Published: August 3rd 2008July 25th 2008
Kolkata->Delhi->Gurgaon->Gaziabad->Noida->Gurgaon->Delhi->Gaziabad->Meerut->Muzzafar Nagar->Roorkee->Haridwar->Rishikesh->deoprayag->srinagar->rudraprayag->Karnaprayag->Nandaprayag->Chamoli->Pipalkori->Joshimath->Haridwar->Lakshar->Roorkee Cantonment->Saharanpur->Shamli->Baghpat->Delhi->Gurgaon->Kolkata
The Unfinished Business??
Wise men told me never leave something unfinished. It will hit you and haunting you in future from time to time. I didnot know that I will face to the same so soon and that too in couple of month's time. Life had become realy miserable with lot of blames and escalations on me at office. Tough life, dirty,pungent and stinky weather at Kolkata added to existing pressure of surviving in the midst of burdening work load. I was geting framed by people for non performance at workplace and missing time lines of delivery. Then one fine morning, I decided that I had enough of the beatings and turn on a fresh leaf. I had changed my attitude from a devoted follower at office to one of "You hit me..I will hit you back hard". After a nail biting discussion, my higher reporting authorities found it wiser to send me back to Delhi for a couple of weeks again. That was exactly what I wanted. Kolkata
Day Before Journey
It was ominous Rath Yatra day which marks the occassion of Hindu festival where Chariots of Lord Jaganath(deity
of Lord Krishna) and comapny were been pulled by devotees till Aunt's place. It was a big colorful festival and like the year before I was hoping to pull the ropes. And then the unexpected thing happened and I got the news that I will be flying to Delhi on next day early morning on Saturday,5th July instead. Then, my laptop adapter suddenly quit job of working early morning,4th July.
Hence, I was left with 8 hours of Friday to do the following activities to be completed.
1. Attend office and produce the client deliverables
2. Attend the Chariot Festival (Juggernaut!!!)
3. Repair the adapter for laptop
4. Raise travel request for Delhi - get the approval for same
5. Book flight tickets
6. Book room at Delhi
7. pack bags
I rushed to laptop service center to get my laptop adapter repaired at priority basis but found that they do not have a spare adapter and it will take couple weeks to get replacement on fresh order. Frustrated I ran off to another part of city,Chandi Chowk in search of a duplicate adapter. After a mindless wandering of
the shops without success, just before heading back to office I found one crowded shop who provided me with one universal adapter. I left the belongings to a relative's place at Bhowanipur and took a yellow cab to Saltlake(some 20 kms away) amongst traffic loaded roads. It was 3 pm!! - with just one work done!
Client called me up just in time to know about the status of work and asked for a couple of hours time span to fix. In mean time I raised travel request through system and called my manager to get it approved. Manager was again busy with meeting. It was 5 pm with an hour left for days work I got the approval. I called up travel agent to get my travel booking fixed on priority basis. Luckily, 15 minutes remaining I got the travel tickets.
It was 10 pm when I finally got the office work done and headed back home. At around 11 o'clock in the night I got down at Park Circus. The mamoth chariots were parked at park and the last visitors were going back from fair. It was 12 in the night the entrance gates were closed
and ironically the exit gates too! trapped! After a lot of pleading with the security guards I managed to get out of the fair ground. After a kilometer walk and an another half wait I got a crowded bus back home. Day 1
Saturday,Gurgaon - Haryana, Club Elevate,Centre Stage Mall and Gold's Gym Noida - Uttar Pradesh
At airport this time again I noticed another child singer,Anwesha(of TV programmed SAREGAAMAPA Little Champs runnersup) with her mother leave Kolkata.
The Kingfisher Airlines flight was on time and it was great to find that they have started broadcasting new bollywood flicks as well besides the cable TV services on board. Now thats the true Five Star airlines!
Delhi was still hot but not stinking and humid which was a big relief. Luckily, I got the same room with same Nepali attendants a last time who greeted me heartily.
Being at Delhi at saturday was special for another reason. Ministry of Sound,London were on their first official tour to India and will be playing some club at Noida(got to know about the same in hoardings and newspaper advertisements). After I spent mostly sleeping with air condioner on at
19 degrees. Unpacked all my stuff in the evening and head straight to the shopping malls to buy some cosmetic products as I didnot get got much time to pack and also it is better to get quality stuff from Delhi. It was in late evening with day light still on I returned to my room and was thinking of hiting the gym as well before going to the nightclub. When I asked the driver that how much time will it take to reach Noida if we start at 7:30 from Gurgaon. I was in for a bouncer!
"Sir jee! It is already 8! If we start now and bypass Delhi we can reach Noida by 9:30pm"
But I realy want to experience nightlife of Noida. Gold's Gym was located in Sector 30 while the club was in Sector 18 but the problem was driver didnot know the road himself! With the help of map we drove through a highway glittering with roadside night lights from multi stored buildings, IT parks, sky scrappers,shopping malls. I felt like driving in future.
We struggled to find the gym even after we reached Sector 30,Noida and made rounds the area
three times before finally the place at 9:30pm. Gold's Noida was nothing compared to Kolkata Gold's Gym. The instruments were not enough and less spacy and super thin attendants were the ones more interested in lifting the weights than the visitors!
At 10pm I headed straight to Sector 18. I was initially wondering where the Club Elevate was where the music event was going to take place. Luckily we didnot face much trouble locating the shopping malls there as there were only 2 on either side of road and both were of mamoth size and looked absolutely stunning well decorated and sparkling in the night. The club was located on 6th Fllor of the Center Stage Mall. There were not many people outside the club. Just I was about to enter a huge Bouncer almost double my size turned up and disallowed me from entering the club. "Sorry Sir! Couple entry only!" What crap! I could not but wonder why the club scene in India is in sorry state and subjected to disgusting stupid rules. I realy do not understand why the club owners stop enthusiatic clubs from enjoying good music! Moreover, I was not allowed to stand to
near gate and bullied away to pacify any chance of sneaking in. There were three local rowdy boys who managed to get in with some mysterious phone call. After a couple of failed attempts to lure the clubbers to join them I got third time lucky as I managed to hold of three young ladies who were generous enough to join them. The bouncers sneered at me and gave me a devilish grin and reluctantly let me in. It was funny as you get in you will be snaped by some invisble photographers from dark ( desi Papparazi) and given some heart shaped baloons. Elevate is a bit cheaper than Tantra, the renowned nightclub of Kolkata but much better music quality. Good tunes and club music. All I got at my last visit at Tantra was remixed bollywood numbers and very less of interational tracks. There was a huge entry charge at Tantra but here the entry is free but you have a cover charge of 3000rs per couple. One drawback at Elevate was there was no snacks offered inside the club. The dance floor was pretty much vacant with only a couple of European with rave lights. The picture
changed drastically after 12 midnight when the DJs Paul Jackson and Paul Deighton arrived. There was a sudden rush of people on dance floor. The floor was banging, the place was banging withe music. There was a change with in the tempo and moto and clubbers can immediate feel the difference as the world class duo combined to produce some outstanding tunes. Surprising the three ladies whom I accompanied to get in instead asked me if I could join them for a dance and shake some booty. They were localites and two of them were undergoeing training courses for air hostesses and the other works for call center. It was great to know them as it was getting a bit irritating to dance all alone. With passing minutes the club got such packed with people that there was no place to move,sit.. forget about the dance floor but the tunes,girls and alcohol in veins were too much to resist the temptation of staying back. Finally at 3 in the night we all left the club thrashed and exhausted. I surprised to find there was still huge number of people were waiting outside the club in queue and trying to get
in which is something unusual for an Indian club. And one guy outside even turned up to me asking for a help if I could let "my girls" to accompany him to get in...what an irony! I waved off the ladies bye and headed back to Gurgaon. The drive back was faster than expected...took the Noida Toll Bridge route and reached back to my room in 45 mins. Day 2
Woke up at 10 am with a headache and wished I would never drink again and that too on a night before office. This was no ordinary Sunday as I had a client meeting at 11 am near DLF City Golf Course. Luckily, everything went smoothe and I was able to leave office by evening and got back to my room to find TV was fixed as well but I decided to wander on streets and malls instead. I checked out the other Sahara Mall which I didnot visit last time and found it quiet big and all packed with shoppers as there was Big Bazaar(desi version of Wallmart) in there on one of the floors. Down at basement level I settled for Cafe Coffee Day
Cafe Joint for a cup of cold coffee but found that air conditioner was not working and was choking in minutes time. After some mindless wander around malls had my dinner at Mc Donald's and came back to my room well before time with a bottle of Absolut Vodka! Week Days at Office
There was nothing special at office with all work at office and lot of pending issues I had to rectify. But personally I like being at office at client place all day long. It was a great place to work with all facilities provided.
You have a round the clock big canteen - super clean, rightly lightend(like candle lit dinner experience), large LC TVs and meal menu was unmatchable(menu includes North Indian,South Indian,Chinese,Continental each with Veg and Non Veg). Vegeterian Costs 35 INR and Non Vegeterian 50 INR and great quality. Besides you have Cafe Joint Costa besides Snacks stall.
My cabin was worth mentioning you have a nicely located cubed desk with LCD monitor and fast PCs located next to pantry which is always stuffed with variety of biscuits,coffee and cold drink dispenser.
The first two floors were call centers and
had lot of young generation working out there. From time to time a large number of realy pretty lasses in the evening and night out in the outside space taking scheduled breaks,wandering,chatting and fagging!
Hence,you are never out of entertainment,food,good bird watching round the clock which I lacked at office in Kolkata.
Monday, after office however I tried to find a short cut route round the mall to a Chinese Restaurant close to the newly constructed IT park at 11 in the night but ending up losiing my way altogether in the dark. There was no way passed the huge walls to other side of the road from the dark slums,bush and drains behind them where I stood wondering where to go next. It was big adventure altogether as I was both hungry and tired in almost deserted dark lane with no public transport when out of blue I found an empty auto rickshaw who just dropped a passenger there and was returning back to Delhi more importantly to Connaught Place(CP). What a stroke of luck! He drove me free of cost to there in sharp 40 minutes time where I just in time around midnight before closing to
get in the famous Mexican restaurant,Rodeo. CP, the central square of Delhi was about to fall asleep with all the visitors returning home. But looked real pretty in the night in that state.
Friday, night I planned to go to Haridwar by car from my hotel room and everything was fixed with my Nepali hotel servant was suppose to accompany me for the trip as well. But Friday was a real sad day from morning. There were lot of new issues which turned up at office. And then on way back I halted at the mall before the Sahara to get my Ipod accessories and also purchase some warm garments for the cold weather in mountains I was completely stranded. It started raining heavily and intensity of shower was so much that I could not for a while see what was there on the road. When I returned to my room it was some 11:30 around and we were suppose to start our journey to Haridwar at 12 in the night. At 11:45 my Nepali Attendant turns up and states that the car was unavailable as the both the headlights were not working due to rain at Delhi.
There were no alternate cars available and also it was too late to book any private taxi for the same. Disgusted and frustrated I was wondering what to do next, I end up watching some stupid Bollywood movie till in 5 in the morning.
Saturday, afternoon I was so frustrated about the incident the night before that I end up spending the entire day at office. Connaught Place,Delhi and Football Match
It has been a while I wanted to meet one of my Croatian travel e buddy and local friend Gunish Sukhija. Both of us having Croatian connections and spent some time there and we are among the very few elite Indians who have been there. After a not so great Arabian style lunch at food court of Metropoliton Mall I took a shared Qualis from Ifkko Chowk stop at Gurgaon which dropped me to Karol Bagh. I walked along the "Pusa Road"(those who knows Croatian might recognise the word "Pusa" which means "kiss") to the metro station smiling and giggling and wondering it got to be a great Croatian encounter! I was greeted by Gunish at the PVR Plaza at Conaught Place. The studd came
by the hunk motorbike and I was realy surprising to find that he instantly recognised me in the middle of the crowd and drove me away to his place located just behind the central place. Luckily, his family was away to Haridwar from night before and he was in mood to party.
But since it was not yet dark so we decided to play some football on the adjacent ground. Lot many kids including the old professionals of the game like me and expected a good match. There was some delay on arrival of football though and match started when the light started to fade away. It was a match between man vs boys where I played the central forward role just behind the striker. Soon the opportunity came for me as I got a long ball from Gunish which I dribbled,cut and then sped past the defense to take on angled right foot finish. They equaled minutes later from a deflected long ranged shot creating some confusion in our defense. It took some time for me to score the second goal which came as an assist from one of the mid fielders in our team and then I
scored the hatrick with a curling shot just out side the right side of the box. But the opponents started to gt stronger and started to man mark me while Gunish though was initially playing as goal keeper decided to switch positions to midfielder role. Sadly the replacement goal keeper was not strong enough and we conceeded two goals in quick time. Then there was no goals for a while when it was completely dark. It was at that time I got a little weary due to lack of match practice. The golden goal came at the end from the opponents and then claimed victory in the dark. I was exhausted but satisfied that it has been a while I finally got to play football that too at country capital! Sarojini Nagar,Delhi
One of Gunish's friend Karan turned up and we all went in 2 wheelers to Sarojini Nagar market to buy a girl's top dress for Karan's girlfriend. Now the question is what I am doing there with them??? and me to help a guy select a girl's top??? heh!! I am lost! anyways, in confused state I ended up roaming in one of the populated
markets of Delhi where all the replicate copies of the top branded clothes were sold on the streets.
It was late and we finished off our quick dinner with local momos(nothing compares to supreme Momos of Tibet which I had a couple of months back). Gunish and Karan forgot the way back and moreover were running of fuel for their bikes. After a number of circles around the same place we found the way and Gunish dropped me at Dhaula Kuan Bus stop to catch a vehicle to Gurgaon. Karan meanwhile couldnot make it through as he run out of fuel completely. Gunish got some petrol from him in a bottle from the petrol pump and hurried back to Karan and room(his family were about to return shortly from the trip). I returned to my room in about half an hour ending the day in a high note. Week Ahead at Gurgaon
Saurav and Bhaskar returned to Gurgaon from attending our mutual friend Kuntal's wedding ceremony at a small town of Durgapur of West Bengal which took place at around the same date when another friend of mine Atul got married at Lucknow. Needless to say I
missed both the occassions due to work pressure at Gurgaon.
Monday,Saurav arrived at my room with a bottle of Tequila and Absolut Vodka in the evening but I convinced him to have our dinner first. We headed for one of the malls again and took a nice and tasty Thai dinner before returning home drenced in the rain. There were some payment issues at the bar where we got the liquors from. So we went back there to resolve. There as I was checking out the bottle of Jagermeister when two Australians turned up and with a high pich voice
"so you are a Jager Bomb fan..then son??" I smiled at them back and engaged with a brief conversation before heading back to our rooms to end the day in high spirits! Delhi University
Wednesday,I got a confirmation from one of my travel buddies,Shivankh that he got the much need tent and rucksack for me from California,USA and I need to buy the sleeping bag and mat from here in India. Saurav left his bike for me to drive. I decided to visit the Adventure Gear Accessories store, "Stickage" which was close to Delhi University. I
started off late at 10:30 am and it took about an hour time to adjust to driving Saurav's motorbike for the first time. In the heavy traffice I reached Rajeev Chowk Metro Station by Palika Bazaar(Connaught Place) driving for nearly 40 kms. Since, Delhi University is on the other corner of Delhi it will take another hour by bike to reach there. So decided to take the Metro Railways instead. It was a good decision as I realised that Vishwavidyalaya(University Stop) was quiet far away and a super fast metro rail took about half an hour time to reach there. As soon as I got down it gave me a vibe. I realised I am in a different zone altogether. This is a college area. Not just Delhi college but a lot many other colleges are in here. And there were girls - some of the best looking colorful birds in the country. I was wondering why I didnot study in one of these colleges and wasted my 4 years in South India!
Stickage was located in a small lane which I passed by un noticed and collected the Mont Blanc Feather Sleeping Bag and Mat. The owners were
true professionals and knows a lot about adventure trips and sports. I was realy pleased with their service. It was 1 in afternoon I left the place and did a returned back to my room. I went to office at 4 pm but luckily I didnot have any meeting or important task during day so did not get much scolding from manager. A lucky escape! Friday
Off to Haridwar finally to wash away sins!!
Waiting for Friday to come desperately. It had been a gruelling week of work. But in the midst of all the hard work I could sight a ray of hope as I got the approval to extend my stay at Delhi for the weekend and plan for a trip to Haridwar before I leave for Kolkata on Sunday night.
Visit to Haridwar was even more important as this Saturday is when the yearly famous Kanwar Mela(Hindu festival fair) is held drawing upto 70 lkh people. The pilgrims come by suspended pots over their shoulders in groups of cars,vans and lorries to collect wanter from ganges river and return to their respective villages on foot and the bathe Lord Shiva with the collected water
on new moon night.
Luckily there was no rain on Friday evening and I managed to bid adeu to clients and office before time well before time. Thanks to the sleepless nights I was in a relaxed position on Friday with much less work load. I bought some warm clothes again from Gurgaon Central shopping mall and packed all my luggages as I realised I will not be having much time left to pack bags for flight on Sunday.
My servant,Tika knocked me at the door sharp at 12 in the night informing driver was ready. Let me at this moment introduce our driver,Muni ram. Muni was a foul mouth Rajasthani who loves cracking raw jokes all the time. Like a dark knight rider we zoomed out of our place towards Gaziabad. In about an hour time we reached the borders of state of Uttar Pradesh. The quality of road was not that great and soon we caught up with traffic on road. Large number of vans lay infront of us with lorries loaded with pilgrims dressed in orange t shirts with a picture of Lord Shiva in it and carrying the decorated suspended earthen pots through bamboo
sticks on their shoulders(kanwars). The drive was smooth and I couldnot sleep with non stop raw cheap jokes which Muni was cracking all the time in the course of journey. At around 5 in the morning we reached the border of Uttarakhand where we were struck again in traffic jam due to heavy duty vehicles were not allowed to pass by border patrol in that hour. As we reached Haridwar I was in for a shock. The place was virtually been crawled with sadhus, pligrims and tourists and it was like into a saffron ocean of people. The road sides were all been utilised to set up camps by the Kanwarias. But from distance I can see the vintage ghats(banks) of Haridwar by a rather turbulent Ganges river. Haridwar is particularly famous because of the fact that this the place where river Ganges comes down the hills and meets the plains. Rishikesh - World Yoga Head Quarters
The other thing which was bothering me was that there was no hills leave aside mountains that were visible to me in sight. We decide to drive by Hairdwar and reach mountains instead. The road bifurcates at one junction where one
branches outwards Dehradun and Mussorie other towards Rishikesh and Badrinath. We took the way towards Rishikesh and reached there in an about 40 mins time and atlast we could notice some hills. Where we parked our vehicle and crossed the amazing suspended bridge of "Laxman Jhula" to cross river Ganges. It was breath taking experience to get the feel of monsoon river flowing below us at pace. As we reached other side of the river we were realy tempted to take a dip in the river. The water chilling cold and I shivered with the first touch but it felt great from within that I could finally make it to this place. After a brief prayer at the small temple by the banks we climbed back to the parking place discussing on where to head next. En Route to Badrinath
All of a sudden a strong force compelled us to head forward and continue our conquest towards mountains. It was a casual drive in the hills. We kept on going on and on towards further up. The climb up was real slow. Though occassionally we were able to gather speed to 50km/hour but nothing like aconstant
80km/hr in plains on highway we did. Initially we thought that since we could make from Delhi to Rishikesh virtually in 5 hours time span Badrinath located some 300 km away we could easily reach by noon if we start now by 9 am. That was a big blunder as we completely miscalculated and the drive up was most difficult thing to do that to up the mountains. The next place on road was Deoprayag which was some 70 km from Rishikesh. It was broken at places and then about an hour journey we were put on a complete halt. There was a mini landslide and road blockage. We all found that an enough opportunity to take a nap for an hour or so when we were been woken up by the other vehicle drivers to move on. It was about 3 hours time we reached Deoprayag.
Deoprayag is the most sacred Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers in the vast network of tributaries that form the Ganges. It is from Deoprayag that the river starts taking the name Ganga. We got a top view of the confluence and looked great. There were some monkeys on way to whom
we fed up with bananas.
We continued our journey further up and mountains steepend and the followed the source of the river Alakananda. The river looked very mystical. It looked like a violent and magical force whitish in color or is it that there was no water and we are looking at the mist and cloud covering the river and not the river at all. After some time it looked like we couldnot sight the river water at all at the deep gorge below instead we are looking at the layer of vapour which covering it.
It took another hour time when we reached Srinagar. Srinagar was small town but by no means be considered a village. There were bus stands,school,colleges,market a town center and lot of people in the city. Hence it took some time to get to other side of the road. When we were at Rudraprayag some 10kms further, I began to wonder we could realy be able to make it Badrinath or Valley of Flowers today. It is 3 oclock in the evening already. But our driver being a Rajasthani was in no mood to turn back. The scissor turns,poor mountain passes and some place
the big pot holes,earthen non existant earthen tracks at sharp slanted turns made me wonder are we heading towards hell? Luckily till the moment there was no rain. We passed by the small villages and towns of Ghotir,Gauchar,Karnaprayag,Nandaprayag,Chamoli,Birahi,Pipalkori,Garur Ganga,Tangani and Helang in succession. There were not much difference between the villages and the people look the same. There were small snack joints selling some fried food items. One thing noticable here is all the boards,signs and advertisements are in Hindi only. Karnaprayag, on the sacred confluence of Alaknanda and Pindari rivers and is known for the Karna Temple and the Uma Devi Temple. It is believed that Lord Surya gifted Kavatch, Kundal and Tuneer to Karna at KarnaPrayag. KarnaPrayag hosts several temples groups- KaalBhairov temple dedicated to Kaleshwar in the North, Jaleshwar temple in the South and Chandika temple & Narayan temple in the East. Nandaprayag however is confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers. I could notice the gradual change of the ethnicity as we moved up further now. Though still there were road side Hindu Saint,Sadhus clad in Rudrakasha seeded garlands, and long tied up hairs the normal mass were more like Tibetans and Bhutias. And then I realised
that Badrinath is very close to China- Tibet border. And Manas Sarovar, Kailash Parbat of Tibet in China(the most sacred place and toughest pilgrim destination of Asia) see very close from there.
We were stopped on our tracks abruptly at Joshimath at 6 pm some 40kms from Badrinath when we were told that the gates of both Badrinath and Valley of Flowers were closed for the day and we in no way can see anything there. The first prayer can be done next day morning only after taking a holy dip in the Kund close to it. My flight from Delhi was on Sunday evening and we will not be able to reach back in time if we start from Badrinath next day. We were all in state of shock. After a journey this far we have to return without reaching the destination. Journey Back or???
There at Joshimath we were instantly surrounded by hotel owners offering us rooms to stay overnight. Luckily we managed to wave them off and started our journey back. It was soon getting dark and we expected to be back to Haridwar by night 12 atleast. Just before it was completely
dark we stopped at a road side tea stall for a quick tea break. We were having a casual discussion with the owner when he informed us that driving after 9 to 10 in the night is prohibited in the hills and told us to cover as much distance as possible now itself. We were all in a shocked state looking at each other's faces and immediately ran back to our car and rushed to reach back before the police could stop us for the night. The drive down was a bit faster but the roads being in poor shape and darkness we didnot risk a quicker drive. Gauchar massacre
We reached Gauchar village at around 10:10 pm. When we found the ominuous obstruction board by the village police. No vehicles were allowed to enter or leave past the place. We were some 160 km from Rishikesh in the middle of nowhere in the hills stranded again and praying god to let us go back. We tried to wave off the hotel owners again who came by our car window. It was very annoying as they came back repeatedly after intervals of time offering room. We had no
intentions of taking one and decided to move on early morning as soon as the barricades were removed at 4 am. Initially we thought of bribing the police to let us go but later declined as we may not no how many places those blockages police might have setup and besides our driver Muni was in no state to drive with red eyes after driving the whole day. Even the frequent chewing of tobacco is not helping him. He was argueing that he can drive continuously without sleep but once he eats he will fall asleep and cannot drive again for hours. I decided to better give a night rest and then move on.
We went to one of the last road side eating joint where some expensive stale food was remaining and came back to our car to sleep. I didnot want to sleep as I do not consider the area to be safe by any means. I decided to guard our belongings and the car while my company slept. At around 1 in the night one clumbsy looking 40 something gentleman turned up in boxer shorts and old t shirt and knocked at out glass window.
He was completely drunk and started to talk rubbish and told us to park on the other side of the road behind the lorries. I decided to ignore him and told him that I do not know him and this road is blocked anyways and we were by the side of the road also so we do not want to follow his orders. I also told him that our driver didnot sleep for 2 days at a stretch and I cannot wake him up at the moment. The spooky person mysteriously got angry and rushed away to the police station. He got hold of all the available police there and return to our car. Suddenly he spun the driver door of the car open, took our driver Muni by collar and started beating him and slapping him hard constantly. The poor fellow in the sleep could have never imagined such a treatment to wake up. The there came the rejected and dejected hotel owners to watch the show of us getting the bashings. The drunk guy turned out to be some top notch guy in the village who owns some hotel there and has a considerable hold of the police
of the region. He even tried to frame us with drunk driving case. It was wierd that the guy didnot know how to talk in English and tried best effort to say utter some to prove he is a big boss who dictates terms here and we all here are at his mercy and and have committed a crime here by not taking a hotel,not eating at his place and not parking according to his will. Muni didnot have much idea about what was going on tried to utter something in sleep with his crude ascent which further angered the officials who then took the keys and car papers. We were then forced to park at place far back next to his hotel. His fellow hotel owners then boarded their motorbikes gave us that notorious look and went away laughing. Life sucks!
I couldnot possibly sleep the whole night and early morning at 4 am in a drizzling rain I tried to get the car keys and papers but found all sleeping at the police room. After a couple of rounds at around 5 am I went again to the police control room when I woke up one of the officials who turned out to be a bit helpful gave me the car papers. But the keys were with his collague who turned out to be another arrogant type ready for a fight. Since getting the keys was a priority for reaching back to Delhi to catch the flight in time I just appologized him politely. He though had a unfinished dwell to settle with Muni. Muni was in mood to wake up and didnot even wake up to get the car keys and papers which he was suppose to do as per the police. Muni even decided to get up at 7 in the morning or later and then drive leisurely! Sleep can change one mindset overnight!! I got hold of the keys by bribing the guy 50 rupees and cooked up the story of me being a student(it has been 5 years I have left college) and cannot possibly arrange for more! Accident at dawn
Muni was in no position to drive. He was still drowsy state and I was wondering whether he will be able to drive at all. Car didnot start as the battery was down. And in half an hour time I got the answer to that. It was a normal straight down narrow road when we had a truck coming from the other side. Muni instead of stopping and provide the truck space to go by over turned towards the edge of the rif by the road,skid and then hit the rocks. The car was tilted as the right tyres were trapped in between the loose earthen road and rocks. Luckily nothing was broken and everyone was safe. Then there was starting problem. The car was not getting started. There was no mechanic,no service station,no cranes far far away! We stopped a truck to seek help. They tied a rope at the back of our car and tried to drag it back on the road by pulling with the truck. The rope torn instead with moving an inch of the car. At the very moment enters "The Great Sardars(Punjabis of Sikh religion) of India" to the scene.
The Sardars in a group of 10 well built strong and supremely powerful like hercules got down from their jeep and surrounded our car. I tried to seek help with my broken Punjabi and in response I was comforted with the words which still ring and linger in my ears...
"Tussi Fikar Not! Sadda Haryana di Gaddi hae! Todda Gaddi thik kaarange phir utthe Jayenge!"
("you dont worry! it is the car of our place! we will get your car ready and then leave")
The leader of the group wasted no time and tried to lift the car from the side where the tyre is trapped. The engine was very heavy and he lifted the engine of the heavy vehicle of ours of ground but couldnot drag it to the road. Then all tried to start the car by rotating the front wheel by tying rope to the rings to the front wheel. The effort didnot pay off though. Then we all by force dragged the car back and forth in chants of Punjabi hym "Jo Bole So Nihaal! Sasriakal" and then finally managed to get it back on road. At last! what a escape! We pushed the car forward on the slope down the hill and managed to start fast. I guess my prayers at Golden temple at Amritsar a year back had payed off as I was blessed with angels in form of Punjabis to help us when we need the most.
It was around 8 am when we could start again and reached Deoprayag at 9:30 am. It was then just the stretch of 70 kms remaining for us till Rishikesh. But after driving for an half an hour we were struck again in a traffic jam in mountains. The road in front was blocked by the debris and mud due to the landslide in the night and fresh pile in the morning. It was just two vehicles in front of us. It took another couple of hours to be cleared off by the craine (luckily there was one working) and we could move on.
By 2 pm we were finally at Haridwar. Haridwar and The Holy Dip
Haridwar still floating with a wave of orange/saffron colored pilgrim people and colorfully decorated and designed kanwars. It was a sight to watch. The different banks of the river were all filled and people taking holy dip. We all jumped off the bridge over to chilling waters Ganges river with strong current. Relaxed for a while, relaxed for a while on the ghats watching the people. It was an interesting cullmination of different type of people from who believe in simple lifestyle to weed smoking narcotic addicts(Lord Shiva loves having those). After washing away the sins and praying for a while it was time for some carrying some water and head back. No road to Delhi!
It was already 3 pm and my flight was at 8 pm from Delhi. I wanted to get back as quickly as possible but I was in for an twist of fate. Our driver was down morally for some unknown reason and inspite of quickly getting back to our car was not coming and was listening to any one. Finally after about half an hour he finally turned up and started the car. Then we are in a few more goose bumps.
The main expressway from Haridwar to Delhi was blocked for vehicles. Only the pilgrims were allowed on the way to return back on road. So we we went on driving miles through country side a road through old city of Haridwar . The diversion we took to Lakshar will take a a longer route but will meet up Roorkee and highway or straight to Manglour. But at Lakshar we were diverted again. When we finally met with the Roorkee town cantonment we were again diverted to different road no allowed to get in the expressway at the junction. We thought we could reach Muzzafar Nagar but that road was again closed. I realised that there was no hope of catching the night flight. I called up my office travel desk and cancelled my Kingfisher flight in the night explaining the situation and reluctantly rescheduled to a morning Jet Light flight at 6:20 am. We were going on a perpendicular road to Ambala and met up with Dehradoon Ambala highway as that was the only way remaining for us. After driving for several kilometers on NH73 we reached the town of Saharanpur when we took the road in perpendicular direction towards Delhi. It was completely dark in highway. The road crossed Rampur,Shamli,Baghpat before finally we managed to reach Delhi.
The entrance to Delhi through unknown road was not so good as we expected. One side of the road was completely under knee deep water, pot holes, pebbles and other side of the road was where the trucks were going out and is one way. It was a slum area and lacked sanity. It was place where the scum of the society lives. There were some communal fights going on where some people were fight against each other. Some how we managed to cross the road taking the wrong lane and take the road to Delhi ISBT.
The road hence was great. But just before we reached Connaught Place at 12 in the night we were in for another hurdle. There was tyre puncture on right front tyre. I already felt that air was not enough in there and asked Muni to replace the same which he ignored. Now we had to pay the price. The replacement tyre was not great. The screws were loose and hence the ride was bumpy. I wondered whether we at all be able to reach Gurgaon limping in this condition. I called up Gunish and asked for a favor of taking a printout of the flight ticket of Jet Lite with very little of mobile battery that was remaining before it ran out completely. I waited for half an hour at Conaught Place market place for Gunish but couldnot find him any where. And all of a sudden it started to rain and I tried to recollect the way to Gunish's place. After hit and try basis I finally reached Gunish's place and get the print out.
At a pace comparable to turtle motion we reached Dhaula Kuan where Muni decided to repair the flat tyre at the repair shop. For some unknown reason he didnot replace that and contintued to move on express way in thrashed state.
It was 3 am in the night when we finally reached our place at Gurgaon ending the 1200 km long drive for two days long. Luckily Tika's room mates have prepared some food for us. It was delicious. We shared a Patiala peg of liquor till 4 am when I cleared off all the bills incurred in the trip. Missed flight again!
At 6 am I reached the domestic terminal and board the Jet Light Flight. After luggage check I was not allowed to board the flight as I was late by 10 minutes. Flight was at 6:20 am. After repeatative plea I was not allowed to board the same. In horror I called my travel agent in emergency help desk and asked for a replacement flight. There was a kingfisher flight at 6:50 am but that was from a different departure terminal. I took an auto rickshaw paying 200 rupees when I got the news that I can not flight. With the little mental strength that remained in me I called up the travel agent again and booked the Jet Airways flight back to Kolkata at 9:55 am.
After security check in I tried to get some sleep listening to some music in my ipod. Woke up just before flight departure. All I wanted to get some sleep as I boarded the flight to get a peaceful sleep. But again then something else was in store for me. I got a place next to a lady who had cold. She was caughing at regular intervals making my life miserable. I asked for an alternate seat but before I could change seat I passed away in sleep thanks to the ipod and noise reduction enabled earphones. I woke up when the flight landed at Kolkata airport. Another political shutdown
Even the end to the journey was not devoid of trouble. Airport to City bypass road was blocked because of political rally going to take place. The yellow taxi took the other route to our city which circles the city out skirts. Even there I was trapped in a non movable traffic for an hour. There were truck full of supporter with flags shouting slogans on top of voice in the jam itself! At 4 pm finally! at last! I could reach back to my sweet sweet room which marked end to what has been the most frustratingly tough journey's of my life. Prologue
By no means I consider this to be one of my failed trips of my life. The thrills and chills I encountered were there to stay with me for long. Inability to reach Badrinath will draw me inspiration to do a Char Dham Trip of India in future. Char dham trip consistes visiting Puri Jaganath Temple, at Puri in Orissa state on east of India( which I already did), visiting Dwarka Temple of Gujrat( west coast city of Gujarat of India), visit Yamunotri,Gangotri(collect water from there),Kedarnath,Badrinath in Uttarakhand and then go Rameshwaram in South India and bath Lord Shiva Lingam with water collected from Gangotri. "If it is good it is wonderful.
If it is bad It is experience"