March 8, 2006
Jaipur to Delhi
Subashbhai, our bus driver, woke everyone up at 7am, but we didn’t get on the road until after 8am, after everyone had finished washing up at the HP gas station where we had stopped the night before. The night before that, we had overpaid for a fleabag hotel in Jodhpur, so figured that the bus would be an improvement. We were wrong.
We had 40 kilometers to go to Jaipur and some 250 kilometers more to Delhi. We stopped once for tea, then kept driving thinking that we would stop for food at the next destination, Gurgaon. We expected to reach Gurgaon by 2pm, but didn’t get there until around 3:30pm. Before we got to the Limca Book of Records building, John got an urgent message from Jayeshbhai and Babubhai, saying that Mark (who was already in Delhi) had not shown up, he wasn’t reachable, and that they were waiting for us at Didi’s (Nirmala Deshpande’s). John hopped into one of the trucks and headed directly to Delhi while the rest of us headed to the Limca Book of Records office. John’s truck was stopped 4 times along the way, but each time, he got out of paying a fine for having a truck without the requisite “advertising” permits. He didn’t reach Didi’s until around 5:30pm.
I stayed in the bus waiting for Amir and the other truck, which had gone off ahead without waiting for us, while Maria, Jocelyn, and Loveleen went up to the Limca Book of Records office. When the assistant editor introduced the group to Vijaya Ghose, the editor, and asked if she had heard about Friends Without Borders, the editor said: “Who hasn’t?” They had a copy of the article in DNA, written while we were in Bombay, and had been waiting for us to contact them because the DNA article did not have any contact information for them to get in touch with us. We got a provisional letter stating:
“We understand that Friends Without Borders team will work with school children in India and Pakistan to get them to write the ‘World’s Largest Love Letter’ to promote peace and goodwill between the two countries. Should this be successfully completed, we will be happy to use it as an entry in the 2007 edition of Limca Book of Records.”
Final measurements will be taken in Pakistan.
We “char ben” headed to Delhi, stopping for tea once again for the drivers, none of whom had eaten all day. (We hadn’t eaten either, but had snacked on fruit and biscuits, which the drivers won’t touch – they need their chapattis and chawal.) We headed for Pahar Ganj, looking for a cheap hotel as a default until we figured out where we would all be staying. We had spend half an hour crawling through two lanes in Pahar Ganj when it started to hail – huge pieces bigger than a half inch in diameter – and rain, with lightening and thunder, when we got a message from John saying that we could stay with Didi, and that the trucks could be parked at the Gandhi Ashram. So we backtracked, much to the fury of Subashbhai, who had been cursing us for having taken him down the narrow alleys of Pahar Ganj in the first place, and after a few wrong turns, found Mark at the entrance to Didi’s, directing us in.
Mark and I rushed off to Habitat Center, where Arshiya Sethi, our host, was having an opening to a photography/art exhibit, while the rest of the group stayed at Didi’s with Jayeshbhai. Jayeshbhai had traveled to Delhi for the express purpose of facilitating our interactions with Didi, who is now a Member of Parliament, and a member of the India-Pakistan Peace Commission.