Saturday, February 16, 2013

18 Jan 13 - Paradip to Garden Reach, Kolkata

By the time I was ready to leave after the attestation and the register entries the fog was still thick. Even the rays of the Sun could not be seen. I started the car thinking that I would complete the expedition before the day was out. Well, man only proposes.

Despite the fog I made good time to reach Kendrapara, tailing a pace setter. I went into the village looking for someone to attest. I could not find one and settled for the data on the GPS tracker. It did not let me down. The direction I had for Dhamara showed it at a distance of 90 kms on a diversion from Kendrapara. However, I was advised not to take that route. I finally reached there after 3 and half hours and 190 kms! The fact that I had to retrace the road to Basudevpur meant that I did an extra 150 kms. That almost took the fight out of me, because of the loss of time. Lack of sleep and eye fatigue was affecting the speed and driving skills. At Basudevpur I went to a co-operative bank for attestation. I was led to many counters. At one of the counters the clerk told me that he has to get written approval of his boss! A young man, who had been observing the run around I was being given, offered to attest; he was an entrepreneur from the village. He was a travel buff and liked the concept of a Limca record. I gave him a copy of my book and proceeded to Baleswar on NH5.

I had to take the NH60/SH57 in West Bengal after passing Baleswar. I was in the last stage of the expedition, but I still had over 300 kms to go, including two ferries at Diamond Harbor and Namkhana. The route in West Bengal became overcrowded and progress was slow. By the time I reached Kanthi (Contai) at 4.45 pm I knew that the expedition would spill over to the next day. By then I had information that the Diamond Harbor ferry is closed and that the one in Namkhana would close by 5.30 pm. I decided to enjoy the rest of the trip. I stopped at a handcart in Contai in the busy town centre for omelets. Since he did not have bread I asked him to make a local Frankie with chapattis. It was a culinary delight. I casually feasted on it and drank in the sights of the Contai beach. It was dark by the time I reached Mahishadal.

Knowing that I would not be reaching Bakkhali at night due to ferry closure I rearranged my plans and headed to Garden Reach. Gopal Mohanty had booked a room in the ORH for me. Hot food was also awaiting me, so was also a bottle of Black Label. Gopal had earlier planned a dinner with IRTS officers. That had to be postponed in view of my changed plans.

By the time I reached Garden Reach, Kolkata I had completed 6868 kms – nearly 300 kms more than anticipated. For the first time in eight days I slept early.

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