The ORH room was extremely comfortable and I slept for 4 hours like I had no cares in the world – in fact I had nearly 5800 kms more to drive to complete the Coastal Expedition! A hot shower and fresh clothes and I was ready to leave. By 5.15 am the departure attestation had been done and my packed breakfast was ready – the big carry bag had a lot of stuff in it; sandwiches, stuffed parathas and fruit. I left the resort half heartedly, for the view of the beach promised to be exciting from there and the service was top notch.
The first stretch of road in the morning was very challenging. The 115 km road between Diu and Mahuva took me 4 hours – the 60 kms between Una and Rajula consumed two thirds of it. I could not believe my eyes that such roads could exist in Gujarat. The section was an exception which proved the rule in Gujarat. I visited a convent in Mahuva that was home to an order of cloistered nuns. The nuns were known to an aunt of mine back home. She had requested me to visit them in case I found some time. Well, I found time and the nuns insisted on my having breakfast. A second one, of dosas and chutney. On the slow journey to Mahuva I had dipped into the packed breakfast and relieved the carry bag of more than half its contents. Meeting the nuns was an uplifting spiritual experience.
The day’s drive wound through Mahuva, Bhavnagar, Khambhat, Jambusar, and Surat to Mumbai. From Jambusar the police personnel piloted me beyond the Golden Bridge hold up to save time. Surat was the last post in Gujarat. After attestation there I left for Mumbai shortly after 7 pm. I had another 300 kms left to complete the schedule of the day. I had arranged to meet up with my cousin, Chakochan (George Kuriakose), who lived in Thane on my way to the ORH in Churchgate, Mumbai. En route I felt sleepy and had to stop for power naps. By the time I reached the Fountain Hotel junction it well past the decent hour. Despite that George and his lovely wife, Anupa, their son, Michel, Anupa’s sister Swarupa and Binson Mathew (George’s friend) and his family were waiting for me with smiles and flashbulbs. The short break helped me stretch my weary legs and took directions to reach Churchgate. As I was leaving Anupa handed me a bag full of eats.
The drive to Churchgate took me another hour and I reached the ORH just after midnight. I had driven 850 kms in nearly 19 hours; of course I had liberal stops on the way. Despite the long day I was not tired. The SM of Churchgate railway station came to the ORH and attested my arrival in Mumbai - the railway connection helped. R.K. Tandon, the Chief Operations Manager of Western Railway had made the necessary arrangements and the room in the ORH was luxurious. I had just enough time to rest for about 4 hours. Since I would be leaving early I settled my accounts of the ORH in the night itself – Rs. 85.