The end of Part 2

While we were originally hoping that part 2 of this trip was going to be the last one, the Pakistani consulate personnel messed up our plan. While waiting more than two weeks for some answer regarding the visa application (positive or negative) we were also trying to find some shipping alternative. Unfortunately, all quotes we were getting were higher than the cost of the motorbike.

But one day, as we were riding in Delhi, suddenly the clutch cable broke. This was the last one, being replaced in Vietnam (later I discovered the clutch lever had some bushing problem that was causing premature metal fatigue). So, after pushing the bike for some time, I reached a bike shop. I learned they were in the business of restoring and selling abroad vintage vehicles such as Piaggio Vespa and Royan Enfield. So they hooked me up with their shipper, who gave us a really good deal on the price, not that good on the duration: 25+ days Delhi to Bandar Abbas, Iran.

Soon after, some unexpected issues came up in Los Angeles that determined me to take a vacation break to deal with them. The plan is to regroup with Laura in Shiraz, Iran, in about 10 days and then go to Bandar Abbas to pick up the bike after she arrives.

To conclude our Indian endeavor, I am posting this funny but accurate PowerPoint slide I just got in the mail. Enjoy!

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Tughlaqabad Fort

This fort is the 5th of the 7 historic cities of Delhi (we also saw another two, the Red Fort and Purana Qila). Not much is left of the structure built in the XIV century besides the outer walls. But, because of that, and also because it is hard to get to, it is very quiet and peaceful.

Across the main road there is the mausoleum of Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, the founder of Tughlaqabad.

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Incredible India! (2 / 2)

Road traffic is another incredible thing in India. In most countries, a double lane divided road improves safety. Not in India, because here most drivers assume such road is in fact two normal roads that run, by coincidence, side by side. So people drive in both directions on both sides of the road. Not all of them, but in some places as much as 15% of the traffic goes on the wrong side of the road. Adding crazy passing, many obstacles and poor signaling and you get the worse traffic conditions we found so far!
I am not sure if this is an omission or a joke, but trees left in the middle of the road are not uncommon in India.
And my favorite: a recent routine check revealed that 250 out 670 Delhi policemen were using forged driver’s licenses to get the job. And the police department needed 3 years to figure that out! So if cops are not capable of getting a lawful license, what kind of driving skill and discipline can be expected from regular citizens?

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Incredible India! (1 / 2)

One guy who saw my first post about the Indian roads commented that travelling with your own vehicle in this country is so unpleasant that it ruins the “Incredible India” idea (India’s advertising motto). But I think he was wrong. Because on the Indian roads we found some of the most unimaginable things so far!
At the beginning I was surprised to see many unfinished truck chassis moving around. Usually, such frame is delivered by a truck manufacturer to a custom coach builder to create a special purpose vehicle. Why such high demand for special purpose vehicles in India?

Well, I found the answer when I took a closer look at the trucks. They all look home – built. In fact, I found such a factory, where frames are finished. It was basically a carpenter’s shop, since most of the material used for the cabin was wood. So every truck is unique, and also cheaper than factory finished. Not much has changed since Daimler built the first car, 120 years ago!

Not only trucks and buses are built like this, also trailers and three wheel vehicles. Some of these creations remind me about Mad Max!
While creativity is important, safety and maintenance are always left behind. As a result, structural failures are common: bent chassis, broken axles, wheels falling off in motion and even semi trailers falling off the tractor! There is not a single country we’ve seen so far having nearly as many accidents happening as India does.
Passengers and cargo are always loaded in excess of normal occupancy or in some innovative way.
And my favorite is this armored vehicle belonging to Calcutta counter terrorism unit. Those aluminum wheels go well with the camouflage paint. Wondering if the plating is also made of light alloy 🙂

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Back in Delhi

Since, after one week of emailing back and forth, we were still without a firm and acceptable offer, we decided to return to Delhi and try to work things out in face to face. While here, we met another couple from the Czech republic in the same situation: no Pakistani visa and no way back home. They came from Europe with this Land Rover, which they also use for sleeping. Their blog here (nice pictures but not in English).
Some photographs from India’s Government sector. Early XX century buildings, constructed after shifting the capital from Calcutta. One of the few places in India where the streets are clean, curbs are painted, bushes are trimmed and nobody wants to sell us anything!
As I wrote before, India appears to be in a strate of panic nowadays. Delhi is no exception, with barricades and checkpoints on most streets, many metal detectors, X-ray scanners and even sand bag bunkers fitted with machine guns in every metro station!
Spitting in public is persistant Indian habit. So the authorities had to install such unusual signs in all enclosed areas, such as museums or metro stations.
Such strange public toilet is common in India. Doors are not fitted, to make usage easier: one doesn’t even have to step inside to relieve himself!
Riding in the Main Bazar area, Delhi’s tourist hub.

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