Sunday, June 17, 2012

A ride to remember

I like long rides. This time, I decided to make it really long, before I kiss my Enfield a goodbye(at least for the next 2 years). In retrospect, it also looks like the trip had great timing, now that petrol costs a little more than it takes to feed a village.

My bike
It took an email and about 10 minutes to convince Swarnesh to join my trip to Nepal. We set off from Hyderabad on a Friday afternoon. Since Nepal was not baaju Secunderabad, nor was it reachable by going seedha (aur dead end mein right), I was armed with a basic map which showed some towns along the highway where we could potentially crash, en route.

View Larger Map

Ilayaraja, Rahman, Steely Dan, Metallica and some Classic rock artists were forced to give me company - helps me not hearing the guys honking behind and also gives me the only opportunity to sing out loud with a non-critical audience. As I kicked the engine on from office, I took a nice look at the kilometer reading  and wondered how far the 2nd digit was gonna advance. The ride till the city limits was amusing to the people around, I guess. 2 idiots clad in black from top to bottom wearing thick jackets when it is 42 degrees celsius. One of them had it confirmed when he asked me where I was going and I told him Nepal. He was like "Nepal? Kya bol rahe ho aap? Bike se?" - Me: "haan bhayya bahuth accha bike hai" Him: "Haan woh toh hai..lekin.."*scratches head and waves goodbye*

NH7 - the better part of it. NH7

I hadn't yet realized the journey was going to be more fun than just reaching/exploring Nepal. Stops at random Dhabas, villages, chai shops for samose, chai, lassi, roti daal, chicken curry pretty much made my trip. Garam samose For the first night, after riding through some rain and covering 500+ kms, we landed up in Nagpur and crashed there after hogging dry chicken and beers. The hotel owner was convinced we are advertising "Googall"by biking through India. We rode towards Bhedaghat the next day, leaving Maharashtra and entering Madhya Pradesh - a state I would go to just for the lassi.

Bhedaghat was a gifted place - fantastic waterfalls and the marble rocks. Since Marble rocks had boats that carried half of MP in one ride, we decided to take a boat for ourself by paying some extra. The boatman was an interesting guy using puns and phrases to describe the rock formations, doing justice to the extra buck, we paid.
This place also served as a holy destination for hindu worshippers.
Marble rocks and the lake
Marble rocks1
Other than this beautiful waterfalls, Waterfalls Bhedaghat there are 3 reasons I remember Bhedaghat for:

a) The lucky coconuts: Coconuts are sold right outside the waterfalls area with the incentive that if people wish for something and throw the coconut in, the wish would come true. A fisherman stands next to where the whirlpool is that would send any object, including coconuts, to pass through it. He picks up all the coconuts and sells it back to the shops outside. #EpicWin!
b) A dive in time saves nine: As we were boating though the marble rocks, a kid positioned himself on one of the rock cliffs pretending to jump. I obviously screamed for him to stop, so I can click a photo. I did, as he jumped, and the next thing I know he surfaces near by boat asking me money for the picture. I gave him money and he swam back, walked up to the cliff and waited for his next customer (read idiot)
Show me the money
c) Chanced upon the board and I expected a room filled with gulab jamuns:


We rode towards Benares, leaving MP and into UP. I wondered if UP lorry drivers sat at Dhabas and discussed how many people they killed that day. Most of the near death accidents for me happened there. Heck - even the cattle on the road were on a mission to kill or get killed. Benares was probably the only place I could have just pani pooris for dinner. And I did.

The next day was about leaving India and entering Nepal via the Sunauli border. After another 500 kms, we stopped at the last Indian town to have chai and xerox  the documents required for crossing the border. Around 9 pm, we rode through an arch that read "Welcome to Nepal" - Swarnesh and I hi-fived and proceeded to get our entry permits. We had Nepali beers and Nepali sutta and crashed right across the border.
Nepali roads (Swarnesh in the reflection)
Nepal roads
The ride on mountains with a heavy downpour made it fun but slower. After a puncture and its fix...
Bike puncture
Nepali kids who were excited about our puncture
Nepali kids
...we reached Pokhara - a spectacular location. Another boatman with a brilliant idea - if we go to the waters at 4 30 am, he promised us the best view of the Himalayan range from Pokhara with a reflection on the lake. Pokhara also has superb eat outs encircling the lake.
Pokhara lake
My fav pic from the trip
Pokhara lake
The next day, we rode to Kathmandu, another very interesting place. I am just gonna leave readers now with some pictures since the post is already quite ....yaawwwnn
Paragliding at Sarangkot
A buddhist temple atop ~200 steps
Kathmandu temple

Many more punctures, lassis, chais, suttas, beers, conversations with people, dhabas, quick peeks at IPL scores on mini-television sets later...
Roti daal in MP
A boy from MP rolling tobacco (He tells me he also goes to school)
MP boy rolling tobacco

...we reached Hyderabad on the 11th day. As I slept, I wished I never stop riding...As I woke up, I remembered I had a job and got to work. Sigh.

Found this on the notice board at a harley rental in Nevada: You don't stop riding because you become old - You get old because you stop riding

Tibet, you're next. Cheers.


Ramya Sriram said...

Bloody awesome.

Unknown said...

Wow.. that sounds and looks like an amazing trip. Great photos too.. Very inspiring :) I'm going out on my bicycle NOW!

Afrin Catalano said...

Previous comment was me. Cheers :)

Sangavi said...

I am soooo jealous :( Nice post and lovely pics.

Nirmiti Barot said...

I totally agree with Sangavi, LOVED the post and the pics. Keep it going Vicky. Can't wait to see your pic when you land in Tibet :D or perhaps even somewhere in Europe...who knows :D

Vignesh said...

@All - thanks!

@Afrin - I saw Mr. Catalano in the office today - are you here as well?

@Sangavi, Nimi - pack your bags and travel ;)

Afrin Catalano said...

Only Mr Catalano :( I'm there in spirit :P But seriously, I miss HYD a lot.

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