Saturday, November 20, 2010

DAY 46 – Agartala to Silchar

Friends,
The facilities in the State GH are so good that I would certainly recommend it to anyone who would visit Agartala. Knowing that a long day awaits me on the trip to Silchar, I had asked for breakfast at 6.30 am and an early check out. When the breakfast did not arrive even after I had loaded my luggage into the car, a visit to the kitchen confirmed that I will have to wait a long time if I insisted on the breakfast. I requested for a check out. There was pandemonium all around. The catering bills were completely confusing and no one knew the room tariff I had to be charged. After a half hour of chaos compounded by my foul temper, I paid Rs. 800 for two days of room occupation and Rs. 400 for the catering – the HIlsa and Katla fish cost me a pretty packet.
The roads on the Tripura side of the day’s schedule should have given me a leg up to compensate for the bad roads that awaited me on the Assam portion. However, I had an off day today behind the wheel. Not only did I have many near misses, I even scrapped a couple of goats and dogs on the way, fortunately not fatally. The drive on the roads in Tripura is like a roller coaster ride, as I mentioned the day before; with the windows rolled down one can experience some G-force. Tripura is very reminiscent of Kerala, politics apart. The teak trees, rubber plantation, areca nut trees, banana farms, thick green vegetation, etc are all very representative of Kerala. Immediately as one crossed the border into Assam, tea plantations replaced teak and rubber plantations and the road condition slowed passage.
ASP. Karimganj, Ghosh, was waiting for me at the Karimganj bye pass. Due to the strenuous journey my legs were cramping up and Ghosh’s offer of a cup of tea in the Baba Hotel was a welcome break. A half hour of discussion on individuals being frequencies, the presence of souls in even inanimate objects, indestructible energy sources, etc. helped to  rejuvenate the mind and set the mood to meet the lousy roads that awaited my final stretch to Silchar. Ghosh requested that I send him a copy of the book that I intend releasing after the completion of the journey!
As per the original program I was to halt at Manu and proceed to Aizawl from there. The route was decided on the basis of information in the National Motoring Atlas of MapmyIndia. I was informed that there is no road to Aizawl from Manu or Panisagar. Hence, I had to change, at the last minute, the program to halt at Silchar instead of Manu or Panisagar. At Badarpur, the Barak River is a beautiful sight, and one got to enjoy the sight better because of a terrible traffic block where a stretch of road is being repaired. Since the past four days since I travelled over this route, it was encouraging to see some repairs bring done to the damaged roads.
As usual, my batch mate in the NF Railway helped get accommodation in the ORH in Silchar. The new rooms are excellent and superbly furnished. As the day trip had tired me out I bought a couple of cans of Kingfisher beer for pre-dinner company.  The Chief Ticket Inspector, Silchar made all the necessary arrangements for a comfortable stay. The cook at the ORH made me egg curry and rotis for dinner.
I have been advised by some to avoid the travel to Imphal and by some others that there is nothing to worry about the trip. As a matter of abundant precaution I had the alternatives weighed. I had inmitally planned the NH150 via Thngsat to Impahal to be done in a day. In Shillong, I got the feedback that the NH150 may not be as secure as the NH53. So I decided on the NH53, which would mean spending two days on the road to Imphal from Silchar. In Agartala, I got the advice that it would be better to take the NH 150 with a break en route. The route is still being finalized. In any case, I am ready for a bit of rough adventure from now on,

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