Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Not on the map, Part I – Getting out

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Sharing the road

Sharing the road

Last spring, after poring over several weekend getaway guides, we decided to go on a Delhi-Jaipur road trip via Sariska, a tiger sanctuary, Bhangarh, a ghost town, and Abhaneri, site of a 8th century stepwell.

It is always hard to find good maps, even in Delhi. We had to go all the way to Rajasthan Tourism Center in Connaught place to find a map of the state. And when we finally found it, we couldn’t locate either Bhangarh or Abhaneri on it. We didn’t let that deter us. All of us had traveled to remote places in India without maps. Besides, the distance between Delhi and Jaipur is only 250 kms, so even if we got lost, we would only be half a day away from home!

It was almost noon when we were done packing aloo parathas, potato stuffed flaky flatbreads, our cameras and an overnight bag. I had never been on the Delhi-Jaipur highway before, at least not beyond Gurgaon. Highways in India are still evolving. We are still trying to figure out how to use our highways given the variety of transportations in use – trucks, cars, buses, three wheelers, motor bikes, scooters, cycles, bullock carts, and elephants. No two highways in India are alike. The Srinagar-Leh highway is a precarious mountainous road that barely fits two cars going in opposite directions. On this, I saw a camel cart even before we reached Manesar, the outer edges of Gurgaon. It was like catching the first glimpse of Rajasthan, we would see many more of these camel carts on this journey.

To my delight, I also found that Reliance operated truck stops along the whole length of the highway and offered clean toilets. Not your usual truck stops where you go behind the shack and take a piss against the wall. These are proper porcelain toilets with working flush. I know, I am a bit paranoid about toilets. Women generally are. In a country with billion people, it is often hard to find a remote bush. It is even harder to avoid seeing someone taking a piss. So, yes, I was delighted to see these truck stops with modern amenities. Actually, I would get to use the toilets on our way back from Jaipur. On this leg of he journey, I had to go behind a wall.

Rustic and pretty, just beyond Manesar

Rustic and pretty, just beyond Manesar

We didn’t stay on the highway for long. A little after Manesar, we got off. It was still a paved road but the landscape became semi-rural – agricultural land mixed in with clusters of brick houses. Whenever the road forked, we asked for directions. I am not sure we took the optimum route. It was evening by the time we reached Sariska. A popular proverb in Hindi reads “Do kos me pani badle, chaar kos be vani” i.e., taste of water changes every two miles and language changes in every four. Here we were more than 60 miles away from Delhi and had left familiar landscapes far behind. It was exhilarating to be on a trip to places that were not on a map.

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Written by Som

July 1, 2008 at 1:44 am

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