Friday, June 12, 2009

Country roads take me home


There is a virile excitement to be found in driving fast. Zipping across landscapes in a rush, driving in raucous speeds gives one a thrill otherwise unattainable. And this is not a pleasure extended to those who occupy other seats n the vehicle. The slow increase of numbers, ascending to the forbidden and mentally marking off milestones as the road markers seem to merge, until time itself begins to fly. Wind in the hair, spirits loose and caution (or the lack of it) hovering like a concerned parent behind.

There is another joy in driving slowly, the slowness brought upon by choice or force; with a low speed limit and a near empty road, the lack of acceleration not robbing the essence of movement. With speeds like 30 mph, there is time to note every lark that perches upon telegraph lines, time to feel every bend in the road, time to whoosh past trees and time to feel gravity working on you, as you hurtle down hills.

Driving in Massachusetts can be exasperating because the roads there have potholes. Lanes dizzyingly and exasperatingly merge or diverge, befuddling the novice. Driving in Massachusetts can be rewarding because the road suddenly will cut across a lake, pierce through a dense forest or dally around rounded hills; or even more suddenly deposit you in a city amidst skyscrapers and the sea.

It takes two to tango. And providing a much needed background score to this vista was a well furnished ipod that would play notes befitting the landscape and friends in tow, replete with lazy witty repartees. I spent most of the fall and winter of 2008 on trips that were more lessons on nature appreciation and less trips.

Much has been said of the American freeways and how they are a pleasure to drive on and also extremely purposeful and useful. This post is a tribute to the unsung heroes in Massachusetts, the state routes. Unseen, unknown like dark ribbons on the landscape.

Route 9: Is a major artery for Boston and its suburbs. About 10 miles form the city centre, it decides it has had enough and then exclusively zips past lakes. Peppered with grocery stores, malls and humdrum commercial establishments that suburbia thrives on.

Route 20: Is actually US route 20 stretching form Boston proper, traversing the length of the continent ending somewhere non-descript in Oregon. Parallels I-90 for most of its length often ducking under it and in one case going over it. In the city it has a most innocuous beginning in a leafy square, hardly expected of a road going all the way to the Pacific. Becomes a surprisingly crowded road, linking areas. Is densely forested, and in my opinion has some of the most lip smacking restaurants this side of the Atlantic.

Route 85: This one is hardly important but a personal favourate, simply because it was close to home and I had a treat driving on it one cold snowy afternoon with kathanakuthoohalam for company.

Route 135: One does not expect waterfalls on an urban road. And it is not inappropriate to lose ones head if the first time one sees a waterfall on a road, it is frozen and the ice threatens in looming shapes, to engulf small cars.

There are many more but I realize that I can hardly say different things about any of them. All of them were the same, traversing lands of great beauty and picturesque. Route 140 where a friend (who cooked well) lived. Route 111 where we got lost at 1 am in the morning, route 62 that we were always confused about, route 117 that took us to a great big Wal-mart. Routes 2 and 3 that were less state routes and more freeway, route 110 that had the huge houses, route 30 which most illogically loops around everywhere, route 28 where I ran over a duck, route 1 with all the seaside villages, route 128 winding along cold forlorn marshes, I could go on and on.

What I’ll do instead is hope I haven’t bored you with this long post, and hope you can see all of what I have said without calling me a clich├ęd sentimental old fool.

This post is also a birthday present to K, who was privy to all the aforementioned incidents and travels. Music connoisseur, in charge of general maturity and a close friend.