September 27, 2005

The Trip to Nowhere - Part 2

Contrary to expectations, I did manage to get up early to get going on my trip. The sun was still hiding behind the mountains, when I gathered my gear and pushed off towards NH-4 which would take me towards Mahabaleshwar. There were no signs of rain, and it seemed like an awesome day to travel.

To reach Mahabaleshwar, I took the Pune-Satara highway, or the NH-4 for short, and kept following it till I got to Surul, where somebody had put up a board for me which said that I needed to take a right to go to Mahabaleshwar. So, I moved inwards, and could see the roads getting smaller, though still in very good shape.

I realized there that making the roads on the Ghats, was also an artform, though not too many people recognize or appreciate it. Throughout my trip, there were hardly any bends where it was difficult to make the turn. In most places, tilting the bike was enough to take you around without crossing your lane, and the fact that the same road was also used as easily by 14 wheelers, was commendable. I wonder if they make 3D models before actually setting foot on the hills to make those roads. They would make good models for a desi version of need for speed.

Within three hours I was standing outside Mapro in Mahabaleshwar. Amongst the fog, and the cold breeze, I had a thick strawberry shake. While strolling and talking to people around I found out that strawberries would be available three months late this year, thanks to the unprecedented amount of rainfall. Right outside Mapro I met a jyotish who spent a quality fifteen minutes with me, delivering a well rehearsed lecture on my future. Though I would keep most it to myself, I came to know that i'm going a have a very good time after March 2006. He also gave me a strange orange coloured stone with a lot of holes in it, which he said would make me a lot luckier, as if I need any more luck. Imagine getting all of this just for a cup of tea. So with good luck and knowing that I was going to have a good future, I started moving towards Poladpur.

The trip to poladpur seemed like travelling in pune. The roads were literally non-existant, and there were just some traces that a road might have existed there in some distant past. After an unevntful fourty kilometres and beautiful landscapes, I reached poladpur, where I hit the NH-17, coming from Mumbai.

Time passed quickly on the highway, except when I stopped to watch the aftermath of the two accidents that had occured last night. Soon I was in Khed, fifty kilometres from Chiplun, talking with a fellow motorist over a cup of tea. He was an experienced driver, with a lot of stories, from his travels. Someday, I wondered I would have some interesting ones of my own too. It was there that I realized that I had lost my headlight on the way, and my bike really needed to be washed. On looking at it, most people assumed I had been travelling from Delhi, as my registration and the state of my bike indicated. I didn't care enough to dispell the wrong notion which they carried, for it wasn't my making in the first place and secondly I would never see them again. After some talking I was told that I could find all the fixes for my bike in Chiplun, so after a quick break, and picking up some advice and a lot of stories, I was on my way again.

Chiplun wasn't half interesting as it's name suggested. Neither did the Yamaha showroom there give me anything that I needed. So I just picked up three spare bulbs to take me home. I wasted close to an hour there, after which I pushed off to the closest beach, before it was time to start on my way back.

The nearest beach was Guhagar beach, another small insignificant part of Maharshtra, another road less travelled, another fifty kilometres, another hour of driving and another hour of watching nature, as it should be seen. On reaching the beach, the first thing that I did was to look for some beer, which has become some sort of a personal ritual for me. First it was in college, when we went to goa, then it was every weekend of that one year in sydney, and now I was here today, looking for some. But unfortunately there was nothing, except a plate of bhel on this god forsaken beach. But some good samaritan told me that it'd be available in Chiplun. So in order to keep up my good mood, I picked up my bike and drove back fifty kilometres, picked up a bottle of Kingfisher and came right back to the beach, and enjoyed my beer and the beach just the way I had imagined last night, and travelled 400 kilometres for today.

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The rest of the photographs can be found at this site

The Warm Up - Part 1

There are so many things that need to be done, and so few that we actually end up doing. I didn't want travelling to be one of the latter, so I decided that before I plan to make any big moves, about covering thousands and thousands of kilometres on my old and tired bike, I needed to test if I was really prepared to go ahead with such an adventure. For things always seem so good in my head, but it can get very demanding to keep up with myself.

I had the Sunday off, so I decided to kick off my biking season by making a small trip to check out our capabilites, our includes, mine and my bike's. I have a two year old RX-135 which has been through some very difficult times, especially during my last year in college. I was also told that it wasnt't the kind of a bike you could take on trips. But well I had no other options, mostly because of the scarcity of time before the weekend.

Thanks to Shilpi, I came to a quick conclusion on where I could take myself, when she told me she was going to Ratnagiri for the weekend. I decided that if she was taking all the trouble of fixing up with people and hiring a cab to go there, it just might be worth checking out. After some planning, I decided to travel from Pune to Mahabaleshwar to Chiplun and back. All in all the map said that I would have covered around 580 kilometres by the end of it all, which seemed enough for a first timer like me. But I had no idea if I was going to be able to keep up with the schedule. Finally I went off to sleep, inspired, and charged, for the next day was going to be a lot different than any of the ones which had followed it.

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September 21, 2005


So finally after an year and a half, I managed to get leave from office. I now have the power to turn it into four whole weeks of sitting on the couch or four weeks of travelling or even four weeks of preperation for CAT. Each day brings new ideas along with it. Though it is confusing, but in a nice way. There are a whole lot of books I have to read, a whole bunch of movies waiting to be seen.

But I have my mind fixed on doing some travelling. Not the usual flying to delhi and sitting at home or going to goa and getting stoned. This would be about spending some time in the, as the foreigners say, mystical India. There are a lot of places I would like to see, but as time is restricted, and so is the budget, I would limit myself to three.

Getting stoned in Goa is compulsory, so that leaves me with two more places to go to. There are four strong contenders, the first being Rajasthan, the far flung places where all you see is sand. If I goto Rajasthan, it would be somewhere around Jaisalmer. The second option is the backwaters in Kerela. I have never been south, as in below Goa. Though technically I spent the last year in Australia, but that doesn't count. Besides people say it's lovely. The third place on my mind is the jungles in Arunachal. Seductive as it may sound, it would need a lot more preperation than I'm prepared for. The fourth would be Leh, the desert in the Himalayas. Terrific place to spend your holidays in, but you need two weeks to get accustomized to the place, which I can't afford. Finally, there is Lakshwadeep, a beautiful place, but in the middle of nowhere. Better looking and less crowded that Goa probably. But good nonetheless.

I still have three weeks to go, so there's plenty of time, for more preperations and more ideas. So drop some here if you get any.

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