10-Nov-2002 -- We left New Delhi early in the morning to hunt for confluence 29N 76E in Haryana. National Highway 10 goes fairly close to the confluence, through the town of Hansi. At Hansi, we planned on taking a smaller road a short distance south to the confluence. We didn't know how close the confluence would be to the road, so we left in a van, with mountain bikes strapped to the roof rack. The idea was to drive as close as we could, then bike off-road the rest of the way. It was only 120 kilometers from Delhi, but with the road conditions and traffic, it took about 3 hours to get there. It actually takes a third of that time just to get out of Delhi -- it's a huge urban area, and the city just keeps on going as you drive out of it. Within 2 hours, we were in rural countryside, with shepherds and cattle drivers, and cotton fields. Now and then, we'd pass an ancient ruin of a temple or tomb. It's still amazing to me that there are so many buildings of antiquity out there to be explored.
We eventually got to a spot that was as close as we could get on the road, and found a good place to pull off, about 800 meters from the confluence. It appeared to be an abandoned metalworking factory -- four cinderblock walls made a courtyard and a few sheets of corrugated tin in the corner made some shade. Seemed like a safe place to park next to. As we were getting the bikes off the roof, an old man with a long beard came up the road carrying a terracotta pot of water on his head. We greeted him (about all I can say in Hindi is "greetings," "thank you," and "this is a pen. The pen is on the desk." So far, only the first two have come in handy.) He seemed puzzled but not unfriendly, and walked past us into the cinderblock courtyard, which was apparently his home.
We hopped on the bikes, rode off into the fields towards the site, and immediately wished we were just walking instead. The ground was either sandy or muddy, and neither one was very good for riding in. Plus, we were going straight through farmer's fields during the day as they were working. We didn't want to disturb them or their crops, so we walked our bikes along irrigation canals and footpaths in a zig-zag towards the confluence.
It didn't take too long to get there, but we got some strange looks from the farmers. This is not the kind of area that gets many tourists, let alone bike-riding, helmet-wearing Americans. Some young kids were watching from a distance, unsure what to make of the whole thing. They followed us the whole time, but never got up close enough to chat.
The confluence itself is right at a corner of the field. My GPS was only giving 6-meter accuracy, so it was hard to tell exactly where the point was, but we got within 6 meters, took some panoramic photos, and admired the view. There was a haystack almost exactly on the confluence point, and mustard fields all around. It would be beautiful to return during the flowering season, when the fields would be filled with yellow mustard flowers. The other main crop of the area seemed to be cotton. We saw some recently-harvested plants that looked like okra -- entirely possible since that's a popular vegetable in India.
We made our way back to the van, and the old bearded man was sitting in the shade of a tree near the van, smoking a hookah. He rested on a charpoy, the popular Indian cot made of bamboo poles and jute rope. To thank him for watching the van and allowing us to park near his house, I gave him a boxed present of cashews and pistachios. (The holiday of Diwali was a few days earlier, and I had several boxes on hand for occasions like that). He was very appreciative of the present, and insisted that we join him inside his house for tea.
The courtyard was an old metalworking factory, with rusting machinery scattered around -- pipe benders, a smelter or kiln of some type, and various big things with gears and handles on them. In one corner, some women were washing clothes and in the shade of the tin roof was a small twig fire, contained with a few bricks. The old man was boiling sweet milky tea over the fire. He poured each of us a cup, and we sat around drinking tea as the whole neighborhood came over one at a time to visit. Eventually there were a dozen of us sitting around, but the language barrier made conversation difficult. They asked a question that must have been "what were you guys doing walking around in the fields?" No way could we explain degree confluence mapping with our limited Hindi skills, but we did convey that the fields were beautiful and we wanted to take pictures. That satisfied them. We finished our tea, shook hands all around, and drove back to Delhi.
The confluence itself is about 5 kilometers south of a village called Hansi. Along the road between the confluence and Hansi, I took some photos of villagers working the fields, tending sheep, and driving camel carts. We left at 7:30 AM, and returned around 3:30 -- 3 hours each way and an hour at the site. Not a typical day trip from Delhi, but certainly an interesting one!