Hello friends. Hope you and your families are safe and you are taking good care of yourself .While we wait for this pandemic to come to an end, I just felt like sharing this personal experience with you all. Hope you will find some time to read this and reflect.
The night before the Janta curfew, we met with a massive accident, about 100 kms ahead of Shimla. This happened at night, while negotiating a sharp bend on a narrow road, with one side dug up and the other falling away into a ravine.
Due to heavy rains, the road was muddy and slippery and made steering difficult. Whilst navigating the bend, a puddle and a large ditch on either side of the road, suddenly came into view of our headlights. I swerved left and right, to avoid both, but with the steering wheel slipping on the muddy road, I ended up crashing into a large solitary boulder on the edge of the road. Had the boulder not been there, that should have been it for me, my wife and my young daughter. We wouldn’t have survived the fall, and even if we had, at that time, no one would have come to our aid. Yet, miraculously, the car smashed into that solitary boulder and stopped and to cushion us further, the air bags opened absorbing the impact. Though the car was in bad shape, none of us were injured and instead of us, it was the boulder that had collapsed over the edge. Within minutes, another miracle took place. Three cars showed up, likely the last on that stretch for the night. It had begun to rain, and we were wet and cold so they came just in time. The guys were also in a hurry to get home prior to the curfew, but ended up delaying themselves and helped us to a nearby place we owned, an old orchard that my father had bought when I was very young,
It’s a very basic accommodation, with just a few essentials, but we thanked ourselves for having a roof over our heads that day. I still shudder to think how bad things could have been. What if the boulder wasn’t there, what if we had fatal injuries and what if those cars hadn’t turned up? With my wife and daughter by my side, stranded in the middle of nowhere on a rainy night, it would have been a nightmare beyond imagination. It can happen to anyone. Night driving is surely out for us . While we had been taught our lessons rather harshly we had been spared the worst by some divine interventions.
Himachal lockdown was enforced the next day. Still recovering from the shock and transport suspended, we couldn’t move from this place. As luck would have it, national lockdown happened soon after. So here we are stuck in this place, with no conveyance, a very basic accommodation and only bare essentials. The gas cylinder was empty but fortunately there was an electric heater which we have been using for all cooking. With frequent power failures during rains, no backups and long gaps before major faults are rectified; we were running the risk of having no cooked food. We finally got a gas cylinder replenishment on the 8th day and it was a joy beyond words.
It’s been ten days now .We are cooking, doing the dishes, washing clothes by hand, cleaning the place etc. We fetch basic groceries from a tiny shop which is a 2 km round trip on foot. A slightly larger hamlet is a 4 km round trip. We are fetching clean drinking water from a natural source nearby as the govt. connection is not yet functional and rain water collected in tanks is not fit for drinking. There is no tv, no fridge, no wi-fi, no doctor on call. When there is no power we are engulfed by pitch darkness, mitigated slightly by a candle and run the risk of having drained phone batteries.
I have experienced this life before, which helps, but it’s never been without help, preparation and never for so long. After ten days, are we tired, frustrated, miserable, bored, feeling pained? Absolutely not. We can get ourselves evacuated to Shimla but have decided against it till the lockdown is over. It may be a situation forced on us but it’s a divine opportunity given to us and we don’t want to waste it. No four walls to be confined to, no RWA directives or restrictions, freedom to step out into nature and time to reflect on the ecological imbalance created mostly by people like us and how nature finds it ways to restore it. We are “far from the madding crowd” but connected to the world more than ever. Yes, I would have loved to be part of the front line, like many who are running the show for us, but this is the next best option. We are still managing from here and doing our bit in whichever way we can, thanks to the mobile internet.
It’s a different world here and I feel blessed to experience this unlike many in the urban world, despite the lack of comfort gadgets. People have more hardships here but they are lot more content. They may not live the life we do, but they are connected to the world in a way that we do not understand. It’s important that we count our blessings, wherever we are, and whatever the situation. This accident has only made this experience of ours more profound. It’s the “silver lining” that every cloud has. They say everything happens for a reason. It’s a divine coincidence that today is Ashtami and also my birthday. Having survived miraculously, I am celebrating both occasions with the locals here, something I would have never imagined or planned.