25

Day ∞: Epilogue

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.

Intended Route: To infinity and beyond

 

“The end is in the beginning and lies far ahead.”

They say that traveling changes you. I rode through mountain passes, swamp, desert, woods, and streams; I had borne heat, cold, rain, and storm but I can’t say that those 30 days transformed me as a different person altogether but something was different, some things had changed, I could feel it. Those few days made me feel that I could bear pain, I could live in solitude, and I was ready to face any challenge in my life.

I was lying on my bed that night, and I knew that it was over. My journey from Ocean to Mountains has come to an end. And all of a sudden, my life took a U-Turn. After 30 days, which went like a blink, I would wake up tomorrow and instead of wearing the riding jacket and denim, I would be wearing a formal shirt and pant; instead of thump in my ears, I will be hearing clicks of keyboards, instead of the wind in my face, I will be sitting in an air-conditioned cubicle. Endings are always messy. You know, it was not the fall that killed people; it was the sudden stop in the end. But everything that begins has an end!

I reached the office that day and my friends asked me, “Why did you go on such a long ride? Didn’t you get bored? How did you manage your leaves? What was the budget? Did you book the accommodation in advance? Show us the pictures” and ‘N’ number of questions which I can’t remember. People were wondering how I managed it!

Was I ready for such a trip? No! I don’t even know how I managed. But I did it! It was my dream. Maybe, it’s my love or passion for riding. The 3 keywords – dream, love, and passion, are commonly used clichés but I believe that they are the root of anything you want to achieve in life, and everything begins with it. I would just say there is no right time to do the right thing. If you wanna do something, trust me, you just have to start, and all the shuffled pieces will fall in its place.

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. If you have a dream, you gotta protect it, people will always ask questions, they will doubt you, they will challenge you but don’t worry there will be those who will back you, support you, and help you when you really need it. The only thing you gotta do is to protect your dream!

 

P.S. Is it the end? No, there is no real ending to it. It’s just the place where I decided to stop the story. After a couple of days, I took an extended leave and rode till Kanyakumari (Southern-most tip of India). From July 30th to September 5th, in those 38 days, I crossed 14 States; had 12,000 Kilometers under my belt and a ton of memories. As the saying goes, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Thanks a lot for sticking with me till the final post of India: Ocean to Mountain series (click here to view the photographs). I hope you enjoyed it. And please feel free to reach out in case if you need any help to plan such road trips, it would be my pleasure!

Now, it’s time for Layla 😀

9

Day 29: The Prophecy​

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 😀

22

Day 28: Lost and Broke

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: 26th August 2016; Route: Seoni – Hyderabad

 

“Not all those who wander are lost – Tolkien”

I was getting a bad feeling from the time I woke up nothing like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed! I don’t know why I felt that way but it proved to be right at the end of the day! We started from Seoni at around 8:30 AM. We had to cross Pench National Park to enter Maharashtra. The road through the forest was not that great, it was filled with potholes, and I have this tendency to ride fast when I am angry. Though I was not exactly angry, something was not right. I was in some mood which I can’t explain; and I was riding a bit rash, as in not respecting the pot holes. While I was speeding through the woods, I saw a couple struggling to fasten their luggage with the bungee cord. I guess it was broken. By the time I thought of stopping and asking them if they needed any help, I had crossed half a mile.

After leaping through few potholes, I felt that my motorcycle was getting misbalanced at the curves. When I parked my bike to see what’s wrong, I noticed that I had lost a bungee cord and one of my bags was on the verge of my pillion seat. Fortunately, I stopped at the right time otherwise, considering my luck, things would have gone off-balance and I would have tasted the road. I wish the couple would have found my bungee cord and it might have helped them in some way or the other. (It’s called giving it back to the society; yeah, I am compassionate at times too).

Anyway, after crossing the jungle, we stopped at a roadside Dhaba for the breakfast. Generally, an “Aloo Paratha” is either baked in Tandoor or roasted in a Tawa. These idiots, they made it in Tandoor and afterward, they fried it in oil, and no doubt it tasted like shit. I felt, a pile of dirt would have been better. I don’t like to waste food but the cook gave me no other choice. I had to do it this time. We left the place as soon as we could.

There were quite a lot of speed breakers on the highway. While I was sailing through a series of speed breakers, a guy waved his hand, pointed at my luggage and said something. From his expressions, I figured out something was not right! Since I had plugged in my earphones, I had no idea what he said. By the time I paused the music, the guy went past. However, I stopped my motorcycle to inspect if everything was in its place. Soon after another guy came from behind and told me that one of my jerry cans had fallen off few KMs back and one of the guys took it and ran away. My luck! There was no point in going back and finding him and threatening him to return my jerry can. I accepted the fact and decided to move on.

Next, it was our turn to get lost in the city of Chandrapur. We missed to take a diversion and we got lost in the city. When we were trying to navigate our way out using the GPS, my mobile holder gave up. It was tested in all conditions. In the end, its claws were broken; after bearing extreme heat, rain, and winter; it took its last breath in peace. I unscrewed it and gave it away to Mother Earth.

Somehow, after riding for an additional 70 KM we found the highway to Hyderabad. After 27 days, we saw the first milestone saying “Bangalore – 893 KMs”, and we knew we were not far away from Home. Since we had a couple of days and only a few more KMs to go, we decided to crash in a lodge after sunset at Adilabad.

 

P.S. I have come a long way and I am glad that you are part of my 50th post. It’s a half century 😀

5

Day 27: Rain Dance

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: 25th August 2016; Route: Khajuraho – Nagpur

 

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything – Plato”

I found some self-satisfaction early in the morning when I saw some dead cattle on the road, I wanted to run over them myself yesterday, but someone else had already avenged for me (yeah, I am an asshole at times). Anyway, when we reached in the perimeter of Khajuraho, first thing I saw was a naked man walking on the street and behind him, there were few gentlemen marching, and I have no idea what the fuck they were trying to do and I didn’t even stop to ask, I just closed my eyes for a couple of seconds and tried to erase that image out of my memory; I looked straight and rode on. That image still haunts me at night.

“Khajuraho temples are famous for their Nagara-style architectural symbolism and their erotic sculptures. Most Khajuraho temples were built between 950 and 1050 by the Chandela dynasty. Historical records note that the Khajuraho temple site had 85 temples by the 12th century, spread over 20 square kilometers. Of these, only about 20 temples have survived, spread over 6 square kilometers. Of the various surviving temples, the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple is decorated with a profusion of sculptures with intricate details, symbolism, and expressiveness of ancient Indian art” – Wiki

Khajuraho was very well maintained. When I was exploring the temples, I felt, people who sculptured it must have had crossed their sexual peak and would have been at their erotic best to slice those figures. I remember there was carving where a naked woman was trying to seduce a dragon, yes a dragon, not a man. Now you know why people give you that “naughty boy” look whenever you say that you have been Khajuraho. It was fun to watch how the various statues were portrayed with respect to sexuality. When I was coming out of one of the temples, I saw a couple of guys, clicking each other’s pictures at the gate. I waited for my turn to take a picture. As soon as they saw me, they moved on. I told them to relax and take their own time to click the snaps. One of them asked me “Oh, so you are an Indian!” (Where the heck do people of North India think I am from? Pa*istan! At times, people make me believe that I really look like a terrorist. WTF man, do I?)

I replied, “Yeah buddy, I am from Kerala”. And we started talking. They were natives of Khajuraho. He asked me if I understood the meaning of the sculptures. I said, “Not really, I was just trying to figure out what the sculptures were trying to depict”. Then he started explaining, damn, the way that guy was explaining brought my curiosity back to history. It’s really interesting to know that even people from such remote areas have vast knowledge about India and are aware of its culture more than the so-called enlightened urban inhabitants.

After talking to them, I felt, unlike the popular belief, only around 10% of these sculptures represented sensuality, the rest of them were displaying various aspects of daily life of potters and farmers at work, musicians composing, women dressing up, etc.

There were only 3 days left, the plan was to reach Nagpur by the end of the day, then to Hyderabad on the next day and then to Bangalore on the day after. The ride was almost over. As per the plan, it was time for us to ride towards Nagpur. And after 26 days, I couldn’t resist my urge to listen to music anymore. I pulled out my earphones and plugged them after a long time. God, I missed my earphones. I was singing and dancing to the tunes of Eric Clapton. If I am ever having a bad day, the only thing I need is my motorcycle and my earphones; and it’s more than enough to bring back that smile on my face.

As we were cruising towards Nagpur, it started raining badly after 6 PM. We had no choice but to halt 200 KMs from Nagpur. Anyway, we had an additional buffer day which we could utilize in case the weather got worse the next day.

 

P.S. I was trying to bring a closure to my trip diary before I turned 27 which happened a couple of days back but I couldn’t help being a procrastinator 😛

So the extended goal is it to finish it by end of this month, if not; 2017 for sure!

3

Day 26: Downcast

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: 24th August 2016; Intended Route: Agra – Sagar

 

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” – Buddha

If you ask any of the professional riders, they don’t consider it as a really good practice to listen to music while riding. They say the music distracts the rider and it might cause accidents as well. And that’s one of my bad habits. I need my earphones; I must listen to music when I ride. But on this expedition, it was day 26, and I was still riding without music. My bull’s thump was the most melodious music my ears could get. And I was enjoying every beat of it.

Anyway, today was the day when we got to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal. My expectations were sky high, I had heard a lot about it. It was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shahjahan in the loving memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Maybe that’s why they refer it to as an epitome of love. People also say that depending on what time of the day it is and whether or not there’s the moon at night, Taj Mahal appears to be of a different color every time. Some even believe that this changing pattern of colors depicts different moods of a woman.

All this hype around Taj just made me more excited and curious. Since it was a weekday, we were not expecting a lot of crowd but when we reached there, things were different. I started getting a bizarre vibe, it was like a market. People were sitting on the 2-wheeler parking and having food besides a pile of cow dung. The guy who was selling the parking tickets was even asking for money to watch out the luggage. He said he will not be responsible if someone runs away with the luggage, in short, he was asking money to stop himself from stealing our luggage. And we had to give him 10 bucks not to steal our luggage. Holy mother of god!

The ticket counter was a mile away from the parking lot, in that one mile; the vendors were trying to sell me, anything and everything available on this face of the earth. They would even sell the Taj Mahal to you if you would ask! There was a chaos of different level altogether at the Ticket counter. It was like a first day, first show of the most awaited movie of the year. As we descended into the anarchy, we saw that men were just shouting and screaming but women were fighting, they were literally combating with each other to get the tickets. That scene convinced me that India’s woman empowerment scheme has come a long way. And who ever survived the war got the tickets. And I walked out of the queue alive with two entry tickets in my hands.

After getting the tickets, there was another to queue to enter Taj Mahal. While we were entering the Taj, one of the policemen walked up to me and asked: “Do you have an Indian Identity Proof?”And everyone was looking at me as if I had committed a crime. There were 1000s of people in the queue and why am I the only who gets to show the ID proof to enter the Taj. I felt like the government had issued a shoot at sight order against me. I showed the ID and they started frisking me. And lightheartedly I said, “Yeah, check everything thoroughly; you never know what’s inside the jacket!” The security guy laughed allowed me to pass.

Now, imagine you have been waiting for hours to see your favorite guitarist perform but he comes on the stage with his limbs fractured. You feel bad, the entire situation sucks, right! I felt the same. When we finally got in, we saw that it was under renovation. All the supporting structure around the Taj just spoiled the view. It was disappointing.

Earlier, when I was standing in the queue one of the tour guides had said: “when you leave; you take the Taj with you in your heart.”And I just wanted to find that son of a bitch and whack his face. I felt dejected, maybe because of my high expectations or maybe I would have had a cheerful memory of Taj if I would have visited the place at a different time of the year.

Anyway, we left Taj within a couple of hours and started riding towards Sagar. Once we crossed Jhansi, I felt like taking the diversion towards Khajuraho. Since it was not on our itinerary, I had to check with my partner and arrive at a consensus. We discussed and took the call to go for it. The road from Jhansi to Khajuraho was flushed with cows. After every 2 KMs, there were tens of cows standing in the middle of the road chewing some shit and blocking the entire road, my hatred reached to such an extent that I felt like kicking on their face and send them off to Kerala (one of the proud beef eating states of India). The roads were scenic but the smell of the dung and the change in the color of the road due to the same spoiled the show.

After a while, it started raining too and the rain drops were as big as a middle finger of a nine-year-old, saying “on your face, bitch”. But luckily, the rain stopped after 15 minutes. Since it had rained, I had to keep my visor open to avoid the reflection in my eyes. And an open visor invites all the insects inside your helmet and once an insect gets inside your helmets, it very much likes to whisper ‘fuck you’ in your ear. As I was almost about to crash into a truck while chasing an insect out of my helmet, I decided to call it a day. It was not one of the best days we had but it was not that bad either.

 

P.S. I beg to all the driders out there, please do not use high beam at night 🙂

3

Day 25: The Capital

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: 23rd August 2016; Route: Delhi – Agra

 

“Try and fail but never fail to try”

After going through the previous day’s mess, we decided to start early in the day so that we could skip the market traffic. Still, it took around an hour to reach the Red Fort. It is one of the historical monuments of utmost significance built by the Mughal emperor, Shahjahan. Every year, on Independence Day, our Prime Minister gives a speech addressing the people of the nation and hoists the tricolor at the Red Fort. And it would have been a shame to overlook the place. I am glad that we came back for it.

While we were strolling on the Fort’s avenue, a couple of guys sitting on the bench shouted and asked “Oye, Kashmiri ho kya (Hey you! Are you from Kashmir?)”. That tone pissed me off. Even though I am not from Kashmir, I felt bad for the people who belonged to that place. Not everybody in Kashmir is a radical fanatic (I am trying to sugar-coat it but just in case you didn’t get it, I meant terrorist). I know, from certain angles, I might look like a terrorist too but I was offended by the stereotypic image which they were trying to create. I swear, in that moment, I felt like punching on their face but I just ignored them and moved on.

It took more than a couple of hours to check out the fort. It’s not just a fort; it has more to it than meets the eye, it’s a must visit place in Delhi. Despite the fact that the British had damaged the monuments and buildings inside, it has been refurbished and maintained in the best of its conditions. But don’t worry; even if you are from England, we Indians are generous enough to welcome you with open arms. And we would be glad if you could just walk in with the diamond, studded on your Queen Mother’s Crown, which rightfully belongs to us 😛

After Red Fort, it was time for Lotus temple. A 2001 CNN report even referred to it as the most visited building in the world. And I was expecting a lot from it, owing to its obvious comparison with Sydney Opera house. Since it was closed yesterday, I got only a glimpse of it. But this time, we were even prepared to trespass in case it was closed. To our surprise, they allowed us to visit the place. And I should say it’s an architectural beauty. The flower-like shape looks sexy from the outside but when we went inside, there was nothing. I know it was a Bahá’í House of Worship, but to me, it just looked like a church without the figure of Jesus.

It was a tricky situation for me. The worst thing about me is my brain interprets certain things in the opposite way. If someone tells me something serious and says do not laugh, the only thing I am sure of is I am gonna laugh my heart out. It’s not like I laugh at the funerals but at times I can’t resist the urge. There I was; in a similar situation, everybody was supposed to be silent inside the hall. I controlled myself and tried to put my shit together. As I was looking around to see if I was the only one who had that itch to giggle, my eyes caught her attention, she was a foreigner. We looked at each and started smiling, for no reason. Damn, she was hot. Once we got out, I wanted to talk to her but I thought it won’t be right to ditch my partner in the middle of the ride. So I decided to leave the rest of the things to my imagination (hmm, I am quite a dreamer) and hit the road to Agra.

Meanwhile, I also met an old time buddy. It was nice to catch up after a long time. After conversing for an hour or so, we were on our way. It was already half past two, and we were starving. When we had stopped for lunch, one of the guys came up to us and asked if it was “Ganga Jal” in the jerry can. As per Hindu tradition, Ganga Jal is the last thing you consume before you die.  And carrying it in the jerry can is like carrying a coffin along with us. “WTF! Man, are you fucking crazy. Either you are dumb to ask such question or that was a lame joke. Both ways, you need help.” this is what I wanted to say. But what I said was “No, it’s just petrol”.

After this and the incident at the Red Fort, I felt like the government should dispatch every single dumb human being of Delhi to Agra. FYI, Agra is famous for 2 things, Taj Mahal (apparently) and lunatic asylum. And I am evidently not referring to Taj Mahal. Oh, and the chief minister would be a good start.

 

P.S. People from Delhi, you guys are wonderful. Just to clarify, I am kidding. I know you guys have the tendency to start MC, BC at first sign of trouble. Please don’t curse me to death.

Do I sound offensive? Yeah, even I don’t think so 😛

7

Day 24: The Curse

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.