The day after the Ahmedabad Test match, it was time to find our way to Rajkot. Our history with catching early morning forms of transport did not make us brave enough to attempt taking the early morning train. Instead like the other sensible journalists on this tour we decided to take a van in the afternoon. Clayton Murzello of Midday and Gautam Sathe of PTI decided to let us ride with them.
We took off after a breakfast eaten at lunch time and began to blast down the road. The van was just about large enough to house the four of us and the driver. The music system was pressed into service almost as soon as we left city limits. As he was in the driver's seat, the driver got first pick of music. The most recent Hindi film songs blasted at us. For Duane who had watched Hindi film songs on television earlier, it was just another amusing trip!
Clayton finally unveiled a Dire Straits cassette and once again God had found me in the strangest of places. After the surprise encounter with Dire Straits in VV's room this was the first time I actually heard any good music on tour.
After a couple of hours of steady motoring Clayton got hungry enough to want to stop for a snack. We walked in to a highway motel and immediately the room was abuzz with excited whispers. One waiter had tipped off the others that Daniel Vettori and Ajay Jadeja had just walked in. Danny being Duane and Ajay being yours truly. Though I bear little or no physical resemblance to Jadeja, the floppy hat that I wore was enough to convince people from the state of Gujarat. So Clayton played the part to the full and asked me "So Ajay why did you get out the way you did?" Catching on to the game I replied that the ball from Vettori should have gone through covers and that I should never have tried to hit it through the on side. After 10 minutes of similar banter we had a good audience gawking at us! Clayton went on to warn the waiter that the food better be good because we have a match to play in two days. Ooooh, that was fun!
We continued to wind our way towards Rajkot and finally drove into the city with a brilliant sunset to welcome us. We then dropped off Clayton and Sathe at their hotel and began to look for ours. As it happened, no one in the city had heard of Hotel Capital, but on hindsight you can't really blame them for that. By 9 pm we still hadn't found our hotel and there didn't seem to be much hope. We had asked at least a dozen individual groups of people and no one seemed to have heard of this place. Our local contact was untraceable and I began to have some doubts about his existence after several futile exasperating conversations to all available telephone numbers. So we did what we do best - head for the cricket ground. After taking time to have a look around the stadium we finally found someone who knew where the blessed hotel Capital was.
We reached hotel Capital well past 10 pm and were quite happy to hit the sack as soon as possible.