Many say God gives only one chance, grab it with both hands. But I believe he gives more than one chance. An incident happened to me to accept that.
April – May 2016
April 2016, a month when I had to let go my 8-year associate Suzuki Swift and bought a Volkswagen Vento. It had all the safety features that were available for that segment at that time.
May 2016, it was our annual family holiday and we decided to drive From Chennai and plan was to visit places like Hampi (Via Bangalore), Badami and return via Gokarna, Mangalore and Mysore. Well planned and all details worked out. Decided to drive this 11-day journey. The plan was to start driving in the morning and reach the desired destination by noon and visit local places before retiring for the day. 5 places in 11 days were evenly spread out. Planning done it was time for execution.
May 6th to May 8th, 2016:
Chennai – Bangalore – Hampi: With an overnight stopover at Bangalore on 6th May, reached Hampi next morning. Hampi visits on 7th and 8th May. Weekend well spent. Nothing much to see at Hampi so we decided to move to next spot after breakfast on Monday 9th May.
9th May 2016 – The D day
Hampi – Badami was an approximately 90-minute drive. We left Hampi at 8:30 am and reached Badami cave temples, one of the main tourist places. Needless to say, it was scorching hot. And from here we decided to go to an old shiv mandir, another tourist attraction. It was a single lane municipal road, not much of overtaking possible.
I generally use nitrogen air and when it is long driving with family keep the air pressure to 29-30. Since it was a just one-month-old vehicle I didn’t change the pressure and travelled at the default setup. It is well known that during summer tyre pressure rises by 4-5 psi. It was totally naive to travel by the default air and tyre pressure. A bad judgement !!! Life-threatening.
It was around lunchtime and was driving around 40kmph, could not avoid driving into a pothole. Bang… After this, all I heard was a loud noise and a few seconds later, we were upside down with airbag on our face. Fortunately, wife and kids were in the rear seat. I was accompanied by the local guide. Since we were on our seat belt we got saved. The guide got some injuries on his head, but nothing major. Went through the routine medical test/checkups for all (including guide). The local hospital wanted to have the Guide at ICU for observation since it was a head injury and got satisfied that things are physically normal. But the trauma of near death rattled us.
Badami police and locals were very helpful and towed the remains of the vehicle on 11th to the nearest VW centre at Hubballi. And after completing the formalities with the VW centre left Hubballi on 13th by train to Chennai. Thanks to Gokul who helped me in getting train tickets at the last minute and during peak holiday season. It is been two years since this happened, but I feel reborn on 9th May.
After returning home to Chennai first advice that I got from my mother was ‘Do not stop driving. I know you will feel responsible but believe me, you are not guilty’.
Unsolicited advice: When buying any vehicle it is very very important to give priority to Safety features followed by vehicle performance. Aesthetic things can take back seat. We never know when and what will come up in life.
Nonetheless the annual trip was a really memorable one.