Quite an evening!

With my accounting finals a day away, three of us from our class decided to meet at a cafe to go over class notes and prepare for class. Till the moment I left home I was ambivalent. Part of it stemmed from my reluctance to drive to any place I am not familiar with and the other was the fear that I might feel out of place. I decided to brave my fears and got behind the wheel fully equipped for the 27 degree weather with a turtleneck sweater, gloves, a woollen cap and a warm jacket on top. 

Driving out on a clear, cold winter day was startlingly good. I enjoyed my drive out to the Steamed Cow Cafe. A little gem of a family owned place hidden in the quaint Downingtown downtown. Circling around to find parking I found a desolate borough parking that was empty save my Prius. Laptop in hand, I braved the howling winds and opened the wooden door to a cozy coffee house. The owners were the only ones there. After a friendly welcome from the owner I picked a place by the window and waited for my friends to arrive. The windows were lined with books. The hum of the old fashioned radiator was reassuring and the smell of fresh brewed coffee divine. I was feeling sleepy when I spied my friend down the road. Breaking out into my trademark grin, I waved hi and as she got settled we ordered a coffee for me and green tea for her. The other person in our threesome team also arrived and we moved our stuff upstairs to an even cozier room filled with knick knacks and old fashioned furniture. There was a fire going in the fireplace and overstuffed couches right by it. We picked two couches and spread our textbooks and papers around. Sipping delicious coffee and munching on pumpkin spiced pecan biscotti, an hour or more passed. We worked through statement of cash flows and moved on to reviewing our mid term questions. 

Taking breaks to get grilled sandwiches or talk about how we all got to being the same class, I realized how much I missed this kind of camaraderie. The easy exchange of stories, the bonding over lessons and the ability to reach out and form bonds of new friendship. As the store closed for the night at 8:00 PM, we wrapped up and waved byes before heading out into the chill night. Tugging my coat closer for warmth I hurried to the lot where I had left my car and was relieved to find it still there. Dumping my heavy bag on the passenger seat, I adjusted the seat belts and looked around nervously. Backing out I turned into what seemed an easy route back to where I came from. Horror of horrors, there was a Wrong Way board staring at me. Tempted to make a dash for it, I gave into my better self and turned around to try and find an alternate route back to where I needed to go. Peering in the darkness, blinded by it, I drove slowly fear creeping into my mind that I was getting lost. Turning often like I do to glance at the rear view mirrors, I noticed bright flashing lights right behind me. Great! now a cop. I slowed and pulled over wondering if I was being stopped for driving too slow. 

After what seemed ages, a smart officer walked by my window. “Hello Ma’am!” he said politely. “Hi!” I said feeling rather scared. “You don’t seem to have your headlights on.”. Then it occurred to me. No wonder I had not been able to see clearly. “Sorry! I stuttered and turned my lights on.” After looking at my licence and registration and after what seemed eternity, the officer returned with an official looking card along with my papers. “I am letting you go with a warning.” he said and then after I requested him to point me the right way to get to where I needed to go, he muttered some directions and left. Following his instructions I ended up even more lost. Fear was chilling me as much as the temperature. One more mile I thought to myself before I pulled over and relied on my trusty iPhone to lead me home. As I kept driving I noticed signs that seemed familiar. One mile became three and eventually I found myself in a section I was familiar with. Relief coursed my veins and I drove with abandon. Pulling into my garage, I muttered a quick prayer and bounded upstairs to pour everything out to a concerned K. 

Typing out the entire narrative I realized how much I enjoyed the evening inspite of the small detour and my rather shaky driving skills. There is something to be told of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. To make that leap of faith and to trust. Hoping today is the first of many such study groups and to new journeys into friendships. 

14 comments

  1. Nice narration of that scary night. This seemed like a one page thriller story in the weekly magazines. Hope, you doesnt get lost yet again in those places after having an extremely good. All the best

    @Shankar: Thank you!

  2. Haha… so you’re one of those people that drives only the office-home-office routes? I have friends like that, and they get just as nervous as you if they have to go anywhere else. All the best for future trips!

    @Rekha: Yes I am. (Head hanging in shame.)

  3. Laksh and Rekha, me too. I don’t drive in the routes I’m not familiar. It’s simply the grocery store, library and my son’s school. And a big no for driving in the evening, especially when it gets so dark at 4pm itself. I don’t know when I’m going to get out of this comfort zone?

    @Madhu: Soon, you will be comfy getting out of your comfort zone. Am sure of that.

  4. Wow!! Seriously…love the way you express yourself highlighting each and every moment with such elan. And an encounter with a cop! Seems even more exciting!! I mean, i have only seen such stuff in movies or sitcoms..but to hear it from someone you know is so exciting though it couldnt have been that exciting for you!! 😉 .

    “the smell of fresh brewed coffee divine”…this line is so amazing! But bhai said you dont get good coffee there…is that true??

    @Shalu: Thank you! I take it then that you will buy my book whenever it happens? ;p

  5. Laksh, been there , seen this..and I still shiver! I could relate 110% to your words – the fear before heading out alone in my car to a new place, relief of finding the car back where you left! I could feel the tension in my nerves – lost , cop and all that…finally seeing your driveway must have been such a relief, right! Congrats on dealing with that experience..it will make u stronger! And I am J on combined studies!

    @Anamika: Knowing you, I know you can relate to this.

  6. Can relate to a lot of things that you had mentioned here Laksh – the group discussions, feeling wary about driving to new places, being stopped by the cop etc. I hope you get to do more of those GD because I know that it gives a feeling that you are fitting in. I am learning to get over my phobia of driving to new directions, which means I spend a lot of time going over the map, landmarks etc. before heading out.

    @Suman: My problem was compounded by the fact that it was dark. Like they say my battles are all in my mind.

  7. Amazing narration!! All the best for your Accounting Exam!! I am sure the first quarter is almost coming to an end. Enjoy your time after that. It will be a sweet break.

    @Thank you. Exam went well. Got A- on it.

  8. Great narration. I got a feel of reading a horror story. I love you for your writing skills Laksh… So had a great haunting expedition??? But also be safe man.. All the best for your exams.

    @Deepa: Thank you! May be I should start writing my memoir 🙂

  9. Laksh I forgot to tell you something, I made morkozhambu last friday using thick curds, a tad bit of coconut and a scoop of rice flour. It just came the way amma used to make. I made G call amma and tell that and I simply thank you for unveiling that trade secret.

    @Deepa: Most welcome. Glad the recipe blog is of help

  10. Steamed Cow Cafe – I might never get to go there, but seems to be an awesome place to eat looking at their menu. 🙂

    @sl: Well! you can if you visit us near Philly 🙂

  11. GPS?
    I thought you had an iphone:)

    I do have to say as somebody who has perennial habit of taking the opposite direction, this habit once started will become a permanent fixture, please Join the club. We will always have the advantage of travelling both the roads:)

    @Sachita: I do. Problem is am bad at multitasking while driving. Good perspective though 🙂

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