Apr 03, 2011
3rd April, 2011
We had been scalded on our way to Bhavnagar. But lush green fields welcomed us as we proceeded towards Diu on Saturday. Deer and Nilgai roamed around us. Hills appeared again. Even the heat was less intense, may be, because we were proceeding towards the sea. It would have been a fascinating journey, but for the road. It simply did not exist. It took us almost five hours to cover a distance of 225 kms.Nilgai, barely 30 m from the road
Myths do not explode unless one hits the road and experiences the reality. Most people have been fed with the story that roads in Gujarat are the best in the country. Let me tell you that it took us two hours to travel only 21 kms yesterday.
I have seen roads in Malda and Murshidabad immediately after floods. These roads look similar. The surface has worn off leaving only the gravel. But there has been no flood here. We had travelled on such a road earlier, on the day we had entered Gujarat from Maharashtra. It happened again yesterday. The roads must have eroded over years and the powers that be have taken no notice. Had this happened in West Bengal, there would have been a bloody upsurge. Even in Baroda and Bhavnagar, which are not remote rural areas but towns, the roads are in really bad shape.
Also, Gujarat is expensive, in fact very expensive. A cup of tea costs Rs 5 in a road side shop. In West Bengal it is Rs 1.50/ 2 at the most. A veg thali here costs Rs 45 to Rs 60. At Tarun Niketan in Kolkata I regularly have two fish items + vegetables+ dal for Rs 45/50, depending on the fish I choose. The printed price of a packet of Gold Flake cigarette is Rs 35. It is sold for Rs 50. No one takes notice.
Still, Gujaratis are happy and always smiling, always helpful. People stop and greet us as soon as they realize that we are doing an all India trip on a bike. An old man offered us his half bottle of water in the middle of a parched country when he found that we were looking for a well or tube well. Girls in bright dresses travel miles to fetch water, smiling and talking all the way.( How do they balance so many bowls at time on their heads? I did not dare to take photos but I will, for sure.)
Diu is a small town. It always sleeps. The roads are always empty. Markets do not open before 10 in the morning. Hotels do brisk business but only on Saturdays and Sundays when Gujaratis escape from their “dry” state, flock to Diu and drink up to their noses. The beaches are absolutely clean. But there are no waves.The Route:
Bhavnagar-Kobadi- Tansa-Trapaj-Talaja-Mahuva-Una-Diu. Distance: 225 kms
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