cycle-rickshaw repair, malda, west bengal

Mine wasn’t the only repair in progress in the area

The first response to my request for a carrier was a categorical “No.” A standard Indian rack wouldn’t fit. I didn’t take this as the final answer, though, pointing at carriers that I thought could be modified. There was one that I thought would do the trick but, being mainly a cycle retailer, they weren’t that much into modification. We did get one to fit, with a little custom bending, but I wasn’t confident it was strong enough. The manager said it was good for 70 kg (presumably, the weight of a passenger), ‘guaranteed.’ Not convinced, I negotiated the sale of the stronger one as a spare. So, I have exchanged one aluminium for two steel ones but I was on the road by 11:30 pm.

I planned to ride through Gour, look at some old mosques and buidings from the late 15th century, cut across country to rejoin the dreaded NH34 and be in Farokka Barrage by dark. It didn’t work out like that.

First of all, the Gour turnoff was hidden behind a huge crowd of trucks and I went a few kilometres past it and had to retrace my route. When I found it, the Gour road was a gem; smooth and quiet! I saw a couple of old sites maintained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) but was still looking for the distinctive Firoz Minar when I passed a huge convoy of waiting trucks and was abruptly stopped by a soldier before I rode into Banglaldesh.

Turned around by the unsmiling border guard, I passed back through the line of parked trucks and followed a turn-off to the west, which took me past a medieval wall and a large tomb before bringing me to Firoz Minor. Phew! Then back to the ‘main’ road, south a little to another turn to the west which would hopefully lead me across country to NH34 and onwards.  A man on a motorcycle turned me back, telling me the road only went to a small village and directed me to take a left turn a couple of kilometers north.

brick detail, gour, gaur, west bengalSo, for the fourth time that day, I pedalled along this stretch of the Gaur road. The only turnoff that fit the description was the lane I’d taken to Firoz Minor. I took this again, continued past Firoz Minor, past more impressive archeological sites where I no longer had time to stop, and onwards through the Bengali countryside. Shadows were beginning to lengthen, the lane was heading north when it should have been in a south-westerly direction and, when I arrived at a larger road, I was back on the Gour road. Again. I’d just travelled in a loop. I headed back along this road as quickly as my legs could propel me and got back to NH34, where I had left it hours earlier, at around 4:00 pm. It was too late to make my destination of Farakka Barrage and I was only six kilometres from my starting point. I made the sensible, but disappointing, decision to go back to Hotel Kalinga for one more night.

There are more photos of the ruins at Gour here.

October 15th Today: 53.7 km, Avs: 14.7 kph, Time: 3.38, To Date: 398.7 km.

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