhal
Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
Distance can also be the steps you take to meet him mid-way, distance can be going forward or backward looking for the holy grail of metamorphosis, distance can be the time it takes to reach a thoughtful destination or a thoughtless splendor/misdemeanor, distance can be everything you can imagine and the nothing that you fathom, in this case: distance is kilometers of complexity you travel looking for the fastest way to reach your love. No-frills-attached…
This is about trying to make perils of time and matter, disappear.
Sometime back, a part of my heart moved to Delhi… it travelled 1,190 kms. When it reached here, it turned out I’d have to travel 30 kms to reach it.
I like driving. Well… I love driving and listening to my music as I go past my wired expanse.
A moody bloomer, I haven’t been driving too long, but thank god I started sometime back. In doing so, I set myself free. I have to admit, it’s been of immense value as I now alone decide how and where I get lost :I
Additionally, it makes it crystal clear what driving through Delhi feels like.
What ‘does’ travelling 30 kms in Delhi really mean?
It means being on the road for atleast one-and-a-half-hours on a bad traffic day (which is roughly 99% of the time nowadays). Not a happy boat to float in when you want to waste no time in reaching the end of your journey. On top of this, you want the ride to be promising. Not depressing, nerve-wracking, tiring, or irritating.
It’s really that simple.
Yet, it was not.
In order to get from Vasant Kunj, in South Delhi, to IP Extension, in East Delhi, you have to champion the distance like a ‘Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander’ (a winner who-has-it-all). Doing that with ease took me through several routes: known and unknown.
The known were obvious, because shouldn’t it just make sense to get on the ring road, to Sarai Kale Khan, to Akshardham route? All straight and long roads…
No way. Are you kidding me? It’s hellish, given the daily traffic, the ongoing metro-work, the number of cars on the road fighting for each inch of that mortar road.
Whether you try the inner or outer ring road, it doesn’t matter.
Two routes down, I tried the CP route. It checked all the parameters required to make all this traversing around Delhi invigorating. Another friend who’d been covering the same distance for the past three years vouched for how it was infinitely less frustrating if you went through India Gate to get on the ITO route via Lakmi Nagar and Preet Vihar.
I took it. I liked it, but it just seemed longer, littered with traffic lights with way too many cars the minute you passed the Crafts Museum (and beloved Café Lota). No can do.
The fourth and fifth route trail had a patch-road of difference in qualitative time, but won equally in aesthetics.
While on one you’d be on Africa Avenue, then turn towards the ring road, to Africa Avenue, and find your way to Barapullah via Safdarjung Airport flyover, in the other; you’d just have to cross the ring road to take a right from Leela on to the Safdurjung Airport Flyover, then to Barapullah. The thankful find: Barapullah flyover.
Going above green patches and trees on a gently curving road, sans traffic, is a miracle in a metropolis bursting at its seams. Finding a smooth patch within Delhi is impossible, and I’d finally lucked out!
Figuring out what you cross under the Barapullah can be both amusing and eye-opening. Since I couldn’t really see anything beyond the trees and the greens, I didn’t know until recently that an open sewage canal was resting under.
Ignorance is bliss?
Except for the nasty traffic you may chance upon Sarai Kale Khan or close to Akshardham, you’ve got a smooth road to drive on just there.
At last, after two months of routinely getting lost on Google Map routing and re-routing instructions, I found a route which was recommended by a routine traveler to be the most suitable, visually and naturally. For all the tech satellite guidance I am used to now, I found a recommendation by an actual human being who’d been going the distance. A refreshing lesson in attempting to be self-reliant and communicating with more than an algorithm!
I found reason to go to a part of Delhi I hadn’t driven to. And in doing so,
it made me five times wiser. 🙂