Racing women have a lot of fun. Get the details right from the horse's mouth

Sunday last was an education. The occasion? It was a car rally organised by the Yacht Club in association with Popular Vehicles. It was open only to, ahem, women. By the way, all those jokes about women drivers are passé. The world has moved on, you know. Just driving home the point!

Thirteen teams comprising four women (sometimes girls) were all ‘geared' up for the rally. The teams were out to have fun and some were dressed for it too. As we walked into the Yacht Club where the participants had ‘assembled', we see four ‘nuns'. Suddenly the rally didn't seem such a brilliant idea…was there danger to life and limb? When you are embarking on something like this with your trusting four-year-old in tow, seeing a person of religion puts everything in perspective.

And then walked in some ‘wounded' women. A bandaged head here, a ‘plastered' face there, someone with a neck collar…the whole idea seemed horribly bad and then they all laughed. The ‘nuns' were ‘Sister Act' and the ‘injured' lot were ‘City City Bang Bang'. The women were taking being creative to the next level. Then there were ‘Kochi's Kochu Kallikal' in chatta-mundu, ‘Shining Stars' (‘twinkle twinkle li'l star')…they made everybody else look tame.

About skills

Before visions of 13x4 crazed women on the loose come to your mind, please read on. The rally was not so much about speed, it was more about driving skills. Each team comprised the driver, who was the captain, a navigator and two team members. The instructions were straightforward. The distance (around 80 kms) Tulip chart (route map) had to be covered in two hours plus (ideal situation). There were marshalls to be met, who would initial a chart provided to the participants by the organisers. There is a speed limit to maintain which rarely exceeded 60kmph.

There was the boring alternative of just reporting the event or the more exciting option of being part of the action. So, this reporter was part of team Enzo. We were attired in the Ferrari colours – black and red. Before the race began, the captains of the team had to pick a number. We got number 7, Dhoni's number. ‘Dhoni got the Cup so we stand a chance!' said the Captain.

The rally was flagged off at 9.30 a.m., it was bright, it was sunny. The cars were flagged off with an interval of two minutes between each car. At the onset itself we told ourselves that we were having fun (and working too). The rally began in right earnest. We weaved in and out of small, narrow, winding sometime roads other times lanes. ‘Hey this is cakewalk'. Konthuruthy, Thevara, Kanamally, Aroor…it is another world. Captain is familiar with the area and we are on course. There are lots of people to skirt, its Sunday, church etc. People who realise that some kind of a race or rally is on gape! Cars ‘wearing' a rosary or tusks or plaster or stars do not zip by on a regular day, we are not talking flights of imagination-type situation, this is stone sober.

All turns, curves, bridges negotiated two marshals met and we are at the toll at Aroor. ‘Ah!' (clink,clink,clink… lots of pennies fell). ‘We are on the NH.' It is straight to almost straight to Palarivattom, before we experience some ‘zig zag' and identification mark in the general area of the Fisheries College. ‘Yippee! We are going good! Just a couple of kilometres over.'

We hit Palarivattam signal, turned right and then the education mentioned above started. The chart showed two curves and a turn. Those familiar with the topography of the area upto the junction where the road turns towards Civil Station will agree that the road curves. We are still wondering about those two curves.

Lost!

So I learnt the thing about going round circles in Kakkanad, you end up at the same place. The kilometres kept piling on. We took a right turn, left turn, straight on, straight up, straight down….same place. What wouldn't we have given to see a marshal! Of course there was comfort in other lost souls. ‘Let's just call a marshall and get out of here.' We are told to get ourselves to the road at Kalamaserry that goes up to the Vallarpadam container terminal. Whoa! What a wonderfully, wide road.

The view was breathtaking and we actually see a marshal. Big mercies really! We pick up the Tulip chart and we are on our way. That is until the next right turn. We are really getting good at this….we might as well be in an episode of LOST. The chart says narrow road, so this must be it, woman's intuition and if it is in the plural? Hm…

And then the moment of the race happened. There is only one way to go, straight and turn right. Because there is nowhere else to go! We need to reverse and get out. So we see an open gate the end of the narrow lane which skirts a drain. We go in and then there is no space to turn. First gear, forward; reverse, first gear, reverse, first gear…. ‘watch out!' there is a mango tree with a low branch. We almost complete 360 degrees when the owners of the house return... and find strangers taking liberties like ‘learning how to reverse'. The nice woman (because she didn't scream) and her son sent us on our way.

And then, we chucked the tulip chart and enjoyed the view. And got back to the Yacht Club, where we started. We did it in around three hours plus, drove 112 kilometres (an excess of around 40 kilometres)…we came in third last (at least we were among some three). Next year isn't far away!