The UP & Bihar citizens pedalling a bicycle on the fast lane of the divided highway, going the wrong way, has only intensified and become even more nerve-racking for us today!
We were trying to figure out the reason why they are doing this crazy thing? My own "explanation" was that perhaps these rustic souls are not aware that they now have a 4-lane "divided" H/way? Maybe they think that Govt of India has foolishly built two roads side-by-side ... and they now have the option to use any one of them!?
Perhaps NHAI needs to conduct some 'educational' program ... on how to use "divided" highways?
1st Jan 2008, Dhanbad: Early at 6:15am while it was still dark outside, we loaded our luggage in our car and started to drive out of the Petrol station parking lot. But we were shocked and dismayed to find a 8-feet wide and 1-foot deep trench dug out, all around that petrol station, enclosing both the IN and OUT driveways! There was no way to come out of that place!! Apparently some utility company had brought in a exacavator and overnight dug out this trench efficiently. We were stranded inside with no way to come out of that place! What a way to start a New Year!!
We gathered 5-6 local labour folks (who were very reluctant to do any work, at this early hour) and gathered some wooden planks and large stones from a construction site and made two rickety ramps for us to drive out. Luckily, we came out in one piece! If the weak ramps had given way we would have been totally stuck in that trench for days. Anyway, we were out by 7:15am and had lost only an hour! This too "Can happen only in India"
Probably, the New Year Eve beer clouded our brains ... and we failed to provide for the possibility that the Jharkhandis may start digging for Coal outside our Hotel come 2008.
31st Dec 07 > Day-18 : Varanasi to Dhanbad - 421 Km
We left Varanasi at 6:00AM and continued on NH-2. The road was very good all the way; except that Sasaram by-pass was not ready and we had to go through some very congested & pot-hole ridden stretches through this town and till Dehri. The route to Dhanabad via Chandauli, Sasaram, Aurangabad, Dhobi, Barhi, Bagodar, Topchanchi and Dhanbad. We had a short stretch through Bihar (Madanpur to Chauparan) and then we entered very beautiful hilly jungle terrain of Jharkhand (at Tilaya Reservoir) of Hazaribagh National Park:
At Dhanbad we checked into a decent Hotel Sushant International (Rs 830 per night) and in the evening celebrated the New Year Eve with a Beer and Pakodas! At Dhanbad, we had parked our Car in the Petrol Station fronting that Hotel .... as that petrol station belonged to the same Hotel owner.
1st January 08 > Day-19 : Dhanbad - Kolkata - 291 Kms
We left Dhanbad at 7:30AM and rejoined NH-2. We had called ahead and planned a breakfast-meet at Durgapur, with our IIT-KGP wingmate Sujit Chatterjee, at his home just off the NH-2 in Durgapur.
We left Durgapur by 10:00 AM after a hearty breakfast of Loochi-Alu at Sujit's home and continued on NH-2 past Bardhaman, Chinchura, Howrah and then crossed over the new Hooghly Bridge (Vidyasagar Setu) to Kolkata. Dropped Tapan at his Harish Mukherjee home and carried on to my cousin's home in Bhowanipur. We had no sight seeing plans in Kolkata (as both of us lived here during our school days); but we planned an extra day here to get our Indica serviced, now that we had completed over 4500 Kms since we left Mumbai. The Car service was scheduled for tomorrow.
2nd January 08 > Day-20 : At Kolkata - Car Servicing day
Today we took the car to a service station on Hazra road and got it serviced and fully re-oiled! Later at 2:00PM we went to a Mini-Meet with 4 other IIT-KGP, Nehru Hall, Wingmates in Sumeru Roy Choudhury's CPWD office in Acharya JC Bose Road. We had a gala time there and hogged some Bengali Sweets and Snacks! Some pictures below:
3rd January 08 > Day-21 : Kolkata to Bhubneshwar - 451 Kms
We left Kolkata early today, at 6:45 AM as we had a long drive ahead. We set out (via Vidyasagar Setu) first to Kharagpur on NH-6 and then took the NH-60 going south to Baleshwar, where we joined NH-5 and going further south past Bhadrak & Cuttack.
We reached Bhubneshwar at 3:45PM and checked into Pushpak Hotel at Rs 250/- per day per room. The rest of that day relaxing in the Hotel. We planned to go to Puri and Konarak tomorrow, and come back to stay in the same Hotel tomorrow night too.
25 GIRT 33d GQ+ >
Days: 18 to 21 of GIRT tour
Varanasi > Dhanbad > Kolkata > Bhubaneshwar