Delhi to Kolkata – Road Travelogue
The National Highways have now skirted past the major cities and towns on their way, ensuring that motorists are saved a lot of pain from traffic snarls and congestions endemic to Indian Cities. I thus breezed past Kanpur….
Then Allahabad came up…
And it was pit-stop time for lunch. I had decided right before the journey that I will not eat at any of the Dhabas or Restaurants as I had no intentions of letting my dodgy digestive system play truant on a lengthy Road trip! I have a pathological distaste for dirty toilets and would rather live with a slight discomfort than encounter a stinky loo!
And I drove on and on into the day. Though this was late February, temperatures were still pleasant during the day, but already pregnant with the impending summer. Bright and sunny, just as it should be for a long cross-country drive.
I tanked up, splashed some cool water on my tiring face and nape, and set off again. Darkness was approaching and I was far from home, yearning to see the look of surprise and joy on my young daughter!
As I entered West Bengal, I encountered the worst stretch of roads on my trip thus far, due to road widening and surface repair works. A serpentine queue of Trucks meandered ahead of me and I gamely followed, only stepping up from time to time to overtake a lumbering behemoth.
Around 10 pm, fatigue was setting in, as the adrenaline-fueled high was slowly dissipating – this is the most dangerous period of a long drive, and I was wondering if I should pull in somewhere for the night. But my heart didn’t want me to give up, it kept pushing me to soldier on!
Around 1.00 am, I came up to an immovable line of trucks, just beyond Panagarh. The Highway here was single-lane (at that time) and some of the Truckers had halted for the night and some for their dinner. Only three private vehicles were stuck in that unmovable line! An XUV-500, a Ford Ikon, and yours truly. After a short conference in that jam, we decided to drive on the shoulder, the XUV led the way, having done it before. Fifteen minutes and 1.5 km later, we were free!
We all floored it thereafter, the intense concentration required to navigate the muddle having re-energized me as well! Around 2.15 am, a familiar sight greeted me….
In a daze, I was pulling away when a couple of Policemen flagged me down on the Kolkata side flank of the bridge. As I pulled over, I was thinking, “What now??”
They just checked my papers, did a disbelieving double take when I told them that I am directly driving non-stop from Delhi, and waved me on.
Fifteen minutes later, I was outside my apartment gate, rousing my dead asleep caretaker to open the gate. I rushed up the lift and called my wife on her phone. She groggily picked up after 3-4 rings, “What happened? You know what time it is??”
I said “Open the door…”
The rest, as they say, is history and at that precise moment, I realized what Mastercard means by “Priceless”!!