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: 8th August 2016; Route: Suratgarh – Amritsar
When nothing goes right, go left.
It was time to get ready for Amritsar. We had the best breakfast in the last 10 days; Aloo Paratha, dahi and achar. What more we could have asked for! I never had that kind of curd in my life. It tasted better than Ice Cream.
Anyway, I don’t know what’s wrong with the Rain God. He still didn’t have enough from us; he had some unfinished business, I guess. The rain came down hard on us that day. Generally, it takes an hour for water to Pierce my (all weather) riding jacket, this time it all went in within a couple of minutes. The roads were flooded; the water level had gone above my knees. My motorcycle’s exhaust was immersed, and I was able to hear a popping sound from it. I freaked out. I had to keep up the throttle and rev the engine so that the water doesn’t enter via the exhaust. Because if it does, then there is no way I could start the engine. We could have used a boat to cross the Punjab border. The drainage was better after a kilometer. My motorcycle was literally fuming after crossing that stretch. I stepped down and I kept the engine idling, because if it goes cold all of a sudden, even in that case it won’t start. At one point, I thought it’s going to explode but it came back to normal after 10 minutes or so.
We had set foot in Punjab before lunch and had an awesome road ahead. We were excited to see the Wagah border since it’s the only Indo-Pak border where civilians are allowed. And we wanted to be there before the sunset when the flag lowering ceremony takes place. As we started to advance towards Wagah, I spotted a cow from a distance, strolling on the side lane. As I was about to go past, I have no clue what it saw on the other side of the road, it took a 90-degree turn and came across the road. It might be 15 meters away and I was cruising at 90 KMpH. For a fraction of a second, I thought, I could maneuver my motorcycle and steer my way from it’s behind. But the cow just stood there and stared at me. And the option to maneuver my motorcycle was ruled out. My fingers just squeezed the brakes. I stopped my motorcycle, the front tire was a couple of inches away from its underbelly and the cow was still staring at me, it just mooed and crossed the road. The stupid cow doesn’t know that the grass always looks greener on the other side of the road. It would be embarrassing if the newspapers would have said: “A fine gentleman on his way to Wagah border took his last breath while a cow mooed at him”. Luckily that news never came out.
I became more vigilant after that incident and I switched on my Google map, selected the shortest route and tried to navigate our way to the Wagah border. Which was a mistake, we came inside a village for the sake of faster route and Google took us to a dead end and told us to take a right turn. Can you believe it; even Google ditched us! Few seconds after that the mobile internet got disconnected and we started navigating with the help of the villagers. I have no clue what they said in Punjabi, the only thing I was trying to intercept was their body language if they were trying to say straight, left or right. We rode like crazy through that village to reach the Border.
By the time we reached, it was 4 30 PM. The place was jam-packed. We wanted a seat at the top but we didn’t get it, in fact, we didn’t get a seat at all, instead we got to stand in the sand (another blessing in disguise). Then an announcement happened saying “Everybody should be seated.” The BSF made everyone sit. It didn’t matter even if you were sitting on the sand. And then the DJ started, in this case playing any of the patriotic songs is called DJ, people sitting in the sand got up and started dancing. I joined them too, my partner has also made a video, which I am not gonna release because I am dancing like a drunk in it. But man, it was fun. The music was awesome. At 6:30 PM the parade started. And my eyeballs popped out when I saw the look on the faces of our soldier’s parading, that aggression made me feel like we were at war. I never had those kinda goose bumps before. I was dumbstruck. We were cheering for our soldiers like crazy. It went on for half an hour. We were chanting slogans and dancing. We were shouting so loud that my voice box wrecked and I was worn-out after the parade.
On our way out we met a couple of riders for the first time on our trip, they were from Bangalore too. But they were just doing the Punjab Leh circuit. It was nice to meet fellow riders in an unfamiliar place. They said the curfew in Srinagar was still on and they went and came back via Manali. If the situation in Srinagar doesn’t improve in the next two days, we may have to go for the Plan B as well.
P.S. I thought people of Bangalore are impatient on road but I was proved so wrong by Punjabis.