Saturday, January 08, 2005

Day 13 - Baripada to Kharagpur

I have woken up to a cold morning - a planned time of 3:30 has slipped to a sensible 5:00 AM.

I have decided to minimize contact with water. It is terribly cold and my hands are stiff. I am worried - how will I grip the handle? So sad I got late to Baripada yesterday and lost out on a chance to buy some gloves...

My target for today is Kharagpur -a nice 120 kms away. Not much to do, really.

I am out of the lodge by 5:50. I make a welcome tea stop near the bus stop. Here, they use a different sort of stove. It is the sort of thing used by iron smiths- and they use wood charcoal for fuel. Turn the handle when you want more heat - cool!

After tea it is misery. The cold conditions are the culprit - I can't grip the handlebar. Very few people are awake, and those who are are either sitting near a fire, searching for one, or making one! Except me, that is. The tea stop at 6:45 is actually intended to warm up my hands. I make one more leisurely stop at 7:30. After this, the weather improves slightly. I am on NH6 and the going is fine till Jamasola gate (Orissa-Jharkhand border).

The breakfast at Baragora is not tasty - if at all food was tasty anywhere after Andhra, it was Berhampur!

The arrival of Jharkhand also announces the arrival of extremely bad roads. What's the new definition of NH ? National Holeway, what else! It is not a road - it is just one long pothole! I struggle to reach Darisole (Jharkhand-West Bengal Border) -- I haven't been in Jharkand for more than 20 kms!

Entry into West Bengal hasn't yielded the desired result - the roads haven't improved. My cups of woes is overflowing due to the bus and lorry drivers. They overtake, put on their headlights, and expect me to get off the road!

I eat a simple lunch at Lodhasuli (in West Bengal) and follow it up with a long nap - from there to Kharagpur is only 34 kms! I am extremely reluctant to start again - reason: the road is as bad as ever and the traffic is as bad as ever... There is no reason for joy anywhere - most of the time, I just prefer the "footpath".

On the road, I see a Karnataka lorry with Putturda Muttu (Pearl of Puttur) written on the back - I move fast but can't catch it. With Kharagpur about 15 kms away, the road condition improves considerably.

Inside Kharagpur (on the byepass), I make a small tea stop. I am told to take a deviation to enter Kharagpur town. M y hunt for a lodge begins as soon as I am in town -- Gole Bazaar is the place to go! I stop by Anarkali lodge. The owner is a kindly sikh who offers me some hot tea immediately. I am impressed by this hospitality and decide to stay in the same lodge! I occupy a single room (common bathroom).

As such, there is no place of tourist interest in Kharagpur. It is known for its IIT, and so also for its Railway Workshop. The Kharagpur railway station also boasts of the longest railway platform - over 1 km long, I am told!

I spend some time roaming in the bazaar. Tea is served here in small earthen cups. Then I visit a browsing center for half an hour of browsing, looking up comments and chatting - but I dont post any updates.

Time to visit the best hotel in town - Lalit hotel, near the railway station. This turns out to be an OK hotel. I eat 3 rotis, tandoori naan(very soft) and 3 side dishes. The waiter is frustrated by my frequent orders. I fire a five hundred rupee note at him - and he gets even with me by giving me lots of change - 3 fifty notes, lots of 10s and 20s. The bill is only thiry-seven rupees.

I pay a short and boring visit to the railway station and get back to the lodge. I fill yesterdays events in my dairy and then switch off the lights at 10:30.

Nothing interesting happened today, but I wasn't bored either. Weather was as bad as yesterday.

Today at a glance:
Time Odometer Place/Purpose
6:00 11120.0 Baripada
6:45 11128.6 Tea
7:30-8:05 11138.4 Kuliana/Tea
9:00 11148.8 Jharpokariya
9:30 11155.8 Jamasola Gate(Orissa Border)
10:05 11159.3 Snacks
10:30-11:05 11162.7 Baragora (Jharkhand)
12:05 11175.4
12:10-12:30 11176.2 Darisole(Jharkhand Border)/Tea
1:55-3:00 11193.7 Lodhasuli/Lunch
4:45-5:00 11214.6 Kharagpur/Tea
6:00 Lodge

So what about tomorrow ? Well, reach Kolkata and rejoice! Target is just 131 kms away. Can't wait to reach there!


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