Race Day!

What happens when you put too much fate in one silly machine called computer? Well, that’s what happened! After the first few bikers who crashed into the sand hill, but were not hurt, every system that Avir and Hera banked on crashed, and this time it hurt.

First thing to go out of sync was gear, they did not bring any, all the things that were required to drain the fuel tanks of those bikes to measure the efficiency, were lost. So the efficiency parameter was to be judged by the time taken and make of the bike, which were certainly biased, however there was nowhere to go.

Finally, some approximation based on tank capacity and length of stick was used to judge efficiency, and as soon as data collection was over, it had to be entered in the program, so that the software would announce the winner! The count down had began.

As soon as data was entered and the command for calibration given the damn PC crashed! To never recover again. Plus stage was set with all the dignitaries on dais eager to finish speeches to an applause and get back home, participants were eager to win and photographers ready to click pictures and submit them for tomorrows news. So, there was no time to restart the process.

Next thing, Hera could not believe what he was doing with his hands, pulling out names of bikers on chits to declare a winner, the old fashioned lucky draw! And the damn method licked out to few unworthy beings and Hera found Shiv bargaining for ransom amount and in front of him; it was decided that the unworthy will get second spot so he can pay off his fine levied by college for not attending lectures. Hera started to object for the said vehicle was very ill maintained and could not win on even a single parameter! That’s when a professor stepped in!

The Professor as he was lovingly known for being right, Hera hoped this would give a break through.

Hera: “Sir; this chap’s bike is a total loss making unit, it does not even average 30 KMs per litter and as is old and dusted, can not even run fast, plus is not well maintained and hence causes lot of pollution."

Shiv: “Sir, we do not have our gears and software has crashed, at best we can only do guess work.”

Chap: “And if you do not include me in winners, I will just tell the truth how you have cheated.”

The Professor: “Chap? How much do you want?”

Chap: “At least 2nd position to pay off my fine.”

The Professor: “Ok! Done!” to Shiv “There is always a honest one in a team, manage him.” Pointing to Hera.

Hera had heard that and knew, there is no point in following truth here, so he just gave up and soon was lost in dazzle of flashes from cameras, as he accepted the organizing committees key member’s memento from the president of group of colleges.

Hera was so lost in the flash that he was barely able to make out where the camera was and where he was supposed to stand or who was he holding hands with. In end Hera knew what he wanted from life. The thrill of managing something successfully, and getting the all important recognition for it. The fame!

This was followed by prize distribution and the president winning his patent for designing a oil sump Carbon & Lead emission absorber, which would turn out to be useless as it’s more hazardous to get rid off! Hence it never took off.

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Next Day: Race Day!

It has been said a many times, and it will be said many times more in future and experienced by almost each and every individual who was ever born on this blue pearl of limitless or rather of unmeasured universe of ours; that planning does not work, specially when you are not in control of your own or anyone else’s life that you want to plan along with yours. And race is one such thing, where limitless entities interfere, and when its almost free for all to enter race, plan is bound to fail; sooner than latter.

The day for Hera started with sweet memories of yesterdays gift, his dad had also enjoyed the fresh chapaties made by Monsoon in dinner; the conversation was on repeat in Hera’s head.

Dad: “Hmmm…there seem to be new chapaties in box; I had thought we had finished them.”

Hera: “Yes! We had, these are made by my friend, who came to see me today!”

Dad: “They are soft! It feels good to eat fresh food again! Even curry is good! Nice of your friend to do so! What’s her name?”

Hera: Feeling little awkward, talking about her with his Dad! “Monsoon!” With an embarrassed look on his face!

Dad: Sensing awkwardness! “Hmmmm…. Sometime she should visit us, when your Mom is here, we should give her a treat!”

Hera: “Yes!” Thinking! How all of this is such a reverse of that old bollywood song where girls mother calls the boy for a cup of tea, and the general way of life in India!

And then coming back to present, Race was all heated up! The bikes were ready, the invention to be tasted was clamped to few bikes, and some others were not and it was time to flag off!

Hera stationed himself at the petrol pump, where all two wheelers were going to get free petrol filled and tank sealed to traverse the race and some bikes were given special tag, who would get double and some others a full tank of petrol!  And Monc brought Hera’s bike and got a tank full of petrol! All for free! Such a bliss! Such a open misuse of power, for Hera and nor Monc used that bike to reach end of finish line!

All vehicles were supposed to follow traffic rules, stop at signals, remain below speed limit and still race, while using least fuel! Some idiot had set the criteria! (Avir & Hera) Hence fuelling of tanks, sealing it and then measuring the volume of tank at end of race, other than clocking the race was the job of race organizers!

Hera waited for each of the bikes to fuel up and then he took of on a borrowed bike to race’s end destination! And as there was lot of work to be done at the end point, he decided to go full throttle, in processes breaking every rule, except for the traffic signal ones, and ended up reaching at destination a good 10 minutes before a single racer made it!

Once Hera got down from bike, the welcoming committee (flower girls) mistook Hera for winner of the race and raced into congratulate him, while Avir looked at Hera awestruck!  Avir was quick in dispelling any such notions, and girls were once again ready to welcome the racers!

Avir: “You gave me a call 15 minutes back! You said you were at Petrol pump, how the hell did you drive 25 Kms in 15 minutes! Are you telling me the truth, you did leave after the last bike had fuelled up!”

Hera: “Yes! Yes! And I should have been part of the damn race, I overtook each and everyone of them to be here! Ahhhhrrrrggggg! I am making a loss of 10K here!”

Avir: “You should be driving slow by now, you don’t want to be in another accident, thank god race so far is……..”

Before Avir could finish his sentence, behind them, the front runners of race arrived and crashed.

Hera: “oooohhhhuuuuuuuu! You and your big mouth! ”

Luckily, no one was hurt, because people went on to crash into a sand hill; but from that point on, everything started to go downhill as far as plan was concerned!  A long night had just begun!

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Eleven; the day Hera was dedicating his most of the time for, time when he was not working, time he was not ordering people around, time he was not driving was here and the gift for Monsoon was ready to be handed over to her; but and such a big but, he had acquired the latest high in town! The Fever.

Eleventh day of the month; only once in a year did it come and Hera had planned big things for just the two of them and it had all evaporated with steam due to his own body heat! And to top it over, he could not get the plan postponed nor could he spare the amount again what he had already spent in booking those places; that table at that exclusive class hotel!

And there was little chance Hera was going to feel any better by the evening and to top it all up, his Mom was out of station along with kid bro; and Dad had an important meeting! Hera was all alone for the day; but he did not feel that bad about being alone. He was just not feeling well about not being able to hand over the gift to Monsoon on her birthday!

Even Monc was not there for he had his exam this very day; and all those involved with race were too involved in race; they took off to finalise the route  for once and all. A dry run to mark the best time as well as to check if there are any construction or work in progress sites, one ways etc…

There was no one who would disturb him, no one who would ask him anything; such peace is seldom available to any one in this world; and still all Hera wanted was to be with Monsoon; and there she was.

No one had ringed that doorbell since morning, and no one was expected till late night, and still some body had; and Monsoon had walked in. Hera just out of curiosity; pinched himself, seeing that Monsoon burst into laugh and Hera followed suit.

Monsoon: “So surprised!

Hera: Grinning! “Yeah! Happily surprised! Is it my birthday or yours?”

Monsoon: “Mine!”

Hera: “Then here is your gift!” Bringing out the much decorated box; containing a make up box. 

Monsoon: “Thank you! It has been a week or so since we have seen each other, since race thing has started.”

Hera: “I know!”

Monsoon: “I know too! And I am glad that you have found something other than me.”

Hera: “Hey! its not other than you, all I am trying to do is help Avir get his dream car.”

Monsoon: “Ok! So what do you want to eat? I owe you a party!”

Hera: Out of nowhere; he just blurted out “What ever you Cook!”

Monsoon: “Ok!”

And Hera watched in amazement, how she knew most of the stuff in kitchen as well as what he would enjoy for dinner. The menu was simple, but it was what Hera would never give a miss:

Main Dish was Ladies finger with Chapati (Thin roti) and some salad.

It just took her about 45 minutes too cook enough for both of them and also make some extra for Hera’s father and few chapatis even for the next day, as oven was available, she thought they would be useful. And they were.

She then laid down the table for just the two of them, and served well, Hera gobbled it up, and loved the taste very much. He enjoyed it, till it lasted. Then they watched TV for some time and before it would start to get dark, she left.

On 11th; Hera had got one of the best gifts of his life for as long as he could remember. Hera slept with a satisfied smile that night!

Good Night!  

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There is nothing wrong in letting the time fly when you are in-charge and your subordinates are doing all the hard work, however, when you are not actually in-charge, it can land you in a pretty deep trouble. And while the "organizing" team was busy giving out orders to get things done, sitting in a office like corner, occupying the premium space in canteen. At first the canteen owner was skeptical, but the volume of business that this corner got him, lifted his spirits. And in no time, he had become personal butler of the group.

Luxuries of life! You get a sandwich, various fruit juices; chilled, coffee or tea, food at a call or on a look! All kinds of mixed recipes included! Extra cheese, where there was no cheese in original dish! And no questions asked! They were spending before they made any money! The principle of counting before realization was lost, in other words, they were counting chickens before they hatched, but in their case they were not even having custody of those eggs.

Hera, was having those chilled fruit juices, one after another, when he was already advised to not have cold things, no ice that is, and here it had become his whole days meal. He worked on his gift for Monsoon, and got warm touches from Rushika, now and then. In end Hera had ended up buying a beautiful makeup box, bit he had not been able to choose any wrapping paper for it. And hence, Hera was on all display of his artistic nature and painting one for love of his life.

And Avir had to drop a bomb. 

Avir: Running in, huffing puffing! "Guys! We do not have a route finalized! And we have to submit it tomorrow!"

Hera: Looking up! "Get a map and mark it out!" Simple!

Avir: "No! We can not, we are not sure about map roads really there on ground!"

Shiv: "You mean we have to go now!"

Hera: "No! Its too hot! Plus, what about things over here?"

Avir: "We need to divide things up."

Shiv: "Ok! We need to get the route done today, its 10:00 now, so we need to be on way by atleast 12:00. And be back by today evening to chart it out!"

Hera: "Lets divide the team, and make a move."

It was done, Hera, Avir and Shiv, along with 5 volunteers, all responsibilities were decided, a map was carried to mark out the route, everything was going fine, every safety, every traffic rule was followed, everyone was even wearing a helmet. 

No one could have thought, that the innocent comment of Avir, that there would be a section of road missing on ground, which seems to be complete on map, would be missing. 

Hera: "Its officially stamped, even roads can go missing in India!"

Avir: "How much must have they made by declaring a road ready, when work has not even began on it?"

Hera: "Forget that! What are we supposed to do now?"

Shiv: "Map shows a road right here, may be the unmade part is short one."

Hera: "Lets check it out, if its short, we can have a off road segment too! That can be fun!" 

And it backfired as hell! The off road part was way too long to be included, what would have been mere 25 kilometer track turned into 55 kilometer one! There was no place to stop, no tree to take rest at, and all of the ground was just rubble and in places ploughed field!

By the time, Hera and team made it to pre-decided destination it was already 16:00; and everyone was just exhausted. It was going to be really difficult to make up their own mind to make participants take this route.

Shiv: "Can we use this route?"

Avir: "People finishing would be very few, would make our job of deciding a winner very easy!"

Hera: "Oh! Right! As if there is going to be a route waiting for you after 7 days, that was a farm and farmer has done ploughing, and may be seeding too, and he may start watering, then none would make it here, including us."

Shiv: "That's true, and we can not forget the fact that there are going to be scooters which will not be able to make through up and down, plus girls are also participating, if anything goes wrong! ufff!"

Avir: "We will be skinned alive!"

Hera: "Lets go back, there seems to be another route, on this map, considerably shorter, and it might be viable choice."

And it was viable, but it was only 20 Kilometer! They checked and checked turns on map and finally found a solution to increase it to 23 KM's at max, but not more than that! And when Hera finally could relax a bit, he started feeling some shivers, looking at him Rushika just put a hand on  Hera's back and then she moved forward to check his temperature on forehead.

Rushika: "You have got fever! You should go home and relax." 

Hera: Exhausted. "What! I need to drink something!"

Rushika: "Shiv! Get some water here, for Hera!"

At first Shiv felt offended, but when he saw towards Hera, Hera was lying on ground, a bit unconscious. And promptly got a glass of water which Hera gulped down, and relaxed again.

Rushika: "He has fever! He should better go home, and not come tomorrow!"

Shiv: Was very angry by now, and he took it out on Avir. "Avir, you should have checked the road before we went on a wild goose chase. Look! Hera is now suffering from fever."

Avir: Understanding the situation. "Yes! I should have checked it before, but then we did ask people before going and everyone said there is one such route."

Then Monc came over to meet Hera, and they decided to go home, and call it a day. However; this day brought the crack in the team wide open.

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Gift Wrapped!

Once the list was ready, it was time to find some good managers and some good volunteers, the former came with the deal, from college, some students who wanted to be officially allowed to bunk classes, and who normally would not have attended any, were allowed to join in, and they turned out to be Hera's distant friends. 

Anything that comes with the deal, does have a hidden cost. They all had two objective: 1. To get exempted from attending classes. 2. To make some money for themselves. And these did not clash with any of the principles of Hera or Avir, but very much lowered their stake in the pie. Hera was not worried but Avir was.

Once team was formed, it was easy to scout volunteers, with two beautiful faces, which they had among them, Rushika and Shiv's girlfriend and Hera's cousin Princess, guys were a plenty around, who danced to their words.

Shiv roped in Amit, who had the money, and clout to finance the whole thing for time being, albeit a student, could be called a don, no less at college level. Things were moving way to fast for anyone to comprehend. Specially for Hera and Avir, now project was theirs only in name, only origin of concept was theirs, everything was going to be settled in a matter of a week alone.

Neither Hera nor Avir were calling the shots, forget the pie, even a morsel was looking distant dream, but then college refused to talk to any one else other than Hera and Avir when it came to money matters, funds and funding.

Mean while, a sponsor was found, a restaurant, Akshatra decided to pay for uniform and the local BP petrol dealer decided to give free petrol to racers. And Avir and Hera became talk of the college, its a magical feeling, to be known by all the people around you as some one important, to give orders and they are carried out in a moments passage. However, like Hera of before, Hera of now had already lost interest in the proceedings around, all he cared about was Monsoon, and her birthday was near, so a gift had to be bought. 

Hera, was so immersed in the thought of selecting a gift that he missed obvious advances of Rushika towards him, he felt warmth of her hand on his skin, when ever they touched each other, but not her feelings behind them, nor did he notice her detours to meet him, every minute she was there, near him.
And on other hand Monsoon was busy with her internal exam, they being scheduled way before anyone else. When Monsoon was not there, unaware of her existence, Rushika was falling for this humble, unchanging simple person, who had no inclination to be in spotlight, and even when he was thrown under one, he remained same simple guy, unlike all others around him, who seemed to enjoy the power they were holding.

It was as if life was being gift wrapped for Hera, a second gift from god. 

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Noon O’clock!

Twist one, twist two, a turn here and a turn there, if it were not for the situation, somebody would have thought Hera was learning how to dance. Sleep at noon o’clock is not easy any way, but when you are supposed to think of getting finances in next two days, it gets even harder.  And when you are supposed to think of sources; Hera remembered from long time back, in his sub-conscious mind, you are supposed to get them, at least on paper.

When one says on paper, it does not mean hypothetically, but a surety from someone, that if you do this, they will sponsor you. Hera got up, frustrated, and no more in a position to sleep on a “SPONCERED” off day! And everything poured out of sub-conscious mind into conscious mind, and there was Avir, up on his toes.

Avir: “Man! We need to get the sponsors!”

Hera: “Yeah! I know!”

Avir: “We should be going, out there asking for money! Holy Shit! Just 2 days! What were they thinking?”

Hera: Frowning “We are not going out there to beg, and not knowing how much, we cannot even beg.”

Avir: “We need to make a list of things, we will need, check cost and then decide on a budget, and then approach the sponsors.”

Hera: “Ok! Get a note book, or rather some papers and a file, we need to make a rough draft, and be professional about it.”

And the lists are:


    1. Petrol (We will require litters and litters of it!)
    2. Forms (For participants and other documents- pages)
    3. Books (Various registers, receipts)
    4. T-Shirts/Race labels. (Some uniform)
    5. People (Unless we get volunteers)
    6. Prize money (Trophy alone wont make people enrol)
    7. Getting permission from traffic police (Well, it might cost)
    8. Pamphlets, posters and other advertising material.

      0.     And some for us (Red fiat and Hera’s travel plans, not on paper). 

    1. Enrollers/"Racers" (Entry fee, this might be a dampener)
    2. College (Has to be main source)
    3. A Petrol company (May be they will give petrol for free)
    4. T-Shirt company (For T-Shirts as above)
    5. Donations from local stores and restaurants.

Now, it was the time to hit the roads, whole sellers market to get quotations and put a prise tag on the cost.  And before that, some rest before the evening begins.

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The Principal!

Something was wrong with the morning, it was not as if Sun had come up from wrong side or anything, it just did not seemed to be normal. Then there are very few things abnormal in any ones life, this was one such day in Hera’s life. Hera got up, and for no reason known to him, got ready very enthusiastically, and went to college, was just in time! Just before the prayer started. This had not happened for a long time now, well unless Hera did not sleep at all at night.

And here, even before he could enter his class room, he was escorted. Unannounced, without much details and without any prior notice, like an arrest. Towards an office, where Hera would not have gone for any reason at all, not even if it had been an emergency. And he started feeling the fear of a lamb being taken to gallows once he saw Avir standing in attention, very quite, as if he has been punished.

With a subtle moment of an eyelid Hera asked Avir

Hera: *What is going on?*

Avir: With not so subtle moment of shoulder *I dont know!*

And then they saw, what they wished they wont get to see, Dean walking towards the same office, gave them a bad ass glance and went in to the office, he was soon followed by the two professors who had helped Avir and Hera. They seemed to be surprised at the summons. Soon other directors of institute were coming, and entering office of the Principal Director.

After about an hour of tiring, mentally and physically, Hera & Avir were ushered in to the office. Hera was 1st too break silence.

Hera: “Sorry!”

Avir: “But Sir! Why were we called, when we did not get permission we dropped the plans.”

Sir: “We dont want you two to drop the plans, instead we are ready to give you permission, however; you would have to convince us how would your race help us and environment!”

Hera & Avir were stunned! And dint know what to say, so they did the best thing they knew, keep quite and stare!

Sir: “You dont have to answer now, but be ready with answer by day after tomorrow, and also think of a way to finance this event, and also remember we are going to demonstrate a device that will lower the emissions by near 100%”

And they were allowed to go and attend the class or go home and think of a way to get answers!

Hera: “Why are we supposed to look for finance? We went to them to get finance!”

Avir: “We are stuck in a pickle! We wanted race & money, and now we are going to do Rally and give money!”

Hera: “Whatever! Lets get something to talk about after 48 hours! And I was so sure this strange day was good, got up early and now I will sleep early too!”

Avir: “You were lucky then! I was dropped here by my father, he got a call from college, asking about me! He blasted me through the whole 30 minutes drive to college!”

Hera: Just looked at Avir and “Good night!”

Avir: “Good night!”

And they did go on to sleep, at exact noon o’clock.

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