Monday, November 06, 2006


Time: 0745 hrs, 16th October 19, 2006
Location: Manipal Hospital, Operation Theatre B

The OT experience:
When I was wheeled into the OT…
I woke up at 6am on Monday – the staff nurse, clad in green, greeted me. He told me to take a bath and get into cotton whites by 730. I felt like the sacrificial lamb readied before halal. It was quite an awkward situation, the nurses were not used to seeing patients up and running before their surgery, “well, I am the patient”.
At 745, two nurses put me on a trolley, and wheeled me to the OT. That is the first time I was on a trolley. All along people look down into you, sad look on their faces – if it was empathy, it sure was misplaced.
The OT in Manipal hospital is in the second floor, I was wheeled in through two sets of doors into the pre-op area. It was shift change over time for the nurses and I was privy to their ‘you-take-my-shift’, ‘landlords-demanding-more-rent’ gossip.
I am skimpily dressed in cotton whites, in this makeshift chamber of white screens, waiting to be wheeled into the Operation Theatre-B. The pungent disinfectant fills the air and the nurses are chatting incessantly in the background. Lying down on the trolley in the pre-op chamber, while lazily rubbing my eyes, an eyelash comes loose. I placed it on the back of my closed fist, closed my eyes, prayed silently for a successful surgery and phoo…

For the next four hours, while I lay half awake (half, as in top half), Dr. Hemanth Kalyan (HK) and his team of surgeons worked on my torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). The OT was a large room with loads of instruments, big boxes with colourful buttons. There must have been about 5 surgeons, 3 anesthetists and 2 nurses. I could recognize Dr. Nishida’s smile even from within the mouthpiece.
As HK got his tools in place – the drill, the saw included, the anesthetist pierced my right hand for the IV and the drips came on. Then they pierced my lower back, the spine area for the anesthesia. In a few minutes, my legs started feeling heavy, and the feet felt as if there were a thousand ants swarming over them. I was told I could watch the surgery on a screen that was visible on my right side. The next thing I saw, a pale leg was being hoisted up by a couple of junior surgeons, it certainly didn’t feel like mine. A digital clock on my left read 8 something. There must have been some sedation injected intravenously coz I slept for about an hour.
When I woke up, a couple of junior surgeons tied up a green screen to prevent me from seeing my numb lower half, and the screen on which I could have seen the surgery live. (I got a CD of the Arthroscope recordings)
I can’t quite recollect the sequence, but I did hear a lot of noises – some scary, some good news, some shocking, some weird. I heard HK say a lot of pass-me-shaver, pass-the-saw, pass me this, pass me thats. I heard a lot of drilling, tapping noises. I could feel these vibrations in my bone. But since the pain was absent, it sent some confusing signals to my brain; it certainly didn’t feel like my leg that was being operated.
There were n no. of times when HK reprimanded a junior surgeon, “don’t you have common sense”, “did I ask you to use your brain”, “don’t you know you have to get a sharp one”, etc, etc. My doddappa, Dr. K G Das, a cardiologist of high repute, told me that a lot of interesting conversations happen during a surgery. That would be quite an interesting compilation to get hold of.
After a while, HK declared that the graft was ready. He even went on to explain the composition of the graft to his juniors. He asked for some marker ink, to color the graft, I presume. Then they started to set the Arthroscopy in place. It was a little later that I started to freak out. HK said, “there seems to be some problem here”. It turned out there was some problem with the source light of some kind. I had to resist my temptation to suggest some tricks myself, even as the surgeons were trying to fix the faulty source light. All kinds of options were being discussed – tilt it around, change of bulb, power cord, replacement of the light source itself. Yeah right, all this while my surgery was still on.
Around noon, they got it working again. By now, the effect of my anesthesia was wearing off and I was able to feel a bit. By putting my neck out, I managed to catch the attention of the anesthetist (who appeared to be smsing or playing a game on his cell or something). HK informed them that there was at least another hour of surgery left and I had to be put on general anesthesia. I was made to breathe out of an inhaler.
The next thing I remember, I was being wheeled out of the OT, with what felt like a real heavy bamboo sticks tied to my left leg and a dry and nauseating feeling in my throat.
I looked at the clock in the post-op, it read 2:30 – lot of time and lot of memories, not a lot of pain, not just yet….

Why Surgery?
For the last four years the ligament has been troubling me, with mild pain after a long workout, run or walk. The earlier frequent buckling of the knee had now disappeared. I decided to get over with it, so I may be good again.
When I started diagnosis with Dr. Kalyan, I was hoping it wouldn’t be a surgery, but then the MRI suggested no other option.

What is ACL reconstruction?
(Time for some education esp with likes of Mary Pierce and Yuvraj Singh’s ligaments due for reconstruction!!)
There is loads of education item on ACL here. (It’s a good site for most medical queries, go check maadi.) It sure is worth a read.
The latest is I am well on the path to recovery now, nearly 3 weeks after surgery. And should fit my running shoes in about 3 months from now.

Addendum 2014:
For the benefit of all those who are visiting the site and curious to know how things panned out, here's an update. I have had complete recovery as far as ACL surgery is concerned. Since then, I have completed about 17 marathons and 3 Ultra marathons and train pretty hard to be among the top 1% of most races in India.
I had a follow up MRI done in 2010 and consulted with Dr. Hemanth Kalyan again, he remarked that the MRI showed good placement of the screws and the ACL intact.
He also featured my progress back to normal life in a article that was published in The Week last year.
Remember, the rehabilitation is perhaps more important than the surgery itself. Take care.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Runner For Life

Date: 8th October, 2006
Distance: 5.6kms
Route: Gandhi Statue > Minsk Square > Cubbon Road > Ulsoor Road > Trinity Circle > Anil Kumble Circle > Gandhi Statue.

In what could be my last outing for sometime, I joined Runners For Life (RFL) on their Sunday morning run. Runners for Life (RFL) is a group of people who are passionate about running. On all of my three previous marathons, I had met and made friends with a few of RFL’s runners. During the last Bangalore marathon, I met Aravind Bharati and the RFL pamphlets distributed at the stadium helped get on their mailing list.
I have been trying to get Buckeet into the running, cycling thingi. We had cycled to lalbagh one other Sunday and walked around the lake in lalbagh. So he was more than eager to join me on the run. But, what is life without challenges, so we said, lets get Tima to run too. Takes me back to Having a Healthy disregard for the impossible quote.
I don’t know how he managed, but when I reached Gandhi statue on Sunday morning, guess who was smoking a ciggie there. By 6:30, there were about 40 RFLers to run as many laps as they could of the 5.6km track.
Dr. Rajat Chauhan runs with RFL too. He advised me against running and I decided to accompany Tima to walk the distance. We took nearly one hour to finish. For once, it did look like the early birds catch the worms, only, in this case the birds were running, and the worms – sizzling hot. Thanks to some focused promo, Red Bull had a two hot uns, get us to try their energy drink. Am not sure if it was the gals or the drink, I sure could have torn some trees after that!
As Gyanender, bucket, I and Tima (donkey at the end) had breakfast at Coffee house, we knew one thing – This is surely not going to be last we are going to run with RFL.
But for me, I will have to take this brief hiatus from biking, cycling, running, et al. A split second (one I can never forget) decision to block a rare powerful kick from an opponent during football four years ago, has left my left (3 left’s in 5 words!!) knee Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptured. Yes, I silently suffered the pain on my endurance runs/rides all the time. Good sense prevailed; I am getting reconstruction done next week, with rehabilitation taking 3-6 months.
Guess what, I am on spinal anesthesia, meaning, I can be awake and aware as I get operated. So, are you reading my next blog already??

Monday, October 09, 2006

5A on the Highway

I saw…
…One Hundred Bullets parked away neatly
…Undying spirits dance away to the drummin of drunk village drummers
…who only a while ago, sat in rapt attention as was clicked open
…A hundred hangovers ache at once
…All this and more as RTMC completed its 5 years on the highway.
5A on the Highway at Yercaud!!

Between 1st and 2nd October, about 94 bikes (largely bullets, 5 RD's, 2 BMW F650's and a CBR 900RR, 1 Jawa 350 and a few Yamaha RX's) some 130 leather clad bikers from Bangalore and Chennai, rounded up at Shevroys Resort, Yercaud. Yercaud is this serene hill station about 2000mts above sea level, just outside of Salem.
Day 1: Ride to the Pardy
We started at Bangalore on Sat morning, about 40 odd bullets. The road from Bangalore to Yercaud, for 3 days, was littered with Bullets, what else with 100 odd bulls taking that road. The Krishnagiri road is a speed daemon’s heaven, the RD’s and the beamers freaked the bullets out.
Breakfast happened at the HP station, just after Hosur, we cleaned the restaurant up. There were loads of old-time RTMCians in full attendance – prashy, charul, Adrian, Bumboo, muthu, pp. VC, girish, vodka, vakeel, etc, etc. It was quite an uneventful ride all the way up to Yercaud, except I was caught red-handed (open-mouthed actually) gaping at Dj’s girl friend in the Scorpio as it went past.
At Shevroys resort, Small Moe was doing the watchman duty, getting in some parking discipline. The agenda for the day was registration and pardy! I was sharing the room with Shakti (biscuit) and Ajith pinto. Yercaud had its season of late evening downpours, which pushed the party from the lawn into the hall.
Dj set the dance floor going, the only pain was that the bar was not at the dance hall and one had to pre-mix in mineral water bottles. Bisleri was in ‘high’ demand.
Day 2: Trek, Tech and cha-cha
A few early birds, went on a short trek to savor the estate plantations. Ajith, an almost localite, took us to a ridge atop his sister’s Arabica coffee estate. We then rode a little more to a small water fall nearby.
There were loads of events lined up to Caman The Enjaiment. An?l did the mass Ayudha pooja for all the Bullets – some capacity this poojari had – 100 bullets in one shot!
Then there was a slow biking race (wouldn’t qualify to be called a race, I guess). After the race Sultan and I rode down a bit for some pictures, well, I went with my camera and returned without it. Yes, despite my hazzar efforts this year to keep the lost-n-found list short, I lost it!!
The lost-not-found list for this year is:
Rayban Goggles
A pair of Nikes
Undies (what the…)
And loads of irretrievable self-confidence
(if you are still wondering what to present me this Diwali, read the list again)
After sulking over the camera and consoling myself that it was depreciated many times over anyways, doc (re-christened toothpick), boom, tiger and I went on the loop ride – 30kms of looping ghat roads.
Then there was this Kabbaddi match, RTMC vs MadBulls, à la David vs Goliath, only this time, Goliath had the sling too!! Our guys literally had mud in the face when they finished 0-2. We should have an online Kabbaddi contest next time (Xbox, take note).
What followed the savage match was a totally citified tech session. Mr. Subash Chandra Bose, the veteran bullet racer, now working in the R&D of Ucal, shared some gyan on the mechanical, thermal and volumetric efficiency of bullets. At the end of this, everyone now wants a BS-29 export-only carburetor.
Soon after, there was this official 5 Anniversary ceremony. Amidst lot of nick-name shouting and start-the-fcuking-show shouts, RTMC video was played, the website inaugurated, the 5A cake cut and duly smeared on the moderators.
Then the chicks hit the dance floor – gurl friendies, wifeys, side kicks – they sure knew how to shake their booty. You were all too bootiful I say. And then we heard commotion at the entrance to the hall. The dance floor had shifted and there was confusing noise. Enter, half-drunk drummers doing the dank-a-naka beats and they hijacked the dance floor. For the next half hour we were head-banging (after a point, literally) to the drummers’ beats - live band, RTMC ishtyle.
Day 3: Bang Bang Bangalore
We started back from Shevroys on the 2nd morning at 9 or so. Not before we stuffed ourselves with pooris, idlis, pongal and bread. An?l had a puncture down the ghat section, 3shoeL and I carried on at sedate speeds, while the rest of them stayed behind. All was fine till I got to Richmond circle, but hey, after having done 250 odd kms since morning, with just 10kms to reach home, “phut” the engine went off. I parked the bullet at the Agro showroom for the night and rikshawed back home.
The weekend was in so many ways the celebration of the undying spirit of freedom which RTMC epitomizes. May you have many more Anniversaries.
Caman the Enjaiment!!

Friday, September 29, 2006

One thousand steps to Chamundi Hills

Its 10am on 23rd Saturday morning. I call up Tima, and excitedly ask him, “hey, tima, where are you?”. “At home”, comes the reply.
In the next 15 minutes, we convinced ourselves it was indeed Tima on the phone and he was nowhere near Mysore Zoo. Standing in front of the chimpanzee’s cage in Mysore zoo, what we were seeing in front of us had so much resemblance, we had to call to confirm. With the faith in evolution reaffirmed, we continued to see the rest of the Mysore Zoo. The first time I saw a peacock with the feathers fully open. The African elephant had 5 legs (!), and a mother was going red trying to explain to her kid why it was so. An area to keep away from, if you are on your honeymoon to keep the expectations under check.
For Tima, the question “but why Mysore Zoo of all the places, da”, occupied his curious (and fairly large) head for the rest of the day, that had just started.
But for buckeet and I, the day was already about 200kms old. We had started, after an sms goof-up at 7 from corporation at Bangalore. A very expensive (12bucks) coffee served in plastic cup at Kamat Lokaruchi woke us up fully. At Ramanagara, we were in the middle of an accident involving a Tata Indica and an Activa, never seen one from so close.
We had breakfast at Gayatri Tiffin room (finding it was like looking for the needle…) in Chamundipuram. Belted yummy masala dosa, plain dosa and idlis at very economical prices.
The plan was to set momentum to our newly launched Single serving project. And climbing the 1000 steps up Chamundi hills, was the alibi. Buckeet’s got some smart friends in Mysore (read, Deepa) who joined us at the Zoo.
We started the climb close to noon. Buckeet had to take loads of stops, before we reached the top, it must have taken us close to 90 mins. Fluids like tender coconuts and butter milk flowed in without any resistance.
I had no room for lunch when we got back, but would not let go the chance to lunch with Deepa. The next thing I remember is Kengeri junction which we had reached non-stop from Mysore.
“but why Mysore of all the places, da?”, wish I knew.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

TOI Bangalore International Marathon 2006

Having a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible – Larry Page.
A Marathon is an amazing experience. You wake, get herded behind the line on some empty street, a gun is fired, and you run until you drop. There are no wickets to take or defencemen to manoeuvre around – just kilometers to run. You reach the starting line at dawn on a frigid morning and because the night before you woke in pure panic every 30 minutes believing that you’d overslept and missed the race, you’re already exhausted. Self-doubt arrives shortly after the starting gun. But, by mid-race, this doubt is swallowed by fatigue.
On a rainy evening a year and half later, I can still see the pavement in front of VIdhana Soudha as I struggled to the finish line at the inaugural Bangalore Marathon.
- Johnson in the Sunday Times of India, September 17th 2006.

And even as many are reading this in the luxury of their homes that Sunday morning, I and a few others were living every word Johnson wrote.

The second Bangalore International Marathon was held last Sunday. This time it was a part of a larger Refresh Bangalore initiative, The Times of India the main sponsor. I had started the practice in Aug, running about 50kms a week, but with no news of the marathon, I went slow mid way. With only 10 days left for the marathon, TOI started registrations. In the last minute ditch effort, I cycled up Nandi hills (about 100kms), only to injure my already damaged ligament of the left knee.
The week leading to the marathon was a concoction of feelings – fear, anxiety, apprehension and disquiet, primarily fear. The knowledge of the track (which was same as last time) was the root cause of this. And I had set an ambitious target of 5 hours for the finish. I ran a 5kms on Thursday and spent the next couple of days in nursing my knee. I did this last time too, I sure am not learning from my mistakes.
So, here I was, at 6 am on Sunday morning, running yet another Bangalore Marathon. I spotted a lot of familiar faces from Runners For Life and Bangalore Hash.

What did I find better:

Water stations: The water stations had water till we finished. There were guys around even when I returned home as late a 7hours after the start. Simply sooper, I say!!

Weather: So much better, running in Sep and not in May. I was at Hebbal on my way back when I first noticed the sun.

Things I did better this time:

Timing: I ran the first 13kms in 1.5hours, reached the half way point (21kms) in 2hours 20mins. The next 12kms to Hebbal took me 1 hour 40mins.
By that time, I had done nearly 31kms in 4hours. In the scorching summer in May last year, it had taken me 5 hours to do this!
The next 10-11 kms took me 1.5 hours of a mix of walking and jogging.

Running: This time I jogged without a stop for the first 26kms. Last year, I had stopped before the half way point. And after the 26 also, there were longer stretches of jogging than walking.

Running mate: When I reached Hebbal in just over 4 hours, I was overtly pleased with myself, despite my over-worked joints and legs. It was then, the mind took over and I had gotten walking mostly. In all fairness, I had submitted myself to walk to the finish by then, I had time on my side (the brain conjures many such mirages). And I had this one bad experience last year, running with a state team rowing member, so this time, I wanted to motivate only myself and no other.
Then came Shyam, walking briskly past as we went up the Hebbal flyover. From then on it was his optimism that took me to jogging again. Be it the distance, the sun behind us, the pain in the joints, the killing pain in my knee, the glass was always half full for him. We struck a chord easily with him sharing my passion for ‘thunderbird’ing and ‘hero hawk’ing. We finished together in 5 hours and 30mins.

How Bangalore played host:
The finger: There was this one pot-bellied middle aged man, waiting for the traffic to clear, who was shouting at the runners in Kannada, "if you run like this, you will fall sick". The least you can do to help, my fellow Bangalorean is to keep your crapping mouth shut. I had to show him The Finger.
The Applause: Shyam and I were nearly crawling on the 37km mark, near high grounds police station. One constable was rolling up the police-do-not-cross tape, the moment he saw us, he put the tape down, ran off to avoid coming in our way and stood to applaud us as we passed him. A small gesture, it made my pain disappear.

The Medal: Unlike last time, when I got the medal and certificate one week after the run, I was early enough to pick it up immediately. Since then, I have been flaunting the medal everywhere. If you want to see it post a comment, I shall mail a pic.
(yes, that is the link you got to click to leave that comment…)
Ps: My chest number was not 00007 for nothing.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Nandi Betta and Nidhi Bete - Part I

Date: 9th Sep, 2006
To: Nandi Hills
Route: Hebbal > Devanahalli > Nandi Hills
Distance: 100kms
Mode: The ‘other’ Bike – Hero Hawk

As a part of the cross training in the run up to the marathon, I decided to ride up to Nandi Hills on my other bike – a Hero Hawk. Ever since my friend Sathish mentioned this to me, it had caught on my fancy.
I sold this idea to Raghu and he was willing to join me, till on Friday he decided that the 100+ km ride would be too much for his stamina. I decided to go ahead and do it alone.

I was on my cycle at 630 on 9th Saturday morning. Nandi hills is about 50kms from Hebbal, 2kms after you pass Devanahalli (27kms), take a left at the Nandi cross and ride another 22kms to the top of Nandi hills. The climb to the top of hill is 8kms.
I met up Shashi and Varun a lil after Hebbal, who were on their way to Doddaballapur. They took cycled for 10hrs that Saturday, varun told me later. I have company next time I plan such crazy stunts.
I reached the bottom of the hills about 40 odd kms by 845, but the ride to the top the next 8kms took me a full hour and half. I rode up the ghats 3kms and then gave up, walked along the cycle for the next agonizing 5kms. It was comforting all the while to think you don’t have to do this when on the return.
I spent about 15mins enjoying the landscape view mostly. There is nothing much to do in Nandi if you don’t have a partner. And as evidence, there were many ‘early birds’ already up there.
The ride downhill only exercises your forearms, when you have to squeeze the brakes all the way down. Before I reached Devanahalli, my thighs had started to lock, this is the first time I have exp this. The quadriceps of the thigh lock and begin to hurt. Everytime this happens I had to jump off the cycle and walk a bit before it recovers like it was never there in the first place. Reached home at 215, a grueling 3.5 hours later. It sure was not pleasant, a good preparation for the marathon, however.

Nandi Betta and Nidhi Bete - Part II

Ok…after a lot of prodding from my good friend Manoj, I’ am finally writing my first ever-blog entry…as a guest-writer on Manoj’s visorview (road conquests??) blogsite!

The event: Nidhi Bete 2
Date: 10th Sep 06
Organizers: RTMC
Participants: 22 teams (solo or with pillion)

As a precursor to the events to follow, the first task was difficult enough….meet at 7.30 am at Sarovar, Lavalle Road. Now, for heaven’s sake, this was supposed to be a Sunday, ain’t it meant for catching up on lost sleep???!! Anyways, I was determined not to ditch my dear friend Manoj (ask him for my track record on this one!!) woke up by 6.45 am, quick shower and after a lot of searching & directions on the phone, finally reached Sarovar at 7.45am. I thought I was late, since the flag-off was scheduled for 8 am, but I should have known better!!

After a quick round of introductions to the other participants, my ‘pilot’ (read: Manoj= Kuruda) and I broke our fast on a helping of 2 idlis and a vada each.
I changed over to the t-shirt (covered in the 300 bucks as entry fee), a couple of quick smokes, and bingo…we were ready to zoom….it was 8.40am…

Oh, btw Aetos (the eagle!!)..gave a brief on what we were to expect and he did mention that he wanted to see our butts when we got back after the ‘grueling’ ride….should have paid heed to that a little more seriously, but what the heck…aren’t we the daring sorts, come what may kinds… so bring it on!!!

After a series of bikes were flagged off…our time came and my pilot and I were on our way! The first clue was easy, because it was a part of Bangalore I know well ( Jayanagar ) ….but there was a hitch…Though we were bang on the right track, we happened to ask a person for re-confirmation. In his eagerness to be helpful (??), he confidently veered us back to a place we had already passed by….there goes 5-7 minutes!! Anyways, we recovered, rather realized our folly quickly enough and I was very soon dashing into the Royal Enfield showroom where we were supposed to pick up the visiting card of the store-manager…The guy actually stood up from his seat, handed over the card without even asking a word, realizing that I meant business and didn’t have time for small-talk.. And yes, I did take down the reg. number of the bullet from the poster there (I realized it should have be the reg. no. of the bullet with the side-car only later!)

Now, we were well and truly on our way…the next clue was to take the Hosur Road and get to the road to the place which means ‘Elephant Stone’ in Kannada…Bingo, my Kannada is good enough to decipher that as ‘ANEKAL’…but found that in the next clue the same was mentioned (was that a mistake on the organizers’ part??) Anyways, once on that road we were supposed to take the deviation to the place, the clue for which was an anagram – ‘INJAGI’. That’s an easy one…of course it has to be JIGANI (thanks to one of my many initial jobs, I had been to that place and knew it existed!)… Got the deviation easily enough (when in doubt-ASK…and that’s precisely what we did..ask an auto-rickshaw guy to reconfirm),noted down the name of the hotel there, picked up a red-looking stone and proceeded to our next set of clues, which included getting the name of a school (Royal School- at some injalwadi pass on the way), a charitable trust (forgot the name) & an organic products plant ( Kumar Organic Products, whose byline is ‘a positive chemical reaction’….good, na??!!) ….all pretty much sequentially on the way.

Next up was to find a school which resembled Hogwarts (Harry-da-puttar, anyone??!) on the Bannerghatta Road, just some 10 kms from the Zoo (All cats here, what r u doing here, u dog??).The school turned out to be ‘Savodaya Birla International School’ and thankfully we were not too far when we stopped by to ask, only to realize we had passed it! Anyways, these things do happen, don’t they?? Of course, the symbol on the board of the school resembled a Sun (that was a question in the clue-sheet) and I got down from the bike momentarily to look for a ‘white cock feather’ in the grass around...but could not spot one. Not wanting to waste too much time, my pilot said ‘yeno ondu white irodu yettko maga’..meaning ‘pick-up something that is white man’…I did as ‘boss’ said (anything that would save me some trouble!!)…hopped on as pillion and off we were again. Manoj happened to know exactly the destinations of the next few clues since he had done this route before, so I was like..’Ok, cool…we’r almost there’…only to realize that the tough part (read: bad roads) had just begun!!

Of course, the only respite was the NICE road…on which my pilot was in fullu josh..ripping at 120kms/hr (he thinks we did a max of 115kms/hr, but I was watching the Speedo all the while).The good part over, took the deviation to the “Big Banyan Tree “ ( ‘brother to the underwear’ , or so the clue said!!). I took a much needed pee-break while Manoj a.k.a Kuruda took down the landline number of the studio there and picked up a dry leaf….I thought I could have a smoke in peace, being stationary(after all, we had made it until here in good time, hadn’t we??), but I was wrong L The ‘boss’ was like let’s go, let’s go…so off we were again ( BTW, did I mention I also bought 2 beedis at the shop there, much to the bewilderment of the shopkeeper??!!)

Next up was Manchinbele post-office (we had to count how many pillars it stood on, and the answer was 4, but alas, we forgot to mention that on the clue-sheet!!), we noticed it, thanks to ‘Bamboo’ and pillion standing right in front of it….it was also a sort-of re-affirmation that we were indeed on the right track! We were running out of gas, but thankfully found a shop which sold petrol, filled 2 litres which cost us Rs. 130 ( who said fuel was expensive only in Bangalore??!!) and off we went to our next destination…the Deer Park at Savandurga. Got my ass off the bike (was that a relief or what, albeit for only 2-3 minutes!!), to enquire with the shopkeeper there about the number of Deers in the park. Once we had the answer (none), and after having noted the ‘who’ in the statue, we were gleefully on our road back to Bangalore…

Before I proceed to the last stretch, lemme take a minute to mention here that the stretch mentioned in the last para (Big Banyan Tree – Manchinbele – Savandurga) was probably the ‘super specialty stretch’ that Aetos mentioned in his intro before we left Sarovar…and boy, was it special??!! You could hardly call them roads, let alone good or bad….we were constantly in and out of ditches, going left and right to avoid some, and then in cases where it was inevitable to avoid one, my pilot and I used to just let out a shout in the anticipation of the pain it would cause our backside!! Whew, Manoj/Kuruda must’ve cursed the organizers for this, and what’s more, they even had the cheekiness to collect Rs. 300 as entry fees!!

Anyways, glad with the anticipation of the last stretch and lunch, we zipped back to Magadi, took a right turn…and hurray, we were on our way back to namma Bengalooru!! But, well, all good feelings must end, ‘coz just then we noticed a milestone saying “Bangalore – 48 kms” …48kms….crazy or what??? Haven’t we already endured enough??? And by this time, my ass as burning….and my pilot didn’t help (!!) by not being co-operative enough to stop for 5-10 minutes and recuperate…It came down to me almost begging him to stop for 10 seconds, which he did, only once!! He just kept saying “ let’s finish it off “…..well, I knew he was right, but when ur ass is literally on fire, does reasoning ever help??!!! But still, I braved myself to endure the pain (btw, I think I heard Manoj say something like iron-ass….hmm…!), no matter what and ended up trying to find various postures (given the limitations) that would help my backside, even just a little bit!

Finally, after a little bit of guidance from one of the shopkeepers (god bless them), we reached our starting point, Sarovar, at around 1.35pm ….hurray..we made it, and boy, were we glad!!

We submitted our clue-sheet to the organizers only to then realize that we had missed 2 clues on our way back….picking up ‘kadlekai’ on the Magadi rd – Bangalore route and finding out who maintains the clock tower at KR Circle, but who cares, I was just glad that I could stand still after 5 hours of almost constantly riding pillion (roads, did I hear anybody say??)…and Manoj cover-up line was “we don’t believe in bribing!!”….Still, we were docked (I think) 20points….Well, whatever….


Cut to scene of having lunch and then results….

Aetos announcing ….” The third place goes to team O…Manoj “ What the $&^&??….Anyways, Clap clap clap!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Checkered Flag at Sriperumbadur

This is the defining moment, one that leaves an indelible mark on the memory.
The hands of the tower clock push max angle between them; 12:30 on a hot Sunday afternoon on the Madras Motors Sports Club Race Track at Irungattukottai, Chennai.
I see nearly 10 other bullets through my visor, ahead of me on the grid. There are spectators on the sidelines wanting to catch the start; the lenses zoomed in, larger crowds gather on the two towers overhead.
A Marshal runs up with a “Three Minutes” Placard. A bead of sweat slides down from within the helmet, the breathing gets deeper, and all senses coalesce on the five red lights up ahead. There is a deafening thundering roar as the bikers rev up their variously modified bullets. “Two Minutes”, “30seconds” and “5 seconds” cards come and go, in quick succession; the 20 odd bikers looking ahead in enervating anticipation. I pull the clutch lever and shift into first gear, rev hard and keep it there. Five red lights go on, one after another from right to left… one, two, three, four, five opening the floodgates of adrenaline in sync. And then they go off, all at once… my race has just started.

Rewind quickly three days to find out how I landed here. The fourth leg of the Ucal Rolon National Road Racing Championship was adding (after nearly 10yrs) the Bullets and (other?) superbikes class to its 110 and 160cc categories. The invitation was extended to RTMC, and after re-affirming with Mamadi and Prashy, I decided to check out the track myself. In the hindsight, if I had even a semblance of what was in store for me, I swear, I would have chickened out.

There were a few easy-to-overcome roadblocks. Get the bullet in shape – replace the chain and sprocket and removed the main stand. The plan to go to Chennai was made over hot Mysore filter coffee at Java City at the club’s meeting. The forms were filled and everything was in place. I had to put lotsa gas to convince folks at home, this time I have stretched limits, I reckon. I applied leave on Friday (yes, contrary to most cases, my weekends are spilling over my work days and I, for one, am not complaining).

Mama, Anil and I left to Chennai on Friday (1st Sep) at 7 in the morning. Riding steady 80kmph on the bare Krishnagiri-Vellore route, we reached Sriperumbadur by 1:30pm, some 340 odd kms. The vroom vroom sounds of the 110 and 160cc bikes as we entered the MMSC race track, brought the first signs of doubts if I wanted to be among these mad men. We were welcomed with bad news at the pits from the Rolling Thunder Assault Team, Prashy and Abhi, out two leading racers had a crash, Prashy’s piston had two holes, exhaust valve broken and wrecked the head & tappet rods and Abhi had crashed trying not to run over Prashy on the track. All this on the very first day, two more such days to go!

The Madras Motors Race track at Irungattukottai was the first of its kind in India was inaugurated in 1990. The grand prix run a full 50 laps here. I was sapped out for a mere 5 laps, the 110cc and the 160cc classes ran 8 laps.
In the next 24 hours, I rode to Chennai, met up my relatives, caught up with two batch mates from IIML, Kamal and Krishna at Tidal Park.
I had to do a lot of “------- (replace by name of place) yenge?” to find my way around. “straight pongo sir, last le, right turn panna, ange iruku”. Meaning “go straight, and take a right turn in the last (end)”. You would not go any further on a straight road if you knew you had to take a turn, right. The road will continue, and hey, I don’t know where to go (if you get any of that, you are either a Tamilian or a genius).

Anyways, I got back to the race track by 3:15 on Saturday afternoon, with the practice for the bullets starting at 4:30. I thought I had enough time to take off my crash guards, mirror, tape the indicators, etc. Wrong! The bullets were already on track and there was 15 mins left to get any practice.
I was ushered into the track on my fully loaded TB, just managed to take off my tank bag. As I entered the hot lane, instruction given to me was simple, “Ensure you don’t fall, you have too much glass”.
For the practice, the bullets shared the short loop with the super bikes – Ninjas and CBRs. I was glad I had the mirrors on, to make way when the super bikes sped past. There was one rider who was flashing headlights and all, I caught him on my rear view mirror. After burning some fuel and rubber (off my foot peg only) on the wet track, I got back to the pits, 6 short laps later. The veteran racer, Subhash Chandra Bose, gave us some valuable tips on lines to take, there is so much more to learn.

After the practice, most of us headed back to Chennai. After checking out the MadBulls Shridhar's office (half of RTMC used the office to crash for the night), I headed to Porur, my cousin’s place.

On Sunday morning, I reached the race track at 8, hoping to get some more practice early in the morning. The rest of RTMC was late, sleeping over the hangover from Bikes n Barrels the previous night. Unlike the previous night, there was scrutiny of the bikes and riding gear. I was under clothed for the race, no full gloves, no knee pads. Prashy had pulled out of the race, despite an overnight engine rebuild and I got to use the champ’s riding suit.
The races for the moped class, 110cc and 160cc class went on till noon. By now my ears for-ever reverberating to the sound the mopeds and bikes revving on track or testing in the pits. The 50cc mopeds race at 100-90kmph, throttles locked at max.
At noon, the announcements for the bullets sounded. I said a silent prayer, the idea of backing out did cross my mind once, do I really want to go out there! Hell, I was not going to chicken out now.
We wheeled the bullets to the cold lane and waited as instructions were barked out. When the bullets came out into the track, one after the other, it was almost like the gladiators come out into the Roman arena. I started among the last four on the starting grid, feeling like Narayan Kartikeyan. By the time the first curve (MRF curve) was taken, there were 3 bullets behind me and one close ahead. The qualifying was my best race, for a large part I was catching up with the heavily modified (it had a double silencer) No. 1 bullet ahead. I got him on three occasions on tight inner line, but was unable to keep the lead. I had to keep my nerves tight, especially when the lead was taken from me.
For most part of the race, my strategy was to move from the outer to the inner line. I really loved most corners:

MRF Corner – Took this one mostly at 90-100kmph. The straight provides the chance to clip and take the curve at nearly fully throttle.
GoodYear Corner – The straight before this is a long one, I would consistently hit over 100kmph before braking and gearing down before the Goodyear corner.
The Never ending – This is one I loved most. Keep the throttle open, tilt the bullet till the rubber on the foot peg scrapes the camber, take the inner line and keep going and going and going, never ending really. I hear the super bikes take this at 220kmph!!
The Bridge Corners – I hated these, the S-shaped corners were where I scraped my pegs and god-knows-whatever else most. Couldn’t do any speed on this either.

There is so much to learn to be able to take these corners with élan, to make the curves work for you. But when you clip on those curves, the bullet tilting to hug the curves, and every part - the eyes, hands, thighs, knees, ankles working in sync, you forget the world.

I finished 15th out of 19 bikers on qualifying almost feeling like Narain Karthikeyan. It was a good race for Abhi from RTMC, who finished first on the 350cc category and second overall.
The next race was at 5:15 or so. In the meantime, the super bikes who took to track, to the delight of the crowds, also had a major crash, also to further the delight of the crowd. Ordinary packed vegetarian food tasted great, maybe also because it was covered in the 100 bucks you pay for the registration.
The race in the evening was a replica of the qualifying – only this time around, I didn’t have the No. 1 guy running in front and had the track for myself after the first lap. I tried to catch up with Sultan on his 500cc, but fell short of power.

At the end of the race, all the bulleteers were given mementos – a trophy to take home and show-off. I had to fit back my side stands, guard and lights in a hurry to make the bullet highway-fit.
We left the track at 6:30 in the evening. Boom was at the point, ripping at 100+, sultan and I formed the sweep. After Krishnagiri, we had to slow down, to stay with Manan, who had a loose chain. But the whole road is simply awesome and a great one to do at night. Got back home by 1am – 935kms of bliss!!

As I type this entry, I am being driven on bumper-to-bumper traffic on Airport Road and I am translocated, so much that I almost smell rubber.

Some race track terms that I googled:
parade lap
When the bikes in a race travel around the track before the start of a race. Done to warm up the bikes, particularly the tires.
The roll, angle, or canter of the road surface left and right from the direction of travel. Often corners are angled or banked in favour of the driver; when angle is unfavourable the road is described as off-camber.
cold lane
Lane in pit where bikes wait to enter track. See "hot lane."
hot lane
Lane in pit used by bikes exiting or re-entering track. See "cold lane."
green flag
Track ahead is clear for driving at speed.
yellow flag
Standing or held steady, it indicates there is a minor hazard on track ahead or perhaps a bike off-track. Use caution. When the flag is waved, it means there is a major hazard ahead; so use extreme caution.
A person working at a station along the track, usually a corner. They monitor and report the condition of bikes and the behaviour of drivers. They will display flags to provide information or warn a driver. They maintain contact with the chief marshal or "track steward."
decreasing radius
A corner that tightens. It requires increased steering input after the apex. Very challenging. Opposite from an increasing radius.
deep into a corner
Braking later into a corner, usually to overtake a bike. Often needed when taking an inside line. Also referred to as "going deeper."
inside line
If attempting to pass in a corner, race drivers will often attempt an inside line or "groove." They move to the inside surface of the track before a corner, then they attempt to outbrake their opponent by braking later but harder. If done successfully they will shoot by the bike driven the racing line and be ahead at the apex. This often causes the aggressive driver to early apex giving the defending driver a better line at the exit. See "outbrake," "the line."
in slow, out fast
A reminder that your overall or exit speed in a corner will be faster if you're slower at the entrance. A driver that exploits this is described as being "quick in the corners."
line, the
An imaginary line around a track that permits the highest speed. Through corners this is the greater arc from the outside edge from the end of a straightaway (turn-in point) through the inside edge of a corner (apex) to the outer edge at the end of the corner (exit point). This is often visible on a race track as a darker region from tire residue. This is not necessarily the shortest distance around a track. Sometimes referred to as the race line or dry line. See "wet line," "off-line," "inside line."

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Weekend Beat

As a part of other events being run along with the Ucal Rolon National Road Racing Championship the track will now reverberate to the sound of the thundering Royal Enfields. The Royal Enfields are returning to the tracks on such an occasion after over a decade.
Guess who's going to burn rubber there this weekend!

The Venue: Madras Motors Sports Club, Sriperumbadur

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

God's Own Country - Wayanad, Calicut, Kochi

Day 1
Route – Bangalore > Mysore > Nanjangud > Gundalpet > Sultan Bathery > Edakal Caves
Distance – 285 kms
Moolah – 600 (Petrol) + 5 (Nuts) + 35 (lunch) + 5 (entrance ticket) + 25 (phone calls) = 670

Day 2
Route – Sultan Bathery > Soochipara > Pookote Lake > Kozhikode > Malappuram > Guruvayur > Kochi
Distance – 380 kms
Moolah – 450 (Petrol) + 100 (Lodge) + 5 (Biscuit) + 50 (ol’ couple) + 15 (Pookte entry) + 18 (Omlette) + 15 (temple) = 653

Day 3
Route – Kochi > Komarakom > Ambalapuzha > Kollam > Attingal > Trivandrum > Kovalam
Distance – 200 kms
Moolah – c/o Salil = priceless

Day 4
Route – Trivandrum > Varkala > Kaapil > Kochi
Distance – 200kms
Moolah – 60 (fruits) + 200 (dinner) = 260

Day 5
Route – Kochi > Trissur > Palakad > Salem > Mettur > Hosur > Bangalore
Distance – 550 kms
Moolah – 450 (Petrol) + 30 (Breakfast) + 500 (Petrol) = 980

Total Distance traveled – 1230
Total Expense – 2600
Average speed on return journey – 60kmph
Average money spent – 2.11 Rs/km

It was the first anniversary for the bullet and with the long weekend, it was perfect recipe for a long ride. It had been sometime since I rode solo and in more ways than one, this was a resurrection of my faith in my bullet.
Initially I thought Goa would make a good ride. But it had been raining cows and buffaloes there. Heading towards Kerala sounded like a far better option. A plan took shape with inputs from a pro Syd and a close pal Salil.

I stocked up some basic spares - Spare Spark plug, Spare Clutch & Acc cables, spare inner-tube, pieces of wire, a new visor and Cramster saddle bag borrowed from Doc Subbu. I did some googling on the places to visit, distances and printed out maps on Friday.

Day One:
Route – Bangalore > Mysore > Nanjangud > Gundalpet > Sultan Bathery > Edakal Caves
Distance – 285 kms
Moolah – 600 (Petrol) + 5 (Nuts) + 35 (lunch) + 5 (entrance ticket) + 25 (phone calls) = 670

I like to remember my silent prayer when I heard rattling noise from the engine over my Sony Network Walkman, about 90mins into the ride, before Maddur. Fearing the worst, I stopped to check. Perched on my toes, squatting alongside the bullet, throttle on one hand, I blissfully ignored the stares from the cars I had passed not a long time ago. I open throttle to locate the source of the noise. Bingo!! The KBC style “Aap ka jawab… bilkul sahi hai” applause-applause effect. What follows next is easy, you just need to open your set of tools, find the 12inch spanner and pair of pliers and tighten the nut. You are now the hero, the greased fingers adding to the effect. I guess, I even returned some of the stares of the cagers (aka cars) then. The heroic moment couldn’t have been more evanescent though. Barely seconds later, the rattle returned. In the first bend-over look, I saw one and in the next, another - there were two loose bolts, nuts missing. If things had stayed this way, it would have been one nutty ride. At Maddur, I stopped at the only mechanic shop that was open that early. For one bolt the match was easy, the other one needed treatment on a table vise with some oil to help the screwing job.
I bypassed Mysore straight to Nanjangud. Stopped over at a cousin, Veena’s place for breakfast of red dosas with honey. Just outside Nanjangud, the rains caught up. As I pulled over into an abandoned hotel to change to rain gear, an all smiling family in a car were vehemently waving out at me.
The route to Gundlupet brought back vivid memories of the ride to Masanagudi. To reach Wayanad, you need to take a left just after Gundalpet. The road is sooper, with perfect picture postcard scenery all along. The cool breeze, the mild drizzle, the endless fields of Marigold and Maize and the Nilgiri hills in the background, with the clouds crowing the peak, just soak in I say. No amount of photography skills can frame such serene beauty (not a bad excuse for some sloppy fotos, eh). Met a bullet couple – Deepang and wifey on their way to Wayanad.
I saw some elephants in the Bandipur forest range and some buffaloes as I entered Wayanad. And then there was this bullet headed in the opposite direction, wasn’t going nowhere really. Two mallus were trying to get it started, kicking frantically. I put on the mechanic manja hat, parked my bullet and said “battery” (that, it was the name of the place where I was going had nothing to do with it, btw) and they checked for loose connection, found a solder had come off, kept it in place and it started.
I reached Sultan Bathery (pronounced bàthérry) at 2 in the afternoon. Pradeep’s bro, Pramod and Eldo run an internet café- CopyCat, in the center of the town. I dropped in there, shed off the extra layers of clothing (it takes a while really) and off load the saddle bag. I must have looked extra-terrestrial in the first sighting, reinforced by the fact that I didn’t speak no Malayalam (you never know if I typed that backwards, ha ha).
Jitesh helped me with making plans for the rest of the day. First, lunch and a nearby Hotel Prince - biryani, salad and water flavored with Pathimukam bark, which gives a red tinge to the water. Legend is that five buckets (big ones) of this can get you drunk.
Edakkal Caves:
This is about 15kms from Sultan Bathery, the ride takes you through narrow, winding roads. A forest department jeep takes you to the foot of the Ambukuthi hill. The Kannada phillum, “Edakkal Gudada mele”, was shot here. It is a long trek uphill, a rope climb sometimes, stone steps or an iron ladder otherwise. The view from the top is what you have do this climb for. I raced down from the place with hopes of also riding to Soochipara falls that evening. But with all the clouds and rain, I was advised against it.
I got back to CopyCat and settled down in a room in Prince Lodge. I joined Eldo, Jitesh and Rajin in their Saturday night pardy – Napoleon Whiskey (bottoms-up with soda) followed by Poori and ‘kattan chai’ (black tea) at a TattuKada (some tattukada stories here). The quote for the day would have to be “ade poitilla, ade eeni varugeyam illa”, “it has not gone, it will not come”, Rajin’s description of his love story. I got some tips on how-to-grow-hair by one Dhoni style server at the tattukada. Ask Appututtan Ungle, they say, so simble no. Sleep happened only at 1:30am.

Day Two:
Route – Sultan Bathery > Soochipara > Pookote Lake > Kozhikode > Malappuram > Guruvayur > Kochi
Distance – 380 kms
Moolah – 450 (Petrol) + 100 (Lodge) + 5 (Biscuit) + 50 (ol’ couple) + 15 (Pookte entry) + 18 (Omlette) + 15 (temple) = 653
Pack up and checked out by 6 in the morning. I had to visit Soochipara falls and Pookote lake before I leave Wayanad. Asking for directions in Kerala is something of an art. You have use all your organs (hands, fingers, eyebrows, small intestine to make those noises that is supposed to pass off as Malayalam) for the exercise. And when I found this one local who replied in Kannada, I got him to make my entire travel plan – ride to Soochipara, then Kalpetta and Pookote lake.

Soochipara Falls: (Soochi = needle, para = rock)
The ride to the falls was divine. The road curves through endless hills draped with a velvet carpet of multi shades of green estates, a belligerent sliver rivulet and clouds which lowered themselves to add to the beauty. A 20km ride in the tea estates took me to the end of the road. I parked at the only house on top and trusted the old couple with my saddle bag. I had to once again put my acting skills to test to figure out the directions. You have to walk a kilometer or so down stone steps into thick forest. The light drizzle, thick undergrowth and the ever-increasing roar of the falls can give anyone goose bumps. You don’t know what to expect, how far you have to go, and have no one to ask - the feeling can be quite enervating. In Soochipara, the suspense is well preserved, an emotional roller-coaster - from a feeling of anxiety to one of pure joy. One could sit there looking at the water mass and forget the world. And why I enjoyed it most, was because I was, with myself.
Pookote Lake:
Any place, even if only dotted with a few people would fail to impress after Soochipara falls. Pookote lake is a picnic spot, with boating, children’s park, horse ride, the works. I liked it for the Bread omelette and the morning jog around the lake. I also liked the two girls who were alone, tried to strike a conversation. But just after the ‘hi’ I realized, I doing bad on time and couldn’t afford such luxuries (we can take the true version offline; can’t we?).
The ride down from Kalpetta to Kozhikode is also very scenic, offering a great view of the ghats. Foot-lever scrapping stunts were impossible, the bad roads more than made up for the great view.
IIM Kozhikode:
I reached Kozhikode at noon, over shot the IIMK campus by 7kms, before spotting the not so prominent entrance to the campus. The trick to enter the campus is to not stop and ask for permission. I was so confident of this; I even gave an unsuspecting security guard a lift to the top. IIMK is on top of two hills – one houses the faculty quarters and the other the hostels and the acad blocks. With little help from Gaurav Banerjee, I located a group of Bangaloreans chilling out at the cafeteria – Suma, Sheeba, Simon and Bala. The energy and vibrancy of the campus life with discussions of projects, placements, B-schools contests, I vicariously re-lived it all in those two hours on campus. Simon was kind enough to show me around campus and more importantly, to offer me lunch at the mess. Picturesque campus with a panoramic view of the hills and coconut grooves and tiled roof Kerala style architecture, makes it one of the best campuses I have seen.
Guruvayur temple:
When I left IIMK, I neither expected the bad roads nor the weather to turn so hostile. To add to it, there were local buses with some unruly driving on those potholed roads. Soon after I left Kozhikode, the skies opened. Boredom / mental fatigue peaked during this stretch and I simply wanted to get done with all of this. I reached Guruvayur amidst incessant rain at 4:30, parked at the temple grounds, dropped off the bags at the cloak room and changed into panche (mundu) and towel. I took a dip at the temple pond, Rudratheertha, before I joined the single long queue to enter the temple. The temple was not spectacular, and one minute in the sanctum was hardly enough to evoke any religious fervor. The temple and the deity are very powerful. You can read all about Guruvayur here.
Back on the highway at 6:30, I covered good ground in the twilight. Tail light strategy was deployed yet again to counter those fackers with high beams. For some distance I followed a taxi, and then a KL07 7773 Qualis. I am getting to enjoy this kind of night riding, using taxis to my advantage. The rain and the darkness were not too much of a deterrent and I reached Cochin by 8:30. Salil, my close friend from MCE days, came to direct me to his house, off the Cochin-Trivandrum highway. I received a warm welcome with sweets, halwa and tea at his mansion.
After story-telling, photographs and dinner I hit the bed at 11:30pm.

Day three:
Route – Kochi > Komarakom > Ambalapuzha > Kollam > Attingal > Trivandrum > Kovalam
Distance – 200 kms
Moolah – c/o Salil = priceless
Salil, Arsheen, his MIL, a cousin and I left in Salil’s car for Trivandrum at 8:30, although we had made ambitious plans of leaving at 6. It is so different traveling in a car; I read this bit in ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ and can’t agree more. You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it's right there, so blurred you can't focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.
The rain continued to torment us and I welcomed being caged for the drive. Arsheen was Salil’s speed monitor. We stopped to check out a beach close to Ambalapuzha where a river meets the sea, filled ourselves up with masala dosas at one government run Aaram restaurant. We did a lot of visiting relatives in Trivandrum. First at Kollam, Arsheen’s sister’s place, then Attingal - checked out Salil’s dad’s furniture store and the new house being constructed. Arsheen, Salil and I then visited my Atte’s house in Karamana. I missed the street and almost ended up visiting the wrong folks.
At 5ish, we left to Kovalam beach. Most of the beach had been eaten up, and there was work underway to prepare the beach for the oncoming tourist season. There were no nude, sunbathing firangs, it was independence eve, after all. Salil went berserk with the camera and unleashed all his photography skills. We left Kovalam just after sunset. It was night when we reached Aatingal, and we decided to stay over for the night and return to Cochin the next morning.

Day Four:
Route – Trivandrum > Varkala > Kaapil > Kochi
Distance – 200kms
Moolah – 60 (fruits) + 200 (dinner) = 260
Arsheen, Salil and I started to Cochin at 6:30 in the morning. We stopped over at Kaapil beach near Varkala. The backwaters on one side of the road and the sea on the other side makes a spectacular view. There isn’t too much of a beach here really. We were quite famished when we reached home at Cochin at 12:30 or so. We hit the bed immediately for a pre-lunch nap.
There were two things that hit me when I entered Kerala. One was the rain and the other was the beautiful model in one of the billboards of Seemati Silks. These billboards were all along the highway to Cochin. I wanted to see more of Seemati. Salil and I left in the evening, first visited one of my aunt’s place in Ernakulam, then went to see Fort Kochi. We visited the Santa Cruz Church, the Dutch Cemetery, and Fort Kochi.

We picked up Vinod Sankar, my colleague in sales (IBM’s got a 4 member strong office in Kochi, Vinod has to actually pull down the office shutter when he leaves). A drive down MG Road was a feast for the eyes, with all those billboards from the Seemati, Alukas and Jayalakshmis. Read more about them in this Hindu article here. I liked the Seemati model particularly, there was so much left to imagination in that one! “Shhradda ver thirikuga”, “Concentrate on the side that matters” read the caption. After dinner at a nearby mall, we headed home. Sleep came easily at around 11pm.

Day Five:
Route – Kochi > Trissur > Palakad > Salem > Mettur > Hosur > Bangalore
Distance – 550 kms
Moolah – 450 (Petrol) + 30 (Breakfast) + 500 (Petrol) = 980
I woke up at 530, packed up and took leave of Salil and Arsheen by 6:15. The plan was simple, finish the 550km ride to Bangalore asap. The first destination was 190 kms to Coimbatore. There is a stark contrast between Kerala and Tamil Nadu - Kerala is densely populated, in my whole ride/drive in Kerala there was not a patch of highway that was barren. The moment you enter TN, the landscape changes dramatically, as if someone told people that TN was not to be densely populated or something. And the moment I entered TN, it stopped raining completely. I stopped 20kms before coimbatore, at a Reliance A1 plaza for breakfast - Poori and Vada.
I left there at 0950, hoping to reach Salem, 200kms away by lunch time. The roads were good, mostly toll roads and reached Salem in 3hours time. I was not very hungry, decided to stop for fuel and cool off the engine for sometime. I made a lot of friends at one BP petrol bunk – Murugan traders. While the proprietor shared his pulsar stories, one of the worker boys described me as a ‘veera’. I spent the next 30mins with these people.
When I left Salem, the plan was to stop at the A1 plaza before Hosur for lunch. But I lost my way, and instead of going on the NH47 to Krishnagiri and Hosur, ended up taking a SH via Mettur. Even after so many highway rides, I still manage to lose my way. Anyways it wasn’t bad at all, road was good, and interesting with curves and dotted with villages. It however, bypassed the A1 plaza and I had to bypass my lunch. It was about 4 in the evening at Hosur and I was eager to get home before the e-city traffic hits Hosur road.
I reached home at 4:45, after making the 550kms stretch after 10.5hours, averaging nearly 60kmph on road. The rest of the evening was spent in resting my over worked butt.
The earth continued to move slowly in its diurnal course…

Fotos are available here -

Friday, August 11, 2006

Chunchi Falls

Date: 06 August 2006
Where: Chunchi Falls
Distance: 230 odd kms
Route: Bangalore-Kankapura-Chunchi falls
For all those of you who wanted a change, may I present my pillion rider and a guest riter Swetha. This is what she had to say...

hi folks!!puttin' down an experience on paper is definitely not easy(especially for me!!) Since i have been given a chance to do so...I'll try my best.
where do i start?!! ummmmm....ok, let's begin with it's name,"chunchi". I have no idea why it is called so (Manoj, it is chunchi for sure not chinchu or anythin' else!!)but it sounds chinese.
We started to this place on the rock-steady Thunderbird at 11.00AM, though the scheduled time was 10.30AM (thanks to me). I was told that this place comes after Kanakpura and the ride to Kanakpura was slow (thanks to the B'lore traffic). Once we got there we asked for directions to the "chunchi falls" and learnt that it is about 20Km from kanakpura. Well, the ride from Kanakpura to chunchi was the best coz' u r away from the city and u own BOTH the bike and the road and one can speed to the max. This i can say coz' i was tryin' to hold myself together or stop myself from flyin' away!!wut i like about the highways is, even though u r not sure of the route, with a lil' (or lots) of help from the localites u can definitely reach ur destination (even if you have a pathetic road sense).
We finally reached the chunchi falls at about 1.00 PM. Initially we weren't sure if we were at the right place, but when we spotted a lady who took care of the tourists' vehicles, we weren't doubtful anymore. You have to walk a little while to actually get to the falls and this for me was fun, coz' it was like a mini-trek. You'll also find a couple of old people, but if u r generous ($$) to them they'll certainly guide you.
What we saw at first was a small stream flowing down the rocks and was a lil' disappointed (and i was wondering how can one call this "falls"?!!).But, thanks to our curiosity and a sweet grandpa who told us to go a lot further. He was like "inna mundee hogi" well, people , even if the rocks are not very slippery ,u cud slip and fall!!(guyz with gals wait for such golden opportunities!!) so better be careful!!
After the short trek wut we saw was amazing!! I am out of words (thanks to my vocabulary) to describe it. There are huge rocks all around u , with water flowing down (Manoj says it's the Arkavathi river which ultimately joins Sangam). I am sure we were lookin' like tiny insects on these huge rocks!!
Wut i missed the most at this point was the camera. Another thing that was on our side, was the was pleasant and though it was 2.00 in the afternoon, we didn't feel the heat at all. I was for once really silent coz' i was awed by the beautiful scenery in front of me (until then i was talkin' non-stop). We were forced to leave the beautiful place behind as i had to get back home.
Hey people!! CHUNCHI is a pretty much hidden place and not many know about it. But it is definitely a place worth visitin' coz' you are away from the city buzz in a short time and I can say that it is a treasure for the artists and nature lovers. It definitely has taught me to appreciate and care for nature.
Well, Manoj u asked me for a "short" write-up but as u can see it isn't, actually i was so excited about the entire trip that i just couldn' miss out on anythin'.I certainly can't conclude without thanking CHUNCHI, THUNDERBIRD (Bullet with feelings) and the man responsible for all this, Mr. Manoj K Bhat, thanks a ton!!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Run # 419

Sunday, 30th July 2006

Hares: Flame thrower, push mush, shrinking prick, illishit relationship
With the marathon happening next month, I needed a hash dose to provide the impetus to the preparation. This Hash run was conveniently on Bellary Road close home. My bullet had also got back from Nandan’s and I was raring to test ride. Good chance to test my legs and the bullet, I thought.

The run location was at Greek Agora, a eco-farm off Chikkajalla police station on Bellary road. The weather in Bangalore is only getting better by the day. There were only about 15 of us for the run.
As I was running I had these random thoughts on why I run at all. There was a steady uphill on the tarmac road. I was running with another veteran hasher, (yes, I forgot the name, so what!!!) we were silent listening only to the tip toe tip toe rhythm our shoes made in sync as they hit the tarmac. Prisil in his Chautauqua, Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance talks about three kinds of quietness – the physical, the mental and the value quietness.
The inner peace of mind occurs at three levels of understanding. The physical quietness is the easiest to achieve, although there are levels and levels of this too, as attested by the ability of Hindu mystics to live buried alive for many days. Mental quietness, in which one has no wandering thoughts at all, seems more difficult, but can be achieved. But value quietness, in which one had no wandering desires at all but simply performs the acts of his life without desire that seems to be the hardest.
I would think of mental quietness to be addictive in a way. It must be that which gets us spending those Sunday afternoons in the blazing sun, rather than the warmth of our homes. Tip-toe-tip-toe we reached the starting point. It must have been about 7-8kms run, we had run for close to an hour. There were a couple of walkers who were lo(a)st-in, causing a delay in starting off beering.
The Hash circle, albeit a small one this time, had enough entertainment. Hares were iced, there was a virgin too. New-shoes deserved some rough treatment. There were 2 firangs with new shoes, as they were iced, they were made to drink beer off their left shoe with the hash song in the background.
“Here's to new shoes, they're so blue
They are Hashers through and through
They are hashers so they say
Tried to go to heaven but they went the other way
Drink it down down down down ... (until beer is finished or tipped on head)”
On the closing on the circle, hard-on took us through the “Sweet Chariot” song.
Swing low, sweet char-i-o-ot,
Cumin' four two carry me home...
Swing low, sweet char-i-o-ot,
Cumin' four two carry me home.
I looked over Jordon,
And what did I see-ee,
Cumin' four two carry me home...
A band of An-gels,
Cumin' after me-ee,
Cumin' four two carry me home...
A pleasant ride back and I was home before the sun went down.

For all the uninitiated, if you made it this far without figuring out a word of what I was saying, I have put together a few links that may help you.

Hash History -
Hash Songs -

Fotos on

Monday, July 24, 2006

A shot at celebritydom

For me, it was straight out of a fairy tale, the fairy in question is Shrabonti Bagchi and, yes, the story does end in a “and they lived happily ever after”.
One upon a time there lived a handsome, youthful, energetic, psychodynamic, vigorous, young man (read me). Hold on, that’s not the end of the fairy tale!!
Shrabonti Bagchi from The Telegraph was doing an article for the Sunday Telegraph, Graphiti. She chanced on my blog and found me fitting the ‘specimen’ category well enough to feature me in the article. Two mails, phone calls (and a lot of barefaced begging) later, I found myself giving a 20 minute interview sharing my passion about biking. And that is how I found myself on the first page of the cover story of Graphiti – The Telegraph Magazine, 25th June 2006. Thanks a million, Shrabonti.
Page 1
Page 2I, however, didn’t have hour-glass shaped creatures drooling over me and so I am trying this publicity stunt once again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To MadhuGiri with Tatte Idly

wide angle Madhugiri
Date: 09 July 2006
Distance traveled: 250kms
Route: Tumkur - Madhugiri
Some basic stats:
37 bikes (the highest ever on a ride)
45 people (the highest ever on a ride)
11 Women (the highest ever on a ride)
11 Announce riders (the highest ever on a ride)
5 Announce riders cleared for membership (the highest ever on a ride)

This ride had its share of some witty one-liners.
We need to see you come before we hear you come.
PP started off with something that can very well go into the history books for children to learn by rote. It helps explain a rather sanctified RTMC rule of keeping your headlight on while on a group ride. (And I always thought it was just meant to help you see the road better).
“We need to see you come before we hear you come”
This profound explaination, am sure will bring absolute clarity to us RTMCians and would also placate the curiosity of the bewildered country policemen.
On the last two rides (Penukonda and this one) cops stopped the battery of bullets, “Adella OK, aadre headlight yaake??” Trying stopping us next time fellas.
If you were to ponder some more, you will realize how this is aligned with the human anatomy too. We do have eyes before the ears!! And then nature seconds this philosophy too – Lightening is seen before thunder is heard, Bingo!!!
And all the sexoholics would concur, we do need to see them come before we hear them come, right (?)

There was a lot of ‘diversity’ on this ride. The lone female rider must have inspired this one, “Everyone has to come down to his knees here.

My tappets were making noise giving my bullet a chopper kind of feel. I could hear it over the racket of the other bullets and even inside my helmet. Nandan (my Bullet doc) had taken me through a course on tappet adjustments the previous evening to make sure I wouldn’t be stranded on the highway. It’s all here if you need to know more. And then I had to get back in time to catch my flight to Delhi. I still wanted to do the ride.
My initial plans were to join them till breakfast and then ride back. Breakfast happened at the world-famous-in-tumkur Pavithra Idly Hotel at Kyatasandra. This place just outside Tumkur is famous for its Tatte Idlies (tatte = plate). (Plz check out the recipe at the end of this post). It was 10am when we were ready to ride again and I was saying the goodbyes. PP and doc edged me to carry on another 30kms to Madhugiri. ‘To Madhugiri’ on the title of a blog sounds better than To Tumkur and so I went. Now we were riding on the state highway, first gear-second gear-third gear-fourth gear-fifth-speed breaker-repeat was the sequence for all of the 30 odd kilometers.
We reached Madhugiri by 11 or so, a few others were delayed because of a leaking tank on one of the bulls. I waited for the ride captain, Sumanth to join up before I started my way back. With the fear of loose tappets (or God knows what) at the back of the mind, I was glad I made home by 1:30, well in time for lunching, packing and boarding.
The next one week will be spent in the pink city Jaipur.

Before I leave... it wouldn't be fair, if I didn't give you a chance to experience it yourself, so here goes...
Finger-licking Tatte (plate) Idly
Idly rice (Ponni rice if possible)
Urud dal
cooked rice
Fenugreek seeds(Methi)
Salt as per taste

(Disclaimer: The writing on the wall in the photograph above is purely co-incidental and may(?) not have any bearing on the taste whatsoever)
Soak Idly rice and Methi together in water for about 5-6 hours.
Soak urud dal in water for 3 1/2 hours. Drain the water from urud dal and grind it in a wet grinder with little water. Fine grind it until the mixture is frothy. Keep aside. Now drain water from soaked rice and methi.
Grind these along with cooked rice and little water in the grinder.
Now mix the ground items and add salt. Allow it to ferment for 16 - 18 hours. Then make idlys in the idly steamer. The flour is poured into the tattes (plates) and piled in a neat circular arrangement.
This is then transferred to the steam chamber. Steam the idlys on high for 10 minutes.
Steaming Tatte idlys are served best with coconut chutney and hot sambar. Surrup…

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Manchinbele and NICE

Date: 02 july 2006
Time: 10AM
After a rathar dull saturday at home, it was time to hit the highway again. The weather in Bangalore these days simply lures you out of the house. I dug out the archives of my grey area and pulled out Manchinbele dam, put in there by Doc. One phone call later, I the plan was in place. I had made up my mind, in any case, I am gonna run with HASH this evening, which meant I had to be back by 3.
Manchinbele is a dam over the river Arkavathy forming reservoir around 30 Kms west of Bangalore. You have to ride on Mysore road, about 3 kms after Kengeri, a right turn takes you on a very bumpy road to The big Tamrind tree, continuing about 8kms further takes you to this quiet and serene dam, willfully hidden from the urban chaos.
It was quite a relief to take the butts off the bullet after the bumpy ride and walk up to the dam. The view from the dam was quite breathtaking. There were 3 gates to let the water (or dam it) to the channels on the other side. The watchman (if a black ribbon around his neck is any identification!!) told us that the water is as much as 70feet deep and quite a few lives have been lost in there.
Stopped over on the way back at Tamrind tree, buzzing with people in stark contrast to what we had just left behind.
Sooper weather, some wonderful views, and a terrible road is what i will not forget for a long time.

So after this, I had to rush to Anjanapura village. HASH was running that weekend on the NICE Bangalore-Mysore corridor. I had to ride on Macarise Club, some 10kms off Kanakpura Road to reach the run destination. Though I reached there some 10mins late, I could run and catch up with the rest of the hashers. The NICE is coming up at a good speed. There was a mix of countryside, road and uphill along the trial. There was a great participation this time, loads of hashers and many virgins, with svelte, well-proportioned figures ensured that the 'ceremonial' ring around the ice, had lots of action.
Biryani was served at the Macarise Club. One Bhubaneshwar hasher, an Australian citizen who shared my passion for the Bullet, wanted to pillion ride back to the city with me. (I wonder if he maintained that passion for the bullet after the ride!!). Apparently, a free lance economist working on a Public works dept project on State highways and world bank. Yes, I am trying a back door entry into one of those.
From 10 in the morning to 10 in the night, this is how it went...

Friday, June 30, 2006


10 months and 14000 kms later, my Track Record Stands thus:

The full size map is available on

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nagaraja Gowda Weds Nagamani

Thamanni (Nagaraj Gowda) Weds Shobha (Nagamani)
Destination: Hassan
Total Distance traveled: 430kms
Fuel: 14lts of Petrol
Date: 18th, June 2006
Buckeet-Ragi-Adarsh-Tima-Sriram-Shamanna-Reel-Gopi Mama-Sannidhi-Adi-I

Left Bangalore at 6am in 2 cars, 1 bike and a bullet. Regrouping happened at Bellur cross over some Bread omelet and tea. Next, was at 930am at the MCE college canteen. Refer to Bucket’s recollection in the next paragraph for all the on-campus action. Sat through the wedding and lunch till 230. Raghu and I decided to stay with the cars on the ride back. In what was one of my slowest rides, I discovered that my bullet could actually do a 40kmph on a highway. One break and four grueling, sleepy slow hours later, back home.

This time around, I have Buckeet (Raghu) chip in to write about the campus visit.
Raghu writes
“Nostalgia is what happens when you return to your 40 acre campus after nearly 5 years. A great weekend it was, a group of 12 of us were back on the MCE Hassan campus after 5 years and the time seemed to have stood still. Nothing much had changed even with the World Bank funding (don’t know who was challenging whom), except a few tarred roads, some fencing, a new temple, and the teak plantation which has grown in 5 years. It was the same old “Temples of Worship “. That was the caption we had, for the t-shirt we had designed in engineering days, which later became famous as LH (LadiesHostel) T-shirt.

The T-shirt had all places that our most precious 4 years saw. Come to think of it, I am not nostalgic about Hassan, I assume that we are all nostalgic about:
Kalpana Tea Stall- don’t ask me about the myths , but she severed some yum omelets
Stadium – the mango eating spot
MMP, Canteen, MJP, Krishna, Aloo Bun, Kaat Mess – it’s because of these places that I could survive with out even a rupee in my pocket. They never let me go hungry.
Suvarna, LP, Southern Star, Gokul – This is where Manoj gave us his ‘n’ no: of treats.
Forest - never walked in it, in the night.
Pool – A pool at your disposal for 4 years and yet I learnt swimming after engineering.
LEO Club & Science Forum – met my close friends there and my sweet heart too.
OF , SG , NF – three chapters in 4 years.
Ragvendra Swamy Matha – I seriously went there to pray J
The Mech workshop – where lathes turn only when you pay Rs. 20 to the helper.

So we tried to live again the same life, in 1 hour that we spent there. People still did shout “Bucket rod etto” ( Raghu pull up the rod ) when the power went off and bucket had to turn on the generator. People still shouted “Bucket Phone “ ( Raghu phone ) atleast once a day. The mess workers still had the same tired look, the mess bill had gone up by 4 Rs., MAMA said and the electricity bill had come down … wow !!! … the bathrooms were tiled and were sparkling .. hostel had a Internet center….

oops !!! we dint have time to visit the LH … which was Mother of all temples of Worship…. We shall do a exclusive trip for that …

All in all a good trip … wish others could make it too… we shall do it soon again … “

Check out some fotos at in the album 'Thums Weds'

Monday, June 12, 2006

Vroom vroom Devapura Express

Sunday, 04th June 06.
430kms in 10hours
Endangered animals spotted – Donkeys, Pig, Cobra.
Route: Bangalore > Tumkur > Sira > Hiriyur (NH 4) > Hosadurga > Devapura

Devapura is Raghu’s native place. The main source on income is agriculture. This rain water fed land grows paddy and groundnuts on a good year and drought on others. The closest town is Hiruyur, which houses a sub-station for power transmission. The mud was maroon, rich in manganese (Mn – do u remember the atomic number, anyone?). There were lots of windmills (like giant fans determined to blow you off the road).

Raghu made the trip on Saturday, I rode on Sunday morning to join him at his ancestral home at Devapura and ride back together. NH-4 is the highway to Pune, a flat, well asphalted, 6 lane, barricaded road with good service lanes at places. It’s boring to ride on such, even if you are doing it at 110kmph. Raghu’s instructions were to start as early as possible, ride 170 kms to Hiriyur, take left at a cement arch, ride another 45 kms, take a deviation to Devapura.

I started at 6:15, reached Hiriyur by 9:10. I stopped at the cement arch where I was to take the deviation to Devapura. There were shops around and I was hunting for cream biscuits for breakfast.

There was this puncture ( panchure / punchur / pancher ) shop and there was this pro working on a lorry tyre, he had located and patched the leak and now putting the tube back into the tyre. He was vigorously and very generously applying lots of some powder all over tube and in the innards of the tyre and the flap. When the black tube was nearly white with powder, he proceeded with putting the tube in place and pumping it with air. I was told that the powder was to keep the tube from sticking to the flap and/or the tyre. I picked up the just-emptied powder box – 20g pack of Ponds Dreamflower it was!!!
I shall finish off the ride details before I dwell further into this really interesting topic.

The road to Devapura was recently laid, the scenery was fantabulous – windmills lined many of the hills, the traffic was an occasional herd of donkeys or sheep. And of course,
Raghu was waiting for me at a fork in the road (come on guys, I know him well enough not to mistake him for a donkey). We rode together to Devapura.
Raghu’s full family tree was there, to attend threading ceremony couple of days back. Parched rice with curd was breakfast. As we left, his aunt offered me a shirting. I felt much obliged, for this is usually given to members of the family only.

A Bullet and an Avenger parked there in the courtyard caught the attention of all his cousins including the Brahmachari vatu. We left Devapura at noon. Devapura has a Haalu Rameshwara temple with a theerta, a wellspring, wherein the water (white as milk or Haalu) has never gone dry. One offers his prayers to the deity, makes a wish and chooses a corner of the theerta. Whether your wish will be fulfilled or not is indicated by things floating in the corner you choose. I was surprised to see someone getting a coconut shell floating and some other pulling out a betel leaf floating to the surface.
Raghu and I then visited one more Hanuman temple before we hit the road.
On the way to Hiriyur, the road is devoid of tress, plain lands and fields. Turning around on of the turns I spotted a cobra crawling its way on the road. I slowed down, not wanting to scare it off the road, but as I stopped, he slithered into the shrubs on the side of the road.
My silencer was giving me problems – it’s nagging now, I have already have had it welded in two places, but the nut was simply not holding. I needed to tighten the nut, every now and then. I carried the No. 13 spanners in my jacket pocket.
When we hit the highway NH4 it was 1:10 at Hiriyur. From there to the Kamat Upahar at Tumkur, 120kms, we kept the throttle open throughout and made it to Tumkur in 80mins flat.
I touched a 125kmph on my bullet. It happened on the road between Hiriyur and Sira, I overtook Raghu’s Avenger at some 110kmph and kept the throttle going even as the road sloped down a bit. When I next saw the speedo showing 125kmph, I could only scream inside my helmet. It was at that speed for half a minute, I suspect. Needless to say both bikes guzzled petrol like thirsty camels. We screwed mileage big time.
We were playing catch-up with a dirty Toyota Innova with a RJ registration, driven by this one senior citizen. Just as I was overtaking him before Tumkur, he signaled me to one-minute-slow-down. As I rode alongside, he said “You chaps are good”. This man had been riding all the way from Jaipur. Some passions never die.
Lunched on poories, tighten my nuts again and rode at sane 80kmph speeds till Bangalore. I was home by 4:30.
10 hours and 430kms it was!

Hindustan Level is the company, the subsidiary of Unilever in India, which owns the brand - Ponds ™! Unilever is at the forefront of giving consumers products that help them look good, feel good and get more out of life. I read in a recent research paper how the company’s R&D scientists use their expertise in psychology and cognitive neuroscience to tune into the unconscious mind.
Dr Richard Wright, lead scientist says "By understanding how the senses combine and which senses are important - and when - we aim to make products which are predictably more pleasurable for our consumers to use. We call this intelligent design."HLL spent a whooping 83600lakhs on advertisements and sales promotions last year[1]. Estimating on a % of revenue basis, the Personal Products (Ponds falls under this segment) is about 21 crores.

Now consider this…

There are 32lakh[2] registered trucks that ply on Indian roads. Each lorry has about 6 tyres. Let us assume each lorry travels a distance of 100kms everyday. So there are 32lakh*6*100 (=192 crore) tyre-kms everyday.
Let us assume the tyres puncture rate is one every 5000kms. So there are 192 crore / 5000 (= 3.84 lakh) punctures per day in the country.
Imagine if it is a standard procedure to use a 20g Ponds Dreamflower talc on each puncture. This would cause a consumption of 7680kilos of talc everyday!!!
That sounds too much, a little bit of sensitivity analysis gives other possibilities.
If we scaled down our assumptions – One puncture every 10000kms, the figure drops down to 3840kilos per day.
Further, if we assume every lorry travels a mere 50kms a day, the figure drops down further to 1920kilos per day.
Other considerations:
6 tyres per truck is a very conservative estimate. All trucks have more than 6.
We are not considering the buses, a good 6.7lakh buses ply on our roads everyday.
Some LCVs and earth movers also form a substantial part.

We also assume that a Ponds Dreamflower talc pack is ‘available’ to a saleem bhai or a Raj anna when he is at work.

Now take the worst-case scenario – 1920kgs of talc. I will scale it down further by 50% to account for the reach-of-Ponds factor discussed above. That brings us to a figure of 960kgs and a yearly consumption of 3.5lakh kgs.
Each 20g Ponds Dreamflower has a retail price of Rs. 5, or Rs 250 per kg.
The net addition to revenue of Ponds Dreamflower is a mind boggling 8.76 crores!!
And that is the worst estimate. Taking the best case, would yield us 35 crores.

To tap this opportunity HLL needs to simply increase reach and keep the unit price pack at the present levels. Wouldn’t be surprised if HLL comes up with an ad featuring a lorry driver one of these days.

On a lighter note, maybe lorry drivers consider their lorries to be their lady love or something (a Hema Malini, Sridevi, Kareena or a Mallika) and hence insist on the talc. I know a lot of guys who give their bikes feminine names and always want to ride on *her* on a normal road. (Do they say hump her, when they go on a speed breaker?) Imagine applying talcum powder on tyres, I had to let loose.

Surprised! Don’t be, there are instances where we Indians have invented ingenuous ways of using certain products. Lassi makers using semi-automatic washing machines to mix lassi in Punjab is one other example that is top of mind.
[1] Source Annual Report 2004
[2] Source Indian Rubber Statistics 2004, The Rubber Board, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India & Past Issue.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Motorcycling is by its very nature potentially dangerous – perhaps that’s why we do it!

Odometer reading 13000 kms
Accident rate: 1/4333kms

Auto-gynec Accident
Place: Opposite to the Sagar Automobiles on Banerghatta Road.
Damages: Rs. 20 for removing the crash guard bend.
Physical Damages: Rs. 50 for Anti-Tetanus injection and dressing.
I was riding to work, just crossed Accenture, at a steady 40-50 kmph. One pretty gal was crossing the road, small momentary distraction and an auto in front decides to move into the right lane. I braked to avoid collision, my front disc brake locked, the sand near the divider side of the road made me lose balance. The crash guard met the divider on its way down. My right leg got a bad bruise after scraping against the divider.
By the way, the gal was gone before I regrouped myself and turned around.

Whenever you fall, pick up something. I couldn’t pick her up though!!

From Bhat to
Place: Yelagiri
Damages: A few thousand rupees
Physical Damages: Nil

My claim to fame at RTMC, the infamous tagging to ‘’. If you draw a 2x2 BCG matrix (my MBA education is now taking over and I am now going to talk intelligently) with financial impact on vertical axis and physical impact on the other, this one accident would lie on the top left box. Top, meaning, really top and left, meaning, extreme left.
(MBA is abbreviation for Master in Business Administration and we are taught, among other things, to present data in boxes and pies).
In case it greyed your grey matter, all that was cryptic for “it cost me lots of money”.
RTMC rode to Yelagiri on the 19th March. You would have guessed from the ‘giri’ part of the name, that it is a hill station. There is a Ghat section climb on the way up (what else did u expect) - a narrow winding road with some hair-pins bends. There was no traffic on our way up.
I was doing good on the turns and I guess I got carried away a wee bit on the ride down. There were two bulls ahead of me and I was trying to catch up. On one of the left turns, I found myself in the middle lane, gunning straight at a Tata Sumo Victa. I braked hard and got most of the bike out of the way, but couldn’t avoid the brake lever and the mirror go whack against the mirror and beading, ripping the plastic off. Metal against plastic is not too much of a contest.The sumo full of doctors let me go after I promised to make good the damages (why?). We considered the option of using the comprehensive insurance I had, but it would take time for the formalities and then I heard the future premiums go up.
I got away with a bent brake lever but a badly hurt ego and image. I thought I did well to hold my nerves, stay on road and prevent what could have been worse.
I paid through my nose for the damages. I guess, I could have bought Yelagiri with that kinda dough.

House Full
Place: A few hundred meters from home - Boopsandra
Damages: Bent crash guard (I don’t remember it straight now)
Physical Damages: Rs. 50 for Anti-Tetanus injection and lots of Soframycin.

On 13th May, went on this Penukonda ride (check archives). After a heavy dinner, at around 10pm, I decided to pay a visit to BeeKay who was leaving to Singapore that night. My sister, Madhu, who had not seen him in a few years, decided to join me. Rishabh and Aryan her handsome sons wouldn’t miss any ride on the Thunderbird.
Any long ride gives a good high and there is always a hangover - there is a thump thump in the back of the head, the adrenaline levels are high and so is the confidence level.
I was turning right off the main road into a 100ft road. With a building in the corner and the rains leaving sand on the road, it was a bad idea to take it fast. I had slowed considerably, but nevertheless, had to steer the bike to turn. I remembered using the front brakes till the point of taking the turn, for some reason the bullet skidded. In a few seconds the four of us were on the road.
Aryan was crying, people from the chat stall nearby crowded around. Rishabh looked fine, there was no contact with the silencer, so there were no burns. Madhu’s pyjama was torn at the knee and there was some bleeding. Someone from the crowd brought a jug of water to clean up the wounds. Aryan had landed on my sister and was unhurt. It was when the water was poured on the wound, that the real pain surfaced. Rishabh, who had maintained his composure till this time, couldn’t hold it any longer.
BeeKay’s dad is a doctor and we decided to get the first-aid done at his place. When we reached there, 3 bleeding patients used up some 5liters of Dettol and some 1 kilo of cotton.
For the next one week nearly, everyone had their accident tales to share when they heard what happened. Thanks everyone for the wishes, I did get away this time…
Sister was back on the saddle the very next day, I feel trusted!

It took me two weeks to get back to using the hand fully. I survived all the oohs and aahs everyone who saw my bruise had to say. The pain of the wound per se was nothing, but the thought of putting my nephews and sister through this was.

This is one blog roll I don’t intend to add to!

I was wondering if accidents can be addictive, I must admit there is a sense of wild craziness to it. Searched the net for it, but drew a blank. Let me know if you have come across something on this before.

Some favorite quotes I picked up:

The chapter of accidents is the longest chapter in the book.
John Wilkes (1725–1797), British politician. The Doctor (Robert Southey).

There are no small accidents on this circuit.
Ayrton Senna (1960–1994), Brazilian motor racing driver. Remark made before the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, during which he was killed. The Independent (London) (December 22, 1994).

Whenever you fall, pick up something.
Oswald Theodore Avery (1877–1955), Canadian bacteriologist.

The only way to be absolutely safe is never to try anything for the first time.

There are no accidents. God's just trying to remain anonymous.

Small Accidents are good for you, your reflexes improve with every fall.
Gurunandan, one passionate Bulleter.