Disclaimer: I have tried to recreate the events, locales, and conversations from my memories of them. The below-expressed views, opinions or analogies are personal and may not be in line with the widespread conceptions. Please go to Motorcycle Diaries -> India: Ocean To Mountains (or Click here) to check out the previous events.
Date: 1st August 2016; Route: Chiplun – Mahabaleshwar – Pune – Khandala – Matheran – Bombay
It’s always darkest before the dawn
I was blacked out in sleep. When I woke up, I was a bit dizzy due to the tablet (I won’t blame the liquid courage) but it felt better than yesterday. So I took bath and got ready for the day. We started our ride towards Mahabaleshwar at 7:30 AM. Roads were pretty bad for the first few kilometers. But as soon as we entered the Ghat section, it was serene.
The thing with the Ghat section is, it consists of hair pin bends (which are obviously blind turns) and the roads get smaller and steeper with the altitude. And the relentless rain had made the roads slippery enough to ski. It was getting a bit dark and misty uphill. While I was enjoying the corner of a curve, I suddenly spotted a truck in front of me. As per the general guideline, vehicles moving downhill should give way to the vehicles moving uphill. But who cares about the guidelines huh! The truck driver coming downhill consumed the entire road, giving no space what so ever, I had to pull my motorcycle off road and keep my balance on the grass to make sure that I don’t become the sausage for the dogs or meat for the crows.
The good news was we finally saw the first ray of light on Day 3. The gloomy weather was brightening up and we thought our luck was changing. But have you seen a rich kid showing candy to the homeless people and licking it slowly with a smirk! It’s like giving hope at first and then making them feel miserable. God was playing the same game here. As soon as we reached Mahabaleshwar, the clouds burst and the downpour started. Since Mahabaleshwar is a hill station, it was chilling.
We decided to stopover for breakfast. When we inquired, the restaurant guy said the only thing available was Misal Pav, I had never tried that before. And I was hesitant to try it because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my day in the restroom. But I never had a choice; I had to rely on the medication if my gut throws up. So we ordered whatever they were offering. It was fuming hot when they served it, and I reluctantly tasted it. But I should say it was tasty, maybe it was not; maybe we enjoyed it because of the contrasting temperature of the food and the weather.
The rain didn’t stop and we had a plan to stick to, we headed out to Pune. I rode through a tunnel for the first time in my life. That half a kilometer, I was screaming with joy. I could hear every single beat of my Bullet. Those lights on top of the tunnel made me feel better than any pub in Bangalore.
As a consequence of being drenched in the rain from the past few days, few slits on my finger started to pain, my body became a bit greasy and itchy (you think the rainwater is unpolluted! Think twice). Anyway, we crossed Pune and started riding towards Lonavala. It’s a decent place with hot chicks and good tea (and don’t miss out on the flavored Lonavala chikki). Moving on to Khandala, it was more beautiful than expected. Lush greenery on both sides of the road and the rainy mist added to its charm. It was heavenly. It was already evening by the time we reached Khandala and as per the plan we had to reach Bombay by end of day. There was a deviation from the original course (to Bombay) but we didn’t want to ditch Matheran as we did to Malvan. We thought of covering how much ever we can and decided to stop when we get jaded. So Matheran was on. It was like Nandi hills but only with bad roads or worse. The roads had an elevation of almost 60 degrees. I had to drag my motorcycle in first gear to climb those roads. We rode to the top of the hill in the middle of the drizzle, had a cup of coffee over there and I am glad that we took that decision of not ditching Matheran, it was fun and totally worth it.
Then we moved on to Bombay. We were able to see all the lights when we were crossing the bridge towards the city. My eyes glittered; I had been to Bombay before when I was a kid. So that bridge brought back a lot of childhood memories to me.
As soon as we entered Bombay, we decided to check in and halt for the day. We enquired the tariff in a Lodge and we thought their starting price itself was way above our budget. We came out, sat on our motorcycles and decided to find a suitable place within our budget. But my partner’s bike just gave up. It refused to start. And I wasn’t able to control my laugh on the face of misfortune. We push started the bike and started enjoying the city at night. There is something about Bombay which is exhilarating, the architecture, the attitude of the people; the city never sleeps. Since we were unable to find a decent room fitting our budget, we chose to pay our visit to Gateway of India at midnight. When we were exploring the Gateway, a drunk man and couple of college going kids enjoying their night came around thinking we are some YouTubers! They were fascinated by our plan to ride to Ladakh from Bangalore; they thought that we were some badass bikers (LoL)
Again the wrath of the rain came back to haunt us. We understood that Bombay, is not something we can handle right now, so we decided to find a lodging while we ride towards Vadodara. Finally, we got a room at 1:30 AM in Thane.
My hands and legs were soaked due to the rainwater trapped in my gloves and shoes. You know, the lodge we saw while entering the city, the tariff was 1400 bucks and we declined the offer saying it was above our budget of 1000 bucks. We made a bad decision because everything after that was just costlier. I know Bombay is a premium city but it was a different level of premium. We also saw another room before checking out the Gateway. But the lady with short hair was threatened by my looks. So she declined 😛
P.S. If you ask me “What is the secret of success?” I would say “you succeed with all the right decisions you make. If you ask me “How do you make the right decisions?” I would say “You make it with experience”. If you ask me “How do you get the experience” I would say “From the wrong decisions” 😀