Monday, May 24, 2010

The sage's locks

I’m suffering from chronic as well as acute procrastination. It’s been a week since I returned from Rishikesh and I haven’t written a travelogue on it. So here's a general description of our trip.
Anuj stayed at my place the night before we left. We savoured bhindis cooked by ma. At night we behaved as clownish as we normally do, consequently two nights of inadequate sleep, this night and the night before, showed its effect in the long ride to Rishikesh in the blistering heat. Dehradun traffic was horrible and as luck would have it we got stuck in a jam soon after that horrible traffic had ended and the road was beautiful and empty for a while. I was sick of this and decided to go off road and cross the jam. That happened till the off-road ended too. There was a pit in front and a very small path, sufficient to move the tyres on but just that. Anuj thought it would be foolish to try but I couldn’t wait any longer. So he got off the bike and guided me as I crossed the path and then it happened…I crossed the path and reached the other side and just then, next to a another pit, the engine stalled. I responded in a twitch and jumped off the bike the safer side but the bike was just too heavy to stop, it fell into the pit. My shins got bruised and grazed in the process. Anuj rushed to me in horror and we both instantly hauled the bike up. People in the jam on one side of us had a good time watching the action. By the time Rishikesh was 12 kms away, I was nearly asleep while riding. It was very hot, hence the water we were carrying in the side boxes was extremely hot too, notwithstanding we downed as much as we could to prevent a heat stroke. It took a hot cup of tea…umm! No the hot tea didn’t help much. My drowsy eyes, couldn’t take the beating of the glare and the baking dry heat and were shutting off till I ate the extra sweet jam biscuits. A sudden surge of glucose in the blood popped em outta their sockets. We were parked next to an overturned truck! By the time we reached Rishikesh, my system was shutting down and try as I may I couldn’t explain it to Anuj who was still fresh. We “managed” a raft. We were somehow unable to go to the appointed destination and were forced to take the shorter rafting trip which lasted nearly three hours. The sand and rocks were so hot that I had to pour water on my naked feet to walk on the ground. When the water touched out feet, it was a shock, it was cold! After being instructed by the guide, we jumped into the raft and hence started the most adventurous time of my life. The first rapid was a level one. It kinda scared me. Then came level two and scared me even more. Then, with Anuj in the front, came level three and scared the shit outta me (and as was evident, the others as well). Then it was my turn to press down the front of the raft in the next rapid. It was a level two and after level three, I kinda enjoyed it. Then I was ready to leave my position and go back but no one came forward for the position and neither did the guide make me shift place. I was alarmed when I heard that the next rapid was a level four. I saw the two rafts in front of us, heading into it. One raft disappeared behind the waves for a second and then popped up on top of another wave. It was evident that I needed to prepare myself mentally for this as I knew it was going to be scary. Just before we hit the rapid, we all roared and shouted to buck ourselves up. We fought the big waves, they came like a monsters and did their best to topple us over. At one time, our raft was nearly 90 degrees and of course I, pressing the raft down in the front was almost standing straight when this happened. It was scary but we were all shouting and doing our best to not get thrown into the water. It was great fun. Jumping into the river wasn’t. It took me far away from the raft and I had to shout for help. I was rescued in time. I did get spooked by this event. So I forced myself to do cliff jumping, to get rid of the fear, which I otherwise wouldn’t have. I saw many people getting terrorized and running back away instead of jumping into the water when ordered by the instructor to JUMP! I shiver ran down my spine when I jumped. What the heck it felt strange, I was falling, falling falling and then SPLASH! When I opened my eyes, I was inside the water and my feet had stirred up quite a bit of sandy bottom into the water. On then we boarded our raft again and set off for Rishikesh. We sang on the way after crossing the last rapid. We also made new friends from Delhi. After we came out and got dressed, my system started to shut down again. All the adrenalin had made me active through the rafting and jumping but now the reality took over, I was under-slept and very tired. The 1km ride to the eatery was an ordeal. I hogged down a ton of Rajasthani food. We found a room to stay in and as soon as I lay down on the bed, I lost my sleep again. I saw Anuj on the border of dreams and reality, so I picked up my pillow and beat the shit out of his dreams. Now we were both sleepless and kept chatting. Just when sleep took over again, Anuj thought it was the perfect time for revenge…I was sleepless again. We started chatting again. God knows when we slept. I just remember waking up first for I can’t sleep late into the day. I woke up at 6:30am. I waited till 7:00 before putting loud rock music in my cell phone to totally destroy Anuj’s peace. We got dressed and crossed the Laxman Jhula on the bike and stopped for tea on the other side. It was great sitting there and enjoying tea and watching myriad colors of people’s attire and the deluge of different kind of people from different places in India and abroad. We then set out for Herbertpur and as we crossed Dehradun, we stopped at many places to try the different street food. It was a Sunday so the traffic was easy too. The girls at Dehradun were a treat to watch and mildly flirt with. We had fun. After Dehradun, we stopped at a few places to have Ganne ka juice and citrus juice at roadside thelas. This’s something I dread otherwise and since childhood it was the first time I actually did so. I reached my sister’s place by 12noon. Sarah, my niece had arranged flowers for me but was too shy to talk to me. I was also very happy to see that Jeri, my sister’s Je(sse)-Ri(ti) cocker spaniel, was doing well. We stayed at my sis’s place for quite some time. I chatted with di and Sarah and Anuj kept Danny busy. We ate light lunch, filled our bottles, clicked some humming birds and started off for Chandigarh in the hot hot hot hot weather. It was dry and very very hot and windy; we call this wind “Loo”. We sped off through Paonta and just when the hills started, the bike started to wobble; we had a flat. There was jungle on one side and when we stopped in the isolated place, monkeys gathered at a distance. Anuj asked for lift to the nearest puncture shop but returned empty handed. The shop owner refused to send any help and said that if we needed any, the only way was to bring the bike to the shop. After dragging the monster for a distance, Anuj had a great idea. He filled air into the flat tyre with the pump and I rode it as far as it would go and then wait for Anuj to reach. We kept doing this till we reached the shop. I was dead tired and so was Anuj. All the cheese and bread that we thought we needn’t have brought, was made short work of. The sun was about to set when we started again. I sped off as fast as could through the hills and reached to other side. We stopped at Black Mango eatery (just after Kala Amb where T and I used to break our journey) and had tea and namkeen…we ate it all. Then started the most daunting leg of the journey, the rest of the riding was in the dark. The oncoming traffic was on high beam most of the time and I could only guess what lie ahead on the road, a pot-hole, a bullock cart, for I could see nothing in the glare. It was a close call nearly thrice. It was night but what a bloody hot night despite the absence of the sun. We reached IMTECH by 9pm. I downed half of Anuj’s beer and rushed back home.
In the thirty four thousand kilometers I’d ridden before, I’d never faced a flat!! I realized that I was exceptionally lucky to have never run into a technical problem all the time I was riding to desolate places with my girlfriend. That revelation really spooked me in retrospect. I cannot imagine what we’d do or what’d happen had something like this happened, the umpteen times we were exploring places. Today morning I accepted that I was moving without a flat on borrowed time, in fact this trip was an eye opener. Thankfully it happened in the best possible situation; I wasn’t with a girl and I wasn’t alone, in fact I was with a great guy who stabilized me and eased my burden in the emergency. So today, a week hence and before I rode long again, I went to the motor-market to learn how to fix a flat (I’ve written about that experience as well elsewhere). This trip was a fulfilling one for me as a rider. On the one side, it had a crash, a flat, the avoidable night riding, sleepy riding, extreme hot weather, hill driving, heavy traffic driving whereas on the other it went through beautiful roads with breathtaking views, had a great company, even met my sis, try things I normally never would, had the best adventure till date and boy oh boy…it was TOTAL FUN!
And boy oh boy what a productive Sunday it has been, I cleaned my room, watched eons of TV, went to the lab, joined a biker club and made new friends, exercised, wrote two posts for my blog and ate great parent cooked food. It’s a beautiful life and it’s great to be thirty nothing...heck! but there's are tons of things still left to do.

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