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Motorcycling in India

Me, My Machine and The Elements 2.0

I was expecting the second edition of the write up only at least one week later. The last weekend I was not planning to ride anything major, save a small ride to the outskirts of the city to make a version 1.5. But fate had different plans and I had to attend a funeral in Wayanad, Kerala. I am here to talk about rides, so I will write about the riding part of the story.

The grand plan was to start from Bangalore by around seven o’ clock and reach the place by late night. But the invariable delays made us late, real late. First of all the bike could not be retrieved from the garage where it was given for a check up in time. Then the journey from Cox Town to Madiwala, for my friend to collect the bag and to get ready took us another eternity and finally when we finally tanked up at BTM and started off, it was almost eleven.

For starters, no, we were not on my own steed, it was a Thunderbird with Delhi license plates. That makes the title erroneous, you may argue, but this guy is a close friend of mine, and I am as comfortable on this machine as mine at any time. And I made the guy ride through the first forty kilometers as I hate to manipulate the heavy piece of equipment through the mess that is called traffic in Bangalore. Then I took over for the next sixty kilometers and we were changing hands every fifty kilometers for the rest of the journey.

The first stop was at the highway-side Cafe Coffee Day before Mandya. We swigged down cappuccinos and stretched in the bean bag sofa that they have out there. In the city cafs I always wondered about the purpose of such couches but here I found the utility of stretching your back while on the long run. I wanted to have a nice nap there but as the duty was calling, we got ourselves out of the place and set off again.

From here I noticed the dying human activities around the road as most people had started their nightly rest after a long day of hard toil. The road became more or less empty and by the time we reached Mysore, there were just trucks out there in the highway. And from Mysore, we had the dream conditions: a virtually empty road, smooth tarmac and flowing curves. From Gundalpet, where we stopped to have a final tea, we left the Ooty road and were on the Wayanad road, to ride into the God’s Own Country.

Soon we were traveling through the deserted jungles of Bandipur and we saw a lot of animals crossing the road. We once stopped at a place where we found a lot of deers standing by the road to watch them up close. Then one of the animals made some loud sound and we got the hell out of there with the threat of an encounter with elephants crossing the road looming over us. We met an occasional truck on the way and we made good progress as we crossed the state border shortly by four in the morning.

From there it was Kerala with the monsoon pounding on with its ruthless power. We made slow progress in heavy rain through the curvy ghat road and then we saw a reversal of the phenomenon that we saw late in the night. We started seeing people in the roads, mainly newspaper boys and other people who gets up early in the morning and gets to their day to day activities. Finally we reached the place by around five thirty in the morning.

We attended the funeral in the late morning and spent the afternoon sleeping away.

In the evening, we got out and rode to this place called Chempara Estate’ which is a huge tea plantation. The road up to the top of the place was gorgeous and we spent our night in the house of a cousin of my friend up there. Early morning we got up and after breakfast, it was again lazily lying down and exploring the place on foot.

In the afternoon, we again took off back to Bangalore and thanks to the better visibility, we enjoyed the terrain better this time. One highlight of Wayanad was the football craze that the people have got out there. Every junction is now decorated with the flags of Argentina, Brazil, England and other teams and there were huge cut outs of the major players all around. The place is boiling with the World Cup fever and Argentina seems to be having the majority of fans followed by Brazil and England a distant third. These flags and banners have replaced the same of political parties which adorn these places usually. I even saw the flags and other insignia of Italy and Portugal on a couple of occasions.

The view on both sides of the route is breathtaking and we were in the ninth cloud and John Denver’s Country Roads’ was ringing in my ears all the time. The ghastly forest that we had crossed the previous day became all beautiful as we were as close to the nature as we could ever be. Finally when we reached the other side of the forest, we were sad as we were going away from the tropical paradise that it was. By six o’ clock we reached Gundalpet where we had tea from the same place.

That was when I came to know about the sad demise of a tiny being. A small sparrow was sitting on the road some distance back when I was riding the bike. The sparrow took off as it saw the bike coming and hit my left shin before getting deflected and becoming lodged in the tiny gap between the engine and the swing arm. I remembered something hitting my leg, but I thought it had deflected back into the road and had flown off. We slowly removed the little bird from the gap and set it away before continuing to Mysore.

We reached Mysore by 6.30 where we went straight to St, Philomena’s Church. We attended the last part of a mass there and started off in the highway towards Bangalore. Now a days the highway has become impeccable barring the rough stretch in Mandya and Ramnagaram and a few diversions where the traffic gets confined to two lanes. Everywhere else, the road stretches with all its six/four lane glory allowing you to really test the claims of the manufacturers about the maximum attainable speed, without much trouble of heavy traffic. Again, we stopped at the 24/7 Cafe Coffee Day where we again gulped down cappuccinos before getting a couple of cold coffees in take-away cartons.

Those were meant for my brother, who studies in an Engineering College in Ramnagaram, whom we paid a surprise visit at 11 PM in the night. We just rode into the campus as if it belongs to our grandpa and went straight to the Hostel and walked into his room. We spent some half an hour out there before heading straight into the city.

Bangalore welcomed us with its pollution and congestion and after being in the tropical rain forest paradise that Wayanad is, we could literally see the fumes rising up in the air. Cursing the government, because it is everyone’s scapegoat, we reached Madiwala shortly after midnight. I dropped off my friend there and went home, had bath, shaved and slept, because, I had to get to office the next day morning.

Another weekend gone and another memorable ride, and here am I with my second version of my ride report, surprisingly with a bigger update than previously thought. Anyway, I got a long week ahead of me when I got to sweat it out so that I can go riding again next weekend.