Thursday, October 27, 2005

Rain and me.

Bangalore had the wettest of 50 years. I find riding fun, the 40 km a day demanded by my second job could only be addressed via either a cab or a bike. The four wheel option is horrendously slow on hosur rode, sum it up with integral timings and restrictive pick-ups, the alternative biking is truly a prudent and pleasure filled choice. Infact snaking between cars and trucks, zooming on the footpaths, detours on service roads leaving the traffic struck for its own good is peace in itself. The heaviest traffic jams and slushy raods were paid in full for with just few specks of mud on visor, jacket and soiled pants.

I knew exactly where to jump lanes, raise the throttle or clutch and go down the gears. I had had driven the hosur road and its adjoining service roads in all combinations, till the driving became an activity of rote. Then some day, the ride lost all its sheen. It was just like playing the first few stages if Mario where a accomplished player can blindly jump over all the obstacles and catch the flag at its tallest point in a go. Here even though I wanted it very much wanted to ride blind, it was not to be so for hosur road never gives you 1-ups.

Most of the times the ride is like the first stage in Mario, accelerate, break, wait, trample, jump ahead. and when it rains it is like the slippery ice stage. When sometimes rarely I got struck in traffic, waiting was like waiting you do for the two devils( who throw axes at you), jump higher platforms so that you can sneek through. But the fun was diminishing with each ride finally it felt like that thing which happens when you jump over the flag. You keep running and running no obstacles and no fun, only running to do till the times rolls over and your character pops out of the screen.

But still there was flexibility and it the petrol bill roughly equaled cab charges.

Then it came oct 25, rains and rains the days before, but more vitally that date contained the night which leads to light of 26 and to a buddies birthday. The rains before and rains that day jailed me where I was with a battery zero. I had to wait for another oct 25 to wish my buddy “happy birthday” in the dead of night. I wished him the next day though but still I know I will have a lot of convincing to do, the thought sends a shudder and freezes my heart, which the people who have chanced to meet the dear friend would readily agree. That night at the electronic cites threw an option before me. I would move my two suitcases, one big and other not so big and my heavy duty bag and start living there. Bangalore, don’t worry I will come visiting every weekend and maybe more.
But the respective merits are still being evaluated.

P.S: I started out to criticize the weather; it was horrible the full week. .Let the lakes lay where they laid.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Three guys three bikes.

At 2:30 Milind applied brakes to park his bike besides the feiro, waiting at jaynagar. After a quick chat we joined Rishi at Kempagowda petrol bunk. It was going to be my first road trip, the smooth surfaces which we are seeing around these days, made me feel confident bout 800+ km of cruising. The trip started with slight drizzle and good roads, 15mts later the drizzle started to bite on exposed skin. The cracked visor on milinds bike was unable to stop a deviant drop from hitting the head light, the halogen lamp went out with a crinkling burst, the first sacrifice.

We braved rains, bad roads, damp undies, a night ride with one head light less, socked socks, fictious tigers, snaking ghats, three punctures, two of them in wilderness.

But why did we go? Curtly it could be answered, cause there was a road, but screw you man, there was no road in our case, it was pebbles and dirt, held sometimes at the sides by ***suppostabe tar.

The plan was Bangalore –Mysore – Margadi – Mangalore –Bangalore, 800kms of cruise was what we were ready for. The rains and the absent roads cut that down to 680kms of spine stirring experience through Bangalore- Mysore – Kushalnagar – Namdoyling monstry – Hognagal Dam- Bisle Ghats – Kuke – Shirdi ghats – Sakelspur - Hassan- Bangalore.

Chapters follow.

It rains at bidadi
Rishi shot ahead, I was keeping along with Milind. We had driven for nearly 8 kms in heavy downpour, drenched till undies, we better thought stop. While I was sipping hot tea and contemplating Milind future. Rishi called and conveyed that he was 4 kms ahead at bidai and will wait When we three united again near wondela, Rishi was in full gloom. The Journey had staked its next sacrifice, Rishis cell, and the Milind`s headlight change had to wait.

½ lane or ¼ lane (half or quarter)
The roads were disappointing and worse still we had not planned for them. Manglaore still appeared feasible, the roads thinned to 2 lane, then to one and finally on some stretch, it was half a lane for twin stream of traffic, divided it became a quarter lane road. Mangalore forgotten, the road though admonished in pure tongue did not turn good. The average speed was 25-30 but we were still intrepid on Mangalore.

The Unspoken fear
The jouney had taken a headlight and a cell, what will it claim from me. There was a steady drizzle all along, we had taken a wrong turn and were taking a detour on a kachha road, I feared a puncture or a breakdown. But there were to be no more mishaps that stretch, after Tea at khusalnagar, we were climbing on our way to Margadi, Suddenly my rear tyre started to wobble and at 4am, Mangalore and Margadi were abandoned, we turned back to kushalnagar to mechanic and rest. Milind wry frame took over my Ferio and me his pulsar and we trudged back to Khusalnagr. After 4 hour dreamless sleep, we were ready to hit the road again.

Newer and smoother Route?
The puncture had denied us Mangalore. We went to Namdolying monastry and Harangi dam the next best alternatives. Now it was the time to return, going the same way back sounded more like hara-kiri. Milind had taken NH48 on better days, we were all aye to the detour. Shirdi ghats fall on way, 28 kms of 3rd or 2nd gear ride. The road was shitteir than anything and negotiating it on night would have been most exiting, only if your butt was not complaining. I had moved into boxers, but still.

Human physiology
Shirdi ghats fall on the way and guys 300 kms of riding had brought to my light, parts which I never knew existed. The shoulder and neck muscles, the left arm all started gently reminding themselves to me. I coaxed the muscles on, by rotating the group and other novel moments. Butt, which I am proud to say is one of the most silent and dignified muscle takes a lot of abuse, a workhorse and never complains. But this trip in damp undies had cooked it on light flame for 9 hours, it got tender and thence I started noticing the milestones. It complained the harshest. There was supposed to be wildlife on that way and I secretly hoped that a tigress would attack us. If it had happed then the feline would have relished the tender butt.

Kukke, the punctures and the Monkey cap
Milind wanted to salute subramanya swamy, men have to go topless inside the holy sanctum. I was wearing 5 layers of clothing and the temple priest got tired seeing me strip. I wanted a monkey cap,
“So I called up the man across the counter”
“please give me my cap”. he said
“we do not had that cap type since 1989”.
I could vividly recall 1989, the year when ever one fought against that monkey cap. I fought both dad and mom, 1 on 2, against wearing that cap even to fajr .
“such a lovely cap, such a lovely cap”
tyre gets punctured again
“a mechanics shop, what a nice surprise”
“such a lovely place, such a lovely place”.

Sum of punctures.
Summing up averages is supposed to give a fair picture. The same sum had ruled out Mangalore to let us be in Bangalore by 1am Monday. The godly average finally let us in Bangalore at little over 9:30 am, when the traffic was at its peak. The godly average never accounts for T, P breaks. The average does not even care for punctures and other contingencies.

Expert help
Now finally let me introduce the man who let this trip happen, Rishi Chowdary, two wheelers doctor Bihari, 90.someone, Road trip veteran, ace photographer. He carried a spare head light, extra tool kit and a lot of road sense. My bike started to misfire near shirdi ghats, Rishi tucks in the loose wire and presto the bike zooms again, 5 kms from Bangalore, ala the key hole contact get shorted, he pulls some wires winds then together and the bike starts to run again without keys. In Mysore he might have replaced Milinds Headlamp only had he got box spanner. Now how many of you know a. what a box spanner is, b. can start a bike without keys. Now guys when you plan sometrip like this be sure to have a man who knows bikes and roads. Milind it was very good time with you man. Truly a peoples person Three cheers to dil chahta hi company.

Back to Bed.
Saturday I slept 4 hrs and on Sunday managed a princely 18 mts. The water heater was on, I was chewing some dates, Milind has already taken leave, I was in some sort transcendal state, the world around felt wavery, feet move but the body fails to keep up. I call up Rishi, he is firm on going. Abbu was challenged, in 15 mts I bath and dress, the world around is still wavery, but I reach for helmet. The next moment the ground around has stabilized. When the butt felt the seat again, I could fell the nerves firing up, signals raceing to the brain. I road-king had never kept myself awake any night. I used to think only a special night can keep me awake. Here was me in full control riding again on hosur road. I reach office proudly take seat before Rishi does. When only with full concentration and 3rd try that I finally key in the right password, I knew that something is right and my mind is no longer in death avoidance mode. I head to bed in office.

How to be a Sensitive man!
I remember the last time I cried was when I told Sudhakar in straight tongue that he is fat. The blow flat and cross on the left temple would have been deadlier now cause back in early 90ies I did not wear specs. Then on failures, betrayals, more flops and more failures dried all my tears. These days whatever, tears refused to roll down the cheeks. I feared that lobe responsible for emotional processing has ceased activity. A few hours later when I trek back clumsily to my desk again. A female voice resonates my ear drums, the voice is feeble but I could make it out clearly. “Are u crying?”. Damm man!!! Damm it I could cry or at least look like crying. Now guys some girls demand the guys to be extra sensitive. For many of our sex, blessed with stoic blank faces failing to look that extra vulnerable was the biggest undoing. Not any more, drive these kilometers, but never admit, shrug her away and if she persists tell her that you will tell her tomorrow, and we our on our way fullfilling ***** dreams.( Fill in what ever you link, 5 stars are all yours).

I want to keep on typing, the pages want to know about the three ponged yin-yang, the wayside villages with their circular village centers, prohibition of photography in the days of google earth, the hidden tigers, how i started seeing kilometers rather than seconds on X-cordinate. Now back in civilization I am forced to stop for time has started to count again.