There were trucks parked all around. When I rode in, everyone looked at me. Some got up. I felt like E.T. I side standed and walked up to the reception of the Dhaba: Hotel Today. ‘Can I get some place to sleep.’ The young manager looked deeply at me. Helmet with three cameras. Black clothes. Dirty. Now, all the truckers surrounded me. They had nothing better to do. The manager proudly replied in broken English. ‘No stay, only food. You go.’ The truckers agreed. I realised my folly. So with studied casualness I took off my helmet, swung my mane that refused to swing, so I swung harder. The truckers grit their teeth. I spoke in pure Hindustani – ‘I am an Indian’ (reproduced in English for a wider audience).
One trucker put his hand on my shoulder. ‘Oye yaar, he’s an Indian.’ All nodded. I was accepted. The owner came hearing the noise. Hailing from Rajasthan, he heard my dilemma and immediately offered the family room: a six seater table, for the night. On the house!
Someone led me to the toilet and waited outside.
After that he showed me to my residence: a 8 by 8 cabin with a curtain, a wall fan and a table with 4 chairs. A cold water bottle materialised. I sat back. I love India.
Dal makhani, bhindi with onions, tawa roti, 4 glasses of chass, and salad. I ate it all! There is a lot of conversation in the general sitting area. Peeping, I can see people at my bike. Studying it. It was good fun for all. My friend Shubhra from Sambalpur swung by to see if I am ok.
I have a policy, irrespective of other agendas and arrangements, I don’t ride at dusk onwards. It doesn’t work for me anymore.
So this halt. Nothing different than other truck stops around the world. All as friendly.