We woke refreshed outside the Ashram and the sounds of the girl’s singing was still beautifully resonating in our ears. Rahim (our driver) took us back to last night’s stop location and Bobby set off.
After a short while we reached the built up area of Keezhaiyur and thought we would break through the hustle and bustle after a short while but district rolled into district like some never ending hight street.
Google Maps is not always perfect at highlighting the size of roads we are approaching and as we moved forward, the road got more narrow as it got more busy. We were now in Karaikal, a sprawling, busy hive of a town.
For vehicles following the Walkmobile, all they could see is the tail end of a large bus with its hazards flashing, travelling at the graceful pace of 3km/h and Indian drivers do not top the list of those who are patient. For the next few hours we heard nothing but a veritable cacophony of beeps and horns as vehicles squeezed themselves past the Walkmobile from all angles. It’s only once past this slow moving behemoth that they spotted two gentleman, one limping, wearing matching t-shirts walking equally as slow in front! What ensued were shocked expressions, wobbling bikes and scooters mingled with trucks and buses that brushed past you so close, you almost required a bus ticket.
At last an oasis appeared in the form of a petrol station and we manoeuvred in to rest for 90mins.
When we started again, we had only a short distance to walk before Bobby achieved his daily target. I mapped the route and told the Rahim to drive on ahead and park up in a safe, open area. Bobby and I followed after, eventually caught up with them and overtook them. Bobby was getting very fatigued. His limp was sapping his energy fast and I was dwindling too.
I asked a person we were passing where the nearest petrol station was and with a puzzled expression, he waved ahead of me … it was right next door!
The manager and staff at the Bharat Petroleum petrol station were very accommodating. They welcomed us onto their forecourt and showed us the toilets, the shower and the secret switch to activate the pump for freshwater out of the tap. We were in heaven. The staff assembled to look at the Walkmobile and we gave them a quick tour.
A local shopkeeper turned up with a pot and the smallest plastic cups you had ever seen. It was free tea and I had ten cuppies.
As we lay after eating, catching up on emails for a few minutes, Bobby was happy about surpassing the 500km mark during the day but worried he would not be able to sustain the 24km per day we would need to reach Chennai on time. I told him I had no worry. I knew it was in him and we would manage.
I slept slightly better that night even though this time it was the chorus of car horns resonating in my ears.