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Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting There

‘Why don’t you ask for directions from that man?’, Sonia suggested, her voice mixed with  excitement and frustration.

We had been driving around the Mount Desert Island when I had spontaneously decided to take a detour into a thin winding road close to the entrance of Acadia National Park.

It seemed like a good idea at that time as we travelled down the road, surrounded with lush greenery, Sonia and my hair blowing wildly in the wind flowing across the car windows. Kids were busy watching Jurassic Park 3, clutching on to their headsets to block the wind noise out of their universe they gazed at the ferocious T-Rex in the screen of the DVD player.

Once in a while we could spot log huts tucked deep into the woods, wisps of smoke spiraled out of the chimneys and faded into the twilight sky.  The smell of the wood smoke hung in the air for a long time before getting displaced by the misty fragrance of pine
.
‘I wonder what the guys who live in these houses do for a living?’, Sonia pondered aloud with a smile ‘ Must be writers or folks like that’, she continued ‘ How much I envy these people …’

‘So why don’t you become a Writer?’I joked.

‘If only it was that easy’, Sonia rolled her eyes in feigned protest ‘ I am sure I cannot be a writer  in this lifetime’, she said looking out of the window as we passed another log hut that was perched on a hill next to a lake.

Just then disaster stuck. The navigation system suddenly stopped working. The much familiar LCD screen showing the icon of our car winding down an orange road cutting through a tacky shade of bright green- went dark.  We did not have any other form of maps in the car. I slowed down as we travelled down the winding road in twilight.  The wind was getting chilly so I closed the sun roof and the windows.  The romantic woods were somehow magically transformed into a threatening forest conspiring to ambush us.

‘If we head towards north, we will eventually end up around the ocean – right?’ Sonia asked expectantly. We were in an Island – well almost, save that bridge that connected us to the mainland, so we would end up near the ocean irrespective of which way we were heading. But I did not want to point that out to Sonia as I glanced suspiciously around at the pine forests surrounding us.

We had arrived at Acadia National Park yesterday after a six hours drive from Boston.  The park was situated in an island which was scattered with pristine glacial lakes, spectacular mountains and granite cliffs plunging into the Atlantic Ocean.  We were living in a quaint B&B near Bar Harbor, the largest town in the island. Our host, a charming, garrulous lady in her mid forties had given us a warm welcome and a long overview of the Park’s history and tips on the culture of Maine.

‘Don’t laugh if you hear a Mainer say - You can’t get there from here’, she said with a smile. The old saying in Maine was apparently used in several settings, including providing directions. Many attributed this saying to the old roads in New England, several of which could trace their origins to ancient cow tracks. Destinations that seemed straight ahead in the road, often stood separated by valley or streams.

You can’t get there from here’ was an easier alternative to reconcile oneself with, as compared to laborious process of finding another road that goes around the valley or finding a bridge across the stream.  ‘You will be surprised if you know how many people actually believe in that sentence ‘, our host had said laughing. I found the concept amusing. I imagined entering a destination in my navigation system and getting a response ‘You can’t get there from here’ – flashing in bold red letters.  I had laughed aloud with her.

 ‘Why don’t you ask for directions from that man?’, Sonia’s voice rang through the car as she pointed at a man who was walking beside the road with a huge Labrador. I was not too fond of huge dogs. I was also not too fond of asking for directions - in fact I detested it. But today was different; I gulped my pride, put up a feigned smile and walked towards the elderly gentleman. 

‘Excuse me’, I asked politely, ‘We are a bit lost– can you tell us how to reach the Frenchman Bay from here?’

The man looked at me for a few seconds and replied in a thick Maine accent ‘You can’t get there from here’. I continued to look at the man with a smile ‘Nice sense of Humor’ I thought as I waited for his directions. But the man was apparently not joking; he gave me a polite nod and moved on as his huge Labrador yanked him away from me. 

I stared at the old man with a feeling of nervous excitement bubbling through me, as he walked away around the bend of the road. I had just witnessed a ‘You can’t get there from here’ event ! I forgot that I was lost in this desolate part of an island as I trotted back to the car and opened the door excitedly to see a smiling Sonia.‘You won’t believe what that guy said to me when I asked him for directions, I exclaimed flashing a huge smile.

‘And you won’t believe what I just did ‘she said pointing to our navigation system which was apparently working again! ‘I whacked it hard and it started working!’. The tacky green forest in the navigation system’s LCD screen had magically transformed the threatening forest back to friendly woods bathed in twilight mist.
Just around the bend of the road was a spectacular log hut nestled on a grassy patch next to a mountain stream. 

‘Another writer’, smiled Sonia. I smiled back at her and looked at the log hut, conjuring up images of the imaginary writer occupant, sitting in front of a warm mahogany table with quill in her hand, staring out of the window at the sun setting beyond the cliffs.  ‘I am sure I cannot be a writer in this lifetime’, Sonia’s words rang in my ears breaking my chain of thought.

‘By the way, what amusing thing did that man say to you?’, Sonia asked looking out of the window.

4 comments:

Varsha said...

Banna, you are simply amazing!I can hear Anisha saying those words. I can see you grinning getting back to the car and saying......
Very well written!
Girl power and the power of a whack...simply put together is a very interesting story!

devashish said...

dear dear how do frame such wonderful words&turn them to a story.....we are astonished & proud of ur writing regards

Anisha said...

Interesting read indeed :-)
And the subtlety by which you brought forth confusion in life in general "of getting there from here".. Have always said, you have a flair

triloki nagpal said...

Beautiful...
Short and sweet; your writing power is really amazing - it just brings out the complete description so vividly, transporting the reader to the actual scene..

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