19th Dec- went to mrt to meet parents. Had lunch.pushed at 5. Took the lesser known khatauli-shamli-karnal road. Stopped at a theka, had few shots of old monk. Road thru fields but broken. Met a constable who piloted me to a better road. Dark by that time, certain lonely stretches. Stopd at police barricade. Dogs havin an orgy. Inspector runs to clear them up than chk my papers. Go easily.
On NH 1. Stopd under a banyan tree near a village pond to hav a swig of rum agn. Panipat crossed. Went straight to chandigarh isbt. Knew I’d find sme hotel there. Instead found a passenger lodge-50 bucks to stay for night with all facilities.
20th- off to simla
Sme cute chicks in a scorpio, riding along a few kms till a railway crossing with a long jam. Stopd for jam to clear, fild up my fuel tank with rum and up up and away. Cool breeze, colorful trees with autumn colors in winter. Bike ridin smooth, no signs of tiredness, sweetly takin the curves, no hesitation in accelerating to overtake. But my fuel started finishing out. After quite a few kms found a spur to park the motorcycle and take couple of sips of rum. Another guy on Bullet with a long jacket was alredy there. I stopd, looked at him, got down and opened the bag. By this time the guy was ready to leave, I looked at him agn and took out the bottle. As he left I saw boldly written police on the back of his jacket. I cursed- u had to choose this place only to drink.
Finishd all rum and was agn on the go. Saw an old man and his son in shorts and carryin small bags ridin a bicycle. Dint look like they were goin to simla on cycles. Too far to go on cycles and small bags indicated this. 2 memorable overtakes. 1. Two long big trucks carryin maruti cars. Both together were a long train and goin painfully slow. The turns were such that I kudnt look far enuf to overtake safely. I knew only acceleration was not the ans here. Patience-thas wat I required here, and ridin thunderbird I knew I needed it. Trailed them slowly, waitin for the right chance. It was a long and slow pursuit. Saw my chance and overtook the 1st truck to make space between them. I had to be careful to not slow them down. They were heavy and on full power mode. If slowed down, it was gonna take helluva effort to get them going again. Slow, slow and slow I moved separating the two trucks. At an opportune moment, I accelerated and i was free.
The 2nd one was overtaking an army convoy. The length of vehicles was less but the nmbr of trucks was large. The astonished and admiring looks of soldiers on seeing me all loaded riding a motorcycle alone was appeasing.
One more thing that left a smile on my face when I was jus sittin and watchin vehicles go by was a bus full of college girls. The dreamy look on their faces while watching me esp on one spectacled cute chick simply left me soaring above the clouds. A few minutes later, 2 guys on separate bajaj avengers passesd by; possibly their grlfrnz were on that bus. Havnt I seen guys doin that in my days?!
Neway! Soon I overtook them and later stopd to get more fuel for my body. Dint find old monk rum but was suggestd himachal made ‘commando’ rum. I chose to stik wid rum. Over the years, I hav lernt not to mix drinks wile driving. As I was mounting thunderbird after a few swigs, the two kids stopd by me and askd if I was riding alone. I said yes and they wre awestruck. In fact, as many ppl I met and told I was riding alone in the hills in this weather were simply amazed ranging frm kids, family men, army men, truck drivers and so on. They say it’s very maniacal but brave. If luv for riding is crazy, yes its maniacal. And the only bravery I find was to convince dad that nutinz gonna go wrong if I go on motorcycle. Lol.
It was almost dark wen I reachd Simla. I generaly keep no track of time esp wen I’m on a brk and ridin. Time becomes meaningless then. I kno I will reach where I’m headed and time cannot stop me frm doin what I want or wat I need to do. Its more fun and knowledgable in stopping while ridng, admiring nature’s beauty, muse over life and death than be bound by time. It also has to do with my belief on eternity. If u r eternal, u transcend time. U r present in all the times- past, present or future. time stops existing in this stage.
Parkd my bike. Went up the lift to mall and reachd Amit’s emporium. Tea I alredy had at canteen of the parking. Washd my face, put on my leather overcoat and went to stroll the mall wile amit was bzy managing his shop. I always find it amusing to watch various types of reaction ppl have on seeing me. Intention is not to make ppl react but I look like that only. I kno I look weird but thas how I am. These reactions I’d talk about later as they themselves need a lot of pages.
I visited Gaurav at his shop. He was delighted to see me afta so many years. He’s another one of those ppl who understand me and my ideals and respect them. He said he’ll be joinin me n amit soon.
Soon after I perched myslf on a bench near amit’s shop on mall rite in frnt where Vodafone was organizing a roadshow to grab a foothold in the simla market. As gaurav came, we sped off to La Glace, a frequently haunted bar. Had few drinks and was time to leave. We came down to amit’s shop frm where we loaded my luggage into amit’s car and I went down to parkin. We stopd at amit’s parents’ home to meet his mom (amit shiftd to another house afta few years of his marriage).
Down to amit’s house is a steep turn and a narrow, steep road. I’d been until now rollin down without engine turned on using my feet on ground and front brake as brakes. As I negotiated the steep turn, motorcycle ran too fast for me to use rear brake. Using feet as brakes was useless, using front brakes at this speed doenward was inviting bruises, abrasions and possible fractures.
Then I saw another road diverge to a flat terrace where I kud land safely along with my motorcycle. Shift there n ground still. I u-turnd and saw amit standing at the turn. I shouted and said that I will start my motorcycle and then glide down to their terrace. Vrrroooommmm….. and I was at their doorstep. Rina opened the door and some kids were shouting inside. Ha Ha Ha… they were kids frm skool who stayed at their place on rent. I met them and came to know that they were on vacation frm skool and staying back for tuitions. They stdied a bit, came to wish me Happy B’day, had drinks with us and went off to sleep. I slept on the couch after getting drunk.
Dec 21- my b'day
By morning, I had cot cold and my calf muscles were stiff from dragging those lead hevy boots. I was sleepy and needed rest. But it was a bright morning, sun coming in right thru the windows. I woke up and we planned to go to Spas Lodge for lunch. I slept thru the way. Now was the question of cash crunch. The place was, I was told, listed in Lonely Planet and was famous for trout and pasta. I asked if they accepted credit cards; they didn’t. I asked for the menu and saw pricelist. Ah! who’d find delicacies at such kewl prices?! All within the cash I was carrying.
I’d never seen and eaten such trout before. I decided to keep my vegetarian status aside for a day. The manager showed us how to separate the head and thorns. It was delicious. Pasta n boiled trout. We left for helipad. Before I knew where we were going, I was asleep.
I rememeber reaching house, wrapping myself I n a blanket and quilt in room where akash was staying as PG. At 7 pm I remember rina’s voice- Gur Bal… get up. Its 7.
Hell!! I slept thru my b’day!! Ha ha. Gud for me… kudnt hav received better gift frm mom… carefree sleep!!
Then it was like fewe drinks n then dinner and off to gud sleep.
Nxt morning. By afternoon, I’d decided to go to Naldhera. Amit was at his shop, I had no desire to roam the m all. But drinks were over and I dint wanna sleep. So I decided to visit naldhera and taste another delicacy in sanjauli. I pikd my free stuff, enuf for frnz in Delhi n Gurgaon, and on to confront demons from hell. rode off on rolling naldhera roads. Many things and reactions I noticed on the way, but the one that caught my eye were flying lammergeir. I’d never seen them at these lower heights; they were birds of higher mountains. My 2 year stay in Uttarkashi as a child had made me see birds of greater heights.
Near extinction of Indian vultures has created space for Lammergeir, Eurpoean griffin and other vultures who migrated and took their place.
I remember parents’ call yesterday while I was riding to Naldhera- wishing me on turning 30. oh well, I'm getting older. On reaching the golf course, i parked motorcycle for free at a tea stall. i had tea and the guy assured me that motorcycle was safe there. i took the entry tickets and stolled in through the gate, thwarted attempts for pony ride and moved on. an upward climb it was.
on reaching the flat area, i ordered a coffee and sat on a tree log as there were no empty chairs. some skool kids had apparently come on tour to Simla. visit to naldhera is an essential part of skool trips. even i came here when i was in skool. 2 kinda cute girls were trying to catch my eye. unfortunately, they did not realize that i was on a different trip and uninterested. had my coffee, smoked a cigarette and pushed off.
as i strode ThunderBird, a firang family was also boarding their car. they, especially the kid, looked at the beauty and the beast admiringly. as always, everybody stopped and watched with bated breath for me to start the motorcycle. This is another loved trait of an Enfield. anywhere and everywhere i'm about to start her, people watch with awe in their eyes. the kid was overwhelmed with reverence as i thundered off.
In evening, Amit and I went on a binge and arrived home late. Rina was upset and did not allow us in bedroom. we slept in the living room.
22 Dec- leisure day
nutin intersting to remember. wore the day off at Amit's shop strolling the mall & drinking with Amit, Gaurav & Shashwat (another junior from college).
23 Dec- depart Simla
woke up in the morning, had coupla rum shots and began cleaning the steed. had lunch and left around 1:00 pm. smooth n easy ride down the hills. stopped at a dhaba in evening, slept an hour on the charpaai and left after 2 swigs of rum. reached gurgaon late night, snuggled into the quilt and slept.
24 Dec- sleep quota
slept until noon. had a bath, cleaned the place and went out for some light food. the evening was reserved for christmas party at Nitin's place. dresses up in my slightly gothic way and reached his rooftop café. spent the night drinking and chatting up with galz at the party. in the morning I find myself sleeping in Nitin's studio. Stuti woke me up for coffee, had lunch looking at Nitin's paintings.
there was no plan on what I'd do after coming back from Simla. I did not know where I'd go next. the only plan was that i'll spend the last days of year riding and burning the tarmac (if indian roads had tarmac!). At 3:00 pm, i was off to meerut.
reaching there i found that mom n dad had left for the farm in shahjahanpur- 300 km from meerut. the day was Thursday, 25 Dec. i also found that i was needed there for some legal procedures but not until monday, Dec 29.
26 Dec- rest
riding long distances in peak of winters with backpack is not easy. i was drained of energy and needed to recuperate. motorcycle also needed rest after covering those distances. so i decided to spend the day curled up in bed after giving the babe a bath.
27 Dec- motorcycle madness
the easy way was to go to shahjahanpur on a bus, finish the work on monday and come back to meerut on bus. but i was gripped with the idea of burning the desire of riding which i had not done for quite a long time and spend the time my way. like i said earlier, time had no meaning in this adventure. at afternoon, i kicked ThunderBird to life and on my way to shahjahanpur.
the road from meerut to garhmukteshwar is a narrow road which then joins NH-24, the highway linking delhi and lucknow. ride until garh was pleasant as the road runs through countryside without too much traffic, and i joined NH 24 happily.
i knew that NH 24 was under transformation to a 6-lane but did not know that the work was slow. there were half-made stretches, most road broken. there were unridable detours from the main highway. it was all dusty and not very pleasant ride.
sunlight fades away early during winters and i was slowed down by the untrasversable roads. darkness had started to creep in before i reached moradabad. another police checkpost. i had my papers in order and not to worry. just while checking, i happened to mention that my dad was once DIG (Police), Moradabad range. the cop was suddenly apologetic and asked me to have tea and snacks at the police station. i told him that i didn't have time and needed to go to shahjahnapur asap. he gave me his phone number and told me that if police stops me on the way i just had to ring him up. i thanked and rode off.
the railway crossing between moradabad and rampurw as jammed with traffic, a common occurrence. i remembered the time when i was stuck there for hours and hours in a car on my way to lucknow. however, being on a motorcycle, there was place for me to sneak through the whole queue and be the 1st one to fly away as soon as the gates open.
i was in Bareilly until 9 o' clock. I stopped by the bus station to have some tea. i was not carrying rum/whisky on this ride and tea was necessary. come 9:30 pm and lo! behold! fog had set in. just once the though crossed my mind, "was it wise to go on a ride at this hour?" i'd seen accidents happen in this road due to foggy conditions. but i bolstered myself, "i have rode through these conditions earlier on my way to jaipur and had the added responsibility of Gudz riding with me. I can do it again."
i rode on, recollecting all the steps (generated by me) to take while riding in fog- keep riding near the edge of road, consider illusions as reality (yes, there are many illusions if you ride/drive in fog), honk at the 1st stimulus, enhance auditory senses, and of course go slow. the ride became tougher with no convoys on the way; there were no landmarks to tell where i was. i was in complete 'tunnel vision' mode . i would have rode to hell and not stop.
I had lost sense of time and did not realize that i had travelled further than the farm. fortunately, the next landmark, bareilly mod, was not far away. i took a U-turn scanning the roadside for the board which indicated farm's location. it was 1 am when i reached the farm