Starting point: Palanpur, Gujarat
Finishing point: Vadodara, Gujarat
Distance covered today: ~290km
Total distance covered: ~750km
Number of breakdowns: 0 (touch wood), but we had to get a new horn, weld the battery back on and fix the silencer
Palanpur to Vadodara. Today saw us tearing down the Indian version of a motorway, still dodging man and beast. The scenery remained green. Our food remained brown/beige. But it was warm. In fact so warm, that layers of clothes were removed and blankets discarded. We passed through a delightful town called Nadiad. And marvelled at the sights. ‘This must really be past your limit of shithole now’.
Plonker of the Day
This one goes to the small Indian man with long black finger nails, red stained teeth and tight white trousers who popped out of a gate while we were giving Robbie a rest. “Photo? Photo?” We grudgingly acquiesced. ‘Kya mujhe phone ka number dijie?’ No chance. Tips for a positive response gentlemen: don’t ask us this question while standing barefoot in a cowpat, cut your finger nails and don’t try and touch me up when we’ve only just met. One more thought – given that you speak a different language, what were you planning on saying when you called? Plonker.
Questions of the Day
Are you in the circus? (from a man who tried to fix Robbie’s horn) Oh yes we are! India is a circus! Erica’s the acrobat, Claire’s the clown and Jodie’s the bloody lion tamer.
Which way is Vadadora? We asked this a million times today. Agee, agee (straight, straight) the only answer.
Moment of the Day
We found ourselves driving the wrong way back up a slip road after our carefully constructed plan to make up time by taking the expressway was scuppered by the chaps at the toll both.
No rickshaws allowed.
Ok, which way do we go?
Back that way.
That way? (Incredulous tone)
Ah. Right. Shit.
Hero of the Day
We fear that so far our blog has been a little overly critical of some of the people we've met or the places we've visited. While we stand by our assessment of most of the towns we've passed through (holes), the vast majority of Indian men we've encountered (and it's all men, we haven't spoken to any women yet) have been incredibly friendly and helpful. They are not all zombies, staring at us open-mouthed, or asking for our phone numbers while simultaneously standing in a cow pat and fumbling for a grope.
Take, for example, the lovely mechanic who crossed 6 lanes of traffic to help us with our horn problem. OK, he couldn't fix it himself (he knew somebody that could, straight straight) and he asked us whether we were in the circus, but he refused to take any money for his trouble.
Or the men on a motorbike who chased after us for several kilometres to give us back our bag of bungee cords that had flown out of the rickshaw when we bounced over one of many speed bumps.
Not forgetting the hundreds of smiling faces and waving hands out of the back and sides of packed jeeps, lorries, rickshaws, cars and buses. We wave back, give a thumbs up and sound Robbie's horn. Their waving and smiling intensify. We try not to crash into the back of them as the driver almost comes to a complete halt in the middle of the road. It's a lovely moment.
But, our hero of today is the manager of our hotel. Not only did he discount the room to meet our 'budget' (Rs1500), but he then drove Robbie into town (with us in the back) to have his battery casing re-welded and silencer tightened. When he couldn't find anybody to re-bolt the silencer, he bought a screw and fixed it himself with a spanner and a length of wire by torchlight in the hotel car park. He asked for nothing in return other than a few British coins for his daughter's collection. A true swashbuckling Bollywood hero.