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: 9th August 2016; Route: NA
Each person deserves a day in which no problems are confronted, no solutions are searched for; where you take a sigh of relief and relax.
Today was not an official Sunday but we declared one! We thought we deserve a time out to recharge our batteries after 10 days of the ride. It was rejuvenating time for us and our motorcycles. Today’s plan was to dry clean our clothes, get the motorcycles prepped up for the main event (Leh Ladakh circuit), visit the Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh.
I wanted to reach the service center by 8 AM so that my bike will be serviced first (most probably by afternoon) and then we can roam around the beautiful city of Amritsar. The service center was around 6 KMs away from our hotel so I left our hotel by 7:30 AM and started navigating with help of my phone to Jaycee motors (Royal Enfield Service Center) but when I reached the destination it was Jaycee motors but for Maruti Suzuki and not Royal Enfield, ah!
What misdemeanor have I done my lord to deserve such atrocity, now even Google has started messing with me! When I enquired with the security guard asking for the RE center, I got to know that the actual RE center was just a KM away from our hotel. Damn, I had already wasted quite some time in the traffic to reach the wrong destination. Now I had to ride back in the same direction where I came from to reach the right destination. It was just waste of time and effort.
By the time I reached, it was already 9:15 AM and I was enrolled 8th which means my motorcycle would be serviced after the first 7. The mechanics came by 10 AM and started making the job sheet. I requested the service center manager to service my bike first so that I can ride to Manali on the same day. I lied to him so that I can get my motorcycle on time; our plan was to start tomorrow. The manager was a nice man; he gave me a dedicated mechanic to fix my motorcycle. My motorcycle’s sprocket teeth were broken and tires were bald. And the roads in Ladakh region are known to inflict flat tires. So I got them replaced as I can’t afford to fix a flat tire every single day from now on. My mechanic was a rider and an interesting guy. He was narrating his stories and the challenges he faced on his ride to Leh, Bhutan etc. The coincidence is, I met few other riders at the service center and they were from Bangalore too. I had met them the day before at Wagah Border. One of them was a professional biker. He was on a par with the mechanic in terms of technicalities of things. He was riding with his wife and his 3-year-old kid.
At first, I thought of tagging along with them but as per their itinerary, they were touching most of the places couple of days after our touch point and we had to delay our schedule if we had to ride together and we couldn’t afford to do that, plus they were married and had kids. That means more trouble. And we already had our own problems to solve and I didn’t want to play the referee while they were busy arguing. So we choose to catch up some other time.
My mechanic had gone to Ladakh couple of weeks back, so I asked him and our pro rider about the condition at Srinagar. They said the situation was getting worse, military strength was increased to bring it under control but the people of Srinagar were not cooperative, they were throwing stones at the Army (I have no clue what’s wrong with them).
Anyway, apart from the replacements, we did an overall servicing. My motorcycle was fully serviced by 6 PM; though the mechanic was slow he did an awesome job. After the servicing, my motorcycle was as good as a brand new one. Then there was not much time left so we went on to visit the holy grail of Sikh’s, the Golden Temple. It’s stunning and a must visit place in Amritsar. I would suggest you to stopover at night to cherish its unreal beauty.
We checked out the news to decide on our next plan of action and we got to know that the curfew was still on. As per the plan, we were supposed to enter Leh via Srinagar but due to the current situation we had to reverse our plan and ride directly to Manali skipping Dalhousie, Killar and Kishtwar; and come back via Srinagar if the curfew was lifted. I really wanted to do Killar – Kishtwar (one of the most dangerous roads in the world). I know, it didn’t happen this time but I have made a covenant to come back for it the next 😀
P.S. Punjabis are huge, lethargic, loud and undisciplined but there is no way you can hate them, especially women 😉