Lost in Cambridge

Thursday evening, we drove (read as I drove) back from our office at Histon to our apartment at Cherry Hinton Rd. It was pretty dark and I, unfortunately, trusted one of my colleagues to have studied the map that he took a printout of, tracing the way between the two pin codes. For this same reason, I asked to place himself in the front seat and let the other good colleague on the back seat, so that he could guide me.

Cambridge, for that matter anywhere, is not the place that you can take a left after you've missed it! This is how my company was guiding me. He was guiding me into more and more darkness, I felt. It was getting cold in the evening and we were almost nowhere in no time. This is how it went: In all fairness towards me, I'm going to say that it was the first time I was driving a Ford Mondeo Zetec-- a big car that it is-- without a localite (just a day before, I'd taken a test drive to a nearby restaurant with someone sensible), first time in Cambridge, UK, and first time outside of India ever, not knowing many official driving rules here.

I announced that I'll need to know which road to take next, way in advance, to everyone's agreement, but only in theory! Cambridge has pretty thin roads that split up into lanes or merge back at various places. At these junctures, one is to make a decision to stream into one lane or the other. The traffic can be pretty heavy at peak hours and not knowing your lane at the proper time can put you uncomfortably off the track.

We started at 1830 hrs from Chivers Way, Histon and on we went to Station Road. Our man didn't know we were on Station Rd, while I did, and by the time he registered that, I'd taken turns and was at the Bridge Rd junction! That was the time to have pulled over and asked my two colleagues to swap places. The fella yelled "right-right, there's Brigade Rd". I regretted my decision of seating arrangements already! After our right turn over to Bridge Rd, we went straight ahead over a big roundabout that forks a road onto A14 motorway. Now, we were to go down till we get a left for King's Hedges Rd. This one, we missed somehow. Having missed it, we didn't find a King's Hedges Rd around and I was told after one of the stupid lanes: thats the left we should have taken. In fact, there was this lane at the signal junction earlier where our man said: "left... wait... not here... next". And guess what, I ended up being in the middle of two lanes!!! I'd a little trouble getting back in the lane, that I'd almost left, but somehow managed to, save for a little honking from the car behind.

After that, we went around most places around Chesterton Road, trying to find Milton Road, Arbury Road, and God knows what all! There was this one particular time when I made it to the wrong road, on the directions given by the map-expert we had, that led to a major highway A14. This motorway had cars ripping by, from what seemed like all directions known to me! As it turned out, we entered A14 in the rightmost lane. Since I hadn't ever been on such fastlanes while I was on wheels, the ongoing nervousness turned into instant panic! It took a few minutes to really come back to senses and lead ourselves to the left side exit back to Cambridge... by now, we'd learnt that we were outside of Cambridge! Well, this exit helped us get back to smaller roads of confusion and residential areas where turning around the mega-sized Ford was quite difficult.

After maneuvering in lots of small roads that led nowhere and turning around in front of people's houses, I was pissed off. I took a little break from within the car and stood by (perhaps, praying) in the cold. It wasn't any comfortable outside, but peeking into the windows showed that someone ought to read the map right. This is when I decided to study which part of the world we'd ended. That moment, somehow, things looked a little better. Driving back, we spent some time back and forth map-listed roads since we'd hit Elizabeth Way. This one seemed quite a long road that narrowed to a single lane and sometimes grew up. We also spent time circling the roundabouts getting to read the road names on the small boards almost invisible at nights. This one time, the backseater showed a board that led to Cherry Hinton, but for the board seeming to point in the reverse direction. I wasn't sure.. so we decided to check the other end of Elizabeth Way. Interestingly, this way met a roundabout, across which the Elizabeth Way continued. So my guess was that one of the roads spawning off this round about ought to be Milton Way (this is where we should have come from, as per the map). With that reasoning, I drove back to the Cherry Hinton board and decided to continue across from there although the sign pointed in not-so-helpful direction. It was a good guess. We ended at a crossing of Mill Rd, where from, I knew how to proceed to Cherry Hinton!

At the end of the day, thank God, we didn't end up in the American Cemetery that A14 was leading us towards.

Now, now... it didn't turn out as bad as the title, did it? :)
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