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Women cannot read maps, they say, and men do not ask for directions. I cannot vouchsafe for the veracity of the first part of this statement, the opportunity of testing it having not risen in this two score and odd years of my life on Planet Earth. I am willing to admit though that perhaps I am not a map reader par excellence. I can of course assure you, that the other half of the statement which deals with the Martians, speaks the truth and nothing but the truth. On second thoughts, being a fair-minded woman and all that, let me not slap this accusation on the whole lot of them Martians out there. Pssst! Do I want a rebellion of sorts on my hand and have them Martians coming at me in droves screaming, ‘Off with her head!’? No Siree! I am willing to concede there exist those rare exceptions out there who do stop and ask for directions when lost. Do drop me a postcard though when you find one. I’d be honored to meet the specimen in person.

Sunday morning, bright and sunny. We, that’s the Lord and Master and yours truly have been in to see the mother in law, mine not his, and are on our way to look around for a microwave oven, the previous one having breathed its last after a few spectacular fireworks induced by an inquisitive lizard who poked its nose where no noses should have been poked. Curiosity doesn’t stop at killing cats as in the adage. It goes on and vanquishes anything else that comes a begging, in this case a lizard. The unfortunate and err… curious lizard learnt the hard way how dispassionate ‘curiosity’ is when it comes to claiming its victims. The result? A charred lizard and a disappointed yours truly minus a functioning microwave.

So there we were on the trail so to speak of a microwave oven so as the Lord and Master could have his food piping hot, the only way he likes to have it. We cross the Patoor junction headed towards Pattom to the QRS showroom with all the latest in household gadgets and more. Lord and Master being a local there is no need for me to keep an eye on where he is going. Neither do I relish the role of a backseat driver. So I give myself up to thought. Plenty of things to think about and I have given my brain a free hand to do just that, letting it be at its whirring best when I hear L & M say conversationally,

“I am not sure where exactly this road leads, but it should get us there…”

Eeeps!! Whats this now?!

My emergency antennae are up as warning bells ring. Not good, not good at all, when the L & M loses his way! I look around to see if I can spot anything familiar. Ahhhh, Trivandrum for you with its twists and turns and houses and buildings coming up on a daily basis!! If you haven’t been that way for a couple of days it’s probable that you will lose the way unless you know the place pretty well which I don’t anyway. Nothing looks familiar to me. So I sit silent, keenly watching. Up ahead comes a fork in the road and L & M promptly takes one of them saying,

This should get us there!”

Should?? Should?!!! Why not ask someone if you are unsure? I want to ask him why he did not go the usual way! Gentle soul that I am, I don’t of course. Moreover I believe people must be allowed to make their own mistakes and then learn from them. It’s another matter that I have been holding this belief since pretty long with not many lessons being learnt that I could see.

The road curves a little further on

“Ahhh..” he says, “this must be it!”

And on he drives. The curve is a just hairpin bend and we are almost heading back from the direction we had came from. I tell him this. I suggest we ask someone.

“Wait!” he says.

I sigh and relapse into silence. The road further on is not tarred. There are huge potholes filled with rainwater in which probably a whale could frisk around. I see a lady with a child in tow walking ahead carefully avoiding said pothole.

“Lets ask her where this road leads to” I tell him brightly, hoping my cheerful face would do the trick. You see I am an optimist.

“Wait!! I know!! This road has to go that way!”

I roll my eyes.

He skirts huge swimming pools in the middle of the road provided free of cost by the Municipal Corporation of Trivandrum for those who might take a sudden fancy for a swim while driving along. The car has to go in and out of most all of them and our backs are taking a beating. More pot holes follow. This time mercifully they are free of water and so the depth can be gauged giving our rattled bones some respite. Ahead is another curve. Aaargh. The number of curves this place has! I see some sort of huge gate coming up to the right and a man standing outside. L& M stares puzzled trying to guess which building it could be. I look at him hopefully. No go! He drives on without asking for directions. Talk about stubbornness. And you are right at this point to surmise that he doesn’t read what I write. So there!

“What?!” he exclaims when he does not see the light at the end of the tunnel or rather the expected connection to the road he is looking for when he rounds the next curve.

“Hmm…”

I am resigned now. I know him enough to realize he is not going to ask the way till he finds it on his own after maybe taking me around in circles for God knows how long! So I wait. I am an optimist and patient.

One more curve and the road straightens out. It is still pot hole ridden. I see something familiar.

“Yesss! I know this road. This is the one next to the Assembly!”

L & M is beaming. It resembles the contented smile of a cat that has got the cream.

“And I can see some buses! It’s the bus stand!”

I am pleased this ordeal is going to end.

“I told you I will get you there!” he says proudly, smiling broadly, pleased with himself.

“Oh yeah, after driving around for so long and wasting so much time!” I look at him daggers as we now thankfully reach the junction in front of the Science and Technology Museum.

“Look at it this way” says L & M, unfazed, “Didn’t I show you a part of Trivandrum you hadn’t seen before??” He is cheerfulness personified.

I roll my eyes again and tell him,

“Wait till I blog about this!”

Post script: We reached back home with the new microwave oven without much mishap driving via the ‘tried and tested’ roads with no more back breaking ‘adventures’ for the day.

This post has been showcased at sulekha.com

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