The same border crossing took us back to India, which we used a few weeks earlier to enter Nepal. Of course, the necessary and lengthy procedure has become routine for us. Even when the customs officer on duty stopped processing our carnet and took a teak break for 15 minutes, we could not be bothered.
Since it was already dark, we did not drive too far and parked our car in a field at the edge of a small village. The glorious sunrise the next morning motivated us to start the day, with our destination Gashipur. There, Luca and I wanted to seperated for a few days, because I did not want to miss Varanasi, one of the most beautiful and culturally significant cities in India, but Luca wanted to save this highlight for his trip with Valentina. Since life is what happens when you make plans, it should end up going differently. Unfortunately, our SIM card, which we used during our first stay in India and received by another traveler in Pakistan, had expired and it was not possible to buy a new one without an Indian ID card, which is why we decided to get together for the sake of simplicity to stay and go directly to Kolkata. On the way there we did not hesitate to spend a night at the Ganges. What initially sounds like the dream of many holidaymakers in India ended in a mosquito fiasco. The backdrop to the sacred river was, of course, unique, and the company of the curious villagers was also top-notch, but those without exaggeration, well over a hundred mosquitoes that were in our car, made for a somewhat unsatisifying day’s end.
Pretty exhausted and with Mosquito killing black colored palms, we fought our way to the highway the next day, which fortunately led directly to the 650 km distant Kolkata. After another stopover we reached the capital of the former British subcontinent in the late afternoon on the 3rd of March.
We were already used to the busy streets and the dirt, but we had to fight with the poverty and suffering we encountered here in many places. Late in the evening, the sidewalks are packed with homeless people who set up camp there and it’s not uncommon to come across makeshift cobbled-together homes, often no larger than 3 square meters. Nevertheless, Kolkata naturally has many “nice” corners as well. The Victoria Memorial must be named as well as the National Museum. Floating through the crowded neighborhoods, tasting a variety of street sweets and getting fully involved in Indian culture is, in our opinion, part of the experience.
But we were not only here because of the good food and the nice people, but once again had a job to do. At the top of our to-do list was finding out when, how and by whom we could best ship our car back to Germany. A few weeks ago we met XXX and her husband Kauschik, who are from Kolkata and currently have their car on its way in the opposite direction in Prague after a similar road trip. Not only did they establish contact with various shipping agencies, but their hospitality quickly made us feel comfortable here.
Shortly before our onward journey to Dhaka / Bangladesh, something happened, which we had avoided for over 20,000 km. The spring on the rear left wheel was broken. So we had a damage to the car, which should make it impossible for us to be punctual on the 13th of March in Dhaka to pick up Lucas girlfriend Valentina. It took less than two hours and Kauschik had made contact with his trusted mechanic, who was to deal with the problem the very next day. It soon turned out that the spring was not available here, that it had to be crafted by hand, and that it would be better for us to travel by plane to Bangladesh, as the repair would take several days and I would come back anyway to spend 20 days in Kolkata at the organization New Light to work as a volunteer. We quickly adjusted to the new framework and made the best of it. One of the two nights before the flight to Bangladesh, we spent outside on the skyscraper roof of the building in which the workshop is located. More than one refreshing beer was of course also emptied, so that the last days of our trip together will definitely remain in positive memory.