Kottakota 460 km in one day.

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Flag of India  ,
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Setting out from comfortable Bangalore was kind of tough, it was like a little oasis of the west in the middle of India. It was easy to find the road north, and we made 200 km before lunch.
Stopping at a nice radside dhaba just past the nandi hills, we saw actually a total of four westerners, another rare occasion. I had not slept all that well the night before, so it was two cups of coffee for me on the way.
The NH7 is a good road most of the way, with only a few diversions, and some deep potholes in the smaller towns and many whoop-de-doos on the way, so we made about an average of 60 km per hour with breaks and all. Rocinante performed beautifully, eating up the miles like a hungry horse after a long race. Hyderabad was just out of reach, as one needs to get settled into a lodge before sunset, because the prices somehow mysteriously rise to double the normal as soon as the lodge-keeper realizes he is the only game in town and you are not going to drive 50 km or more in to the next village in hopes of finding accomodation.

We stopped at first in a very dirty town which, apparently was the farming distribution center for the whole area. Litter was everywhere, the incessant loud horns of trucks coming through pained the ears, and pigs wallowed in the gutters on the sides of the street, which were nothing more than open sewers. We had to find an ATM which would take an international card, a bank of India or some other such, so we went down the crowded and incredibly poor main drag, with the stench of rotting vegetables and human offal in the superheated air.
Finding the ATM was not too hard to do, there were a couple of banks, and with cash sorted and the day starting to fade slightly, we decided to quit that place and go to the next town up. This was a bit of a gamble, as the town we were leaving was a large town and we had seen signs for lodging. The next town, Kottakota, was a mere dot on the map, and might have nothing in the way of lodging. All Linda and I knew was that we both agreed that this cesspool was just too much, even by our low standards. To get rest in such a place would be impossible. To get a bacterial infection was far more likely. .

Kottakota had a better "feel" than it's sister town, some 45 km away, and after extensive asking around, we found the only lodge in town, 275 rupees for a room with **wonder of wonders** Air conditioning. Linda went up and sorted out the room for herself and her "husband" (we have had to maintain this charade in order to score the cheap double rooms) and came down as I started unloading the bags.
Our room was on the second (third) floor, with a sort of narrow veranda in front. Linda hauled her stuff up, and as I got mine ready, looking around I had noticed a crowd gathering. A crowd of about a hundred people, curious about the white people who had come into their village from parts unknown. They spoke no hindi, and though one man had some spotty English, I managed to crack a couple of the usual jokes using sign language, and most of the crowd laughed. Others just stared, as though aliens had landed in a flying saucer in the middle of town in front of the only lodge. .
Wading through the masses and up to the room I unloaded gear, then went back down to brave the crowds and bring Rocinante up close to the lodge entrance, locking up the back wheel and all other loose accessories in the process. This sorted out, we then sat up on the narrow balcony and watched a huge thunderstorm come in from the northwest. An early sign of the soon-to-be-arriving monsoon.
A couple of men started talking to me (the men generally only speak to the other men, women to women), and two of them had good english. These were contractors, electrical engineers working on a large transformer station down the highway. One of them was tamil, one from west Bengal, and the other two from Andhra Pradesh. They told me of their families, and urged me to visit their respective states, inviting me out to dinner with them as well.
I respectfully declined, being "knackered" from the 460 km ride, and with Linda already gone off to sleep, I did so myself, hoping the rain would be over for the ride in the morning to Hyderabad, now only 150 km away. . .
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