The Ganges River

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Nov 15, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Sunday, October 1, 2006


Across the Ganges River
Nadia - the Tropic of Cancer

I kept stretching check-out time from The Golden Park Hotel, as I was enjoying the cool comfort. Des watched the boys washing our vehicles and made sure he tipped the lads who were doing the actual manual labour. There was another fellow who was mowing the extensive grounds with a small scythe, all by hand on his knees. I could see exactly where he was up to and how much he had still to do. Labour is so cheap here, a lawn mower would have done the job in a couple of hours, but what would the fellow do with the rest of the week? It's such a different world here in India. Many people work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Paid overtime is out of the question, but is expected when needed.

We melted in the heat when we walked out of the hotel, and quickly put the air conditioner in the car in top gear. The road conditions were no better than the day before or than what they'll be tomorrow, I'm sure. One pot hole after another, dusty narrow roads with the odd strip of bitumen, too much traffic and a danger to all users. Our drivers Lou and Des are doing a great job driving in these conditions, but I can't help fear for my life while we're on these roads. One thing is in our favour, the speed is not high with a maximum of about 60 to 70 kilometers and hour but often under 40 kilometers per hour for long stretches.

We crossed over the Ganges River by bridge, which we shared with several varieties of livestock. The Ganges was fast flowing in this area and very wide, brown and a buzz for us to see and drive over. This area of West Bengal has had a lot of flooding in the past two weeks and many of the houses, service stations and shops were standing in water. This also meant there were more animals on the road too, as their fields were flooded.

The Tropic of Cancer runs through Nadia and this is where we started to look for a place to camp or a hotel for the evening. We looked at several motel/hotels and none of them were satisfactory. I don't think we're getting too fussy, but each hotel had a good reason we couldn't stay there. One was still under construction but two rooms were ready. We asked to see them and were delayed with "Please wait, we are cleaning one of the rooms". Lynn and I waited for several minutes, but after awhile, insisted we see the room so that we could either go on or accept it. We went in, only to be met with a terrific stench. Two young men were messing with the air conditioner. We told the owner that we didn't think we could take it, but she assured us it would be better when the two young men got the dead rat out of the air conditioner.

I think we looked at five or six motels that afternoon and it was dark again by the time we decided our own sheets and bed would be better than any accommodation we've seen that day. The problem with camping out in India is that it's hot and humid, smelly and polluted and there are disease carrying mosquitoes in abundance, especially now that there has been so much rain.

Our camp site for the night was to be in the yard of a hotel which was also under construction, but the manager said we could park there and sleep. He must have misunderstood something, because he came out later and said we could not stay all night, just until 11 o'clock which was when the security guard went home. We told him we couldn't move on during the night and begged him to let us stay, considering we had already put the campers up and were starting to prepare dinner. He was not to be swayed, so we told him the roads were blocked off in Krishnanagar, for the Hindu Festival. He made a quick phone call and arranged some accommodation for us and a man to escort us in Lou's car. Naturally the Police blocked our progress into Krishnanagar but the escort told them we had to check into a motel and they let us amble through. It was packed with people in their best clothes for the Festival. The colours and fabrics were beautiful and many lights in the narrow street had been decorated with colourful, upside down, plastic colanders. We finally arrived, at snail's pace, at the Rahjoni Hotel, which was clean and reasonable. Our cars were locked behind high gates and we went in with our bucket of clothes and toiletries. (Nothing as simple as a suit case for us, a bucket is more convenient, and it's the closest thing we have to a case).
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