Saturday 11 December 2010

Rajasthan (2) – Getting back

As if the trial of getting there hadn’t been enough the journey back was also a bit eventful.

All through Rajasthan my Airtel SIM was picking up a supplier called OASIS but refusing to met me make or get calls. Then finally in Bikaner I get a text from MakeMyTrip. Yes, you guessed it my Delhi to Vizag flight had been cancelled, but they had booked me on an earlier flight. So now I am hoping our train is not late or delayed, else I will miss my flight.

We leave Bikaner at 5PM to arrive 6AM the following day in Delhi. Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well on the train, it is always so cold on Indian trains.  It is a dark, grey, cold, foggy, wintery morning as we finally find a taxi at S Rohilla Station to take me to the Domestic Terminal and J&C on to my colleagues Mike and Len with whom they were staying with for a couple of days before heading home. Then it turns out that Jet Airways are now flying now from the Domestic Terminal but from the International one – go figure!  Now that’s miles away and so our driver changes route for an extra 100 rupees thank you! Anyway I am safely deposited at the airport and get checked in.

I succumb to the temptation of book shop at Delhi airport and buy

The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers by Paul Torday

Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea

The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha

each at under 300 Rupees!

I hunt for breakfast – nothing appeals. I eat but don’t enjoy a chicken sandwich and a Nimbu Pani (Lemon water)

I ponder the trip home, 7PM train from Vizag, arriving probably around 11PM in Rayagada, gosh I feel tired. I decide to chance an overnight stop in Vizag and go back the following morning. Thoughts of booking into my favourite Vizag hotel, The Daspalla, having some great food and an ice cold beer in their fabulous restaurant wins the day. I go to phone. No power to the phone. I unpack my PowerMonkey to recharge, no recharge! I find an electric socket and plug it in, still no charging! My Power Monkey has died :( After being all round the Pacific, to the Sahara and 1 year in India, the best part of 3 years in total, I have a dead PowerMonkey. Disaster! 

I wonder around looking for an internet cafe. The whole place is wifi but amazingly there is no internet cafe!  OK  do I take a gamble and just turn up? Yes, go on, it’s never been full when I have been. Famous last words 3 wedding functions are on in the hotel it is booked solid except for a couple of suites at 4000Rupees a night!  The check in staff point me to another hotel across the road, near enough to walk back to eat :) The Grand Central was no where near as nice as the Daspalla, but does have hot water for a nice shower and hair wash. The Daspalla food came up trumps again at dinner as does its staff. This is my third visit and they now recognise me and even asked where J&C were from our visit only about a month ago.  The Thai chicken blows my head off – Andrah Pradesh food is so, so chilly hot! but I limit myself to one Kingfisher as I have that horribly busy road outside the hotel with the four way junction to cross, twice.

I also book a car for the following morning with Mr Rao, at the car company next to the Daspalla. He is also now considering me a regular customer! I get the same driver as I had the last time with J&C, and again he asks where they are. It is has been raining there for  5 days solid  Mr Rao tells me and shows me the local paper full of pictures of spoilt paddy fields, crops flattened by rain storms, fields flooded to waist deep.  These can be clearly seen as we make our way north.

The Rayagada road is always bad, but this time potholes have appeared all over the road on the AP side of the border. The rains have had an impact.  We pass 3 lorries on their sides in the ditches, the road is worse than ever. Then a passing motor bike driver tells us the Rayagada road is closed, a truck accident, we must take a detour. What a detour! The road surface is actually better than the main road. Sharkar, my driver, says he will come back this way the next time rather than the main road :) It weaves for 10 km or so in and out of tiny backwater villages. At every junction we check our direction with the locals – between Sharkar’s Telugu and a bit of Oriya we keep on track. I make it back to Rayagada just before 2PM after another eventful journey.

Home sweet home! But as I open the door, oh dear! I smell rat! Clearly the rats of Bikaner Rat Temple have told their Rayagada cousins of my developing affection for them and they have come to call. The pace is an absolute mess. My mosquito net has been eaten and ripped to shreds in one corner, which now has a gaping hole in it wide enough to crawl through!  Two cups lie smashed on the kitchen floor. Various articles of clothing and kitchen things are scattered around. They’ve had a party! How did they get in? They chewed through the kitchen sink plumbing. All they got for their troubles was a nibble of cloth, a piercing of a bug of nuts, and a little coconut milk from a small packet I forgot to put in the fridge. Could have been worse! Who am I kidding! I am just so glad I didn’t come back to this at 11PM. The whole afternoon is spent cleaning up, disinfecting the house, then going to buy some food. I pop in the office, tell Mr P I am back but need a day to clean up and wash clothes.  Pasta and a tin of tuna never tasted so good.

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