Monthly Archives: October 2009

Into the Horizon – III

After stopping for a sumptuous Maharashtrian lunch of Bhakhri, Brinjal, Kadhi rice, Lahsun ki Chatni, dal and Pyaaz at a comfortable place before Pune and confessing home about the trip, we landed in Pune. I had been drenched and dried up innumerable number of times. While the moisture goes from your clothes, the dirt which the rainwater carried with it doesn’t. And you only bother to, in fact you only can, wash your face and eyes at the roadside Dhabas.

Thoroughly shivering, I stopped for a mug of hot chocolate in Pune. The receptionist of the mall gave us strange looks. I headed straight to the washroom, and as I looked into the mirror, I knew why that had been so. And I had a sudden, secret two minute crush on my friend for hugging me when she had met me a few minutes back. I wouldn’t hug someone who looked like I was looking now. And never in my life if I were a girl.

—–x—–x—–

It was the second straight night on the bike. Dusk fell as the lights from Pune were left behind. Climbing the Western Ghats, it grew chilly. The socks which had been adorning the tail lights, the shoes slung on the front bumper, and the windsheeter which been tied around the waist all came back to serve their purpose.

Upon the Ghats and later was a journey I do not wish to describe in full detail. There were the two of us riding for well over  24 hours now, now under a thundering Western Ghats rain, over bad, treacherous mountain roads, in the Mumbai Pune highway (and not the expressway) traffic in the night. On top of it was a fog thick enough to facilitate a view of your own shadow formed by your own headlight right in front of you.  If you compare our journey to that of the fast bowler’s spell, this was the time when under 45 degree centigrade temperature, Sachin and Sehwag were blazing away at full throttle and there were Chris Gayle, Ricky Ponting, and Kevin Pieterson oiling their willows in the pavilion. With the added clause that one wrong delivery and the bowler, alongwith all his balls, will go for a long, long toss. Full marks to Daddu for his bikesmanship. In terms of real adventure, this was the only patch on the whole trip where we encountered any.

—–x—–x—–

There are numerous ways to enter the huge Megapolis, and a wrong turn can cost you another hour or so in reaching your destination. The road turns ugly on the ghats near Mumbai. Because of so many trucks plying on the road, and not less because of the heavy rains, and not the least because no government gives a shit about mountains and mountain roads, it is often broken. And for most of the way smells sickeningly of oil. Stopping trucks that are hurtling down the hills in the middle of the night under a roaring sky, and asking them for directions was one remarkable feature of this patch.

—–x—–x—–

From the height on the edge of the Ghat, when you first look down on the patchwork of islands and reclaimed land stitching them together lying below, it looks like a forest on fire. So much light that against the darkness of the forested Ghats, it is positively blinding. As we rode towards it, I couldn’t have enough of looking at the  sun which is always risen in India’s west. The heart and soul of India’s economy, the city which never sleeps, where lights never go off. Mumbai.

We reached Vashi at around 12. It was Ramzan time, and I got packed a Tandoori chicken from Sion. We reached Narsi Monji after a full three hour bike ride, this time over the still busy expressways and flyovers, dark lanes and lonely bylanes of Mumbai. The hot bath I then had at Sanket’s brother’s flat, after which the entire bathroom was under a layer of  gooey blackness, was the best I’ve ever had. After that, the Tandoori chicken was the best I had ever eaten. And after that, the crash on the simple mattress in that cramped students’ apartment in Juhu, resulted in the best sleep that I ever remember having.

—–x—–x—–

I lived a whole life in those 53 hours. A few things I’ll always remember. The shopkeeper in Karnataka who gave us water melon flavoured ‘medium class chocolates’, four for one rupee.  The Dhaba owner in the middle of absolutely nowhere, who gave me a tattered chatai to sleep on. And where moisture seeped into the ground due to the rains outside and I practically froze from the cold wave coming in from the earth while I was lying face down on that chatai, using my jacket as a blanket. All this, while Daddu slept on two plastic chairs in the rain outside.

The dhaba owner boy refusing the tip I offered. And telling us to ride carefully as we took leave.

Finding a drunkard crawling on the highway near Solapur, and passing him by. A while later realizing that one simple act of dragging him to the side could have been a possible life saver, and that in our hurry to reach home fast, we had left him for dead from our side. Being condemned to live with that thought for the rest of our lives.

Coming across places called ‘Bhosari’ and ‘Shitole’.

Leaving home from mumbai, all set for a 750 km long journey, and getting wet inside out within the first five. And then realizing that there was no polythene to protect the cellphone, picking up a cover from the drain overflowing nearby and putting the cellphone in it and keeping it in the pocket.

Almost getting stamped upon the highway by a truck gone mad. And a few kilometers down the line, finding out that it actually had stamped a few people to death.

Riding into the setting sun for two days straight, riding into the full moon on the third night.

And on the fourth morning, to finally reach Hyderabad, our new home, riding into the rising sun.

Like the Hindu mythology says, the end itself contains the seeds of a next beginning.

Categories: Travelogue | 15 Comments

Into the horizon – II

What do I write about my Mumbai bike trip?

What do you write about the British teenage pacer who bowled for two days on a flat Indian test match pitch, and returned figures of 60-20-100-2? Except for the two wicket taking deliveries, the odd half chance which ‘could have been’, maybe one or two misfields, or the odd LB appeals, what did the bowler do, really?

We hit the highway at around five, and were pretty much drenched by six. It were the monsoons, and rains were not something we could make an excuse for stopping. so the sky became our washing machine, and the wind our dryer. I was the smart one here. Wearing sleeveless gym T-shirt over my drip dry track pants, which I had rolled up to my knees. Like the Hindu cycles of births and rebirths, I would get wet, dry up, then get wet and dry up again. There were no such cycles for Sanket, though. Wearing a cotton shirt and vest over his thick denim jeans and jogging shoes and socks, he was accepting with aplomb, and then not letting go of, any of Allah’s offerings.

Well, to each one his own. As long as the other one remains beside you and does not ram you into the truck passing from the side. That’s the first lesson you learn on the road.

—–x—–x—–

We both tend to get a little high on the open roads. The mind leaves behind all the clutter of the corporate life, and the vision is clearer. The thoughts which come gushing in then, are more neutral and plenty, and make for some mind blowing BC. The only problem is that although you are able to soak in the rain, and are able to see the skyline five kilometers to your left and five to your right, and can look up and count exactly how many stars are in the galaxy, and can scream ‘Hey you up there, I’m down here’  without thinking about your manager, other people still are  not looking beyond their desktop monitors a few inches away. They don’t have any reason to look up, ‘coz they would only see the ceiling (often false, that too), so they don’t even do that, and thus the computer screen remains their world, and thus…

Conversations like this happen.

Boy: Hey, how’re you doing?
Girl: I’m good. Do you know what time it is?
Boy: Um, hmm, I’ve kinda lost track (Checks his mobile)…yeah it’s around twelve.
Girl: Okay forget it. Where are you?
Boy: Umm, somewhere in Karnataka.
Girl: What? Where in Karnataka?
Boy: Somewhere. Some place you won’t know.
Girl: Okay okay. What are you doing there?
Boy: Right now? I’m lying down, face up.
Girl: Where are you lying down?
Boy: Umm, see there’s this grass on the side of the highway.
Girl: Okay.
Boy: Yeah, so that’s where I’m lying down.
Girl: What? Aniket! ANIKET! ANIKET!
Boy: Hey, hey! Hold it. I’m gonna visit you tomorrow.
Girl: Okay! When do you reach here?
Boy: It depends.
Girl: Depends? On what?
Boy: On how fast we ride the bike.
Girl: Bike? what bike?
Boy: Ohho… tumko to har cheez samjhaani padti hai… what bike can it be? Vahi jispe hum aa rahe hain!
Girl: Aniket! ANIKET! ANIKET!
And this would go on.

If you notice the number of exclamations and question marks on the ‘Girl’ side, and the corresponding lack thereof on the ‘Boy’, you would realize how much was the difference in the states of mind. It’s mind boggling that the conversation actually took place.

——x——x——–

Tired of riding slowly in the rains, we slept off in the dorm of a roadside motel, and were on the highway in four hour’s time. While we had been heading west, into the setting sun the evening before (which had made for some awesomeness), and I had sung practically all the Lucky Ali I knew, this was dawn. Time for spiritual, soul stirring Mantra Chanting, and Kailash Kher, and Piya Basanti. And it became a new journey again.

We would pass by a tree, where the birds were a bit lively. The sound of the Royal Enfield, solace to lonely ears in the stillness of the night, was then the roar of a hungry lion intruding into a Wordsworthian pasture, and so we would kill it. And let the birds have their say. We would stop by a hillock I would find particularly interesting to climb, and we would park the bike at the side of the highway and climb the hill. And the gazing at the vast, flat Vidarbha countryside, so covered with young, freshly washed grass shining under the cloud cover, we would smell the air. And then we would do nothing but close our eyes and feel the air filling our insides with all the promise of a new birth, till we felt as if we had been born again.

We would see a mandir, and bow to the one who has made it all.

And then we would move on. It was the most beautiful morning of my life.

Part III: https://simplyani.wordpress.com/2009/10/22/into-the-horizon-iii/

Categories: Travelogue | 18 Comments

Into the horizon

It was one o’clock in the night. All through the previous day, people had been closely following what looked at that time to be the strange and increasingly worrisome disappearance of Dr. YSR from over the Nallamalla forests. Sanket and myself, along with Sanket’s cousin were closely following each and every second of coverage of the disappearance over the net, while BCing away to glory into the night. Out of our fertile imaginations, various theories about what could have happened, what will happen next and the reasons for them were emerging.

Out of the blue, Sanket suggested that we went to Kurnool and took a first hand look at the search operations going on. We looked up the search area on Wikimapia, and realized that it was some 100 km farther from Kurnool. Kurnool is some 250 km from Hyderabad. We figured out that the round trip from our home in Kondapur, Hyderabad to the search area and back would take the entire next day. We still decided to go ahead and leave at 2 o’clock in the night, i.e. in half an hour from then. I went downstairs to clean my bike to get it ready for the trip.

It was only then that Sanket’s elder cousin, who had been a party to all the planning we were doing realized that we seriously intended to go. He firmly put his foot down on the plan, saying that there was no way he was going to let us go at 2o’clock in the night to cover 700 km on bikes, in the middle of the monsoon season to the Naxal infested Nallamalla forests on a wild goose chase. We decided to reason with him, but realized that it was futile. So with our tails firmly between our legs, we went to sleep at around 2:30.

—–x——x—–

As soon as the news of Dr. YSR’s death reached Hyderabad,  there was mourning all around. In addition, there were chaos. Congress workers started shutting down shops. They sent home all the public transport and beat to pulp anyone who dared protest. Our managers sent us home as a precautionary measure. Since office had closed for the next day, which happened to be a friday, also, this translated into an extra long weekend for us. Both of us had been wanting to go to Mumbai for some time, so we decided that this was the best time to do that.

We left at around 4:00 in the evening from our flat on Sanket’s Thunderbird. We looked for an ATM to withdraw some cash, but realized that even the ATMs had not been spared the bandh. Similar was the case with petrol pumps too. Along the roads, there were signs of violence. Tyres were burning here and there.

We reached a deserted Allwyn Circle, halted our bike and shouted questioningly over the roar of the Royal Enfield to a lone 7-Seater driver –

“MUMBAI???”

Looking us up and down with some curiosity, he pointed out towards what I already knew was the direction on the highway.

We set sail for Mumbai. With exactly Three Hundred and Sixty bucks in our combined pockets and 80 kilometers’ worth of fuel in our tank, with no source of cash and/or fuel nearby, and faced with a situation unprecedented in the history of India due to which we did not have a clue as to how far we’d have to go before we found any of these. But none of it mattered, really.

‘Coz we were on the road. Under the boundless sky.

Part II: https://simplyani.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/into-the-horizon-ii/

Categories: Arbit, Travelogue | 10 Comments

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