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Do we really need a clutch?

By on September 10, 2013 in India with No Comments

Siliguri to Purnia

We’re off, we’re off! Oh, no. What was that? Oh rats, the leaking petrol. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that we break down every two hours. Fortunately we had picked a good night to stay in a nice hotel.  The staff at The Cinderella Hotel couldn’t have been nicer and arranged for a guy to take us to the rickshaw fix-it shop. Well, except we didn’t make it out of the front gate. This time it spluttered along for twenty feet and died altogether. Um, Rick, do we have gas? Oh, right, need to turn the fuel switch on. Off again. Oh crap, what the hell is that sound?? A grating metal against metal noise.  This is not looking good. As in, this is looking expensive.  We limped along to the shop only to be told the mechanic wouldn’t be there for an hour and a half. What? Then why do you say you open at 9? Oh, okay, here he is after all. Lots of standing around talking – turns out that leaking petrol and driving with the choke on is perfectly normal and nothing there needed fixing, but that the clutch was in pieces (the mechanic communicated this by holding out his hand for us to smell…interesting, good thing we didn’t need a plumber). Cha-ching, new clutch needed.  We groaned in expectation of the bill. Here it comes… 130 rupees for parts, 200 for oil, and 150 for labor. $8! Ye gods, why didn’t we do this 500kms ago?

11am and we were on the road again, making five minute friends over tea every few hours and eating our way through India.  The guys at the roadside stalls insist on cooking for us even if we only want tea. We don’t want to be rude and refuse, so the way we’re eating, we will be over the weight limit on the plane ride home. We bought dozens of bouncy balls for the kids (thanks for the suggestion Chirag!) and they’ve been a hit.

The new clutch stopped working again but Rick did some mechanic-y stuff and can now change gears again. We’ve run out of rupees and no ATMs in sight so we may be bartering our shoes for lodging tonight. Oh, speaking of shoes! Found some great black and red Converse for $20. Was very pleased at my new kicks until a truck drove into a small pond overtaking us and drenched them in mud.  Now they are growing mold and gathering mosquitos somewhere in the depths of my suitcase.

More dodging and weaving, miniature horses and brown pigs have been added to the mix, and we’ve seen two goats and one cow all painted pink. Very fetching. Got to Purnia in decent time only, to spend an hour looking for a hotel because the one we’d found on Trip Advisor had its outside sign written in Hindi. A nice man jumped in our rickshaw and showed us the way. No towels, no toilet paper, the shower stopped working, and the phone was broken, but too tired to care. Until tomorrow.


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