When R and M first mooted the idea that I participate in the coming car rally , I was incredulous and simply said NO. I didn’t even pause to give it a second thought. I could not, I would not. I had no idea what being a participant ( that is other than the driver ) – entailed and I wasn’t even curious. Experimentation, adventure was never me. Sticking to comfortable, familiar terrain – literally and figuratively has been the story of my life.
R asked me again some weeks later when she was giving out the application forms. The ‘NO’ came out easily again. By then I had heard that the non driving participants needed to do ‘navigation’, decipher ‘tulip’ charts, and my Nemesis – Math. M was not one to take a No that easily though. She asked me on Face book, followed it up with sms, and now, I had to find some plausible excuse that would persuade M off my case. I pleaded my poor navigation skills, my Math phobia- she had a solution for all my misgivings. There was no shaking her off. Besides I was touched by her affectionate persuasion.
I was beginning to think on different lines now. Joining this exuberant, friendly NIE team here, two years ago had changed my life in more ways than I had ever imagined. Those who know me from my pre NIE days would be able to understand and appreciate the changes I’m talking about. And so I thought- why not? I called up my other friend C – a veteran rally participant- and she was so enthusiastic about my participation that she convinced me it would be great fun. I got back to M and said that I was game. She assured that it would be a good experience.
I spoke to V ( my husband) and he was totally thrilled about the idea of me participating in the rally. He wasted no time in announcing to any one who cared to hear about the great event- not the rally but his wife’s participation in it.
I called up R, and before I uttered a word, I could hear the smile in her voice as she said, “So A, you’re joining the rally. M has already informed me!” She too reassured me that she’d find me like-minded team members and that was it. There was no turning back.
After Saturday NIE sessions, B took me to her beautiful home, lovingly stuffed me upto my nose with a delicious lunch and after a most relaxing siesta, we set off for the briefing for the rally.At the briefing session, I was awe struck by the sight of so many up beat women of all ages.. I observed the proceedings with much interest.
This is an all women car rally- the TDS rally- Time, Speed, Distance which is NOT a race, as they kept reminding us. Each team comprised of 3 members - the driver, a navigator and a passenger. There were 48 teams in all. We were supposed to cover about 77 kms in 3 hrs, to stick to the alloted speed, strict following of safety rules, remembering to wear seat belts, following the route chart, fill up a time chart and questionnaire en route and most importantly not get lost. The best part was , my partners- the driver and the other person, (whom I was meeting for the first time) seemed to be equally clueless as to what was supposed to happen. But that minor detail did not dampen our spirits. Besides, the person who gave us the briefing did say that, as Novices, if we were unsure about the proceedings, we need not break our heads about the calculations and stuff, just stick to the tulip chart and the speed limit and enjoy the whole experience. That sounded good enough for us.
Next morning, my husband and son accompanied me to the starting point. R and M welcomed me exuberantly and I was happy to be there. My team members soon joined me and there was lots of cheering and Best wishes being thrown around. All the participants wore the T shirt and cap and soon we set off on our respective vehicles with our kit bags.
My team members and I were more concerned about not getting lost than anything else and so we kind of laxed up a bit about doing the Math and stuff. The route was mostly through the outskirts of Trichy- through mud roads, with lots of animal population, villagers looking askance at a caravan of cars crawling through their apology of a road. We managed fairly well initially and felt pretty relaxed and confident. However further down the route, we did get confused. We kept going back and forth searching for a particular deviation in the route but never found it. We ended up missing out an entire stretch and reached back at the starting point first. We were a trifle embarassed at reaching back much ahead of the expected time , but the organizers welcomed us with much applause and asked us if we enjoyed the experience. We were still a bit shaken wondering how much of the route/ how many check point marshals we had missed and so perhaps were not too voluble in our response. We had no inkling about the number of penalties we may have accrued along the way.
We had not won but my friends and relatives made such a fuss about my adventure that I felt like a winner all the way!
( R, M,C and B are my colleagues and dear friends).