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Showing posts from June, 2017

Day 15 - Bhuj to Pune - 10 June 2017

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The original plan for the day was to go to Koteshwar and return via Bhuj to halt at Ahmedabad. Since Koteshwar had been done the previous day I thought of extending the drive to Thane, where my cousin lived. Before that, however, I was appointed to meet with Hetal and Rajiv Shah and some of his friends in Surat. The time for the meeting would depend on the progress I made in the morning. Despite the uncertainty I ‘ordered’ Hetal to get me fafda and khaman for a ‘brunch-lunch’. When I was near the Ahmedabad-Vadodara Expressway I realized that two very good friends and erstwhile railway colleagues lived in Vadodara. RK Tandon is a batch mate. He works in Vadodara post his retirement. Sadly he was out of town, engaged with his grandchildren in Mumbai. JD Goswami, as is his wont, gave me elaborate instructions about where we could meet, while ensuring that I do not waste any time in detours and leaving the highway.  The meeting point was fixed just ahead of Hotel Legend on NH48. The break …

Day 14 - Abu Road to Koteshwar to Bhuj - 9 June 2017

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‘Goodwill Knows No Boundaries’ is a tag line of Record Drive. I have had this since 2014, when I drove to London. I have experienced numerous instances of the tag line in my life, particularly on my travels. This morning it was no different. When the hotel vouchers were being prepared I went to the car park to put my luggage and make the preliminary checks before starting the day’s drive. The sight that greeted me there was of the security guard of the hotel cleaning my car. I had not asked for it to be cleaned; the guard said that he decided to clean it as the car had done a long journey! What can you say of such an experience? Interactions such as these make a journey worth its while and prove that, truly, goodwill knows no boundaries.
The road from Udhampur had been good, all the way upto Abu Road. A lot is said about the excellent condition of the roads in Gujarat. The border was just 10 km from the hotel. The border between Rajasthan and Gujarat was virtually seamless, in that the…

Day 13 - Jalandhar to Abu Road - 8 June 2017

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Last evening I had asked a hotel valet to get the car washed using hotel resources. For Rs. 300 the Champion received a well-deserved cleaning. I made haste after the checkout formalities were completed. I hoped that I would be compensated for the frustrations of the previous day. I had made arrangements for stay in Ajmer in the ORH. From Jalandhar it was 780 km to Ajmer. If all went well I would be able to extend the drive, I thought. I was right. By 1 pm, after 8 hours of steady drive I was near Jaipur after having done 640 km. The Delhi bypass via Rewari also went off smoothly.
Short of Jaipur I stopped for a power nap. Whenever I feel overpowered by sleep I pull over for a 15-20 minute nap. The sleep is normally so deep that I invariably wake up to the sound of my own loud snore! It is strange what a 20 minute nap can do to re-energize you. I sped on to Ajmer and decided to go even further. I needed assistance from Rajiv Shah to decide where to halt based on availability of decent …

Day 12 - Srinagar to Jalandhar - 7 June 2017

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Anyone and everyone who had heard the exploit of yesterday marveled at the ‘heart’ to even attempt, much less succeed, in what is arguably not a normal option in a day’s drive. I was looking forward to the drive today that would take me to ‘safer’ zones. Before that happened, however, I had to face such frustrating situations that, at times, I almost broke down and wept in the car. Let me narrate the events of the day, for you to get a hang of what actually took place through the day. I had settled the guest house charges and arranged luggage the previous night so that I could get away without any further preliminaries. When I left the guest house the reception was not manned and I thanked my lucky stars that all was done the previous night. Very soon after I had left the guest house I had to detour in a couple of places due to road repair and a truck breakdown. I wondered then if the obstructions were part of a larger plot for the day! I could not have been more on target. I had left …

Day 11 - Kargil to Leh to Srinagar - 6 June 2017

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It was just a few minutes after 2 am that I was shaken out of my deep sleep by prayers in a nearby mosque. The loudspeakers sounded as if there were focused into my room. Any further sleep was out of the question. Before going to sleep last night I had kept the alarm for 3.30 am, but this sounded like one from the One above. I decided to get ready and leave for Leh.  When I came down to the reception just after 2.30 am the receptionist could not believe his eyes. And I could not too, as a car was parked just behind mine in the hotel portico. That had to be removed if I had to leave. Fortunately, by the time I settled the bills the security guard returned with the owner of the car. I apologized to him for waking him up at that hour. Before leaving the hotel I told the receptionist that I would be back for some more rest from Leh later in the day and that he should retain D-3 for me. He agreed, as had the young man who had allotted the room to me the previous night. By 2.45 am I was on t…

Day 10 - Srinagar to Kargil - 5 June 2017

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It had rained lightly overnight. Personally for me the day started on a dull note, not knowing what ailed the Champion. I had posted the matter on Facebook. A couple of readers suggested that the problem could be malfunctioning sensors. If that were the case, I would not lose much time in Srinagar at the service station. If it was anything more serious I would lose the whole day or more. Such thoughts kept banging the limits of sensibility for some time. For a change of scenery I looked outside the opened window and caught glorious views of snow clad mountains – that lifted the spirits somewhat. I went for a short walk with light cool breeze calming me down further. The rain-kissed roses were sights to behold. I also met the DIG who was on his way back from the parade. He told me that four terrorists had been gunned down near Sumbal. He said that reactions to that would happen only after 10 am. I hoped to God that it would not be anything serious. The Mahindra roadside assistance picku…

Day 9 - Madhopur to Srinagar - 4 June 2017

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By the time I loaded up the car a sleepy-eyed counter clerk completed the checkout formalities. I knew it would be a crucial day. The distance to Srinagar was only 320 km and hence, if all went well, I could try and get through to Sonamarg, I said in my mind over and over again. What was to happen in the next few hours I had no indication of; so, appropriately “Man proposes, but God disposes”.
The start from Madhopur was quite uneventful. I had no problem crossing the two border posts in Madhopur (Punjab) and Lakhanpur (J&K). A short while later there was a Jammu bypass to Udhampur from Samba, which I took, thanks to the Google Maps prompt. It certainly was shorter distance but I was not so sure, at that time, if that was a better route. There was hardly any traffic at that time of the day and I reached the Chenani-Nashri tunnel close to 7 am. The 11 km long tunnel that was recently dedicated to the Nation by the PM is reportedly Asia’s longest and truly a marvel. Over Rs. 3700 cro…