Friday, January 13, 2017

When a smooth drive turned into an adventure!


When we decided to pack our bags and leave for some tempting place, for Christmas holidays, adventure was the last thing on our minds. What we had been planning was a quiet and peaceful holiday. However, as they say: Man proposes, God disposes, our journey was meant to be something else than what we had planned.

Since 302 km Lucknow-Agra expressway had been inaugurated by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and on his orders it was also to be opened for public on 23 December, our logic told us that it would be ready a day in advance, except finishing touches.

Aiming to avoid the traffic of driving enthusiasts, who, we thought, would be hitting the road when it is opened for public, we decided to leave a day in advance, on 22 December.

Soon, we realised that we were tad too optimistic, or we took the Uttar Pradesh government a bit too seriously. Whereas, when the government says open it for public, it doesn't really mean it.

So, the early morning we were set for our brief Christmas holiday sojourn. Our nearly 12-year-old humble but fiercely loyal Hyundai Santro was all decked up with new head lights, fog lamps and brand spanking tyres. Excited, we headed towards Lucknow-Agra Expressway. Getting out of Lucknow never felt like this ever before.

Our happiness knew no boundary when we spotted the first sign: "Welcome to India's longest Lucknow-Agra Expressway". The sign displayed a poked-faced Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The road was smooth with practically zero traffic. We were so proud of our decision to leave a day early (on 22 December) and thought the drive would be a memorable one.

But, it was too early to feel at the top of the world. Looking back, I feel we were optimistic fools!

Our's was the only car on the black tarmac road. There were no more signs, after the Chief Minister welcoming us - not even for diversions. There were workers, machines and lorries all along the way.

Yet, it didn't make us suspicious. The argument was if the road was to be opened for public a day later, it has to be complete a day before even with diversions.

The workers were either fixing the fence on the divider or erecting the railing on the sides of the road. At places, there were big machines and vehicle busy in digging and carrying construction material. We kept enquiring the workers about the condition of the road further, but got no hint of any road block.

However, our positive attitude could not take us far. The reality was soon staring us in the face. As we crossed Kannauj, there was a big machine blocking both sides of the road - a bridge was under construction. We were taken aback - especially because no worker on the highway confronted that the road was incomplete, or in a state where it would take at least 3 months for it to be useable.

Disappointed, we took a U turn, hoping to find some slip road to come off the expressway. Luckily, we spotted a lorry on a temporary road made for lorries to carry the construction material. Thanks to Hyundai technology, we dared to take our humble vehicle on that freshly-poured mud road. Driving carefully for about 200 metres, we finally touched an old and narrow but tarmac road.

Driving on this road for over 80 KM we found ourselves on the same old National Highway 2, which we usually take to drive to Delhi. There was no way that could have connected us to Expressway again.

Anyway, we were still happy that at least we have been able to avoid the traffic jam in Kanpur.

What else! we had to justify our decision and our faith in the government.

The lesson we got was "not to take government announcements on face value."

Our advice: All those who are planning to drive on Yamuna Expressway via Lucknow-Agra Expressway - Beware, the road will not be ready in at least 3 months. So, take the old tried and tested National Highway 2 to reach the Yamuna Expressway.

P.S. This was just the beginning of our journey. Watch this place for more adventures and fun which we had until reaching home safely after a fortnight.