• City: Kanpur

    Day 18: Kasba Thana to Chirgaon

    The penultimate day of the ride.

    Thanks to loud truck drivers at the dhaba I was awake by 4 AM and on the road before 7.

    It was the Sunday of the nationwide lockdown. No one had any clue about what was going on or what was going to happen.

    The dhaba guys were shutting for the day. I had to leave from there.

    I bought 5 packets of ParleG for the curfew and attacked the road!

    At the border, a policeman told me that the highway is open and I shouldn’t face any problem. I just won’t get food along the way.

    The next village was named Tendua, which means leopard. I presume the warning of the dhaba owner from the previous night was spot on!

    Police Station: Leopard, says the signboard!

    Once I entered Madhya Pradesh things changed rapidly.

    Women were more easily visible everywhere. From Rajasthan, a land where women didn’t seem to exist, it was nice to see a more open society again. It is strange that such a normal thing is a novelty after Rajasthan and needs be separately mentioned.

    Along the way I filled water from the petrol pumps and many of the dhabas were open for a clandestine meal! The front of the dhaba would be boarded up, while people were entering and exiting from the sides.

    The road around Shivpuri was long and lonely. A couple of friends called me up to give me a tongue lashing for riding around during the curfew. But I couldn’t have cared less. I was desperate to get back home, knowing fully well, that bad administration was in the works. There was no way in the world, that I wanted to get stuck in the middle of nowhere.

    As I sat at a dhaba for lunch, a bunch of guys started arguing amongst themselves whether I was Indian or not. The argument was conducted in Hindi, oblivious to the fact that I had spoken to them in the same language moments prior.

    Finally, I told them that my home was just 250 km away. Then they started arguing about the reason for their initial argument. I immediately felt at home!

    As the clock struck 5 PM, I found myself pedalling through Jhansi. People were getting out on their balconies to bang their vessels. I was caught between laughing at their foolishness or crying at the absurdity. The poor people actually believed that the virus was going to magically disappear with clanging of vessels.

    Around 30 km after Jhansi I stopped in a small town called Chirgaon. It was the first place during the entire trip that I was charged a whopping 1000 rupees for a room. I immediately felt at home in UP, being ripped off like that. Just to rub in the home feeling, it was also the first time that someone asked me to lock my bicycle. Everywhere else, owners of the establishment would say, ‘don’t worry, your bike is in our custody, nothing will happen’!

    You can check out the full day’s route on Strava.