The road across Indian back-country to the north-west to Delhi is still long. The streets are better than imagined, at least in my memory were the innumerable potholes and bad conditions still alive. Frequent construction sites and completely new road sections are showing, that in recent years very intensive investments program of government in road construction is still going on. Now, in the middle of April temperatures rise to 45 ° C in Central India. It is as if a hot blow-dryer is constantly blowing in the face. Regular drinking breaks are essential, otherwise you will inevitably dehydrate. In this region of the world you know only two seasons. The monsoon and the dry season, so it rains – or it does not rain. The rainy season starts pretty precisely on the 14th of June – now about 2 months before the dryness is noticed everywhere. Newspapers write of drought – people are dying because of the heat and the lack of water.
Around the few remaining water points at rivers, the people from nearby villages meet.
The traffic in India is always a special challenge – I will surely have something to report during the further journey about it. In short, everyone is doing what he just wants, they all go up and down. Everybody is overtaken at every opportunity, the traffic is ignored. The belief in one’s own invulnerability is boundless, somehow it is always going on. For the motorcyclist it means, that in most cases it is a must to get off the road, although the overtaking driver sees that there is road traffic. It is not a big deal, as long as everyone sticks to this unwritten rule – collisions are rather a rarity.
On a road like on the photo below, I have been involved in one of this rare accidents. I had overtaken a truck at the banquet, although I saw a motorcycle coming on me. Normally a quite usual situation, many times before performed without problems. But this time it was not possible. Apparently the coming motorcyclists had seen me the too late, our two-way rescue attempts could still prevent a frontal crash, but the motorcycles had still touched.
I could catch my princess and avoided a fall, my opponent was less lucky. Two men were sitting on the bike, both were injured – one of them heavy. Their motorcycle looked like a total damage, but that should mean noting in India. Both were laying on the ground, of course I rushed immediately to them to help. The younger of the two had only a few scrapes and a shock. The elderly, the passenger had unfortunately gotten worse. He got apparently sandwiched with his naked foot between his footrest and my luggage carrier.
As always in India, the scene was surrounded within minutes by 30 people. Such a situation can be very delicate. I had seen similar situations on previous trips, where relatives of accident victims had struck each other at the accident site with sticks.
The foot was bleeding heavily, the man writhed in pain – my call for an ambulance had only caused surprise in the eyes of the bystanders. Some of them had already begun to set up the motorcycle to get it temporarily roadworthy. The interest in the injured was very low. The younger one was standing in the meantime again, but he also negated my question about an ambulance. Obviously there is no hospital nearby, so my next question was for a doctor. There was a doctor in the nearby village, but they saw no reason to visit him. From this point it was clear to me, that it was all about money. They could not afford medical care. I insisted both of them to come with me to the doctor together. They only agreed coming with me, after I had told them several times that I would pay the costs. Two of the men in the row putted the injured on the back seat of the provisional fixed Honda Hero and we went together to the medical practice.
Even the doctor agreed to look at the injured, after I had guaranteed the cost. The first diagnosis was an open fractured metatarsus, but the whole would not be so bad – he said. To my question, how much I would have to pay for the treatment up to the complete cure, he answered 500 INR – approximately 7 €. Because of the doctor spoke English, I asked him to ask the younger accident victim what the repair of the bike would cost – 500 INR, I got answered again. Of course it was self-evident for me, to cover this expenses too. All my payments were voluntary, no one had ever asked for money. If I would have simply continued, no consequences would have to be borne.
In front of the medical practice, I was already expected by the mayor, the teacher and a business man of this tiny village.
My first question was of course, what happens now after this incident. What’s about the police, or at least a protocol? Even now again this guys were showing a lack of understanding for my question. Why police? Accident is accident! Normally, every crash party pays for its own costs. The question – who was responsible for this crash – is not of interest. I have been assured several times, that it was unusual and fairly nice to pay the costs for the opponent voluntarily. „So, get on your bike and go on, you will still have a long day today.“
Photos from the accident site or from the medical treatment are not available, since I had other worries.
Shortly after I came through a village, the first time the air was out – not with me but with my rear Tyre. I could still remember the tire shop at the local exit, so I rode 2 km back in walking speed. These Tyre repair shops you can find in every village, flat tires are on the daily agenda in India. There is nothing you need to run such a shop. A dugout, an air pump and some tools – that’s it.
This workshop was „specialized“ on tractors, so there was no wrench to disassemble my rear wheel. For a real Indian, this matter of fact is not really a big problem – the tube gets repaired on the assembled wheel.
The evildoer was found immediately – a small piece of metal with the hole it made
When you have a look at what modest means were used to patch the tube, you can learn a lot of it. I had several wired experiences on my travels in India, but for the first time I have seen that the hole in the tube was sewn with a normal needle and thread. Although everything was looking peculiar improvised, the tire had still held the next 1,500 km to Delhi.
The hole was closed and vulcanized with a heated screw clamp, some tire rubber and a sheet of newspaper.
In the hinterland, my princess and I were always an attraction – there is no remote location, that not immediately a handful of onlookers are around the scene.
On the byways through the hinterland I came again and again through remote peasant villages. To live in such a village means simplicity, deprivation and above all, remoteness.
The group of about 30 lemurs became quite hectic as I approached. It took a lot of effort to climb the tower. The tower looked quite dilapidated, the steps were full of monkey feces and the animals jumped around excitedly. Every time I walked toward them they fled, when I turned around they were back behind me.
By passing Raipur in Chhattisgarh I arrived at the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. This tiger reserve is said to have served the English writer Rudyard Kipling as inspiration for his story „The Jungle Book“. I also visited this national park 9 years ago – at that time successfully, by the way.
The Kanha National Park houses about 120 tigers and about 80 leopards and a variety of other animals. It covers an area of 940 km² and is additionally surrounded by a buffer zone of 1,000 km², which is reached by a barrier. Behind the barrier you are entering the Reich of Shir Khan – this is Tigerland.
Within the buffer zone are villages – it is a mixed zone. Humans and wild animals are living here for thousands of years together.
The predators are often seen in the villages. They come preferably in the morning to the wells for drinking, or they try to snatch prey – although rarely but the do sometimes. But despite all this, no attacks on people are reported in recent times.
It is not allowed to drive into the national park yourself using your own vehicle. If you would like to visit the national park, you have to rent a Jeep including driver.
I was quite amazed, how many cars were waiting for the entrance at 5:30 in the morning. Last time I was here, only 2 or 3 vehicles were standing in front of the gate – this time it were mainly Indian tourists who were taking part in a multi-hour tiger safari. At exactly 6 o’clock the gates were opened and the pack started in the sunrise.
I was quite disappointed because of the traffic in the park. Although we were on the road for 4 hours, we could hardly see animals – let alone a tiger or leopard. The animals are quite shy. With this number of jeeps I also would not have wanted to go out.
My previous visit was crowned with success, I would have liked to repeat this experience. At that time, we were just two of us – the driver and me. Usually drivers are not allowed to approach Tigers closer than 50 m. But I could persuade him to wait anyway – so a tiger was passing us just 3 meters away. The king of jungle was obviously not hungry because he had just ignored us. Below you can find some photos of my previous successful jungle tour.