[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
Manoeuvring a hatchback skillfully through drains, streams, and a brutally broken down yet familiar trail feels like an achievement worth sharing.
Every day is an adventure on the Itanagar-Naharlagun road as the roads keep breaking down at new points every few days. It isn’t merely a test of your driving skills, but also a test of your memory as the crater (calling them potholes would be an insult to their size) that was located at a certain point one day shifts a few metres away after a few days of heavy rainfall.
It’s also one of those days when I wish I could afford an SUV.
The thrill of showing off your driving skills is not limited to the Itanagar-Naharlagun road alone; it extends up to Yupia, which also has the railway station, ready to greet visitors with landslides and a long queue of stranded vehicles ahead of them.
Those from outside the capital may not be aware, but a ton of mental preparation is required the day before you need to drive or ride to Naharlagun or anywhere close to it.
A friend and I exercised our brains a few days before we planned on heading out to Doimukh. We had to take into account the traffic within the towns of Itanagar and Naharlagun. We brainstormed on all the alternative routes and whether the Yupia road was a better alternative, even though it was longer. Our only solace was that we would see brighter and better roads within Doimukh town.
On the day we eventually headed out, we came across a warning board that read: ‘Men at Work’. We scanned as far as our eyes could allow and saw none. It certainly wasn’t the time of the day to work anywhere near the already clawed-down mountains and hills with the heavy flow of traffic posing a hurdle, but the absence of the men at work raised a few queries.
We wondered where the men were. Were they working on something else? Were they working at an isolated location, far from the immediate broken-down road? Or were they working odd hours of the day to avoid disturbing the traffic flow? It wasn’t raining, so why wasn’t anyone working?
I instantaneously recalled having seen some men at work a few nights earlier, fixing the craters near the Hotel PYBSS.
I wanted to stop an applaud them for their work, and shake hands with the authorities for finally noticing that no matter how slow the cars drove, their undercarriage took a hit, and that they had to swerve a little to the left, a little to the right, and almost hit the oncoming traffic.
As pointed out earlier, a great deal of mental preparation goes into driving through the city and its surrounding areas. And after witnessing that night’s activities, I geared up to see at least a high number of craters filled and worried a lot less about the undercarriage of my car.
But my excitement was short-lived as I watched cars slow down at the usual spots, taking the familiar left and right swerves. Only a few craters had been filled up the night before.
So, as I damage my tailbone bit by bit and pull a muscle while I press the clutch, I can only imagine the skills the drivers of remote districts have acquired, and hope to see more men at work.