It was sheer mind over matter. The lack of sleep the previous night was no reason to let the spirits down. I was ready to leave by 3.30 am. The MF team leader had arrived to certify the start of the Kurnool-Hyderabad leg of the journey. The NH7 was very good up to Adilabad. Thereafter certain stretches on the Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh borders were extremely bad. A lot of road work was on to 4 lane the NH7 all the way up to Sagar and hence the roads were good only in patches.
After I had made out the detailed route map and charted the approximate timings it emerged that Sagar would have to be a location for overnight stay. I sought the advice of Jethi, my batchmate, about the possibility of tapping some railway resource to locate a decent overnight dwelling. He came back promptly with the information that one of his former classmates is based in Sagar and that he would help. He further added that Sudhanshu, his friend, had offered to put me up instead of spending a night in a hotel. When I spoke to Sudhanshu he was of the view that I would feel more comfortable at his place. I accepted the invitation. I was in constant touch with him and the Muthoot team as I neared Sagar. When I was piloted in to Sudhanshu’s residential compound by 8 pm I was not prepared for the absolutely overwhelming reception. The entire Muthoot team of two branches, the Rotary officials and the Press, besides the family members made up for a formidable reception committee. Time went by quickly with interaction with those present, garlanding and presentation of bouquets. A photo session also took up some time. It was just a half hour to midnight when I sat down with the family for a gorgeous dinner. Mrs Sudhanshu runs the most sought after and successful school in Sagar – Vatsalya – which had been founded by Sudhanshu’s mother, who had retired as Principal of the Kendriya Vidyalaya. Topic after topic were dissected and debated with Mrs and Mr Sudhanshu and their two daughters and son. It was also of interest to me that Karan had recently biked the Manali-Leh stretch and got valuable tips from him. Just as the clock struck midnight a beautiful homemade cake emerged to celebrate Sudhanshu’s birthday. After the short celebrations I retired for a power nap in the confines of the huge 140 year old house that had once been residence to a British Army officer. The house was typically the type that the British built in India – huge ceilings, large teak windows and doors and humongous verandahs.