Run 552 at Vellore
Get the F^#k out of Here
I’ve never really given up on getting out of this one-star town. What the hell am I doing here? Did I just hear Summer of 69 on radio? Who does that? It’s 2011. Did that auto just do a figure 8 around the fidgety jay-walkers on a jammed street? Sweet Jesus, I am tired, I'm out of ideas, I'm mad. ANYTHING but this.
So there it goes, and here I am agreeing to drive three others as desperate as I am to get out of Chennai. There they are, agreeing to be driven down a 180 km stretch of treacherous Indian highway by a driver with a recently trashed track record. We set up the getaway with lunatic shrewdness: Bob is going to be singing about sunshine like he’s never been in Tamil Nadu, psychotropic substances, a Chinese man who has promised to cook a feast for us, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum. We have clear directions from the Mismanagement Committee – get on the road and ask for directions. A few loops around the Arni road, one temple festival, a dozen homicidal bus drivers on blind curves, smiling Hindu cows strategically placed in the middle of expressways, white knuckled back-seat drivers and three Airtel boards later, we are here. It is well worth it. Hills at the doorstep, a happy- to- be- out- of- Chennai Uncle Doss (read: another chance to preach to choir), beers stacked up all the way to the ceiling, the Chinese meal on the burner and a cool breezy balcony with psychedelic lights. Alcohol has stealthily manoeuvred the conversation into the raging place of this is how we will save India, the world, the UNIVERSE : WE ARE KINGS! Us kings have managed to send our Chinese friend into a downward spiral of streaming love songs from mainland and nightmares of oppressive governments. Why he didn’t slip a sedative into the soya chicken and end the misery of listening to a bunch of pseudo-liberals on a drunken loop is beyond me. Dr.King has joined us and is taking us on a taxonomical night tour of the ox-bowing roads of CMC Vellore. Jurassic age palms, louder-than-us Fruit bats, owlets (they are small owls, not baby owls), stars (not mobile phone towers) in the sky : OPERATION SUCCESS. This is Vellore, but this could be Kottayam. Never mind, we are officially out of Chennai.
Morning coffee, a meat-laden breakfast and the trail: two to the hills, two on the plains. We can even be organised now that we’ve figured how to save the world. The details are taken care of- Biriyani: check, ice: check, cold beer: check, Supertramp at high decibels: check. The afternoon cannot go wrong. But, it did. We weren’t the only organised ones. The creeps in Chennai got organised. The circus freaks transported themselves to our secret paradise in buses with bellies full of beer and breakfast. It’s cluttered, they are walking our hills, they are getting lost, they are taking short-cuts, they are hitching rides, having minor medical emergencies, there is mindless banter, more beer and for all the trouble of being KINGS we are rewarded with iced-bottoms and a slippery balcony. YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CANNOT HIDE!
Our Chinese friend has quietly negotiated a ride back without us. It's a sign, we've got to plot a return, we've lost the kingdom and the cook. This place is trashed and the party is going to hit the road. It’s time for us to ditch the spoiled piece of heaven and get back to Hell. Goodbye, Vellore , Hello Koyembedu Junction. We are creeping behind a dirt-truck for half an hour, they just followed up the Black Eye Peas with Bon Jovi on the radio, the auto rode sideways on the AIADMK SUV for a nano-second: this must be my pickled home.
Bubbles "Shame - Pain"