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: 27th August 2016; Intended Route: Adilabad – Hyderabad
“Expect the unexpected, believe the unbelievable, and achieve the unachievable”
We started from Adilabad at 10:30 AM. The road was like a runway, smooth as butter, and no potholes whatsoever, and we could fly if we wanted. And we did chase the light! We were cruising till we reached Hyderabad. I wanted to spend the night in Hyderabad but my partner was in a hurry and we came to a consensus that we would halt after crossing Hyderabad so that we won’t have much to cover on the next day. So we decided to skip the city and take the outer ring road (ORR) to cross Hyderabad and then catch the Bangalore highway. When we reached the ORR, there was a hoarding which said “2-Wheelers not allowed on the expressway.”
Again, we had no other choice but to move across the city and then take the highway to Bangalore. Since my mobile holder was broken, my partner was navigating using the GPS. The roads were densely populated. Due to the luggage and its weight I couldn’t ride fast through the traffic. I got stuck in it and my partner went past me. I stopped and tried to call on his mobile but it was unreachable. I dropped him a text, telling him to have his lunch and regroup on the Bangalore highway. It was already 2:30 PM and I was starving. I took a pit stop at Cafe Shadab. My eyes glowed as I saw a full chicken biriyani in front of me. I was craving for it; my mouth was watery in a dehydrating environment. I had a delicious chicken biriyani after a long time. I can’t say how it was because I was damn hungry and at that time even plain grass would seem lip-smacking to me.
Post lunch, I started navigating my way towards the highway. After a while, again, I saw an entry to ORR. This time, I was in a mood of my way or the highway. And I decided to take the expressway. As soon as I landed, I saw that vehicles were racing each other. I had to ride on the safety (emergency) lane to survive. Now I knew, why 2-wheelers were not allowed on the expressway! After few KMs, the expressway patrol stopped me. They said that 2 wheelers were not allowed and it is punishable in case if we break the law. And I was lucky that I was still in India. And there is always a chance to talk your way out of it. I negotiated with the officer for 5 minutes. At the end, I convinced him and he allowed me to ride on the expressway without any penalty. That was a special feeling! There was only my motorcycle among all the cagers and juggernauts. I got the privilege that no other motorcyclist had.
The highway to Bangalore started at the end of the ORR. And it was time to regroup. When I checked with my partner, he said he was 50 KMs ahead of me and he wanted to cover the distance (till Bangalore) on the same day and we didn’t have an agreement on it. I decided to take it easy and cover the distance the next day as we had planned earlier. After 150 KMs, I saw my partner standing on the side lane; he had realized that his plan wasn’t pragmatic. We had to fall back on the same plan which we had earlier and this time we were in sync.
Just a quick side note, my motorcycle has a history. I bump into troubles while returning from the trips, usually in the Bangalore city limits. And considering the length of our tour, 350 KMs on the milestone to Bangalore can be considered as a perimeter of Bangalore. Even this time, I was expecting something and it happened. At around 7 PM, I felt my rear tire was wobbling. Even though my partner was ahead of me I stopped my motorcycle to check the alignment of the wheel. When I touched the rear tire, it was burning hot. And I knew something was wrong. I stopped for 5 minutes; I thought it would cool down.
Once I started riding again, I decided to catch up with my partner. I accelerated to overtake a group of trucks. I must be at around 80 KMpH and my rear tire had burst. My motorcycle drifted all along the road. It was as if I was riding an out of control speedboat. I had a hard time to keep the balance on, otherwise, I would have tasted the road and the trucks behind me would have run over converting me to a live poster on road. I don’t know if it was my skill or the flow or my luck, fortunately, I controlled my motorcycle to the side lane.
In north India, it generally gets dark at around 7:30 PM but in south, its one hour prior. It was pitch black with no street lights. I tried to call my partner but again his phone was unreachable. I recollected that I had enrolled for a Road Side Assistance (RSA) program by Royal Enfield at Amritsar. I dialed the toll-free number for the RSA but nobody attended my call. After some time, the call got connected with my partner; I explained him the situation and asked him to come back. Since he was way ahead of me, I knew it would take a while for him to return. Meanwhile, I started unpacking and got all the tools ready to change the tube. I positioned the torch in such a way that I could see what I was doing. I removed the tire within a minute.
Removing something is always easy; the hard part is to put it back together. By the time I had removed the tire, my partner had arrived. I handed him the torch light and we switched on our mechanic mode. While removing the tube with a tire lever, I had accidently damaged the inner rubber wall sticking to the rim which prevents the spoke endings from damaging the tube. I had to cut the blown up tube to replace it with the rim-wall.
And when we were inserting the spare tube, a man stopped by. Though he didn’t look like an officer, the label on his bike said “Police”. He asked us if there was any problem in Telugu. Since we didn’t know Telugu and he didn’t know Hindi or English, we replied in a mixed slang and sign language; and told him that the tire had blasted due to heat and we were trying to fix it. He shook his head and got down from his bike. He extended his hand asking for the tools which I was holding; after I gave the tools to him, he switched on the flashlight in his mobile and gave it to me. I was wondering what he was trying to do. He took the spare tube from me and started putting it into the tire. The man was helping us without even asking! It generally doesn’t happen that way.
He inserted the spare tube and asked for the valve pin driver. And we all looked each other’s face when he asked for it! I had forgotten to buy that little thing as part of my toolkit. He said that there was a puncture shop within 5 KMs and we would be able to procure it there. So I took the tire, rode along with him and we got the valve pin tightened. Then the actual ordeal started, we had to fit the tire back to the motorcycle. We struggled a lot but after relentless attempts we did it. My motorcycle was up and running at 10 PM.
I invited him for dinner. We got to know that he was a cab driver. When I asked about the police sticker he said the bike belonged to his brother who was a police constable. As we were talking, he said he was just 28 years old and was married for 8 years and had a 5-year-old kid! And at the time of marriage, he was 20 and his wife was 14. I was shocked! But the thing of beauty is, even though he was not educated, he had the heart to stop on a secluded highway and help us without even asking.
At 10:30 PM, we checked into a room. As I was sitting outside, enjoying the midnight breeze and taking notes of the accounts which happened that day. The owner of the motel came by; he was an 18-year-old kid with tons of questions. He was curious about our journey. I answered him patiently till 12 AM. Thought it was a long day, I felt really energetic. And when I thought of going back to bed, I got a call from RE: RSA which I had called when my tire had blasted. It was more than 5 hours. And I tore apart the customer service guy and demanded this incident to be escalated.
Anyway, as I was going back to bed, I knew, tomorrow, at this point in time, I would be in My Room sleeping with my tongue out. As per the plan, it was going to be the last day of our voyage. I don’t know if I was happy or sad! It was a mixed feeling. We had 350 KMs more on the map and I just hoped for the best.
P.S. 1 more to go 😀