The Accident

October 28th, 2011

P.S 1: Typing on one hand sucks.
P.S 2: Speech to text sucks too, especially if it’s not trained properly.
P.S 3: This is a long post & contains no images.
P.S 4: I would have narrated this story at least 200 times by now :P
P.S 5: “PS” is called Post-Script. Here, am calling it pre-script.

Prologue

The male nurse stood behind me and was listening intently to the Doctor’s instructions. It was 3.46 PM. He placed his hand behind my neck & said, “Sit straight and take a deep breath.” As soon as he felt my lungs expand, he pulled it sharply towards him, in a single move. Exactly at that moment, wave after wave of searing pain coursed through my body. It was excruciating. Eyes automatically welled up. It was nothing like I had ever felt before. What felt like hours later, the pain stopped. Eyes absorbed the tears again. Thankfully, not a single drop escaped. They appeared bloodshot. It was still 3.46 PM. My shoulders had extremely tight straps and my left arm was completely pinned and hung on a sling.

Early Morning

4 AM is an ungodly hour for most of us. However, on the days of long drive, I prefer driving early in mornings. The cold wind, empty highways, witnessing the first rays of the Sun & sipping chai from a highway motel are all small joys that add immense pleasure to the experience. That day was no different too; except that rather than picking the usual Hosur-Krishnagiri-Vellore-Chennai route (NH7, NH46 and NH4), I preferred the single NH4 (Kolar-Chittoor-Ranipet-Chennai).

The highway was absolutely empty except for that rare lorry or two. Early morning cruise was an absolute pleasure. With the bike being amazingly steady and the engine giving that customary growl, my brain went crazy. The crisp early morning air was superb. Mind was peaceful. Heart was happy. Joy knew no bounds. It was the simplest and purest pleasure that I had ever experienced. The wind played games by entering my half-zipped jacket. The cold air was sending tickles through my body.

Like hot knife through a slab of butter, I was slicing through the 6-lane butter smooth highway. Hosakote and Kolar whizzed past. The pleasure was so immense that I had no intention to stop. As I reached the outskirts of Mulbagal, the bike’s odometer read 86.5 KM. I thought I will stop for a break a little after 100 KM when the Sun would rise. It was still dark then. The 6-lane paved highway converged in to a narrow 2-lane unpaved road with a good number of potholes. Simultaneously, I slowed down to a crawl, well, almost to a crawl.

The Crash

I noticed it. It was the widest pothole on the road. It covered the entire width of the road. It was so lengthy that it could have easily covered 3/4th of my bike. There was no other way to pass the pothole than to go through it. The only question was where to pass through it. Almost intuitively, I knew it. Reduce the speed, get in straight, get out of it straight. Except that, I misjudged the depth of the place where I had to get in. “Hang on tight, hang on tight” was ringing through my mind. Pulse raced.

The front wheel got in. I raised myself a little to prevent the shock from going through my spine. Within split second, the front wheel bumped a second time. I was almost thrown out. But I held on. And then the rear wheel entered the pothole. The front wheel didn’t make it out of the pothole on time. I thought, “Oh shit!” and then it happened.

The double impact of the back wheel and the front wheel unable to make it out of the pothole threw me out. My right arm came out of the handlebar. My torso was thrust forward. I could make out the road in the headlamp’s glare. As the left arm stretched fully, it could hold on no longer. Then, I was air borne. “Oh shit!” again. As I was flying, the lower part of my legs folded and kicked my butt. I landed head first and heard loud screeching noise. Then, the left shoulder had a heavy impact and I instinctively turned around. I slid on my back.

After what seemed like hours, I stopped. The road was completely dark again.

Aftermath

I got up. My head was spinning really fast … as fast as how the slots spin in a slotting machine. The world around me was a black blur. I stumbled and fell down. I tried to get up again and fell down again. I lost my sense of direction. My mind said, “Get out of the road or you will be another road kill in the dark.” I slowly crawled to the side of the road. I couldn’t locate my bike. “It should be in the pothole somewhere behind me” was the thought. Head was spinning wildly. The ocher started to show up. I made it to the side of the road. Helmet was still on. I fumbled and removed the helmet. A gust of cold air rushed through my head and it felt good. I closed my eyes and took stock of the current situation. Except for a dull throb here and there, it didn’t pain much.

Few seconds later I opened my eyes to locate my bike. For a second, it was in front of me, then it was on the upper left corner, then lower right corner etc. The wild head spin was still there. I lied down again & closed my eyes to get a quick nap. Bike was still in the pothole.

I heard some commotion. I heard the duk-duk-duk sound of a share auto stop nearby. They spoke something in Kannada and instinctively, my hand reached my pocket to check whether my phone and purse were still there. I brushed my left hand on my pocket and phone was missing. “PHONE WAS MISSING. WTF”, my mind screamed and said, “Use the right hand.” .. Yep, it was there. Purse was there too. Then I realized something happened to the left shoulder and it was pretty serious. Gloves were still on. I ran a gloved right hand over my left shoulder and arms. Nothing had swollen and there were no bruises too. Then what could be the problem?

Ambulance

There were three people. They had been carrying tomatoes to the Mulbagal vegetable market in a Piaggio auto. When they saw me on the road, they thought I had died. Then I opened my eyes and they were taken aback. Shape of the bike was pretty bad. They had wheeled it to the side of the road. My backpack had been ripped open in the impact and my laptop, hard disk and clothes were all over the road. They collected everything and tried to put it in one bunch. I asked them to fetch some water from my backpack. Head spin reduced a little once some water went in. Sun was up by then.

Me: Which direction is Chennai?
They: Were you driving to Chennai?
Me: Yes.
They: Why did you pick this route?
Me: I realized it was a mistake now. Which way is Chennai?
(They pointed to the opposite direction. I had crawled to the opposite side of the road after the fall.)

Me: I fell down on a huge effing pothole. Can you show me where it is?
(They pointed me in the other direction)
They: Your hand is having bruises. Are you okay? Or should we call the ambulance?
Me: Something is wrong with my left hand. Nothing is swollen but I don’t know what’s wrong. Please call the ambulance.

They immediately called 108. I lied down again and took another sip of water.

They: There’s an accident on Bangalore bypass road.
(108 guys ask few more questions and he answers. And then came, the master question.)
108 guys: Is there any death? (I didn’t hear this but the question should have been something similar.)
They: The guy is “still” alive. (My mind is like, “What? What is that “still alive”?)

Within few minutes, I heard the wail of the ambulance. Lot of old memories rushed through me. But that was not the time to reflect on them. The head spin stopped immediately. I got up on my own and took a look at my battered bike. I was shocked. The seat had come apart. Right side of the bike was badly damaged. For all this, I was driving pretty slowly !! The ambulance guys got out the stretcher. I walked through, climbed in to the ambulance and they smiled. My driving jacket was a tattered lot. There were extreme scratches on the helmet. The Cramster gloves had protected my fingers and wrist from all possible injuries. The helmet did its job perfectly. My head was fine and there was no injury on my face. I thought I was lucky.

Help from Bangalore

When I reached the Mulbagal Govt. hospital, it was 6.15 AM. Head was still spinning slowly. I was calm through the ordeal. Extremely calm. I wanted to call someone who would be as calm. Few people came to mind & I dialed Siddharth. The doctor gave me a pain killer injection.

Sid: <groggy grunts> Hello
Me: Maapla (dude)
Sid: <still groggy> Sollu da (Yeah tell me)
Me: Yenchitiya? (Have you got up?)
Sid: Innum illa. Enga irukka? (Not yet. Where are you?)
Me: Accident da. Mulbagal hospial la irukken. Vara mudiyuma? (I had an accident. Can you come to Mulbagal hospital?)

Sid said “YES” without an ounce of second thought. You have to be in my shoes to know the kind of happiness it gives. Thanks a lot Sid. I can never thank you enough for this gesture. Few minutes later I called him again and gave the directions to reach Mulbagal.

The doctor had a doubt that I had fractured my collar bone. So he put my left arm on a primitive sling. Couple of hours later, Sid arrived. In between, I had been answering calls from home, office and friends. We hired a mini-van, loaded the bike and ourselves and started towards Bangalore. On the way back, we had a look at the pothole and I was shocked. It was HUGEEEE. A lorry was passing through it and the lorry shook like hell. No wonder I was thrown out. Once the lorry passed some workers came there and started patching it up. I felt like slapping them.

Hospital in Bangalore

We went to one of the better hospitals in Bangalore. The minute the doctor looked at my shoulder, he said I had fractured my collar bone. X-ray confirmed it.

The male nurse stood behind me and was listening intently to the Doctor’s instructions. It was 3.46 PM. He placed his hand behind my neck & said, “Sit straight and take a deep breath.” As soon as he felt my lungs expand, he pulled it sharply towards him, in a single move. Exactly at that moment, wave after wave of searing pain coursed through my body. It was excruciating. Eyes automatically welled up. It was nothing like I had ever felt before. What felt like hours later, the pain stopped. Eyes absorbed the tears again. Thankfully, not a single drop escaped. They appeared bloodshot. It was still 3.46 PM. My shoulders had extremely tight straps and my left arm was completely pinned and hung on a sling.

They sprayed some disinfectant on my bruises & my skin burned so badly that I felt they were on fire. The strap had to be on for 3 weeks and the sling, longer than that. Sheepishly, I walked out, called my Mom and told her everything.

Lessons Learnt

On long drives, always wear the right gear. A very good helmet, superb driving gloves and a very good jacket prevented many many injuries which could have easily worsened my situation. The Mulbagal doctor said I was extremely lucky that I had escaped with a minimum fracture. Some local also mentioned that a couple had died at the exact spot few weeks ago. Had they worn a helmet, they would have been alive now. Ironically, I remembered my short film that I had acted on earlier.

People To Thank For

First and foremost thanks goes to Siddharth who was there when it mattered THE most. In no particular order, here are the others who had a profound impact on my recovery: My Mom, my bro, Prakash, Sudar, Jenni, Sheetal, Naidu and few colleagues as well. I had received countless amount of advice in the last few days. Here are a few that were different:

Sid’s dad said, “Aswin, an accident is precisely that. An accident. No one can predict it. Don’t let this be a setback in your life. You MUST always keep up the adventure spirit alive.” – LOVED IT

On the contrary, here’s what another person said, “I think you have had your (un)fair share of long trips. It is time you must stop completely.” … I was like :O :O :O – no way!

Naidu said, “It’s okay buddy. Don’t worry. It will heal quickly and here’s what you have to do…”. He’s a physio and he gave tips on how to exercise the arm slowly and steadily. On regular checkups, the doctor was surprised that the bone had joined quickly.

By now, after all that eating and sleeping, I should have put on at least couple of extra kilos … hopefully! The sling will be gone soon & physiotherapy will begin. Excited to get back on track soon :)

6 Responses to “The Accident”

  1. joe Says:

    That’s a pretty shitty accident u got into. Thank God you got lucky. Get well soon da.

    I really don’t understand why they would have such a deep pothole in a highway. F the govt. so pissed off!

    anyways, hope you get well soon and start traveling and writing more.

    cheers
    joe

  2. vasanthaHanumantha Rao Says:

    Ok,for long lonely drive and all Bike is a misfit. Bike is only for local and daily routine usages. Though the road and route selection was wrong,I never recommend bike journey even in right roads,not at the COST OF PRECIOUS LIFE.In a way I am proud that Aswin just didn’t stop with preaching in the short film ‘Forgotton Commendments’,he also pracitised it and will continue to practise also and make others also practise via various media, for eg.,like putting in his blogs etc.,Thank God again again n again for saving his Precious life fully everything intact!!!!

  3. Balasenthil P Says:

    hooo no… get well sooon machii… takecare of urself

    hopee u will be ok sooon

    cheers
    Balasenthil P

  4. Saurabh Jain Says:

    Dude! WTF!

    Just happened to stumble on your blog after long and was shocked to read this!

    I am so glad that you are recovering well (and I am guessing must already be better by now)

    This is the third baad road accident incident that I have heard in a short time – involving my friends. I have come to the conclusion that India is a very risky place to go biking – especially on roads which are not very familiar with. Even then – it is risky.

    I wish you a very speedy recovery and please be super careful!

  5. 2011 – The Awesome Year that it was ! | Waves Says:

    [...] Had a bike accident couple of months ago. I happened to be extremely lucky to have escaped with a single fracture. Read about it here. [...]

  6. Vishwa Says:

    DAII!! Didn’t know this.. Just followed the link from your end-of-year post..
    Glad it was just an enlightening experience.. I wouldn’t say stop things.. I always believe we are a lot more careful and cautious after we have faced stuff once.. Godspeed!

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