Beach on the Highway!

We were ready for things to go wrong during the first road trip with our one-year-old –  Bangalore to Mangalore. But, we were not ready for things to start going wrong before starting from home.  And we couldn’t even blame the baby. In my defense, I can say it was too early in the morning – 5 a.m. – for me to function normally, having never been a morning person, and even less of an early morning person. To make a messy story short, the lid on the flask wasn’t tight and the next thing we knew, my labor was spreading across the backseat of the car and dripping to the floor. After a short round of blaming each other and God, and debating over the best course of action, it was decided that we couldn’t afford to waste precious time in mopping up the mess; it could be taken care of after reaching our destination. Also, I argued, it’s coffee, which is my favorite smell in the world and the caffeine in the air should actually keep us energized. What we learned within ten minutes was that coffee loses much of its tantalizing aroma when it is soaked into leather mats. Understatement of the year. It smelled disgusting.

I will never forgive the friend whose bright idea was that we carry a can of fuel, just in case we run out of it when far from a petrol bunk. Though I have always had this strange fondness for ‘petrol bunk smells’, I realized it is not so pleasing to my nostrils for six hours at a stretch. Very soon, I was feeling pukish from it. And my husband, though he kept insisting it wasn’t that bad (because it was his best friend who had come up with the suggestion of carrying it), kept scrunching up his nose on the sly every now and then. And all this to serve no real purpose, because we found that the route was dotted with an abundance of petrol bunks.

The next obstacle was the one we had actually predicted would be the first. A telltale and much too familiar odor from the baby-seat. Being nowhere near a restroom, we parked the car by the side of the highway and changed baby’s diaper. Now, eco-concerned human beings that we are, we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw the dirty diaper by the roadside. So we wrapped it up in triple layers of newspaper and kept it in the car, to be thrown out at the first sign of a waste-bin. We soon realized that poop smell mingled with the odors of stale coffee and fuel, we bet, is never going to be snatched up from the shelves at the malls if put in bottles. Mother Nature better be grateful for our supreme sacrifice.

The crisp fresh morning air through the rolled-down windows felt heavenly in our face but unfortunately, it didn’t do much to curb the odor now emanating stronger and more acrid than ever from the backseat. Finally – thank God – it was time to stop for breakfast. Yummy sandwiches and rejuvenating coffee did wonders to lift our spirits and we were actually able to laugh at the mini olfactory disasters of the day. But that didn’t last long. Driven by the inherent fondness of Indians for packing food while on a journey, we grabbed a few burgers from the café for the road. And just when we thought the car couldn’t smell any worse, it did. Even though we had finally thrown the diaper in a bin, its odor hung around obstinately.

In one flash of brilliance I am thankful for, I remembered the unopened pack of Ambi Pur Mini Vent Clip – New Zealand Springs – in the dashboard. If my husband ever complains again about my obsessive compulsion to buy any new thing I happen to spot on the supermarket shelves, all I have to do is remind him of this road trip, and how that trait of mine saved the day (and our noses).

I didn’t miss the look of supreme skepticism on my husband’s face as I clipped it on the AC shaft. His look clearly said “Yeah right! That tiny thing is so going to take care of this mess!”

A minute later, the look of skepticism changed into one of amazement and the nervous look on mine into one of utter smugness. Ambi Pur Mini Vent Clip – New Zealand Springs had worked its magic. And how!

I have never been to New Zealand, but I had no trouble believing that the freshness emanating from the vent would come admirably close to that of the breeze blowing over the lush green meadows, snow-capped mountains and crystal blue oceans in the beautiful country I have been mesmerized by in glossy travel magazines. The aroma was gentle and just the right amount of subtle, which didn’t attack the nostrils with its strength but caressed them with its delicateness. With some help from the air-conditioner, it was so cool and refreshing that it absorbed the tiredness that had built up over the 150 kms we had already travelled. As I leaned back and closed my eyes, I was transported to an exotic beachside, sprawled across a lounge chair in the shade of palms, when we were actually on a busy highway in peak hours. Bliss!

But what was even more unbelievable was what it did to the undesirable smells in the car we had lived with for so long. The Vent Clip aroma didn’t mingle with the bad odors to produce a uniquely worse smell, owing to which it scores major brownie points over other similar products. The bad odors simply vanished. It was delightfully easy to pretend that all the olfactory disasters were just a bad dream.

It goes without saying that on the way back, the first thing we did was clip on the Ambi Pur Mini Vent Clip – New Zealand Springs.

 My entry for the AmbiPur contest.

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