Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting Lost on the Highway - Again!

After the previous experience of getting lost, we were far better prepared. I had looked at the maps, estimated the times, noted the small town names to make sure that we did not take the wrong path.

Our problems were compounded by a poor choice the data network supplier. I had incorrectly assumed that one supplier would be a reliable alternate and backup in the interiors. I had also not realised how expensive data usage with maps is if you are roaming on a 'partner' network. Our balance in the prepaid account had been exhausted even before we found our hotel in Jaipur.

Maps mention routes by the highway numbers - even paper ones if one find one these days. Often there are multiple numbers for the same highway, especially the state highways. However, I don't recall seeing many highway signs with highway numbers. Certainly not at the junctions. Why is that so hard? May be as a programmer, a simple code as a key is the obvious first choice and I can't see the administrative and decision taking complexities involved :)

My preparation helped. We were on our way from Udaipur to Anand. About midway, there was a turning for a highway to Vadodra bypassing Ahmedabad. The road was 'straight' after that.

When expected, there was a turning. However, all the signage mentioned was - 'Modasa'. There was no mention of Vadodra. Obviously, there was no mention the state highway number. Because of my planning, I knew 'Modasa' was on the correct route! So, we took the turning and were pleasantly surprised by an excellent highway. Once we got on it, we knew it was headed towards Godhra and Vadodra!

I didn't realise it but somewhere the highway turned! The road was excellent and we knew we were moving fast in the right direction. And then the realisation came. There was a small sign which indicated that we were still on state highway number 5! In the absence of data connection, we relied on the good old network of asking people. Their directions were remarkably clear and precise.

We kept asking for directions at suspicious crossings. In a small town, even a slightly wider road may be the highway you want. We reached an hour later than expected but enjoyed the experience of asking for directions. Especially, just near the end.

One person was very confident and asking us to turn in the direction from which we had come! Fortunately, the shop owner knew better and gave us the correct details. As we moved, we could hear him still explaining to the enthusiastic, helpful by-stander!

I hope someone in the highway planning department wakes up and realises that putting highway number of exit signs does not require much space and may even help his family and friends one day :)

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