Yesterday once more…

KK Paul

Driving down back home to Chandigarh from Delhi has always been fun. Even after 45 years of following the same route and routine, the excitement continues to remain intact. Maybe, more than anything else, it has something to do with the feeling of nostalgia and childhood memories evoked by visits to the hometown.

One such recent visit has been more memorable than others, as after a very long time, both our sons were also accompanying us. Such occasions have been very rare after their marriages. They have naturally travelled with their families.

When the boys were young, they used to be invariably seated in the rear with all the eats. I used to be at the wheel. After a particular age, children tend to become very noisy and keep chattering and giggling with an occasional friendly fight thrown in. This used to continue for the initial one hour or so, and well before it was due, the eats hamper would be emptied out even before one had entered Haryana. Thereafter, all of a sudden, there was a hush and one found them fast asleep, despite the car being non-AC and the road being not so smooth.

Keeping pace with the changing times, the good old GT Road has metamorphosed into an ultramodern highway. Thanks to our engineers, despite the higher speeds of vehicular traffic and the consequent reduction in travel time, the journey has become much smoother and safer, with the number of accidents coming down drastically.

This modernisation of the highway has also been accompanied by a simultaneous mushrooming of eateries, resorts, motels and even air-conditioned dhabas boasting of five-star washrooms on either side. Their number appears to be highly disproportionate to any other route on the national highway. Perhaps this has something to do with the Punjabi habit of eating out and converting every journey into a picnic!

For our journey last week, for some reason, and with the examination fever in full force, it was just the four of us once again in the car. The only difference being that on this occasion, the boys were in the front and my wife and I were in the backseat. Even as they were chattering and laughing like old times, lo and behold, it was both of us — now in our seventies — who were trying to resist sleep and were all the time nodding and dozing off.

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