While a brand new car with sleek aerodynamics and cutting-edge technology is a novelty in and of itself, the sight of a vintage or classic car moving beautifully through the streets inspires a strong desire. The high-slung grace of vintage cars is breathtaking, even regal. They feature enthralling designs that are a testament to skill and craftsmanship. Because of the necessity to generate massive amounts of power, modern cars can only dream of it. The very presence of a Buick or a classic convertible Cadillac harkens back to a time when honour, pride, and royalty were the order of the day.

It’s practically a family tradition or more of a ritual to escape for a quick mountain hideaway between the cusp of the declining heat and coming monsoons after the summer fades into the background towards the end of June. In the absence of a pre-planned trip, decisions are frequently made on the spur of the moment. The puff of mist descending onto our faces and clouding eyesight, giving the entire ambiance a tinge of mystery, is something we often seek out in the highlands. The woodland walks, the meandering roads surrounding the circumference of the hills, and a breath of fresh air, all together, begin to crown an arched roadway welcoming us into a forbidden kingdom, a fabled region beyond, unknown to city inhabitants. It’s been a year since I got my driver’s licence. My father’s red slim vintage Cadillac sat idle in the garage, luring all the kids like a toy under the Christmas tree. It had become more of a valued showcase, a souvenir to remind him of the great past, and it rarely saw the light outside the garage. Every other weekend, my father would get down to spend some quality alone time working on the car, churning out parts and keeping it functioning, but only inside the garage or, at most, on the front porch. That was the extent of the red vintage Cadillac’s search for fresh air. The Painter Of The Night are the best option for you.

The first downpour in the Northern Highlands gives much respite to the area, instilling a sense of the strange in the surrounding scenery. During this time, nature is at its most spectacular in the Northern Highlands. The gurgling waters flowing in trickling streams at every second mountain creek, the flashes of lightning accompanied by a ferocious storm and a flickering light in the distance, it’s as if Nature had been waiting for this time to bring all of her elements together to create an unrivalled canvas. The changing landscape from orange to grey to dark makes the sky looming above a magical witness to everything going on below. Mother Nature had pulled from her storehouse a damp earthy aroma in the air, droplets stranded on the leaves, buzzing bushes, development of a hazy nebula, and the wind stroking your face to prepare a cuisine worthy of our audience. A road trip is the best compliment to such an unparalleled exhibition of undiluted natural beauty, thrill, and adventure in such conditions. It had been decided. All of nature conspired to get me to this point, only to enable and encourage me to follow my instincts and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. And the journey would be made even easier by my father’s beloved red vintage vehicle.

Even before we left on our long-awaited road trip, I could almost see the scene in my mind. A tranquil meandering road tracing itself around the hills, with the first rays of sunrise peeking through the densely forested canopy above it, and a solitary amazing shining red beauty on wheels crossing its way through the heart of it all. It was almost as if the hesitation provided divine visual respite. In the midst of nature, man imposes his dominance. Nature’s natural tenacity contrasted the combustion force and speed created by a man-made engine. I didn’t sleep for the entire night because of the exhilaration. So, at 4 a.m., I leapt from my bed to embark on my long-awaited journey in the crimson slender beauty on wheels. Thankfully, traffic was light because it was still early morning and the cityscape was shrouded in dense fog.

I decided to take a pit stop for a brief stopgap after driving through the deserted streets for a while, skipping the lights at every traffic signal with no one to stop me. When I returned from a brief meal at a gas station diner, I found a mob of admirers gathered around my beauty on wheels in the parking lot. I interacted with them, providing them with information about the make and model of my car as well as small talk about its history and ownership. I took off on my red beauty soon after, to to the dismay of the bystanders who were left wanting more. I realised the hills were not far away as the air began to show indications of a mild chill as I breezed down the road in my fast automobile. I was giddy with delight at the prospect of finally seeing the landscape I’d been thinking about all night.

The upward roads were silky smooth, and from the top, they seemed like a tar carpet had been put out to greet me. With its densely forested hills and abundant traces of uncontrolled flora and animals, it was a wonderful mountain resort. While I had a strong want to use my sleek smartphone to take images of the naturally gifted scenery, I restrained myself, hoping to let the ambiance settle in. I was excited, but I didn’t want my emotions to get the best of me. I felt like a king at the top. Taking in the spoils of my perilous ascent to the top.

Surprisingly, I ran upon a young guy from the middle of nowhere who appeared genuinely delighted to see me. He had a friendly smile that appealed him to me as well. He looked to have something in his possession that he wanted to show me as he got pretty close to me. He hadn’t said anything yet. He showed me a painting, Painter Of The Night on a regular canvas, not hurriedly produced, with a gallant smile. I was left speechless by what I saw, much to my astonishment and happiness. It was a beautiful painting that perfectly represented the grandeur of my car as it sped over the winding roads on its approach to the peak. The artist explained that he was alone and pondering about what to produce when he observed the red automobile driving down the road. He was so taken by its distinct style, colour, and shape, as well as its aura in the midst of this beautiful setting, that he chose to portray it on paint. He had no notion that the automobile would eventually reach the summit and that he would meet the driver.

This encounter had a profound impact on me. I spent a little more time with the young artist, admiring his work. I drove him to my car, which was parked outside the forested area, so he could get a better look at the beauty that had piqued his interest. I offered to drop him up at his house on my way back because he lived nearby. I had fallen in love with his painting and offered to buy it from him on the way back, but before I could say anything, he insisted on keeping the painting as a souvenir of our time together and refused to accept any money for it. I insisted that he be compensated for his services, but he graciously declined, stating that the experience and the car ride were more than enough for him. My house’s living room wall, immediately above the fireplace, still has the painting on it.