Day 7 - Oct 24th, Sunday. Hardwar to New DelhiAnother day of travel ahead of us. The hotel delivered our usual breakfast, puri and bhaji to the room. We were out by 8:30. It was supposed to be a easy trip back to Delhi. Crossed the Ramdev Divya Yoga Mandir complex soon after leaving Hardwar. Looks like a really big place, walled to protect itself from riffraff. Early road morning road trips in winter are really nice, the mild sun, cool air, and fresh greenery all around is invigorating. It brings back memories of picnics we used go for.
In U.P. and Uttar Khand many cars and jeeps have a police siren and red light attached. They are not official cars, you can have one installed for 500 rupees. U.P. is not a very safe place, and people don’t depend on law enforcement agencies to protect themselves but help themselves. The thinking is probably similar to the pro-gun states in the America, you want minimal government and control. Flouting your wealth is also not a good idea in these places, so even if a guy is rich he may live in a unpretentious house to not draw attention. The popular vehicles in this region are the Maxx jeep like things I had mentioned earlier. They can go on any terrain, has a rogue young driver who is racing against everyone else on the road, has a lot of luggage on top and of course full of passengers.
After about an hour of travel we came to dead stop. We asked different people and got many different answers about what was the cause of the stoppage and how long it will take to clear out. Answers varied from 30 minutes to not today. After waiting for 30 minutes our driver made a call and decided to try another road that goes along the Ganga. To get to that road, you had to cut across fields and villages with no road markings. That is not so foreign a concept in India, where there are hardly any road names. We kept asking and fine tuning our route to get to the road we wanted to. Many other buses and cars were doing the same thing, and soon enough we found ourselves in another road jam in the middle of a village where two buses were trying to go past each other on a road probably designed for bicycles, and neither would balk down. Very soon, another very Indian phenomenon happened, a guy started acting as traffic cop. Sometimes I feel that as part of basic education, they teach you how to be a traffic cop. This comes in very handy.
After about an hour we found our road, this road goes along a canal all the way from Rishikesh to Khatauli, our driver was calling it a Nahar wali road. Nahar is canal in Hindi, this nahar is an irrigational canal and it is so big you can see it on google map. The trip down this new road was mostly pleasant, not much traffic, in fairly good condition. But there is never a dull moment, so very soon we got stuck again. This time it was tractor which was pulling a carriage heaped with soil. The sides of the carriage had been doubled to make it possible to haul more dirt. Very ingenuous, only problem was this logic works on a flat road. The bridge was set below the surrounding area, so the tractor went down and could not go up on the other side and was stuck in the middle of the bridge.
People (men and kids) had lined up on both sides watching the fun. This is another characteristic Indian behavior and somehow contradictory to the constant impatience displayed in other spheres. Faced with inevitable delays people are not upset or impatient, they accept the situation, give suggestions, almost enjoy the break, if a nearby seller of food or chai is around, he will try to make a quick buck. All along the trip, I saw people who did not have much needs, and probably very low aspiration but they had adapted themselves to the situation and almost seemed happy and maybe are happier and at peace than most city dwellers. It is a simple, subsistence based life.
Soon, an earth moving machine which was scooping the silt from the canal bank came to the rescue and pulled the tractor and its load out, but just enough to clear the bridge. The rest of the trip to Khatauli and Grand Cheetal was uneventful. We had lunch at Cheetal, freshened up and were soon on our way to Delhi. On the way we crossed Meerut and Modi Nagar with all its colleges again. As soon as we hit the outskirts of Delhi, traffic became a problem, even though it was Sunday afternoon. There were heaps of singara (pani phal) on the carts along the road, we had wanted to have some in U.P but because of the accidents on the road could not. Over here the fruits did not look as fresh and the traffic discouraged us from stopping. Soon we were crossing Noida and were in Delhi proper, with the familiar malls and buildings.