04-Mar-2008 -- This is the 7th point in a journey by motorbike through India to visit 16 confluence points. The story starts at 22N 86E and this visit follows on from 22N 81E. The next point in the series is 22N 79E.
We approached 22N 80E from Balaghat – 30 km south-east of the point. The road was excellent and we knew that the point should be 2km from the road at the base of a prominent hill. After the usual dithering about which turning to try first we picked the right one and within 30 minutes we had arrive along farm tracks at the point. The point itself lies 60 metres from the nearest track in a small field – which will remain dry until the rains come. Soon after we arrived we were joined by one boy and then by a group of about 6 children and an adult couple stopped as well. At this point we remembered the pens that John had brought for such an occasion and distributed them to small grateful hands.
Degree of Challenge:
1 – Easy drive in along 2 km of farm tracks and then a 60 metre walk. (1= very easy - drive to the point; to 5= a death march – glad it is over)
2 –Typical rural scenery with small fields and scattered housing. Very close to a moderate size hill – an outlier of a range of hills. (Scale: 1= not interesting at all; 5= take your breath away)
3 – Typical village life. We passed through one small village on the way to the point. (Scale: 1=dull; 5= most stimulating)
After completing the formalities John voted to go back the way we had come while I decided to try another route back to the main road. My route would have been fine except the nice new road that I chose gave up after 1 km and so I had to backtrack and follow the original route – very painful to the ego but it gave John a nice long break in the shade!
From the point we headed west again for Seoni hoping to be able to visit 22N 79E and 21N 79E on the following day before stopping in Nagpur. We found a nice hotel after much gesticulation and finally being led there by an elderly gentleman on a scooter. He turned out to be a retired teacher and administrator of a Christian Mission school. At the hotel we saw 3 other Europeans and would not see any others until we returned to Kolkata. The Europeans were technicians working on the installation of telephone and other equipment in Seoni.
The following morning we started early but could not start my bike. After looking at the obvious things – fuel, spark plug etc we had to call in an engineer. He changed the plug again and it fired up OK – but he said the main bearing was going and that we should change it. Of course he could do it that day – including a trip to Nagpur 120 km away to get the parts. We had little option but to agree – we really did not want to be stranded with a seized engine. So 5th March became a rest day with occasional visits to the engineer to admire progress. The man and his team appeared highly competent and with few tools they quickly stripped and reassembled the bikes – John’s also had problems. They fixed some other small problems also such as my front brakes which had become very slack and cleaned and polished the bikes till they gleamed. This was quite a change as the dirt road 4 days previously had turned them, and us, a reddish brown colour. The bill was high by Indian standards I am sure but probably only 20% of what it would have cost to strip down and repair 2 motorbikes in the UK - anyway we were happy and also hoped that the bike rental company might share the cost with us.
The bikes were now as good as new and ready to go the next morning to the next point 22N 79E.