ICICI Prudential is where I had made the best of my friends… and it had been a dream trip that we had planned to celebrate my closing days at this wonderful organisation. The gang – Me, Sathish, Amar, Dennis and Binoy decided to go to Goa. I was particularly interested in the location – Goa was one place that I had always wanted to visit, but never had the chance to be to.

Sathish eventually dropped out the last moment, but the rest of us eventually set out from Kannur on a Saturday afternoon. We were particularly thrilled at the opportunity of driving down in the evening in a Scorpio, hoping to reach the destination late night. As per our amateurish calculations, the journey was supposed to take only 8 hours, and with Google maps in our handsets, there seemed never to be a problem. Anyways, a full tank of diesel had made us bother the least about any anticipated struggle.

NH 17 – Road to Goa. Image © Nidheesh Narayanan

It was just an ordinary drive, at least till we had completed 350 kilometres into our journey. I had the first share of the drive, from Kannur to Kumbala. Then it was Binoy’s turn… all the way through Mangalore, Udupi till the halt for tea late night at Honavar.
Our hope of a late night finish of the drive was looking to conclude only early morning, mainly due to one self inflicted wrong diversion (instead of continuing onto NH17 from Kanhangad to Kasargod, decided to take the shorter traditional route through Bekal; the route was short by at least 18 kilometres but the condition of the roads extended the journey by at least 1 hour) and the jam at the thoroughfare right after Mangalore (this held us up for another 45 minutes). We were already running behind schedule.
The strain took over Binoy, who reclined to sleep at the back seat. I was behind the wheel, Amar at the co-driver’s seat and a late night drive we were enjoying to the hilt, cracking a few good, enjoyable jokes. Not bothering much about us, soon Dennis was also fast asleep.
Honavar to Karwar, I just happened to look at the fuel meter. Suddenly a tank that was three quarters full had just come down to just a quarter of the fuel present there. Just whispered to Amar – “Dear… just have a look if somebody has a bunk open… we might run out of fuel soon”. Amar seemed tense at this, but never showed any of this on his face. Dennis in his sleep overheard this and literally jumped to his feet. And a apprehensive quote: “I have never pushed around a Scorpio”.
What seemed like an ordinary day – suddenly was turning extraordinary. We had around 10 litres to drive full throttle. Maximum distance we can cover was 120 kilometres. On the way there was darkness all around. Not even a single residence, not even a single diesel bunk open. There was not a single soul whom we could ask where the next refuelling station was. Suddenly it had become all extraordinary.
Reaching Karwar was our best hope. Binoy was still sound asleep, unknown of the tensions that we were going through. Downhill to Karwar, we stopped at the gates of the Coast Guard Academy and Amar asked the million dollar questions – “Bhai… Yahan koi petrol pump abhi open hai???” Pat came the reply – īsel karnāakada labhyavilla. Nīvu gōvā oage gaiyannu dāalu ondu paeyuttāne”. Difficult to make out – but a little bit of data punched into Google translate got us the answer “Diesel is not available in Karnataka. You will get it one you cross the border into Goa”.
Suddenly Binoy woke up from his slumber. He had overheard a few dialogues…
“Give me the wheel…” He shouted.
I did not resist. I knew my driving skills were not too good enough to get the mileage back on track… and I did not want to be the driver who led the ordinary drive to an extraordinary finish.
The next 40 Kilometers were a race against time and fuel. But at last we managed….
At the bunk, just past the Karnataka – Goa border we just checked what remained in the tank till then – there was literally nothing in the tank. We were glad that we found a pump, event though a little late, it’s better late than never. It would have looked bad for four sleepy guys pushing a Scorpio on NH17 in unfamiliar land.

At the petrol bunk at Karnataka – Goa border

Image © Nidheesh Narayanan

And as we continued our journey to our destination – still 120 kilometers away, Dennis whispered the dialogue once again – “An ordinary day, was supposed to be extraordinary, now back to ordinary”.

Key learning – “On a long drive – especially after nightfall, if you are not sure of the roads, keep your tank always full.”