Monday, April 7, 2014

Anyhow, the damage was already done and there was no point in looking back. Gaurav reached Ludhiana from Faridabad (via Dehradun! Ok that is another part of the story which I would want Gaurav to narrate) on the night of 14th, June 2010. Tired as hell he was. We had a quick cup of tea and ate our dinner in a near by Dhaba. On the way back, Gaurav (who loves drinking) took a bottle of whisky and finished half of it by the time it was midnight. It was that part of the year when it begins to rain and this was no special day. By the time we reached home, it was raining good. We still hadn’t had packed up the stuff. It was lying scattered all over the room! While he dozed off in a deep slumber, I stated packing all that I thought we would need. We had decided that we will wait for the rain to stop and in the mean time, would finish up with the packing. Now, I am a sort of a person who would like to carry my own little world where ever I go, so this packing took me around 4 hours and three Bags for me and three bags for Gaurav. One of my bag had all the clothing I thought would be required for the Unseen Lands. Another bag had a ship-load of tools and spares. The third bag, which was the tank bag was stuffed with quick utilities. For Gaurav, I packed his clothes in one large blaqck bag, another one had some jackets and woolens packed in it. The third one, which was again a tank bag had his quick utilities in it. We stated tying up the bags on the bike and it took us some good 60 minutes to get it all loaded securely on our bikes. And we knew that this is going to be a regular practice for another few days. So, at around 5 in the morning, we had the bikes all decked up, but Rain God was still pouring, though, I should rather called it light drizzle. We thought for a while to let the rain stop, but with all the preparations done, I for sure dint want to allow something as small as drizzle to ask us to delay our departure. Another 15 minutes went past and we cranked the engines. Rain or no rain, we couldn’t wait no more. It was 5:20 by my watch, on the 15th of June 2008. The first thing that we were supposed to do was to fill up the fuel tanks to the brim, hence rode to the nearest Fuel Station for the fill without a spill! It was still drizzling, but I dint complain, I couldn’t be anymore happy. We were finally riding to Leh and what a start. During that part of my life, although I wasn’t a very articulate rider and never planned my things in the most precise and accurate manner, I still felt that it would be not a very wise thing to go to Manali via Ropar (Rupnagar). Looking at the Paper map, I could see that we could take an alternate route and skip Ropar. Hence, instead of going towards Ropar, we moved towards Phillaur. The map showed that we can reach Manali via Phillaur too. Ok, you can laugh! Our first small break was on the outskirts of Phillaur, were we stopped for morning tea. We looked at the map and asked the tea vedor for the directions for GarhShanker. Don’t curse yourself if you haven’t heard of the place, neither had we, prior to that date. We were informed that there is a small road that goes from Phillaur towards Garhshanker. Finishing off the tea, we set forward for GarhShanker. It was still drizzling. I forgot to mention, despite all the loadings that we had on our steeds, we dint bother to buy and carry a set of rain suit. Stupidity to the hilt. But who was complaining. June is particularly hot and humid in this part of the country and hence, riding in the rain was not a pain, atleast at that point in time. The small road that we took was our first taste of adventure of slush and mud. It was under construction and the authorities had piled up truck loads of clay and gravel on the track. At moderate speeds, we passed our first test.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Birth of a Motorcyclist

I can not remember how this exactly started.

I have been a tourer, on two or more wheels since a long time. I have traveled far and wide for work or for pleasure. I have always preferred riding a motorcycle or driving a car to sitting in an AC Chair Car.

Ever since I remember, I have tried to tour to places accessible or inaccessible. Yes, I would always use the word TOUR, than using Travel. Bear with that.

The first few pages of my Travel Directory are dedicated to my short rides in that era on my 50cc Bajaj Sunny. The days am talking about are when I was in my 11th or 12th standard, roughly some 15-16 years back.

Cutting it short, I brushed past my death on 29th April 2005 when my car was hit by a Bus at around 80 kms an hour, throwing it in the opposite lane where I was again hit by a car, then by a Tempo before suspending it near a ditch.

The car was subsequently sent to the garage for extensive body repairs and that was the time when I was looked out for an alternative mode of Conveyance. The following week I tried commuting by Auto, Hitch-hiking, Rickshaw and all but nothing seemed to work.

Finally, on the warm, bright morning of the 5th May 2005, while sipping tea and reading newspaper, I saw the advertisement from Bajaj Discover DTSi. And I rode the Discover to my home at Lunch Time.

I enjoyed the wind in the hair factor, though, standing at an age of more than 33 years now, and post seeing the benefits of Helmet, I haven’t had the wonderful chance of WIND IN MY HAIR! But during those times, I was happy with a new achieved sense of Independence. I was happy that I dint had to wait endlessly in the Traffic jams, but for the cost of Soiled Clothes.

My first, insensitive, uncalculated, stupid tour was to Ludhiana on my week old, unregistered Bajaj Discover. I had to visit my Elder sister and was scheduled to take a bus from ISBT late in the night so as to reach Ludhiana by the next Morning.

I packed up my small bag and was riding till ISBT when I thought of riding it to Ludhiana instead. So, at 11 in the night, I started off from Faridabad to Ludhiana, all alone on a bike. I made a to and from journey to Ludhiana in less than 24 hours and it was only during that ride when I came to know that perhaps a Bajaj Discover was not the bike I could ride for long. So in September 2006, I sold of my Discover which had done around 35,000 kms by then for a new Bajaj Pulsar 150 DTSi. And these 35,000 kms included numerous trips to Hissar, Modi Nagar and nearby places.

Bajaj Pulsar was a better machine, no doubt. It was faster, more stylish and more powerful as compared to my previous steed. But as fate would have it, for some reason or the other reason, I could never take my Pulsar out for a major spin.

Fate again played its part and I moved to Ludhiana in 2008(after I lost my Mother to the Hands of The Maker), for bread and butter. Away from the place where I had spent all my life, I was amongst strangers. But the wonderful companion, my Black Bajaj Pulsar 150 DTSi made me feel complete. The crisp throttle response and off I go from the maddening rush of trucks, buses, autos, rickshaws, swanky Mercedes, pimped up Chetaks and LMLs, Horse Cart, Bullock Cart and what not. I was never so sad.

Then one fine day, somewhere in the month of April-May 2008, a very dear friend Ambardeep( better known as DESI on xBhp) called up to inform that he was going for a ride to Leh. He had planned the trip with few of his mates and were planned to leave by the end of May 2008. How dearly I wanted to go for this once in a Life Time Ride. But for a reason better known to me, I could not leave before the 7th June and Desi could not wait. He left me high and dry. I searched the net only to see the wonderful pictures of Leh and the mesmerizing scenic beauty enroute.

Finally I spoke to another good friend, who jumped at the proposal. The subsequent day, I drove in the night back to my home town Faridabad and met him at the wee hours. We discussed the plan, and everything that we could. Budget and holidays were not an issue and we set the ball rolling from the next day.

The first execution of the plan was to plan the ride, chalk out the destination and the route, preparing a list of To-Have. The next three or four days saw us sitting in front of the computer, surfing the net, getting a print of all the information, marking the routes and everything that was needed as ground work. We surfed the internet to find out the accessories etc. that we had to carry while on the trip.

The coming week, we went to the Mecca of Motorcycles in Delhi- Karol Bagh and went into the first shop to buy the stuff. He was a wonderful salesman and we were stupid enough to buy all that he sold. We further went to Azad Market to buy few other things that we thought we would need. That shopping spree left us poorer by around 40,000 rs. And we purchased enough material that filled the truck of my Mitsubishi Lancer.

Before that day, we had:

· Two Bikes.

· One Helmet.

· One lame riding jacket.

· Lots of Cash in the Saving Account.

At the end of the day, we had:

  • Two Tank Bags.
  • One new helmet
  • Two Big Bags to carry our luggage
  • Three iridium plugs
  • Two K& N Air Filters.
  • Two sets of elbow and knee protection.
  • Two set of Gloves.
  • An extensive tool kit.
  • One set of Military Canvas shoes.
  • Two Road maps
  • Puncture repair kit.
  • Cosmetics and Toiletries Kit.
  • First aid Kit, Medicine Kit.
  • Two cargo pants for me.
  • Almost everything under the sun
  • A drained off saving account.

We somehow managed to push in all this stuff in my car’s boot and I left for Ludhiana the same night.

The plan that was executed was:

  • My friend Gaurav (xBhp id Neversaynever) would ride from Faridabad to Ludhiana by the evening of 14th June and we will start our ride on the 15th June from Ludhiana.
  • We will go to Leh via Manali route and come back via Srinagar.
  • We will enjoy this trip…hahh haa .

Days went by until it was 10th June. In the mean time I happened to speak to AmberDESIdeep many a times and he just was so thrilled to be riding his Bullet to the Baap of all Motorcycle’s Heaven- LEH. In the mean time, I was counting the days to go to go to the wonderful Place called Leh.

It was 12th June and was just two more days to go for the trip of the life time but still no information from my partner in crime- Gaurav. Finally, I got to speak to him in the evening where he told me that he still wasn’t sanctioned the leaves from his office. I couldn’t have felt any worse. But I asked him to persuade his manager to sanction him the leaves, it was just 2 more days to go. And then finally, late in the night on the 12th June, he called up to say that he resigned from his office.

“ (Beep), (Beep) tu pagal hai, tera dimag kharab ho gaya hai? Chutti nahi milli to naukri chood di, (beep) tu (beep) hai”