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: 22nd August 2016; Intended Route: Ambala – Kurukshetra – Panipat – Sonipat – Karnal – Delhi
“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting”
It was time for us to ride to the Capital city of India. We had a grand breakfast in Ambala and started riding towards Delhi. As we were approaching Kurukshetra, it reminded me of the epic battle of Mahabharata and the bug in my mind became itchy. I stopped on the highway and started to Google the places which we could visit in Kurukshetra. As the search results were getting loaded, a passerby stopped his scooter and asked “Kya bhaiya, Bike racer ho kya (Brother, are you a bike racer)?” and he was not the only one to ask this question. In North India, they don’t understand the concept of a rider or biker; they just relate it to speed. So if you are riding a mid-range motorcycle in the Northern part of India, everybody assumes you to be a bike racer.
I said “Yes”. The way he looked at me, for a moment, I thought he caught my lie. He asked “Then why did you stop?”, and I said “The guy I am racing with was nowhere in the vicinity. And I won the race”. Maybe he was convinced. He got excited and started congratulating me. I felt like showing off a bit (yeah, I live for the cheap thrills). I asked him about Kurukshetra as in the places which we could visit. He said “Wahi mandir makaan hai. Isse acha Delhi main jaiye aur mauj kijiye (It has the same old temples and architectures. It’s better to visit Delhi and enjoy your time over there)”. My itch subsided after talking to that demotivating bugger.
Before the bug could crawl up my mind we had reached Delhi. And the first thing we saw was the India Gate. I was just stunned to see it for the first time. It was majestic. And from there we could spot the Rashtrapati Bhavan too. So we decided to ride on the Rajpath (King’s road), the road between India gate and the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential home), and I can’t express my feelings, it’s considered as one of the most important roads in India, it is where the annual Republic Day parade takes place. I would say, New Delhi was very well planned and maintained. The roads were awesome, people obeyed the traffic rules, and it was clean; at least when we were there. It deserves to be the capital of India.
After checking out India gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan, we checked into a room at Paharganj, it’s somewhere between New Delhi and Old Delhi. My partner was exhausted due to the heat, so he decided to take his time off. And I was behaving as if I was on steroids or you can say Sun was going easy on me! So I decided to go ahead with our usual plan and the bad luck came along with me. Yeah, anyway I needed some company.
I had my lunch and started riding towards the Red Fort. When I had looked into the Map, it was just 2 KMs away from our room. And I thought it’s going to be a walk in the park and I was so wrong. Point to be noted here is, I had to cross Old Delhi to reach the Red Fort; and like the name goes, Old Delhi is an antonym of New Delhi. The problem was the road went through a market. After riding for 100 meters, I had to switch off the ignition and just enjoy the view of it. I am not really sure if ‘enjoy’ is the right word to describe the situation. The vehicles were not moving at all. After half an hour, I just wanted to get out of that place. But I was trapped in the jam. There was an Auto rickshaw in front of me, a horse staring at me on my left, an ox shitting on my right, and a cycle rickshaw which was almost parked in the luggage carrier of my motorcycle. And the Sun started poking on my face. Sounds fun, huh! I was cornered there for 2 hours, 2 fucking hours.
After struggling and crawling my way out of the jam, when I was almost about to reach the Fort, the police started sending back people due to heavy traffic, all the lanes were blocked. I had no other choice but to move on to my next destination, Lotus Temple. Red fort was a horrible experience; and after going through all that, I thought I would never come back for it. I was glad to get out of that mess.
The streak of bad luck didn’t end there when I reached Lotus temple, I got to know that it won’t be open on Mondays. And yes, August 22nd was a Monday, phew. After riding for 24 days, I had lost track of days and dates. So again, due to lack of choice, I had to move on to the next place, Qutub Minar. Accidentally, it was open but people were not allowed to go on top of it, maybe because it was too old to handle the load. Few monuments around Qutub Minar were already worn out. But I hope they are trying their level best to preserve one of the world heritage sites.
I came back to our lodge by 8 PM and with all its lights and colors, Paharganj was like Las Vegas at night. After taking a recess, we decided to go to Chandni Chowk for dinner, Old Delhi, again. I explained the situation which I faced earlier to my partner. And this time, we played it smart. We decided to walk those 2 KMs. There wasn’t much of traffic at night, it was nice, and we had our dinner and rode back on an exclusive Old Delhi rickshaw. The damn thing really helped in expediting my digestion process by mixing all the food we ate that night. But it was fun. By the way, we also decided to visit Red Fort and Lotus Temple the next day. And you thought I would give up huh! I never do 😀
P.S. I know the situation in Delhi has changed in the last few days and it has been declared as one of the most polluted cities in the world. I hope things come back to normal soon.