It was bright and sunny when I woke up on the eighth day of the Trans Himalayan Expedition. It had been a most unusual night when I slept sitting in the car. By 8.30 am a new set of crew joined and started in the direction of the Ford garage. They had instructions from the Ford On Road team. But there was so much of confusion that at one point they parked on the main road and refused to move saying that they would go to Haldwani. It was most exasperating as precious time was being wasted. It was indeed tedious talking to the On Road team as personnel would change and one had to start ‘educating’ the new person of the issue at hand. Finally, the truck crew got instructions to go to the Bhagat Ford repair garage. They told me that they knew where exactly it was located. On the way I saw the Bhagat Ford dealership and told them that that would possibly be the place to go to. They refused to listen to me and went through some God forsaken roads to reach the garage where it transpired that the garage handled only body works. It took another half hour to get to the dealership. The truck was parked outside the dealership to confirm if that was the place to offload the car. I went into the dealership and met TrilokDhumka and referred to the Ford On Road service. He mentioned that they had indeed spoken to him and he was aware of the requirement. He gathered his young team and got the car off the truck into the garage. There were some tense moments as the car was being off loaded when I feared that the car would slip off the truck and suffer further damage. Anyway that did not happen.
I was asked to wait for the initial assessment of the damage and the requirement of spare parts. The CEO of the dealership, Gopeshwar Sharma, assured me that he would do his best. In less than an hour a thorough investigation was done. Most of the items required for the repair were available at the dealership. One set of leaf springs had suffered breakage. Sharma wanted to get the springs replaced because my intension was to continue the expedition. He said that he would have clamped the springs and permitted me to go back to Cochin at reduced speed. The springs had to be brought in from their dealership in Ludhiana, which would take an additional day. I confirmed that body works need be done only to make the Champion road worthy. Sharma also assured me that he would give me maximum discounts through the Ford network. Thus, the prognosis was that the car would be ready by late evening tomorrow, which meant that I would be able to continue the expedition the day after. Loss of two days. That would also give me time to explore options and check on the situation in Nepal. Sharma also helped me to get a room in the Sofitel Hotel that was close by. The Hotel also gave me a discount being a Ford customer. The hotel was very comfortable and the service excellent.
After checking into the hotel I rested for some time. After a wash and laundry I ventured to a mall in the vicinity. I got my glasses repaired in one of the shops and lounged around for a while before getting back to the hotel to get up to speed on the social media. I did not want alarm bells ringing all over and hence, did not disclose the major accident in which I could have even lost my life. I had come close to that given how close the car had been to the edge of the gorge.
There was more adverse news from Nepal. It became clear that the Mahendranagar entry into Nepal is certainly a no go, given the current political condition in that country. My contact said that he would explore the options of entering Nepal through Ruxaul or Pashupatinagar. I had another day to take further decisions on rerouting. I would also have to check with Limca Book of Records about the implications of rerouting as far as the record is concerned.