Monday, April 11, 2016

11 September 2015 – New Jalpaiguri to Kolaghat - Day 3

I left the ORH in New Jalpaiguri expecting to be in Kolkata by 6 pm. The expectation had factored in the 650 km that had to be covered in the day. As the day panned out I had to change program and bypass Kolkata. Extremely horrible roads, heavy truck traffic and snaking queues saw me take 5 hours from Malda to Farakka - a distance of 25 km. What I experienced as so called roads in West Bengal begged the questions: Is this India of the 21st century and, Is this Make in India? Mamtadi's land is surely challenged in so far as civil society infrastructure is concerned. Surely the excuse of heavy rains will be forwarded. Then, is this all the technology we have? Or will vested interests continue to play havoc with public funds and their use?

In sheer desperation as the driving day was prolonging with no hope of reaching Kolkata I wanted to find out alternatives. I was well and truly at my wits end. I reached out to Thulasiram in Visakhapatnam, who connected me to his friend who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area. He expertly guided me through the main roads and state roads till I hit the National Highway 2. His expertise stemmed from his professional engagements – he works with the Excise department. He suggested that it would be better if I halted in Kolaghat and suggested a small hotel too. Well past midnight I mercifully reached the Sher-e-Punjab at Kolaghat. An ordeal of over 20 hours had come to an end. Imagine 20 stressful hours behind the wheel to cover 650 km with hardly any rest in between.

The room at the Sher-e-Punjab was basic but worth the price. The restaurant attached to the hotel was doing brisk business even past the midnight hour. After ensuring that the car is parked safely I had a small snack and hit the sack.

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