Saturday, November 13, 2010

DAY 44 – Karimganj to Agartala

Friends,
A 6.30 am breakfast was arranged by Rabha, despite my protestation that it is too early to break fast. And the spread – roti, paneer chole, egg dipped toast, apple, pears, pomegranate, bananas and tea. As I was tackling the second roti and paneer chole in walks the ASP, Ghosh, with a warm “Hello, Sir”. He had brought with him a litre of ‘Amul spiced buttermilk‘ for my consumption on the way. Ghosh was a tutor prior to joining the APS. This reflects in his conversation. He believes that his lineage is primarily that of the Yadavs, with an admixture of Brahmin DNA. He claims to have traced the migration of his family from Gujarat to Kolkata and thereon to Assam. Ghosh is keen to visit Burdhman, where he expects to unearth more information about the family migration and history. He fervently believes that ‘blood’ makes the man and he is proud of his. Ghosh feels that since he does not have the height for a police officer he makes it up by raising his voice!
Ghosh was wearing a T-Shirt that had “Bharat Parikrama, 25th September to 20th November 2005” printed on it with pictures of some bikers. I could not contain my curiosity. When he was posted in Haflong, at the height of the extremism in the area, he gave chase to a few speeding bikers taking them for extremists. When he caught up with them and interrogated them he realized that they were bikers on a Bharat Parikrama. One of the bikers was a movie maker who wanted to do a movie on the trip. The movie did not materialize, but the T-Shirt arrived by post.
The road condition on the Assam leg of the journey to Agartala was no different from what was encountered yesterday. What will you make of the road condition if you see a person crossing his chest and hitching up his pants before crossing the road? The rail track runs close to the road from Karimganj to Tripura. I wished I could use rail tracks for plying the car, as some Maharajas used to in the past. With multi-functional wheels, I would be able to roll off the car from the track at a level crossing and use the road when the surface is better. The road condition transformed, as if by magic, as soon as I crossed over into Tripura. The terrain of the route to Agartala is such that it felt like a 198km, temperate roller coaster ride. Some stretches had ‘Assam type’ roads; the saving grace is that all the reaches are being repaired. I am not too sure if the presence of security personnel in fatigues along the route had anything to do with VIP visit or was ‘bandobast’ for the vehicular traffic.
Thanks to the Superintendent of Police, Agartala I was accommodated in the State GH. As soon as I parked my car and got the luggage out I ran into the incomparable actor, Nana Patekar, at the reception.  I requested for a photograph with him, to which he readily agreed. He wanted to know where I am from and why I am in Agartala. He was so amused to hear what I told him that he called his friends to talk to me. He said he wished to do some time what I am doing now. He even took a look at my car and wished me luck for the rest of the journey.
The State GH is a brand new facility with 46 rooms that are excellently furnished. The State has 108 rooms in three buildings to house their guests. For those who are not on official stay the room tariff is Rs. 400 per day. The GH is extremely well run with polite and responsive staff. The lunch at the GH of rice, a veg curry, dal, salad and fish fry cost Rs.50. I have ordered chicken curry and rotis for dinner. Most importantly, internet connectivity is provided free of cost in the GH.

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