Close shaves

Life is so unpredictable. Sometimes the events that unfold in our lives take us completely by surprise and there are also times when they knock the daylights out of us. While some leave you scarred for life, many others serve as lessons for the future. Certain happenings haunt you forever while there are others that give you a certain amount of solace each time you recollect them. Let me recall three such events which I would call close shaves or narrow escapes.

Caught in dirty waters

This particular unpleasant incident happened when I was all of 12. It was in the 1980s when commuting in Bangalore was a cumbersome affair. I loathed travelling by the BTS (now BMTC) buses. For one, I hated the endless wait at the bus stop and secondly the overcrowded buses. There were times I had to travel on the foot-board and this was scary.

Image <- Art by Aditi Bhagath

When at school I played hockey and the matches were usually scheduled after school hours. Staying back for a hockey match meant missing the school bus which took us back home. Once after one such match I decided to walk back home instead of boarding a BTS bus. Walking back home would take a good 2 hours but I preferred that to travelling in an overcrowded bus. I had to walk from Ulsoor to the NAL Quarters on Old Airport Road. I decided to take a short route through Indiranagar and landed on 100 Feet Road. Instead of walking the length of 100 Feet Road to Old Airport Road, I thought of taking a detour and walked instead along a narrow mud road that I thought would take me to the Old Airport Road in a shorter time. So walk along the mud road I did. This was an unfamiliar route. When I had almost reached Old Airport Road to my utter dismay I realized that I would need to cross a narrow canal. Now it wasn’t narrow enough for me to jump across. For a moment, I didn’t know what to do. Walking back to 100 Feet Road and then to the Old Airport Road would take too long. As I kept pondering, I noticed a muddy path across this canal which was covered with weed, moss and what not. I thought why not use that path to step across. I had just put one foot on the muddy path when it gave in and my leg sank into the water and in no time I lost my balance and fell into the water. The canal wasn’t very deep but its bed was very slippery which made it difficult for me to get out. I frantically waved my hockey stick and cried for help. Providence saved me in the guise of a passing labourer who lent me a helping hand and pulled me out. Wonder what would have happened to me if he wasn’t around. The place was otherwise very deserted. I had to tread the rest of the distance to my home covered in weed and grime. My white school uniform accentuated the mess. I must say I was a traffic stopper in more ways than one.

Moral of the story: It is okay to be adventurous but refrain from misadventure. It may prove costly.

When the coconut came crashing down

I spent two of my student years at Mysore where I stayed at the University hostel. The washing stones were in the central courtyard of the hostel and right under an array of coconut trees. One day I was in for a surprise. Like every day, I took my bucket of clothes to the washing stone and had just turned on the tap when I heard a loud thud inches away from my feet. A large coconut had come crashing down and missed falling on me by a whisker. I wonder what would have happened to me if it had fallen on my head. Phew! That was close.

Image<-Art by Aditi Bhagath

Moral of the story: You never know when luck is on your side.

Dodging the traffic

My workplace in the late 1990s was at Brigade Road. To take the bus home, I sometimes had to cross MG Road. During the peak hours crossing this road was a nightmare. I am one of those who is anything but adventurous when it comes to crossing roads. I wait till the road is absolutely clear. But on that particular day, I thought I would weave through the traffic like many others do. In the process, I totally misjudged the speed of an approaching matador van and almost got run over. I kept wondering what came over me that I behaved like such a dunce. I walked to the bus stop in a daze.

Moral of the story: It is always better to play super-safe when crossing roads.

The drunken auto driver

There have been times when I have had to take an auto to office. Getting an auto during peak hours can be quite difficult. So you have no choice but hop into any auto if the driver agrees to take you to your destination. Once before getting into an auto I realized the driver was drunk. I didn’t feel too comfortable boarding it. There were no other autos around and it was getting late. My worst fears came true when the guy started driving as if there were no other vehicles on the road. He missed hitting a vehicle or two. As if that was not enough he jumped a signal and crashed the auto on to a cyclist who had just decided to cross the road thinking it was all clear. The impact of the collision brought down the cyclist and resulted in the auto turning upside down. A traffic cop helped the injured cyclist and then got me out of the auto. I escaped with a sprained right hand and some bruises.

Moral of the story: Never board a vehicle if you notice that driver is drunk.

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