Day 48 – Bokaro to Malda

Man has it been so long?

As I packed my bags and mounted the bike all over again, it felt strange. Almost like it felt on day one leaving from Mumbai. Had it really been that long? I think I stayed a wee bit too long. Lethargy was creeping in. Time to shake my ass and get back into back breaking mode.

I had taken some extra care packing. I threw out some stuff I knew was useless. An extra raincoat, a bedsheet (!! why ??), a pair of body warmers, contact lens kit (what was I thinking?) and some other stuff I can’t remember now. Roughly about half a kilo I would assume. But then, it should take care of the weight that I have gained sitting at home and eating good food.

9 am. A bright and sunny morning. Leaving teary eyed parents (yeah, that happens) behind, I rolled on. It felt good. It felt right. Back on the saddle. The bike feeling fit again after the pounding on the way in. I was in high spirits. The bike rolled on the (thankfully) newly rolled roads to Dhanbad. This was going to be quite okay. Target for the day: some place called Ingraz Bazar on the Bangladesh border of which I had never heard before. And the map listed it as one of the more important towns of Bengal. Funny.

Dhanbad passed without mention or incident but I was waiting for Govindpur. Thats where the really nice national highway comes into my path. You see, despite roads becoming better with time, riding in this part of the country is not the most interesting things. What with the coal mines, overloaded trucks and in general not a very nice feeling around. The NH came and life was beautiful again. The ride became super fast and smooth. Asansol was about 80 kilometers away, done in a breeze and the left turn came. I was to go north. And when the turn finally came at Raniganj, it wasn’t pretty. The next 200 odd kilometers were not pretty either.

You see the map lists the road from Raniganj to Ingraz Bazar as a ‘major road’. Well they got it right. On paper, it is still a state highway and a national highway (in parts) but on ground, this road didn’t deserve to be called a highway of any sort. Everything that you would not want to find on a road, I found it there. Potholes, check. Cows, check. Sand, check. Lack of directions, check. Too many people, check. Bicycles, check. Wide trucks on narrow roads, check. All in all, a completely forgettable experience. Problem also is that rural Bengal, while a dream for socialogists, is a nightmare for just about every other kind of people. That’s the nicest thing I could come up with to say about the road.

4.30 pm. Farakka barrage. One of the startegic pieces of infrastructures for India. You see, India can raise the bar a little higher and drown the whole of Bangladesh in about 20 minutes. So the high security. Actually, the thing is quite beautiful. And massive. At a speed limit of 20 kmph (enforced very strictly by the truck ahead of me moving at a snail’s pace), it seemed like it took eternity. No photography allowed. The first place, it was worth it, it ain’t allowed.

5 pm. Approaching Ingraz Bazar. No one seems to know the place though. I scan my map closely. And there it is. Malda. Written in the tiniest font available, Malda is about half a milimeter away from Ingraz Bazar. Stupid map makers. I look to my side and see what makes rural Bengal so different from what I had thought. The sunset. Beautiful. A golden glow permeates the scene. The sun slowly going down the still waters by the road side as a boatman on the horizon casts his net in the river. Absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, the place I was in, I couldn’t stop. No chance. By the time I reached a place I could, night had fallen. I was getting into Malda. Fought some traffic and checked into a hotel for the night.

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