16 June 2013

Tire Burst! The Gods Were Kind in Perundurai

One moment, everything was fine. The next moment, the Toyota Innova jumped across the median and 1700 kilos of speeding metal skidded across the highway.

One moment, everything was good. My wife and I were driving from Bangalore to Palakkad on NH 47. The highway was smooth and wide. It was a nearing noon and we were making good time. Salem was behind us and we hoped to reach Palakkad by late afternoon. 

The next moment, the Toyota Innova listed to one side and jumped across the median dividing the six-lane highway. The rear end swung out in a wide arc and 1700 kilos of speeding metal skidded across three lanes of oncoming traffic before swinging back towards the center and coming to a halt as the front wheels bumped against the median.

“Tire burst,” observed a tourist taxi driver laconically when we stepped out, shaken, to inspect the damage. Around us, vehicles skidded to juddering stops as drivers desperately swerved to avoid our wild swing across the busy national highway.

The gods were kind, said people with much wringing of hands and looks heavenwards. We hadn't hit any oncoming vehicle or rolled or toppled over. We were unscathed. And apart from the four tires and rims that were destroyed, there was no damage to the car.

With the practical kindness that is typical of Tamilians, we were quickly sorted out. A gentleman in a blue shirt (thank you sir, I never got your name) showed me his bill from the nearest toll plaza and asked me to note their phone number. He had already called them and asked for a tow truck and wanted me to follow up. Someone gave me the phone number of the nearest Toyota dealer for repair. Others offered us a ride to the nearest town or garage. Or checked if we had water and food in case we wanted to stay with the car. 

In due time, the official apparatus swung into action. The tow truck rolled up and moved us to the side of the road. Two policemen arrived, took down our particulars, and having ensured that no one was hurt, left. 

The folks from the highways patrol vehicle were solidly helpful. Being well versed in such matters, they advised me to file a police report and insurance claim only after checking with my insurance company if they’d cover the damage (turns out insurance does not cover tires). They also stuck around till I had called the Toyota helpline and initiated assistance. In another stroke of luck, a passing Toyota driver (thank you, Ravi) who was delivering a vehicle somewhere, stopped when he saw  us stranded on the road and called his manager with an assessment of the damage. Forget the tow truck, he told them, just send four new tires and rims.

The famed Toyota process was not without glitches. We were stranded in Perundurai halfway between Salem and Coimbatore, two large towns with sizable Toyota dealerships. But when I called Coimbatore, they directed me to the dealer in Erode, a smaller town close to Perundurai. For four long hours as the afternoon wore on, we waited on the highway answering curious gawkers and playing phone tag with Toyota bureaucracy as the Erode dealer tried, and failed, to organize assistance. Finally, five hours after the accident, a rescue car from Salem brought us new tires and rims and we were car borne again. Late that night, in torrential rain, we finally reached Palakkad.

The accident cost us thirty six thousand rupees in repairs and half a day. Not a small amount, but a small price to pay for a providential escape. As my wife said, it would have been bad enough had we been hurt in the accident. But it would have been many times worse had we been the cause of someone else getting hurt. 

On that sunny afternoon in Perundurai, the gods had truly been kind.

© 2013 Vijay Menon

1 comment:

  1. Vijay, it's a real providential escape. Thank God all of you are safe and sound


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