Sunday, June 22, 2014

DAY 6 - 21 June 2014; In Gorakhpur



Friends,
The inext team arrived as scheduled at 8.30 am. Over a cup of tea and an outdoor session the shoot was completed. These sessions helped me brush up Hindi. The next task was to collect the stamped passport that was in transit. The train carrying the special messenger, Dalip Jain, arrived half hour late. It was a great relief seeing the stamped visas in the passports. The validity of the visas was also favourable; a few days’ delay here and there would not be show stoppers.

We were ready for the most important task of the day. The car had to be checked up to clear our apprehension of the burning yellow lamp in the panel. Baiju spoke to the contact whose number was given by Kairali Ford, Cochin. A young girl at the other end politely told us to come by on Sunday, for the service station was closed on Saturdays! Thunder and lightening had struck at the same time. We were absolutely flabbergasted. However, the girl asked us to call the Service Manager and the CEO in case we wanted a different response. The Service Manager, Ajay Chaurasia, said that he was unable to help and that he could do so only the next morning. After a lot of pleas he accepted to get the car attended to earlier than the scheduled opening time of 9.30 am. He, however, said that he would call up by 8 pm to confirm the time. I then called up the CEO, Anand Aggarwal. I explained that we have a border crossing arranged into Nepal at 9.30 am the next morning and that I wanted to get the car attended this day. His response made me feel that he would sort out the issue. Anand told me that he would get back in 5 minutes. That 5 minutes never arrived. I waited for an hour and rang up repeatedly. He would not pick up the phone. Not responding to phone calls, messages and mails is a trait that runs deep through the Ford management in India, as we experienced in interactions with the Company. It is indeed sad that an expedition that could have given them so much mileage was being neglected. The poor response and totally irresponsible behaviour towards a customer is shocking. The 8 pm deadline mentioned by Chaurasia also went by without any reconfirmation from him. When I called him up he said that he would be able to attend to the car only after 9.30 am since his technician lived very far away! Then I lost my cool. I gave him such a shelling that he said that he would attend to the car by 8.30 am; maybe to buy peace! When Arvind came by later he told me not to depend on the guys in Gorakhpur. He suggested that we get the car checked up in Nepal. Google confirmed the availability of a dealership in Kathmandu. We decided to leave for the border by 7 am. Thus, something that should have a matter of pride for Ford India will leave tomorrow to be attended to by Ford Nepal.

Driving through the city in the morning to complete a few chores gave us an opportunity to watch city life at closer quarters. The dirt and filth all over is shocking. People spit anywhere and everywhere. If you are not careful your person could be the target too. Private passenger carriers and autos are so overloaded that the width of the vehicle gets extended substantially. From in between the tight fit people find ways of putting their heads out to spit! Without an exception people have deformed teeth; even women. The habit of chewing pan and tobacco is almost universal.

We completed formalities of money exchange and getting photocopies of the Chinese invitation in the city. The contract conditions with Mirus were almost near completion with the Chinese permits.  Therefore, accounts had to be settled with them before leaving for Nepal. I arranged with ICICI to transfer the balance amount to Mirus. Their guidance and assistance were of immense help in undertaking this journey. Siddharth Jain, Shrey Bansal and Raji Nair were constantly on the job to get matters sorted out. I taxed them a lot but they were up to it. Three cheers to the Mirus team.

Upon return from the city ‘tour’ we had a heavy lunch and I sought refuge in a nap that was meant to be short but had to be woke up by Baiju for a visit to the Gorakhnath Mandir and the Geeta Press.  We navigated lanes and bylanes that were chocked and were held hostage by wanton road use. For history and significance of the Mandir please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorakhnath_Math.

We were struggling to find our way to the Geeta Press we were waved down by a couple of motorcycle borne priests in mufti. They had read about our presence in the city from the newspapers – we did raise eyebrows and turn heads during our morning city tour; people recognized the car from photographs that had appeared in the newspapers. The priests mentioned that there were many Keralite priests in the Bishop’s house. However, we decided to turn back to the ORH and take some more rest and catch up on left over work.

B Mohan, an erstwhile colleague in Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), was on deputation to the Company operating an Inland Container depot at Birganj, Nepal. I had got in touch with him to find out about the border formalities and recommendation for hotel accommodation in Nepal. He immediately swung into action and made arrangements for border facilitation and hotel bookings in Butwal and Pokhara (they were on the original list of places to visit). In Kathmandu he offered his furnished two bedroom flat for our use. Mirus confirmed that we would, in all probability, get an entry into Tibet on 27th. Therefore, the Chinese visa had to applied for on the 23rd in Kathmandu. This necessitated a further change in the program. Butwal and Pokhara were deleted from the itinerary; we would go through to Kathmandu on 22nd from Gorakhpur. Mohan rearranged everything for us without a murmur. He also got us an appointment to meet the Indian Ambassador on the 27th in Kathmandu. This may have to be rescheduled once the entry to Tibet is confirmed.

4 comments:

  1. Nice narration, all the good lucks in Nepal.

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  2. Very interesting narration. Wishing you all a happy journey! God Bless!

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  4. Hi..Gorakpur is an ancient city and has immense religious importance. Stay at various hotels in Gorakhpur. The city is also famous for terrocotta art and wood carving.

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