The year was 1999. After few months of struggle, had just begun my first job at this Indian Software company in Koramangala, purchased a two-wheeler. All in all, things were looking very positive.
One weekday evening, a close friend invited us group of classmates for her post-engagement party. The venue was Hotel Capitol. It was perhaps the first opportunity for us all to meet after college days. So the excitement was palpable. What would be my friends reaction to my bike, my new dressing sense, cool-dude attitude, ahem ahem.
So the party got underway amidst lot of fun, frolic and food and reminiscing about the wonderful days at college. And finally, it was time to get back home. As the clock struck 11, a dear friend requested if I could drop him home, since it was pretty late for trying his luck with public transport. And of course he pepped me up by saying, “Wow! New bike. Good mate. Can you drop me home?”. That was more than enough. After all, I was waiting to hear this the whole evening. And very very eagerly, I told him, “Of course, I will drop you home”, obviously not aware of what lay ahead.
Those were the non-mobile days, so no question of calling up home to inform about the delay and so on. We started from Hotel Capitol and within the next 50 meters, witnessed a Maruti Van topple while turning in good speed in front of the Governor’s home. The Man at the wheel who was also the lonely passenger was considerably hurt, but managed to pull himself out. The Van however, was severely damaged. Enough people gathered to help the gentleman out, so we didn’t stop and decided to ignore the first warning.
Just after another 100 meters ride, in front of the High Grounds Police Station, saw a Moped lying on the road and the rider seated on the footpath with blood stained clothes. People around him were helping him with water and comforting him. Again, ignored the warning and moved ahead. Each time we saw an accident, my friend (the pillion rider) and I kept blabbering about traffic sense, rules, etc as though we were the only Messiahs of the Traffic Police’s Safety Week Event.
And in just over the next 200 meters, we witnessed the worst of the accidents that night. As soon as we crossed the Windsor Manor Bridge, we saw another moped lying on the road, while its bleeding owner (rider) lay next to it without any movement. As again, people had started to gather and THIS WAS IT!
I was supposed to be riding straight ahead a good 6 more kilometers to drop this friend home, but instead I took this god-sent cue and turned left towards home (just about a kilometer away). My friend was now wondering whatever happened to my enthusiasm of dropping him home. While I kept riding towards home, I quickly shared with him my wish of not wanting to be the next victim. Not entirely convinced perhaps, my friend quickly realised my predicament and agreed to sleep at my home.
It turned out to be one strange night, that I cannot forget after all these years.