Monday, April 11, 2016

8 September 2015 – Itanagar to Tezu - Day 19

So this would be it. I had begun the last day of the Trans Himalayan Expedition that would take me from Itanagar to Tezu. The original route via Pasighat and Roing to Tezu was closed due to flooding and I had to divert, yet again, via Dhemaji, Bogibeel ghat and Dibrugarh. The Bogibeel ghat crossing took more than an hour. A massive rail cum road bridge is under construction over the River Brahmaputra at Bogibeel. I wondered what that would do to the local enterprise that had been built on ferry crossings. Besides the ferries there were small eateries that served tea and snacks and rice and fish curry even at 11 am. A large contingent of the army was also on its way across the river and separate ferries had been arranged for them.

I was pleasantly surprised to experience better roads on the Arunachal side after Dibrugarh. When I had done this stretch in 2013 it had been agonizing. In a few months, I was informed ferry crossing across the River Brahmaputra may be a thing of the past as a new bridge is under construction. Rajesh of Arunachal Pradesh police had organized my ferry crossing. When I reached the ferry point I was met by the hap in charge who positioned the car properly for the next crossing. In a short while two army vehicles came to the jetty and wanted to jump the queue. This was stubbornly refused by the ferry in charge

and the local people who were already in the queue! By 5 pm I was on the ferry doing the crossing to Tezu. The destination of the expedition was just a few minutes away. It was ecstasy crossing the ferry to Tezu at 5 pm and I could not contain the unbounded joy. Accidents, vandalism, disappointments, delays and all of this I encountered in the expedition. And now, I was near the end point of the expedition. Such moments are indescribably joyous.
Rajesh of Arunachal Pradesh police was on hand to receive me at the ferry point and lodge me in the Circuit House. By 6.15 pm I was in Tezu and the expedition had been completed. The final leg of the expedition of 418 km was completed in 14 hours! Rajesh organised a meeting with the Malayalee diaspora in Tezu in the Circuit House. I got the log sheet attested by the senior among those who had come. What an expedition it had been. Without a doubt it was the most challenging I had done so far. There were times when the thought of giving up crossed my mind, especially after the accident in Srinagar. But thanks to the support of friends and well wishers who egged me on I was able to complete a most arduous solo drive that would test the best.

Later Rajesh took me to the residence of the Superintendent of Police, Ved Prakash Surya. I spent some time with the family discussing eth adventure and life in Tezu. Thereafter, Rajesh virtually dragged me to the residence of the MLA Dr Chai. I was quite tired by then and my thought was purely on getting into bed for the night. We had to wait for quite a while before the youthful Dr Chai, a medical doctor by profession, came in after a rigorous session of badminton. A very humble and down to earth, it was interesting to understand local politics and gather people’s aspirations from him. Before I left the couple Mrs and Dr Chai presented me with traditional handicrafts.

An expedition that had posed many challenges saw spontaneous outpourings of positive and prayerful sentiments. The original schedule was overshot by over two and half days. It finally came to an end after 18 days and 14 hours which saw the Champion log over 5800 km. The terrain was the toughest I have been on compared to all the previous ones in the past 5 years.

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