The test pilot has, according to the timetable, just touched down at Panvel, on the outskirts of Mumbai. He arrived at Kanniyakumari on schedule, a feat that I and a bunch of other grumpy old middle aged Indiaphiles are nothing short of gob-smacked at. He avoided kidnap in Assam (never get in a rickshaw with two blokes from an arak shop in Assam, it will only end in tears), rode through a national strike, or bandh, in northern India, and still caught his connection at Kolkata. And then kept at it all the way down to the Cape which is where his last post is from. What really blows me away is that he’s doing it solo, so generally has to eat what is brought to him. He can’t send his chief lieutenant off to fetch supplies while he shepherds the digital paraphernalia. The consequences are all too horrendous to give a graphic account of here. If you’ve ever bummed about India you’ll know where I’m coming from, and he’s going to on an all too frequent basis.
My experiences of doing this kind of thing are that, after about a week on the tracks solo, you really start to go a quite mad. But I guess he was stark raving bonkers to have attempted this in the first place, so I now fully expect him to arrive back in Delhi on time next Sunday, and needing further counseling.
Here’s what India threw at Jonathan, on top of a monsoon.
Tipong Could Open Soon
Alas Jonathan wasn’t able to visit Tipong Colliery at the eastern end of his odyssey as it is still closed after the tragic collapse last year. But Ashok Sharma, who we are hoping will organize entry for us, suggests that it should be open in the Autumn.
Arunachal Express Suspended
We’ve had a number of concerned people warning us of the “security” situation in Assam, and how nasty the Maoists are. Jonathan’s apparent brush with undesirables shouldn’t be an issue for a 20 strong, mixed origin group. But the Maoists do like blowing up train tracks, and further more the mysterious Arunachal express, of which I have next to no anecdotal record, is currently suspended due to the violent activities of the local Bodo separatists. I’m thinking that we may well need to double book this section of the trip in anticipation of a bunch of soldiers telling us we just aren’t allowed to cross the river from Dibrugarh, leaving us having to backtrack along the southern route.