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Old 12th July 2012, 14:02   #1
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Smile Call of Home

1. Postings are an integral part of life in services; one relishes them some times and hate them all other times. So I was not amazed when I got posted to Jaiselmer, infact I was a wee bit pleased that it was not too far from my home town which happens to be Ludhiana. The sad part of getting posted to Jaiselmer was that my wife could not accompany me due to certain professional and personal reasons. It was after four months of lonely stay that I got the opportunity to get her to Jaiselmer. I promptly applied for some leave and my boss very magnanimously granted three days. Now started the predicament, journey by bus or by train took 24 hours one way, this resulted in less than 24 hours at home to see my folks, I wanted a little longer stay. I tried various permutations and combinations of bus and train routes but nothing could increase my stay at Ludhiana.

2. It was then I decided to take my M800 for a little longish ride to and fro Ludhiana. I picked up a map and poured over to find the shortest distance between the two places, I could not reduce it to below 800 km. The route lay through bleakest desert in the country to the land of green revolution. I memorized the route by heart, various waypoints and waited for the day when my leave would begin. I went over and over the plan to check for any weakness in it, which could increase my journey time and reduce the time of my stay at home.

3. Two days before D-day I checked the car, it seemed raring to go. I topped it up and parked in the garage for next two days, imagining to myself that the car is resting before the final race.

4. The D-day arrived, I went to work in the morning. In office it took me some effort to contain myself as I was raring to go. The clock struck thirty minutes past one in the afternoon and my leave had started. I rushed home, quickly changed over, picked the night kit and a water camper, to make me pass some time incase I got struck in the dreary desert. I had a quick bite and I was on my way, bang on my preplanned time of 2.30 pm.

5. Within five minutes I was out of Jaiselmer town and was heading north. The road ahead was smooth as silk, the traffic as expected was almost nonexistent. The weather was quite merciful, the car felt light and responded perfectly. Soon the sense of anticipation gave way to that of a gay abandon and of absolute freedom. I pressed down the accelerator. The first leg of the journey was from Jaiselmer to Bikaner a distance of 330 km and the time I had allotted to myself for completion of this leg was four and a half hours. First waypoint was Pokhran, 100 km from Jaiselmer and I completed it in one hour and 25 minutes. That was five minutes ahead of my scheduled time. Encouraged, I pressed on kicking more sand behind my car. At Phalodi, a huge dune had invaded about 300 meters of the road, I requested an Army shaktiman going in the same direction to watch my tail and help me incase I needed it. I pressed on making my own road. I was out of the dune in about five minutes. It was 6 pm and I had reached the city of Bikaner. I realized that I had not set my foot on the mother earth for last three and a half hours. I stopped at a roadside and devoured a packet of potato wafers and a bottle of Pepsi while the sun set behind a dune. I thanked the MNCs for these small mercies, they have a presence even in most isolated parts of the country. Though by now I had seen a lot of famous Rajasthani sunsets and sunrises, there was something special about this one. Giving myself no more than what I had allotted for myself, 20 mins, I set off for Suratgarh, 180 kms away. Finally, I hit some traffic and the road to Suratgarh was full of trucks, all loaded and coming in a wave after wave, my ordinary 60 watts halogen head lamps kept me in a good stead. Over here I saw road users adopt perfect manners for night driving, a rarity in the country. It almost a courteous dipping of head lights to the incoming traffic. To me it was an example of brotherhood in times of adversity; in this case land itself was the adversary, with nothingness spanning miles. I completed the journey in flat preplanned three hours. By the time I reached Suratgarh, I was having hunger pangs in my stomach. I thought, I should give a much deserved rest to the car as it had started to knock on accelerations. I stopped at a dhaba and had a few chapattis with dal makhni, food now had a distinct punjabi flavour with some Rajasthani sand in it. I checked out state of road from my brethren driving much heavier machines even though I felt much more confident as I was about to enter ‘apna Punjab’. After filling up the tank I started for the third leg of my journey to Bathinda. It was another stretch of 180 kms passing through small towns of Rajasthan and Punjab. It was here that I had a heart stopping incident of my journey. By now accustomed to good roads as I sped towards Hanumangarh my car went into violent vertical oscillations, quite a few of them before I could bring it to halt. I thought that my adventure had come to an end and I would be sitting by the side of road for the sun to rise with a broken suspension in my car. To my surprise everything seemed normal I drove slowly for a few more yards and nothing wrong could be identified, culprit was the road itself, it was smooth but water logging problem in the area had turned it into fifty kilometers of a see saw ride.

6. It was at Bathinda that I found myself to be behind by 15 minutes of my preplanned time of 1 o’clock midnight. The road from Bathinda to Ludhiana was a state highway and thanks to Punjab Police personnel who were still manning the check posts, even though the Punjab problem seemed to have ended.

7. It was 12 hours and 30 minutes and dot 810 kms under the bonnet of my M 800 that I stood outside the locked gates of my house trying to prove my identity to my wife as I had kept the whole endeavour a secret from her. I spent almost 48 hrs at home. My journey back two days later took 15 hours.

P.S.
1. The journey was performed in Nov 1994 and this was written about six to eight months later. So narration in some parts may look silly but wasn’t so at that time.
2. I was newly married, thus the motivation to make this dash.
3. I later patented this trip and made about five more in two years that I stayed there.
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Old 12th July 2012, 15:44   #2
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Memories of a bygone era, Sir?

Nice write-up with good amount of detail considering almost two decades have gone by.

810 kms - 12.5 hrs.... Not bad at all, considering the road conditions of the day, and the M800. Quite a driver you must be, or have been!
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Old 12th July 2012, 15:46   #3
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Default Re: Call of Home

Hi PGA,

Your travelogue is nicely written, with some heart and soul in it. However, it think you need to divide it into more posts with some space and paragraphing in order to make it more readable.

If you like you can PM me for some help. I would be glad to assist.

Lastly, but most importantly, any pictures you have will really complete the experience that you want to share with us.
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Old 12th July 2012, 17:47   #4
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Thanks for the advice Sam. I entirely agree with your observations and will comply in future. I did realise, a little later though, that reading the post was a tedious exercise. Baby steps at writing, I guess.
Thanks once again.
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Old 12th July 2012, 19:21   #5
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Beautiful travelogue sir, Kudos !

This took me back to the time I had spent in Jaisalmer back in 2001-02 - great food, warm people and enchanting vistas. The road condition from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer was great and while the road wasn't four-laned, it was an absolute pleasure to drive on (as is the case with most other roads in Rajasthan) even with all the army traffic back then.

Mofussil small towns with names like Balesar and Dechu added to the charm of the drive. And one often spotted wildlife - buzzards, deer and peafowl as one trawled the vast expanse of the desert on that beautifully maintained highway.

Jaisalmer and Jodhpur offer a lot to the intrepid traveller in terms of forts, sand dunes and the famous Marwari cuisine and indeed are great driving destinations and a photographer's delight.
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Old 12th July 2012, 19:45   #6
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Default Re: Call of Home

Umm, that is the typical military ishtyle - using clear numbered paras. My wife - ex Navy - used to write like that before she got civvie-washed after retirng from the Navy.

Lovely narration, enjoyed thoroughly! Do share some of your other interesting drives or travelogues.
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Old 12th July 2012, 22:37   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironhide
Beautiful travelogue sir, Kudos !

This took me back to the time I had spent in Jaisalmer back in 2001-02 - great food, warm people and enchanting vistas. The road condition from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer was great and while the road wasn't four-laned, it was an absolute pleasure to drive on (as is the case with most other roads in Rajasthan) even with all the army traffic back then.

Mofussil small towns with names like Balesar and Dechu added to the charm of the drive. And one often spotted wildlife - buzzards, deer and peafowl as one trawled the vast expanse of the desert on that beautifully maintained highway.

Jaisalmer and Jodhpur offer a lot to the intrepid traveller in terms of forts, sand dunes and the famous Marwari cuisine and indeed are great driving destinations and a photographer's delight.
Thanks for the appreciation. I sure agree with you that it was and perhaps still a great place. Back then I felt it was the last remaining wilderness in the country. Plenty of good drives around, Ramgarh - Tanot area and along the Indira canal. Thanks for reminding about Dhechu, the place was quite popular with us for its name, sanctuary for Great Indian bustard is around that area, I recollect.
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Old 12th July 2012, 23:18   #8
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Default Re: Call of Home

Thanks for sharing.

Its must have been such a sweet surprise for your family.
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Old 12th July 2012, 23:36   #9
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Default A Blast from the Past

Wonderful writing PGA, really did not matter how you paragraphed it, it would have been even better though. Since you said it was from 1994, it sure made up for everything else, very very natural and straight from the heart.

Please do share some more of your recent escapades like this one from the past.
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Old 13th July 2012, 00:34   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PGA View Post
Thanks for the appreciation. I sure agree with you that it was and perhaps still a great place. Back then I felt it was the last remaining wilderness in the country. Plenty of good drives around, Ramgarh - Tanot area and along the Indira canal. Thanks for reminding about Dhechu, the place was quite popular with us for its name, sanctuary for Great Indian bustard is around that area, I recollect.
I totally agree with you sir. That area is still unspoiled and so far uncommercialised. Had the good fortune in that period to tour fairly extensively in that area - Tanot and the famous Tanot Mata Mandir there, Gamnewala, Pithewala, Sri Mohangarh, Ramgarh, Mokal, Sonoo, Thaiyyat- Hamira are some of the places I visited . The area is totally unspoiled with small gravelled roads leading into the deep interiors into the sea of sand. It was quite beautiful and serene.

About Dechu... there used to be a nice resort that had only recently opened in Dechu, called Manvar. It was a beautiful resort standing in the middle of nowhere with great cuisine and quaint little rooms - highly recommended for a refreshment pit-stop en route to Jaisalmer.

Manvar Resort and Camp
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Old 13th July 2012, 09:58   #11
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Dear PGA - wonderful memories, very passionately shared, thanks. This reminds me of my trip from Delhi to Mumbai on 25 April 1988. I covered 1475 kms in MGQ8174, a brown 118NE. I did this distance alone in 17 hours, same time as taken by the Rajdhani Express.

If you have any photographs, please scan and post them. Those were the wonderful days, I really wish they would come back.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 13th July 2012, 12:39   #12
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Great writing PGA with a lot of emotion straight from the heart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PGA View Post
It was 12 hours and 30 minutes and dot 810 kms under the bonnet of my M 800 that I stood outside the locked gates of my house trying to prove my identity to my wife as I had kept the whole endeavour a secret from her.
I loved this part the most as I often used to do the same myself.
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Old 13th July 2012, 20:44   #13
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A nice one PGA. Do post some pics if you have since it was a while ago (or from any of those later ones).

Also if you could let know some best practices from your experience, in terms of the regular stops, short cuts or any other tips, it would be helpful for some one else (to dash out to their loved ones).

Last edited by girishglg : 13th July 2012 at 20:46.
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Old 14th July 2012, 23:44   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
Memories of a bygone era, Sir?

Nice write-up with good amount of detail considering almost two decades have gone by.
810 kms - 12.5 hrs.... Not bad at all, considering the road conditions of the day, and the M800. Quite a driver you must be, or have been!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Kapasi View Post
Hi PGA,

Your travelogue is nicely written, with some heart and soul in it. However, it think you need to divide it into more posts with some space and paragraphing in order to make it more readable.

If you like you can PM me for some help. I would be glad to assist.

Lastly, but most importantly, any pictures you have will really complete the experience that you want to share with us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nilanjanray View Post
Umm, that is the typical military ishtyle - using clear numbered paras. My wife - ex Navy - used to write like that before she got civvie-washed after retirng from the Navy.

Lovely narration, enjoyed thoroughly! Do share some of your other interesting drives or travelogues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bblost View Post
Thanks for sharing.

Its must have been such a sweet surprise for your family.
Quote:
Originally Posted by esteem_lover View Post
Wonderful writing PGA, really did not matter how you paragraphed it, it would have been even better though. Since you said it was from 1994, it sure made up for everything else, very very natural and straight from the heart.

Please do share some more of your recent escapades like this one from the past.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironhide View Post
I totally agree with you sir. That area is still unspoiled and so far uncommercialised. Had the good fortune in that period to tour fairly extensively in that area - Tanot and the famous Tanot Mata Mandir there, Gamnewala, Pithewala, Sri Mohangarh, Ramgarh, Mokal, Sonoo, Thaiyyat- Hamira are some of the places I visited . The area is totally unspoiled with small gravelled roads leading into the deep interiors into the sea of sand. It was quite beautiful and serene.

About Dechu... there used to be a nice resort that had only recently opened in Dechu, called Manvar. It was a beautiful resort standing in the middle of nowhere with great cuisine and quaint little rooms - highly recommended for a refreshment pit-stop en route to Jaisalmer.

Manvar Resort and Camp
Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Dear PGA - wonderful memories, very passionately shared, thanks. This reminds me of my trip from Delhi to Mumbai on 25 April 1988. I covered 1475 kms in MGQ8174, a brown 118NE. I did this distance alone in 17 hours, same time as taken by the Rajdhani Express.

If you have any photographs, please scan and post them. Those were the wonderful days, I really wish they would come back.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sommos View Post
Great writing PGA with a lot of emotion straight from the heart.

I loved this part the most as I often used to do the same myself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by girishglg View Post
A nice one PGA. Do post some pics if you have since it was a while ago (or from any of those later ones).

Also if you could let know some best practices from your experience, in terms of the regular stops, short cuts or any other tips, it would be helpful for some one else (to dash out to their loved ones).
Gentlemen, Thank you very much for the appreciation and the encouragement. Initially I was quite apprehensive putting it online as I wondered that narrating a silly ride may not be of interest to anybody, well your comments have egged me on and I am going to open some really old boxes tommorrow and try locating old snaps of that era and generate some more trips.

Behram, 1475 kms in 17hrs in 118 NE, Delhi to Bombay, great effort. Just for the record, I once travelled from Sydney to Melbourne in the bus, it was 900 kms and the drive took dot 11 hours inclusive of two stops of 20 mins each and the bus never crossed speed of 110km/hr. Just calculated that you both travelled at the same average speeds of approx 86-87km/hr. I also agree with you those times were good especially the roads were much more fun to drive, much lesser traffic and general condition of highways was not bad at all. (I speak for roads north of 30th parallel)

Ya Nilanjan, I did try to make it a little non military ishtayle but wasn't very successful, please pay my regards to Mrs Ray, veterans deserve a salute always.

Hi Girish, Errrr, there are two essentials for me while out for a longish drives, I make sure that I keep myself well hydrated, only plain water, and not to allow sugar levels from comming down, by munching small eats at regular intervals. (Things I have learnt from golf)

Regards
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Old 15th July 2012, 14:44   #15
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Default Re: Call of Home

Nostalgic memories. On popular demand the photos are a must addon to this concise and neatly written travelogue.

I am not sure if you still have passion for driving. Why not some more of recent escapades?!
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