The General Manger of North Frontier Railway is Mr. R.S. Virdhi. We had been colleagues in Concor. When I planned the trip to the north-east last October I had got in touch with him for update on the condition in Assam and the climate. It was on his advice that I had postponed the trip to January. Once I had decided on the dates, Mr. Virdhi confirmed accommodation in New Jalpaiguri, Guwahati, Tinsukia and Alipurduar. I reconfirmed the arrangements before leaving Garden Reach at 4.40 am.
It was only a 650 kms drive from Garden Reach to New Jalpaiguri. The start on NH2 was good. But in a short while, within 40 kms, there was a humungous block on the NH due to an accident. I waited for nearly an hour, having a couple of rounds of tea at one of the tea shops. A car in front decided to cut through a village; he asked me to follow him. I did and got ahead of the queue and just then the route opened up and I was among the first to get past a ghastly site involving two fully laden trucks. As long as the journey was on NH2 the road condition was excellent. However, once I got on to the link road from NH2 to Islampur and Dalkhola the condition of the road became bad and worse. The 300 kms along the route was congested and it was tiring to negotiate the stretch. It was dark by the time I reached NH31 at Dalkhola. I could reach the New Jalpaiguri ORH only by 10.30 pm. I was shocked when the caretaker told me that there was no reservation for me there. I was exhausted (had done 675 kms in nearly 18 hours) and the smell of alcohol from the caretaker incensed me. The confusion was between New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. Finally, the ADRM came to my rescue and I occupied one of the vacant rooms.