Update 5 : Sorry for the delay!
Like I updated last, we took a break at Kamat’s. Since the cops took quite some time to clear the tanker that had collapsed (and which we never saw), we decided to gulp down a heavy breakfast and not stop for lunch later to save time. Like I said, after a four hour burden added to our schedule, we ended up getting back on an open highway by as late as 10 AM. Once there, the Gujrat highway seemed like bliss. But as we moved on, tons of diversions were waiting for us, thanks to under-construction highway stretches, fly-overs etc. Manoeuvring a large SUV like the Ford Endeavour through traffic around the tight bottlenecks of the diversions, is a real pain in the you-know-what, especially when the truckers want to act bullish.
Speaking of which, we were comfortably cruising and gobbling up kilometers on the rest of the highway stretches, trying to make up for the time we had lost early on. But as we approached the Vadodara exit, (which we had to evade by the way, and head straight for Ahmedabad) a group of truckers pushed us from the right most lane to the left most one. What mixed a hint of confusion to this situation was a board that asked us to take a diversion for Ahmedabad, to which we fell for. Within a kilometre we understood that this new road we got onto was in fact the National Highway (No. 8), which was a puny two-laner and the faster and bigger E-way was running parallel to us. But there was no scope to make a U-turn again since the flavour of the day I mentioned earlier was spread far and wide across the other side of the road and we had had enough of it already! We continued down NH8, evading oncoming trucks & tractors and pesky Zen Estilos in a manner similar to the good ol’ Road Racer video game on an Atari. But believe me, it wasn’t one bit exciting. We finally did manage to get back on to the Expressway and were up to god speed again! But alas, the stretch lasted for a few tens of kilometres and got us back on to the National Highway soon enough.
The Ford Endeavour needed a third tank up here, which we filled up at a Reliance fuel pump, a little short of Gandhinagar. Back to Road Racer mode again for the next 50-odd kilomters! By now, it was 7:30 PM and the idli – wadas from Kamat were completely absorbed into our blood streams by now. A re-fill was desperately needed. But we had this urge for some authentic non-commercialised dhaba food and so the search for such a place began. We did find a couple of them early on, but we were still in Gujrat. What that means is, it is hard to find anything other than Dal-Bhati. We wanted more options, preferably the ones that could silence the ‘devil’ in us. We cruised on, and the search added a few more valuable minutes to our already off-schedule journey.
About 100 kilometers short of Udaipur, we finally found a place that met our expectations. There were a dozen trucks parked out there, a few khatias lined up below dim blubs and smoke rising out from the small kitchen’s burning choola. There were only a few dishes to choose from, but they were exactly what we would have ordered even if they had a menu card. Dal Makahani, Rajma, Chicken Fry, Chicken Masala, Makke-di-roti and Chaas – sounds tempting doesn’t it? Believe me, it tasted way better than what it sounds! I’m typing these words approximately 9 hours after we had that food, and I do not have any sort of upset organs yet, so I guess the food was safe too for all those who care…
A noble friend had advised us about some hotels managed by the Rajasthan Tourism, were supposedly cheap, clean and decent places to spend the night at. But they were as hard to find as they sound. But within a couple of kilometres of crossing the Udaipur border, we found this oddly-lit up place on the other side of the road. With red, greed and blue lights illuminating a fort-like structure, this hotel looked like a brothel than a lodge. But since we had limited choices and sleep was catching up faster than the trucks around, we thought to checking out the place from inside before jumping on to conclusions. The entrance opened into a restaurant with one corner acting as the billing counter as well as the reception. A well built Rajasthani by the name of Jawahar stood there to welcome us. We told him what the situation was and he smiled and said, “Aap jaise bahut saare tourist rukte hain yahan. Aap don’t worry karo, will help you.” The two bracelets in his wrists banged repeatedly against the table as he uttered his words. He led us through a narrow corridor and showed us the rooms. While the rest of the setting did look like a brothel early on, the rooms were actually decent sized and clean! And at Rs. 600 for a day’s stay, they sounded like a steal! We booked them, got our stuff into our respective rooms and dropped onto the beds like lifeless rag-dolls. After a sound sleep, that hardly had any dreams in it, I’m back up now, writing this piece as I wait for the bucket of hot water to come. Yes, we are in Rajasthan, here water in itself is a luxury, so hot water is a precious item that is served to the room only against order. We’ll resume journey in a bit now and I shall try once again to bring you the updates.
Update 4: Break – Fast!
We are fed up of the traffic jam. The yelling traffic police tells us that it’s caused by a large tanker that seems to have toppled over. Since the clearance is expected to take ages, we decided to pull over at Kamat’s outlet off the highway.
Decent idli, wada too oily and coconut chutney absolutely hideous. The best part about Kamat’s though, are their clean toilets. Now don’t expect me to put up a photo of that!
Update 3: Choc-a-bloc in Gujarat
The Gujrat highway is nothing like what it was when the Motoroids team went to Delhi last time. It’s full of traffic jams that are clogging the roads for kilometres at a stretch. I have crossed at least 4 km on the opp side of the road (with the consent of the traffic police) and the jams are still touching the horizon.
Update 2: The city never sleeps
The city of Mumbai never sleeps. True that! We entered Mumbai at 4:15 am and were instantly sucked into a traffic jam. The automatic transmission is making life easier for me than my poor friend in the Palio in front of me…
Update 1 : Fuel it up!
We are all set to leave on a trip up north. It’s something similar to what we did early this year in the Linea, when we drove down from Pune to Delhi, non-stop. Motoroids are driving up north again, let’s see how the plan unfolds!
This time around, our companion is a Ford Endeavour. I have topped it up with 48 litres of diesel a while back. Though I asked the fuel station guy to fill exactly Rs. 2,000 worth of diesel, he went ahead and charged me fuel worth Rs. 2,016…
Motoroids are traveling to Jim Corbett National park in a Ford Endeavour 3.0-litre Automatic. Our trip started yesterday, and we will keep you posted about all our experiences along the way. We will also keep you tuned about the performance of the vehicle during the entire trip, and the problem related to the vehicle (if any) face by us. So stay tuned, as we bring you updates from this trip LIVE… Here we go!