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: 3rd August, 2016; Route: Vadodara – Kutch
“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
Kutch and Vadodara are separated by a 500 KM road. Normally if I have to cover more than 500 KMs, I prefer to start early morning, around 4 AM. So that I can skip the traffic and cross the city limits before the sun comes up. But today, we were already were lagging by few hours.
I woke up at sharp 9 AM, oh sorry; my partner woke me up at 9 AM (I don’t wanna get the facts wrong). After 4 days of the ride, my buddy’s bike started giving him a bit of trouble. The bike’s chain links became loose, the brake pads were worn out and it started making the screeching sound. So the plan was, by the time he gets his bike fixed, I would check out, have my breakfast and regroup at the service center.
Normally the service center mechanics are lethargic, so I was expecting somewhere between 1.5 to 2 hours to get his bike fixed. I thought I had plenty of time to get ready and check out. At 10:30 AM, I got a call from my partner “where are you? I am waiting here, come fast!” and I said “I am on my way” while I was releasing a warm breeze in the loo.
So today’s challenge was – we were running against time and we had a long way to go. As someone rightly said, time and tide wait for none. We had to ride 500 KMs for Kutch and the good news was the roads in Gujarat are pretty awesome. Generally, I tend to provide the good news followed by the bad news, right! Just for a change, this time, I am going to tell you the best news instead of the bad news – Pss, listen; it was NOT RAINING for the first time. I had a broad smile on my face and we had a welcoming climate waiting for us.
We felt like riding on a rainbow. While riding, I heard a thud (not a thump), coming out of a motorcycle. I looked in my rear view mirror and I didn’t spot a thing. I thought, maybe my ears were ringing. But the thud was still there, out of curiosity, I reduced my speed, to see what was coming. And gradually the thud amplified, I saw a man putting a baby to sleep on a bunk bed on top of a 3 wheeled motorcycle. What! You don’t believe me; check it out for yourself (click here). I just stopped my motorcycle, as I was stunned by that scene, a car stopped beside me and the man asked “Beta, Sab Badhiya (Son, is everything alright!”. It was for the first time, a stranger had asked me for no reason if I was alright. I just smiled and said “First class, uncleji”. And he just showed a thumbs up through the window and drove away. Now that’s what you would experience if you are traveling across India, things which are hard to visualize but are very much real.
By evening, the wind on our way to Bhuj was blowing so hard that I had to hold my motorcycle’s handle really tight so that it doesn’t steer with the wind. As soon as we covered the windy stretch, we called for a tea break. I asked the guy sitting next table “Brother, how much more to go for Kutch”. He said “Sir, you are already in Kutch! It started with the windy stretch that you might have crossed”. I said “What are you talking! I know that you know more about Kutch than me. But this is not the Kutch I was expecting, where do I get to see the white desert kind of thing. The one we see in google images”. He laughed and said “That’s called White Rann. And you would see that after Bhuj”. And we thought that small white desert is called Kutch!
The conversation went on. He asked, “So are you coming from coming from Kerala?” And I was wondering how this guy got it right when most of the people usually deny that even after I tell them the truth. So I asked him “how do you know?”. He said “Aree sirji, hum KA gaadi nahi pehchante kya! (I recognized from the vehicles number plate saying KA)”. And I felt like give a slap on the back of his head and say “It’s KL for Kerala, you idiot, and not KA. KA stands for Karnataka. And that’s where I am coming from!” But I politely smiled and replied, “No sir, we are coming from Bangalore, Karnataka; but I am from Kerala”. Trust me, guys, this incident repeated quite a few times with different set of people. Gujarat might be a developed state, Gujaratis might be well educated but they don’t know the difference between KA and KL. None has a clue that KA means Karnataka; everybody assumes it to be Kerala.
Anyway, that was not the worst news I got that day. They asked us about the places which we had covered till date. I said “Goa – Bombay – Vadodara…”. And they said “”Sir, you must be really lucky, the bridge between Bombay and Goa collapsed today due to heavy rain! It’s all over the news”. Me and my partner just looked each other’s faces!
P.S. And I thought the ‘L’ in my luck had been replaced with ‘F’