Hi friends.. I am back after my GREAT trip and its hangover. Yeah, you should give stress while reading the letters in capsJ . Thanks to all my friends for the Onam wishes. I saw many pics of Onam celebrations in Orkut/FB and they are just great. Hope all of you had a great time – Not like us J
So here is my trip summary. After the great confusion whether we would be able to go, we made it on Friday by noon and reached FL in 6 hours. That was a cool drive and we gave a small surprise to our friends, by reaching few hours earlier than what they expected.
The housewarming function was on Sunday and Saturday was THE BUSY day – Shifting, Arranging and of course Last minute Shopping. Along with that we had plans for cooking – Yeah, Pal Payasam was the dessert as it was Onam. We started at 12 in the night and it went on till 3 am. Never knew it would take that long as we never had even tried to cook for 50 – 65 people. Then it was time for the pooja and we both did not literally sleep that night. Everything went great the next day and we were tired by noon. AJ n Me took a break at 12 noon as we had plans to drive back, but as expected we were not able to open our eyes by the time we wanted to start and finally ended up staying there for one another day. AJ had his workstation carried along and he chose to WFH on Monday. It was not at all a compromise.. All of us were happy to extend our stay there :) We enjoyed the 3 days like anything.
Monday – Thiruvonam – THE DAY: We got up at 9 am and to be frank I didnt even remember that it was Onam. We had lots of left over breakfast on the previous day, so did reheat some idly/vada and had them with chutney. Again lunch was some left over fried rice and curry. AJ could convince his manager and be OOO (Out Of Office) by 3 pm. And we started back to Charlotte by 4 pm.
I know that you would be thinking why I did write up all these as if I am writing a diary. No.. I am not that crazy. The story starts here…. We loaded the home address in the GPS and started our journey. The GPS calculated the destination time as 10:40 pm and we were pretty sure that we would reach by atleast 9:40 pm. The good road + light traffic + AJ’s driving skills – cops around = would have helped us to achieve this.
But NO – the villain was our car tire. By 7.30 pm, we did feel the smell of heated rubber and had moved to the side of the road to check the condition of our tires. But all of them seemed to be perfect and so we continued. But by 8.00 pm, the car started slightly wobbling, it increased in minutes and finally a sound ‘ttoo’. The tire on the rear right was no more. We were on the right lane and so could easily move out of the moving tracks. At that point of time, we were like – ‘ Oh – this is just a matter of tire change’. AJ took out the spare tire, and the jack out of the trunk; But couldn’t find the jack lever and the spanner. Without those, how can we ????????
The option was to ring up the Highway Patrol or our Insurance company. We thought of trying out the HP as that sounded to be more prompt. AJ got the toll free number and dialed up. It was only when the customer service rep there asked about the location, we started looking around. We just knew that we have reached South Carolina and our GPS said that we are some 10 miles away from the next Interstate highway – I 77. But which county, which city, or atleast the zip code – No idea – Then how could someone reach us to help… The only sign board or rather a land mark was an advertisement of a hospital. But we managed to make them understand the location with what we had and also provided them the pole co-ordinates from the GPS. We called them thrice in an hour and can you believe that we did not get any response yet L.
We were fed up by 9.00 pm and then called up the insurance company. They agreed to reach us in another 40min. So that was another session of patient waiting. In between, we saw a police car far ahead and tried to reach near him with the flat tire. We explained our situation and he asked if we want him to call the patrol service. AJ asked him the ETA and he said 45 min. and also asked us to call the HP if they didn’t reach on time. Hmm… It was 9.40 pm and we thought of ringing up the insurance/towing guys once again. We really got pissed off with the response L. The first customer care rep noted down the address wrongly and these towing guys were approaching a different place L. Thankfully we saw an exit board near us, when we approached the cop car. So we called up the customer care service again and gave the right address, sadly they said its gonna take another 40 minutes. OMG !!!!!!!!!!!! The place was so deserted that it would take a minimum of 40 min for any help and the customer service guy warned us – “That’s a dead zone. So stay alert and be careful”
Finally the towing rep reached us by 11.00pm. Again.. He did not have the proper tools to change the tire, but somehow he adjusted with some other tools in his vehicle. We were so happy when he finished his work and paid him $10 as a tip.
But unfortunately, the spare tire was not in good condition (We had never checked the air,pressure etc before) and blew out in another 5 min. Ohhh.. What to do now???? We were 100 miles away from our place and it was late night. Moved into the rest area near by and called up our friends. Asked them to come over to help us – We need to wait for atleast 2 hours. The rest area was full of big trucks, no light and lots of people murmuring around and we did not find it as a safe area. The i-phone helped to find out a Subway + Gas Station near by in 2 miles and we slowly drove to that place. By the time we reached there, we were running on the rim and no tire L. That was a well lit place and we sat there happily with a cup of coffee and a lemon cake. Got the exact location from the store keeper so that our friends could reach there easily.
It was around 1.00 am when 3 of our friends reached and we were so happy to see them there. AJ had asked them to get 2 spare tires and the tools so that we can fix the car and drive home. As soon as they reached, we decided to change the tire. They took out the tools & tires, AJ started lifting the car with the Jack – The guys were like ‘Get set go…’ I was asked to sit safely in the other car. When they started their work, an African-American guy came to us and said he’ll do the work and he just needs $10. Our friends started to avoid him but he pleaded saying that he needs money to fill in gas in his vehicle and …… Then everyone said, “Ok.. Let him do it”. He was so drunk that he wasn’t able to hold the jack lever. Finally they gave him $5 and asked him to leave and the guys were back on work.
But again L, the spanner they had in their car wouldn’t fit the nut of our car. So now what??? AJ and one of our friends decided to stay in a near by hotel and asked others to take me back home. It looked like everyone was more worried to keep me safe. AJ called up the insurance guys to see if they could help us again to tow the vehicle to the nearby hotel. They agreed to take the vehicle any where within 15 miles. But we need to wait for another 45 min. Ok… no other go.. It was late night and anyone who comes to the gas station was drunk and looked scary. Though I’ve heard lot of scary stories about the African-Americans, I was never scared on seeing them. But this time.. I couldn’t help.. People coming there could see the flat tire and we standing near the car looking sadly at it. That made evident that we were in trouble. People started coming over with offers like they would change the tires, they had spare tires etc.. The guys somehow managed to send them away, but they continued to roam around us. The other person to whom we gave money also came back. Now with an American guy, may be thinking that we got scared of his ‘color’. My god.. we were like surrounded by “Helping Hands”.
Thankfully the towing person came in 30 min. By that time each one of us was scared and the guys were scared to stay in that area for a night. So we asked the towing guy, if he could tow our car until our home and we would pay him the balance amount, from what the insurance would pay them. He was ready but was not authorized to go out of state, So he arranged his friend to help us– Again 40 minL. Since we did not want to be in that area anymore, we asked him to tow our car to the nearest hotel, where AJ had decided to stay initially. We were like relieved to move out of that area and went to the parking area of the hotel. That was a huge parking lot with just 4 vehicles including ours and not a single person to see around and of course no light too. We didn’t want to stay there, so left our car there and everyone got into the other car and started roaming around. It was better to keep moving than staying stationary. Since we were kind of relieved, we thought of finding a rest area and getting fresh, Also we thought of filling gas in the car – So both together we decided to enter the nearest gas station.
We saw a gas station and a store inside, it was a well lit area with a few cars parked in the side and we were happy to see an Indian in the store. There was no other person around the station. We decided to go inside. We parked the car, 2 of us started filling gas in the car and rest of us were heading towards the store. It was then we noticed that the guy inside was waving his hands asking us to leave. His face was pale and we could feel the fear on his face. We started walking back, it was then we noticed few eyes popping out of the parked cars. OMG…………. we ran into the car and we were flying out of that station. I was literally shivering and I am sure each one of us were.
We decided to roam around and not stop anywhere until the towing guy reach the place. Wherever we go, We would end up in a dark area and we could see cars parked on the side of the road. Then we would come back to the highway. Each one of us held our breath until the towing guy reached. He said it would cost us $400. Believe me that was the time when we really experienced – “Money was nothing compared to our life.” We would have agreed to him even if had charged $4000. We left the place and then took a coffee break only after entering North Carolina border. Finally reached home by 5.30am. That was a GREAT long trip.
I started writing this post the day we reached ie Tuesday. But was still in the hang over and couldn’t sit at a stretch to complete this. Tuesday – was busy searching a spare tire and finding out the proper tools from every car around us J , Wednesday – supposed to be a rest day, busy unpacking and discussions on the Onam celebration to be held on Friday, Thursday & Friday – Onam celebration & preparations (Shall post the sadhya items soon), Weekend – Trip to Raleigh to our cousin’s house for their baby boy’s Bday, Monday – Unpacking and rest, Tuesday – Back to cooking & my routine after a loooong time, Wednesday – Completed this write up.
I know that this is a long break from blogging and I have missed out many new recipes from my friends. I think I’ll be back to my own routine by next week (Long weekend coming up – Planning for a Niagara + New York trip) and shall be back to track from then J