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Saturday, April 14, 2018

When we bought diesel in Coke bottles

Flashback April 2012: The Rann (salt desert) in Gujarat extends all the way from Kutch through  Surendranagar to Banaskantha. While tourists flock to the other two districts to see the Great Rann and Little Rann (where you'll see the wild asses), the desert in Banaskantha is full of salt pans and little else. Boru, a tiny village of the Rabari community lies just 25 Km from the Indo-Pak border. Closest city is Palanpur, a good 45 Km away. I was working as a documentation consultant with #UNICEF Gujarat and the education consultant for the district wanted me to cover a tiny government residential school for children in the village of Boru. We headed out from Palanpur via Danda where we stopped at an anganwadi. It was late morning and scrubland slowly gave way to sand desert. After driving an hour we reached a point where the only sign of humanity was a rider on a motorbike. Suddenly the driver of our hired car asked how much farther we had to go. "Another 18-20 Km," my colleague said. "What? We are already running on fumes. The fuel tank is empty," the driver said. He hadn't realised that we would be driving this far away from Palanpur. We were on the verge of getting stuck in the middle of the desert with poor cellphone network, no humanity in sight and two litres of drinking water in summer. Great! We went about 100 metres ahead and I saw a man sitting under a thatch selling diesel in two-litre Coke bottles. That was the only person on the road. I asked the driver if we could use that fuel. He shook his head. "It might be adulterated and it may blow us up. Anyways I can't do anything till the owner of the car authorises." So I called the owner (luckily the phone worked). "Madam, it's a big risk. Only you will be held accountable." I agreed and so we bought a Coke bottle of diesel. We managed to reach Boru where the school's headmaster-cum-sarpanch took us on a tour, fed us well and emptied the fuel tank of his Innova to fill ours.

#TravelMemories #Gujarat #Boru #Rann

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