04-May-2004 -- This visit, as compared to my last one (23°N 88°E), was far more eventful and adventurous. Firstly it was a whopping 180 kms away from my house, the Sun God too, doled out a temperature of 41 0C and we were on a motor cycle sizzling away to glory! It was a special day too, as it was my parents’ 31st wedding anniversary and a celestial event too was scheduled on 04 May 2004 (a total lunar eclipse). This visit is dedicated to them.
Anirban and I started off in the morning at 0700 (from Kanchrapara, 60 kms North of Calcutta) and drove non stop along the Grand Trunk Road (it joins New Delhi and Calcutta) towards Calcutta. 17 kms short we got off the GT Road and merged with the Calcutta – Bombay National Highway 6. The government of India has started a mammoth project of linking the four metros and work on this road is underway. Thanks to that we had a wide smooth road and could rip the bike at 70 kmph comfortably. Our first halt was for breakfast at a town called Kolaghat. In India, we have these road side ‘Dhabbas’, comparable to the roadside inns. They serve the most delicious grub one can ever have. At Kolaghat we left the NH 6 and moved towards the port town of Haldia. This is a major port of Eastern India and we were faced with massive oil and gas tankers, lumbering down the highway.
At Haldia, we asked for directions to Nandigram (the nearest major township). Here we got a bombshell when we got to know that either we catch a ferry to get across or take a roundabout route of around 30 km. We went for the ferry. In addition when I realised that to reach the confluence we had to cross a river, my hopes sank. Luckily a few klicks up stream a ferry was available and the boat took our bike across. Then it was ‘follow the GPS’.
A dirt track took us through the remote villages (no electricity or phones here) and finally when the GPS said 1.2 kms we stopped. The bike would go no further and it was on foot from here. The time was already 1200 hrs and it had got hotter. The hamlet where we got off was called Raja Mohan Chowk. We progressed through the village track, through fields, skirting ponds and finally reached 22N 88E. It was in the middle of a field near the village Gopi Madan Pore.
The customary photos and by this time the villagers were out in full strength to enquire about the presence of the outsiders. I had a tough time, trying to tell them, why we were there. These people do not even have electricity, so to expect them to know of the internet, was asking for the moon. Anyway we got around that and made our way back to the bike and zoomed off. We were hungry and thirsty. A quick bite and we were homeward bound. Finally we reached back at 1900 hrs with red eyes, few layers of dust, paining butts and aching backs. But at the end of the day, it was worth it.