Last Thursday I completed my maiden driving visit to Pune. As a new driver, I was really looking forward for a long drive and the drive to Pune was just about the right distance for me. 180 kms from home. Not too short and not too far. I decided to leave early on Thursday morning as I didn’t want to get stuck in the famous Mumbai traffic. I left my house around 7:15am while it was raining cats and dogs outside. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drive in the rains but the challenge seemed too irresistible for me and I decided to get going. Since it was raining very heavily, the traffic was really slow on the highway and it took me almost an hour just to get to the Airoli bridge. Thankfully the rains stopped after reaching Airoli and the conditions got better for driving. Soon I was cruising along the Mumbai – Pune Expressway. After driving for 30 mins on the expressway, I got a feeling that I am going to fall asleep. I guess it was due to the fact that I had gotten up early and also that there was no company other than the music playing. Thankfully I was nearby the rest area and decided to park at the rest area and get some coffee and water before deciding to get going again. Fresh again, I was excited to drive along the Lonavala ghats and was able to drive along the ghats without any issues. The rest of the journey was equally uneventful and I was able to reach Pune around 12pm. Ideally, I should have reached there by 11:30am, but then I took the Dehu Road exit and was looking for a UPS store and hence was going quite slow on the highway.
I left Pune Friday night and realized a problem which I had not faced before. Almost everyone in Pune drives with their headlights on high beam. That means that lights from the vehicle coming from the opposite direction, is right in your eyes and temporarily blinding you. I have seen many drivers in Mumbai also driving on the high beam, but and large, they are a selective few only. Here, the two wheelers and the four wheelers were all driving on high beams and it was really difficult to drive. I wanted to understand the reason as to why they would be driving like this. But then I realized it is the same city which protested against the law for wearing helmets. I guess a lot of it boils down to lack of awareness as far as driving is concerned. I was having trouble reaching the expressway as a lot of oncoming vehicles were driving on high beam. I had to flash my lights quite a few times before they would lower their lights and make driving easier. In this matter, I found the trucks to be most friendly. They usually drive on low beams and if they are driving on high beam and if they see you driving on low beam, they immediately lower their lights and thus allowing easier travel for both the drivers. I guess Pune traffic police really need to crack down on this menace. When I was in Chandigarh last month, driving on high beam was a punishable offence. May be they should do something like this in Pune also.
After reaching the Mumbai – Pune expressway during my return leg of the journey, driving in the night was considerably easy and I was manage to complete the trip quite safely. The only time when I felt a little nervous was while getting down the ghats, there are a couple of blind curves along which I felt driving was a bit difficult. Other than that, I had a good trip and I really enjoyed driving. Hopefully next time, I will have some company while going for a long distance drive.