Once in a while on a Wednesday I am asked to do a private list at a hospital in Brentford. The journey is only 25 miles and should normally take me less than an hour. On a weekday morning however the traffic is unpredictable. I leave home at 615, and my satnav says I should reach there by 710. I still have plenty of spare time.
Soon I am on the A406, one of the busiest ring roads around London. I fiddle with my car radio and try the different stations. There are an array of different genre songs I can choose from. I switch around till I find something that suits my mood for today. I soon hit areas of standstill traffic and my mind slips into autopilot mode.
I feel myself drifting back in time. I am driving my very first car, a blue Ford Fiesta. A hand me down from Murali when I started to drive in the late eighties. The first car we had bought which was not a second hand one. Once on a Sunday evening, I had to go to the hospital to see my patients on the list for the next day. When we got to the hospital, I got out of the driver’s side and closed the door, with the keys still in the ignition. Murali got out of the passenger side and locked his door and we both found out that we couldn’t get back in and Kavitha, a baby then, was on her own in the backseat fast asleep. I had stopped the car just outside the hospital casualty entrance. Soon Kavitha woke up and we were desperately trying different techniques to open the locked doors with no success. A crowd joined us, everyone with their own suggestions. Finally someone managed to slip a hook down the side of the car window and click the door open.
Another day on my way to King’s hospital when I was working as a registrar there, I stopped at the traffic lights to turn left. I found to my horror a guy opening the car door on my side and trying to pull me out. I remember looking at my bag which was on the floor, thinking, ‘I can’t reach it, If I get stranded here, how can I get to work without any money’. Suddenly I thought, ‘this is my car, I am not going to let some random guy just come and take it’. So I looked around at the other cars and shouted out, ”why was no one helping me?” It was only then that people realised what was going on and they all started sounding their horns and the guy got frightened and ran away. I was a bit shaken, but got myself together and drove off as soon as the lights changed colour. After that I always used to check that the car doors were locked when I’m driving. Since then with car modifications, we don’t need to worry about locking ourselves out of cars with the keys still in the car or driving around with unlocked doors.
A few weeks later I had an accident and hit a lorry. Still not sure how it happened. I was blamed for it, but it’s all a blur. My fiesta was a write off.
Since then I have managed to write another car off. This time it was not my fault and Kavitha managed to write another one of my cars off, soon after she started driving. Only one car has so far managed to avoid accidents while in my care, apart from my current one.
The satnav jolted me back into reality. Another 30 minutes had been added to my journey this morning because of the traffic. It’s ok, I can still make it with plenty of time to spare.