I was surprised at how well things went yesterday.
Although we only had time to walk for one hour at the end of the day, Bobby had done so with little discomfort.
However I was mindful of the fact that he must take it easy especially for the first one or two weeks of walking.
The day started well. It was late morning and we were passing by a tea stall and temple on a small lay-by when Satinder shouted out to me. I walked back to the Walkmobile and Rahim told me the steering had locked and he could not turn the wheels. He had managed to turn slightly to the left and was moving off the road into the lay-by but I knew if he didn’t stop now, he would run off the road.
We came to a stop close to the tea stall and Rahim took a look underneath. When he emerged there was a puzzled and shocked look on his face.
There were six large bolts with split washers that held the steering box in place. Now, only one bolt and remained and that was loose causing the steering box to shift position and lock the steering. Rahim said he might expect a single bolt to work loose but had never known this to happen.
In the meantime a local guy on a motorbike had stopped for tea at the tea stall. He wandered over and asked what the matter was. He told us the nearest garages were 8km away. He tried calling one of them on his mobile but could not get through.
During this time, Rahim had wandered back down the road a short distance and returned with one of the steering bolts in his hand. It must have just fallen out and then the steering had locked.
The only explanations were human error or sabotage.
At some time during the repair work in Chennai, the bolts to the steering box must have been loosened or removed. The puzzling thing was the fact that the steering box did not have to be touched at any time for the work that was carried out.
We normally only travel between 3-4km/h but my mind flashed backed to the higher speed driving the Walkmobile was doing on the highway the day before to get clear of the city. If the steering had failed at that time it would have spelt disaster.
There was no joy getting through to any local garage and without suggestion, the gentleman offered to take Satinder on the back of his motorbike. Rahim gave him the bolt and washer he had found and 30 minutes later they had returned. The good Samaritan then proceeded to get under the Walkmobile with Rahim to make sure all was well before he left.
Rahim had a quick check of other areas below the Walkmobile and we started on our way. We passed along a flyover that had some lovely colourful flags decorating it which lifted our spirits but the extended break had affected our timing and left us a little disorientated. Bobby wanted to make up some of the lost km but I wanted to keep to a strict time limit to allow for enough recovery.
We came across some shops and decided we had to stop. I got out and noticed the owner of the shop we had parked outside had already come out. I went to ask permission to park. It turns out the owners of the wooden window frame and door business were Gujarati and were more than happy to let us stay there overnight. They even directed Satinder upstairs where he could fill our spare water cans.
During our chat I noticed a distant rumble and there in the sky was what looked like a missile shooting into the sky. It was in fact the mighty PSLV-C29 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota which we would be passing in around 40km time. Apparently it was their 50th launch anniversary and this rocket was carrying six satellites.
We had a long conversation with the Patel’s and they invited us for breakfast the next day at their house which was 2km further along the road. We accepted their invitation.
I had been updating Lakshmi on our position throughout the day and only a short while later he turned up. It was good to see him again and we caught up before retiring for the night.
As I got ready for bed it dawned on me that we just had a major mechanical failure which right outside a temple. We even had a slip road to roll into even though we had no steering. Also, who could forget the good Samaritan who appeared out of nowhere, helped and did not leave until we were on our way.
I went to sleep dreaming of angels on motorbikes.