Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day 2 of The Great Indian Road Trip with the Monster Driver and The Beast

Day 2: April 4, Nagpur to Guna - 600 kms

Check out of Hotel Majestic Manor, Nagpur        : 7:10 am
Hotel tariff                                                            : Rs. 3710
Starting meter trip reading                                     : 125191 km

 The day 2 of our great road trip began on a very good note. We got up early and had a complimentary breakfast of very good tea and toast and started at 7:30 sharp from Nagpur. The previous night we had discussed with the waiter at the Dwaraka hotel about which of the two routes is a better route for us to take to Delhi, the route via Jabalpur or the route via Bhopal. He had suggested that we go through the Bhopal route because the roads are better and the roads on the Jabalpur route are undergoing construction and are difficult. We were reminded of our drive from Adilabad to Nagpur through bad roads and decided to take the Bhopal route.

We set out from the hotel with great enthusiasm as Ashok had
done 1200 kms the previous day and the previous day’s drive was fresh in our minds and we were hopeful to repeat the performance and reach Delhi itself by that night.

1st Fuel Fill  : 8:13 am : Koradi Rd, Nagpur         : 34.67 lts  : Rs. 1870 : meter reading 125210
9:07 am  : Bhopal 286 kms away   : crossed Maharashtra and entered MP

Alas! Our hopes were dashed to smithereens as soon we realised that the road in Madhya Pradesh are not as good as the roads in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. All the roads in Madhya Pradesh are just two lane roads and do not have a road divider. The roads pass through all the towns, villages and hamlets. They do not have proper signage or the markers nad reflective stickers. In short the roads are twenty to twenty five years behind the roads of the rest of India.

9:30 am                : Agra 805 kms away      

The traffic sense of the people is also very poor. You find a tractor charging at you suddenly. It was very surprising to see people sitting on their haunches at the edge of the road with total disdain to the moving traffic and absolutely no fear of being mowed down by a bus or a lorry. The vehicular traffic, people and animals keep criss-crossing on the roads making it very difficult to negotiate through the traffic. I was surprised to see a large number of calves throughout MP. You will find cows on the roads in regular intervals. There are far lesser number of private cars and vehicles as compared to other states. But the truck traffic seemed to be far greater due to the narrow roads.

10: 15 am             : Beetul 46 kms : Bhopal 223 km
11:00 am              : Brief stop at the Rukmini Balaji Mandir, Beetul

Just as we were slowly beginning to get disappointed by the road conditions in MP we came to a town called Beetul where we came across a Rukmini Balaji Mandir We dashed into the temple for a quick darshan and started on our journey hoping to hit the 4-lane highway or the 6-lane highway at the earliest. The road after Beetul did not have any potholes and was smooth. But it was still a two lane road with no road divider.

11.45am               :  Witnessed a gruesome road accident

At about 11.45 we saw a gruesome accident where a water tanker had hit two people travelling on a bike.
None of the two wheeler riders in MP wear a helmet. There is a wonderful saying in Hindi ‘Sar salaamat to pagdi hazaar’. Both the riders had passed away on the spot. A crowd was gathering around and we would have been stranded there for hours. But Ashok got down a dried up pond to the left where a vehicular path was visible and bypassed the crowd and climbed back to the road.

Our phones were running out of charge and the charging points in our Scorpio were not working. Amrita figured out a way to charge all our phones through our laptops. Apsara was the navigator and she used both our traditional foldable map from TTK and the Google maps very efficiently to give directions to Ashok.

We did not come across a single toll booth throughout the day. That is when we realised that toll booths are good as they mean that the roads are good and they are 4-lane or 6-lane roads. So from now on we decided that we will feel happy each time we see a toll booth and pay the toll without complaining.

12:20     : Bhopal 109 kms away                   : roads continue to be really bad
2:00        : at Obaidulgunj                                : roads are horrible
2:25        : by passing Sagar and heading towards Bhopal  : hope roads are better
2:30        : Lunch break     : Hotel Jay Kay resort      : very tasty dal chawal roti
2nd Fuel stop       : Bhopal

We took directions from the security person at the resort and from many people on the highway. Finally one elderly chacha advised us not to go via Indore but to take the route via Dewas. That would be NH 86 and then we will meet NH 3 at Delhi. Roads continued to be bad and narrow and frustrating.

3rd Fuel Stop       : 4:45 pm              : Rs. 2237             : 41.68 lts             : meter reading 125572
On NH 3               : Gwalior 405 kms away
4:35 pm                : Gwalior 386 kms away
7:20                        : Toll plaza           : Guna                   : Rs.20   : Gwalior 200 km away
Just as we paid the toll and proceed towards Gwalior, we reached the end of road and a sharp left turn of a perpendicular road. It was dark and Ashok missed the huge road divider and the car went over the road divider. We heard the noise of metal rubbing against concrete. Thankfully as Ashok was driving at less than 55 kms/hr, he was able to bring the car down but he soon realised that he does not have control over the steering wheel.

It was a devastating moment for Ashok and Apsara. Both of them began to see our vacation coming to an end right in front of their eyes. I kept telling them to calm down and just take the car to the side and stop. We were in the middle of nowhere, on the outskirts of Guna, in pitch darkness. Ashok took a slow u-turn and brought the car to a halt by the side of the road. We got out of the car and removed the torches out and started figuring out what to do. Ashok was still in shock and I was consoling both Ashok and Apsara.

After a few moments we realised that since Guna is a large constituency of Jyotiraditya Scindia, it must have a Mahindra Motors. We googled and Amrita found that there was a Rishab motors in Guna. Ashok called Just Dial adn got the phone number and immediately called them. He spoke to Ankit Pachauri the Works Manager and explained the situation to him. Akhil was about to leave for the day and so he told Ashok to leave the car by the side of the road and leave and he would look into the matter the next day. But Ashok explained to him that he has family with him. Akhil immediately said that he would come there with his team at the earliest.

The Road Divider
We had to wait for an hour for the team to arrive which was sixty anxious minutes. On the bright side I was able to see so many stars in the sky due to the pitch darkness and wanted to do some star gazing and study of the constellations. But I knew that if I had mentioned it at that point in time, all the three would have boxed me left, right and centre. Finally, it was like seeing water in a desert when we saw the Mahindra vehicle arrive with Akhil and his team of 4 mechanics. They quickly changed the tyre to the spare tyre and Akhil drove us himself to the Mahindra Motors service centre. He assured us that they would fix the vehicle first thing in the morning as a top priority.

We checked into Hotel Sara and slept like lgs as we were drained both physically and emotionally.  We were not sure whether we would be able to proceed with our trip the next day.

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