On Feb 27th, we reached Vadodara and stayed the night there. We left the next morning for Pune. The Airbnb we had chosen at Vadodara was very close to the national highway so it was easy to exit in the morning. Once we got onto the highway, we were again faced with MASSIVE truck movement. The road is fantastic but you are forever weaving in and out between trucks.
We missed a few snazzy looking “Jagdish” restaurants as we didn’t want to stop early for breakfast but never found any of them again after an hour or so. Finally we stopped at a roadside eatery and had an “ok” breakfast – the onion and potato “bhajiya” was outstanding and the theplas were good, but Amma’s idli-vada sambar was below par. Amma has finally agreed not to ask for idli-vada in any place other than South India. :):)
Quick decisions – one right, one wrong
Just before you get onto the bridge over River Narmada at Bharuch, there is a fork and you are told to take the left fork if you are in a car and the right fork if its a truck, bus etc. I saw another car going towards the right and thought nothing of it and got onto the right fork. That quick decision was a terribly wrong decision !! While the cars zipped by on the left fork, we took slightly longer to navigate across the bridge and I had a really long face for those ten minutes. I was very sure that we would get stuck for an hour on the bridge but some good Karma in some previous life helped me get out of the bridge with a 10 to 15 minutes delay. 🙂
The next opportunity to make a quick decision came around 50 kms later where there was traffic congestion on the main road due to a barricade. Krishnan noticed some cars taking the service lane and zipping ahead and he asked me to go left. For once, I also listened to him :). We crossed the entire 500 to 700 metre blockade in a couple of minutes and joined the highway ahead. So within a couple of hours one quick decision was bad and one was really good.
Right through in Rajasthan and Gujarat we have seen this bad behaviour of vehicles coming in the opposite direction and they come at a good speed ! Its clearly a disaster. Mr. Gadkari will have to find a way to curb this behaviour otherwise India will remain infamous for the number of road accidents we have every day/year.
From Vadodara we passed through important towns and cities like Bharuch, Surat, Valsad and Vapi before reaching Virar on the outskirts of Mumbai (or probably within Mumbai now). We were truly amazed with the industrialisation that we saw in Gujarat – and all these industries would have brought jobs and better standard of living !! Its no surprise that Mr. Modi was re-elected three times as the state’s CM.
We entered Thane and cut across to Belapur to get onto the Mumbai-Pune expressway. That distance was a nightmare as far as traffic is concerned. Thane looks like a city in some Western country with its entire skyline dotted with high-rise buildings. We missed eating the Dabeli at Manuj Modi’s roadside stall in Vashi because it was already 3 pm when we took the Belapur road. We didn’t want to do the detour and get stuck in evening traffic.
We stopped at the first “food hall” on the expressway and it was just a massive food hall. What infrastructure !
My Chitappa (uncle) had called and told us to get onto the old Mumbai Pune highway near Dehu Road in order to get to his house in Dighi. We first crossed Lonavala and Khandala …
Then came Dehu Road and a whole host of memories … I spent the first 11 years of my life in Dehu Road and Amma spent the first 12 years of her married life there.
We did get off at Dehu Road and interestingly went and stood near the petrol pump that is outside the ordinance factory houses which has been there forever…. then went past Garden City, my school Kendriya Vidyalaya 1 and onto Pimpri Chinchwad and so on. Google maps dealt its final blow in this trip when we got near Dighi and took us into some tiny road which was a couple of kilometres from Chitappa’s house. He had to come to a prominent landmark to guide us home.
We reached home around 5.45 pm. A total distance of 1530 kms – great roads but overwhelmed by the truck traffic. India is changing for sure and for the better !
From the next day onwards our classes at the Iyengar Yoga institute started but that’s a separate blog.