Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Run # 408
SUNDAY, 26th February 2006

I ran last Sunday with this really freaky, weird club - Bangalore Hash House Harriers.

What it is: Its the Bangalore chapter of Hash - “The drinking club with the running problem”.
They run every alternate Sunday afternoon, for like 10-15 kms in serene countryside. The club has a heterogeneous composition in terms of age, sex, shapes, nationality. But, surprisingly they all beer alike – down down down.

First we all met up, ahead of Golden palms spa and resort (I sneaked into the resort for some fotos and a peep into the poolside). Take left at the Brick factory and follow the hash signs – shredded paper and chalk marks. It takes you to a lake, where we wait for the hares to burrow out. Then they come - one night stand, useless widget, hernia, ffu, zulu, sexobics, use-her friendly (all nicknames) and the virgins (us newbies).
We started the run a lil after 5. After about 3.5 kms there was a water spot, hydrate yourself and move on. The trial itself was amazing – paddy fields, eucalyptus groves, kachcha roads dotted with villages. Though we all started off together, we kinda spread soon. Surprisingly, the order was not in accordance with age, sex (usage noun, not verb), or weight. (Btw, weight actually helps rolling down a slope)
And if you lead or fall behind, you have to find the trail yourself. I went on false trails a couple of times. You realize there is something wrong when you don’t see shredded paper for sometime. One fellow runner, Ninaad offered the moral of the false trails “You should chase a false trail sometimes”, he said, “if you are in sales, you will sell more”. Well, in consulting, you also handhold the client on the false trail and get paid for it too. (Actually, the handholding seems good, mabbe I should try my luck at work tomorrow.)

At times, during the run, when you cross the villages, you have stray dogs going bow vow, and some kids running after us. We have a sizeable no of firings running with us, and they pass comments in kannada or in broken inglis.
And finally after about an hour of running, we got back to the lake. Beer flowed easily and mixed well with some below-the-belt jokes. Most jokes were on Bird flu. My Pj mates, am sure, would have seen the connection – bird-chicken-chick-hen-cock…. And then there is a ceremony to express gratitude to the hares responsible for the run. There is this Ice slab on which the ‘awardees’ are made to park their asses. The hash anthem is sung by the group… I didn’t get the words exactly, but I know there was this down down down at the end, when the guys on the block need to go bottoms up. (gawd, not literally!! I meant the beer. Life’s so much better with that, otherwise imagine doing a bottoms up).
I shared the ice slab with 2 other ‘virgins’. One was this dude from the US of A (faintly remember hearing abt it somewhere), who said his name was AC Milan (!!), and the other, Naina, who thought she didn’t qualify to sit on the virgin block. Then the anthem followed, ending in the down down down.
And that, members of the grand jury, is how I lost my virginity at hash!
Then the disperse took place.
The effort that goes into getting all this happening is truly amazing. The moderators have to do a lot of homework, find a place where a run trail can be set. Then they go and mark the trail with shredded paper and chalk. Once this is done, there are smaller logistics issues like getting the drinks van, the snacks, the beer, the ice slab and so on… all this for the honor of cooling off their asses, literally.
“The Rinking Club with a Dunning problem”

Fotos ke liye check kare http://www.flickr.com/photos/manojbhat/sets/72057594071343483/

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bullet Varieties

I found this link that has so many varieties of Royal Enfields available in UK...


Hope some day these are also available in India - there is even a 500 CC lean burn engine model.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Kauvery Komforts

Welcome to Bangalore – Mysore Expressway, Roads to Prosperity

It was the valentine weekend. But RTMC (it’s the bullet club, for the uninitiated) decided to play spoilt sport. It isn’t such a bad thing to love a bullet, you know. And that is how I ended up on the Bangalore – Mysore, Road to Prosperity.
Starting point was Town Hall, 7 sharp (beats me, 7 is pretty crooked itself, rite). But I reached there on time, despite the misleading instructions. There were about 10 bullets, and one by one bullets started pouring in. We were 25-30 bullets after the final regroup point at the Rajeshwari arch. There were lotsa new faces this time around too. I am really getting good at forgetting names, these days. Maybe the problem is, am not meeting enough gals. There was some garlanding of the moderators at town hall (full sheke types), Anil gave some speech and all. We started at 7:45 or so.

The Mysore Road is pretty good now, just that it is dotted with towns and the traffic is pretty heavy. But obstacle races are fun. I had done the stretch to Kengeri on my other bike, sooper stretch actually. Even before the engines warmed up, we found ourselves hogging at Kamat Madhuvan, Ramanagara - Masale, idly, vada and by-two coffee. With our tanks full, we headed straight to destination. Two stops, close to 100mins of riding, passing Chennapattna, Mandya and Rangantittu and we were at Kauvery Komforts at around 11.

There was Cauvery close by, and there were cottages for Comfort. Don’t ask me why they skrewed up that spelling. I parked my bike at the resort, and my ass in the cauvery. Stayed in water for like a long time. There was some detergent foam flowing downstream, I thought that was double gain, didn’t have to shower after the dip.

At 1’o clock, there were 30 starved stomachs, but only a couple of hands to make those chapattis. It meant we had to wait for food, but when it did finally come, we made no delay in devouring the meals.

After some photoshoots, hit the highway again at around 2:30. There was this one freak incident that happened on the way back. On these group rides, it’s very common that the group disintegrates after a while of starting – the gaps widens sometimes as much as a few kilometers. It so happened that there were two bullets that were leading the pack, with the 30 odd bulls following at a distance. On one of the overtaking maneuvers, the front seat occupant of a Scorpio, showed the finger to Doc on his Black ThunderBird. Little did they realize that they were messing with 30 odd leather-clad, pony-tailed psychos.

It was good fun when we met up with them at our next break at CafĂ© Coffee Day. We heard doc’s version of the story and started out to hunt for those bums. They chickened out and went underground. We sure did send the message across; As we were leaving the place – all the bullets revved up, and in the middle of the lotsa dust and thump, some 20 odd fingers went up.
We reached Kengeri cross by 5:30 in the evening. Mast fun ride this was – short and sweet.

Pics - http://photos.yahoo.com/manojbhat1

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rider Mania 2006

Vital Stats:
Total kms travelled in 3 days 825kms
Distance to Chennai 360kms
Chennai to Bangalore This one is a contest. SMS 9880624910. Type 'P followed by a space' and then your answer
Riding time (return) 4 hrs 50 mins Average speed 70kmph
No of casualties 2 males*

* those moths came charging at me + am not SRK = they are non-females = they are males. QED

Rider Mania: what it is?
It's the congregation of Bullets. A time to meet old pals, make new friends, share ride stories, flaunt motorcycles and party with the community of Royal Enfield bikers from all over the country. The 2005 edition of Rider Mania held in Mumbai saw over 250 hardcore Royal Enfield enthusiasts having a time of their lives. This time round, the event was in the hometown of Royal Enfield, Chennai, organized by MadBulls – the madras bullets club.
Running for 140 kms all the way to Pondicherry along the coastline, the East Coast Road was the venue for this year - Casuarina Bay Beach Resort. The itinerary list was endless and promising some very interesting events. The two-day event was to be packed with interactive sessions with fellow riders, music, fireworks, laser shows, beach games, custom bikes, modified bikes and of course, the traditional Rider Mania group ride, with over 300 bulls racing together.
It has now been about 50 odd days since I had been on the highway, and I was itching to hit the road. (and in case you are wondering, itchguard is manufactured in Chennai). I was very excited about the whole thing, and just couldn’t keep it down in office on Friday. The Bullet was also ready, serviced, full tank, crash guard in place and roaring to go.
There were 30-40 bullets that were to participate in the event from RTMC - the Bangalore Bullet Club. One chunk left on Friday morning, along with ‘Road shakers’ from chandighar, riding to Pondi and then riding along the ECR to the venue. I planned to join the other group that was to leave on Saturday morning. There were about 25-30 bikers who were to join this ride. Muthu was the ride captain; he had done the road to Chennai some hundred times and knew even the bends, the potholes, mobile speedbreakers (read sheep, buffaloes, etc) like the back of his palm.
At 6:15 or so, the first batch left the KR puram ‘hanging’ bridge. No one ripped this stretch thanks to the piercing cold. At the first regroup point – Hotel Greenpark, chitoor, where we stopped to wait for others, bullets started trickling in, there were in all about 20 odd bikes. BF was pongal-vada, poori and special coffee.
The ride from chitoor(AP) to Ranipet (TN) was a superb road. And because it passes through all those states, the trucks don’t take this, to save on state taxes, octroi (manoj bhai mba). I think, we all owe it to the MBAs of the world, there was not one truck, lorry, LCV on the stretch, I swear. Imagine the no. of cops that it would take to enforce this, otherwise. So we save on cops salaries (we are not even talking of the alternate employment that they can do and the subsequent benefit to the society at large). The road also needs a lot less maintenance so we save on that too. The MBA community needs to get a slice (say, 99%) of the pie. With this, ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.
Oh oh, did I digress? Actually I didn’t, I was thinking all this and glanced at the speedometer, it read 100kmph. I realized all this was polluting my thoughts, and stopped to plug in my sony viao, network walkman. Vroom, vroom, vroom, the bikes sped past. The tail waited for me. It took about 5 odd mins, at good speeds you can make upto 3kms in that time. The fun then started. There were three of us now making the tail of the trial. Two others were veterans in riding. We opened throttle and were taking the bulls to their top speeds. Taking curves at 110, overtaking fellow bulleters, I reached my all time high speed of 117-118kmph. And by the time we came to the next pit stop at Ranipet, we had actually crawled our way to the lead.
I had plans of visiting cousins and friends at Chennai. I went off on my own from there and was in Chennai outskirts by 1230. It took me another hour to find my way to Marina beach and my cousins place. Met up relatives, friends – vinod and pandit. I stayed over at pandit’s place for the night.
The venue Causirina Bay, was about 25kms on the East Coast Road (ECR) from Chennai city. I reached there at 11 in the morning. There was a contest for modified bikes. Don’t miss the photos for any reason. Truly amazing, the amount of work, dedication, brains and passion that had gone into each of it. I don’t know the count, too difficult to estimate, but bullets of all shapes, sizes and colors were everywhere. The best part was the ‘diversity’. There were couples - sad, happy, hot, gay. (If thou are headed for the snaps, thou shalt be rewarded). The men were as hippie as the bullets in all shapes, colors and smells.
And then at 1pm, there was a ride to Mahabalipuram. There were a few hundred bullets that took part. We rocked the East Coast Road, even the sea receded a few inches, what then to say of the rest of the vehicles on the road. On the return journey, all the bulls were riding with their headlights on and we lit the road.
What are the ingredients for a beer? Everyone knows there isn’t one particular recipe. But, hippies, hot chicks, big bikes, beach sands, sun in the face, and subsidized prices on pint and guzzle guzzle guzzle followed the thump thump thump.
I went for a swim, first in the swimming pool and then in the sea. We played a combination of footer, volley and handball in the sea, with all the beer it was hard to say. And in the hand wrestling competition and the man with the best GF behind him, won. Plan to win it next year, you know the area I need to focus upon. There was a major party in the night attended by the CEO and Director, Royal Enfield for giving away prices. Beer barrels continued to roll, amidst the dance floor and some good music.
And now for the best part of the trip – the ride back to Bangalore. There was a gang that was to leave at six in the morning. By the time I got ready, it was close to 6:45 and the gang had left. Punctuality doesn’t pay, even this time it didn’t. Along with me I had doc, muttu (who was supposed to be the 6:00 ride captian) and JFK. Muttu was on his Monster, JFK on his Maximus both 500cc bullets and doc on his Black TB. Two-by-four chai and we were on our way. The ride till Kancheepuram was slow at 60kmph or so. There was a thick fog attimes reducing the visibility to a few feet. With my visor up and my specs foggy my case was worse. BF was in about an hours time at Kancheepuram Saravana Bhavan – pongal vada and masale.
What followed, I cannot describe in words. Everytime I think about it, it brings a smile on my face. If one were to sample our speedometers the readings would probably read like this – 105, 110, 110, 110, 115, 115, 90, 95, 100, 105, 105… and the four bullets were mostly racing alongside each other. I touched and held the bike at my bullets max speed of 117-118kmph at 4500rpm for a minute or so. And despite that the 500ccs make you feel like a bacchu really. The thump thump is so loud that it drowns your bikes noise, you throttle when they do and cut speed when they do. In effect, it beats (even dictates) on the top two counts – speed and thump. The roads were simply fabulous. And you could catch that look on our faces when we took our bio-breaks. One more chai break at Greenpark at chittor. Guys got their tanks filled here, petrol costs about 3Rs less.
Next stop was destination KR Puram Bridge. We had taken 4 hours 50 mins to do the stretch of 360kms of some real good road.
Barring two incidents where I left 6 and 3 feet tyre marks on the road, there were no other stray incidents (details on demand only). Great ride in all!!
I had this sinking feeling my stomach when I got back. I was once again this small boy who hated to return back to Bangalore, to home, to school and wished he’d stay on forever doing those naughty things at his grandparent’s.
And now, in the eerie silence of my room, I take a deep breath, I close my eyes and … all I hear is the thump thump thump…
News links:
The Hindu http://www.hinduonnet.com/2006/01/23/stories/2006012308850200.htm
Ppl, the fotos finally are now available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/manojbhat/sets/72057594057378210/
The pictures tell the true story of the ride. Spend time on it, post comments, there are some where u can run the mouse over the snap to see hidden comments, simply enjoi maadi

Lord of the Ring

Okie we now know the World is Flat, but that does not mean a Vasco da Gama wasn’t around to check that out. Well, the ring road is round, you didn’t expect me take that at face value. It had so gotten on my nerves that I had started seeing gol gol ringmares in the night. So I had to put an end to it. Parag volunteered to join in, after all that pestering, tormenting, nagging, henpecking, harassing, hassling, and bicep-showing (wow, I know to use the thesaurus) he didn’t have a choice, but he did good to ‘volunteer’.
The algorithm was this.
Start from BEL circle at 0530hrs on the ring road.
Keep going straight.
If there is a fork, do not take the one that says “Bangalore City”.
Loop until you hit the BEL circle again.
Then stop and Beer.
Before you start thinking “whats the big deal about that, I do half the ring to work everyday”, let me briefly introduce our bikes – a 2005 Hero Hawk and a 2005 Hero Ranger Swing. Ya it is that piece of machinery that comes with a handle, a pair of wheels, a seat, pedals and no fuel tank!!
It sure was very pleasant when we started off. We hit Tumkur road first, then took off towards Mysore Road. That was the best stretch of the whole ride. It was about an hour into the ride and the roads were all sloping down, not too much sweat and the sun just coming up. The sight was truly amazing.
Like all sloping things have to come to an end (pun, if any, unintended), we were in for some real steep climbs from then on. We made it in front of NLS, University, PESIT, RVCE puffing and climbing all the way. And that is when my pedal gave in. The pedal is connected to the chain sprocket through this rod. The screw thread connecting this rod to the pedal started getting ground under my weight (aprox. 40kgs). It was about 8:30 now and there was one cycle shop, which didn’t have the connecting rod. We considered welding, but the hardware shop was not open. Finally did some jugad and got the cycle wallah to fit an old rod in place. All this cost us 15 bucks and some precious time.
By the time we reached Silk board junction after about 35kms of cycling with all this breakdown and all, our enthu levels had really sapped. We took the easier option of getting into Banglaore city and headed straight back through Koramangala, cubbon park, sankey road and back to sanjaynagar. And at 1130, despite stumbling blocks, we reached the final destination – the restaurant that served beer with breakfast (breakfast when we started, lunch as we finshed)
A perfect Sunday get away - Peter Jakson would sure have been proud. I am the Lord of the Ring!!

As fast as a Bullet

One of those nice Saturday's when you are cruising on those almost empty cubbon road at a good speed, a vroooooooooooom happens. I did some catching up and found this machine at the next signal. And things around started having this hue of green. The next signal, it was deep green. Well, in case you still havent figured out, it was this mean 1000cc Yamaha R1 with some college sleuths painting the town Green! Just the thot sends my adrenaline racing....
Now you know what new year present I am expecting...


Bangalore played host to yet another marathon, which is gaining increased popularity these days. There were some 600 participants this time around, in all age groups and sizes on this fine Sunday morning. Read all about it here
I had to choose between this and a Kemmanugundi road trip, and the fitness freak in me won. Unlike the full marathon that I completed last time, when I was running all alone, I managed to motivate Satish and Parag to join in. I had a sizeable team from IBM who had chipped in too. These were senior consultants, sales executives all set to do the 21kms stretch. We were a team indeed, all wearing the IBM T-shirts and of course having a common goal this time – to reach the finish line.
For reasons of traffic management, this had to be changed to kanteerava – Hebbal flyover – kanteerava from what would have been a good route. This was not bad, but I had done this earlier during the full marathon, so was slightly boring.
A very enthusiastic crowd had gathered at the stadium. I saw a lot of familiar faces from the last time. There is a good communion now amongst the runners.
The race was flagged off at 7am. The weather was overcast, the sun not showing up till the race was over. It was nice running in such conditions. The traffic police did a good job keeping the barricades on, till the end of the race, in some places even helping the volunteers with the water bottles at the pit stops.
I made it to the finish line in 2:30 hours. The shutterbug had bit this time round and there are a few good snaps you can catch on http://www.flickr.com/photos/manojbhat/sets/1611488/show/
One other reason to click that link – check flickr out… its really cool.
Follow this link to download all the snaps and view the album ‘Bangalore half marathon’.


whoever: Hey, how was ooty?
we: ooty was a fine city, man… its now 600 bucks finer.
whoever: what did u guys do there?
we: oh crap !!
Yes, we did go to ooty last weekend, and yes, it is winter and we are sane. Tima planned this whole thing. Sri, John, Sailesh and I were cajoled into believing it would indeed be pleasant there. We left on Thursday, 8th for a 3 days weekend trip.
Thanks to Minal, my sis friend, we stayed in the Shiv Shakti guest house, which was a couple of kms from the bus stand. It had all basic amenities (read bar) nearby. Sriram and I were in no mood to go out, coz there was a TT table (sri found the screws and the ball for it), carom, cricket and ludo (who?) in the guest house. But tima was at it again, always wanting to hire a bike and go somewhere. And like all of you warned us, there was the rain again and again. And eventually, only thing we didn’t do at ooty, was the bike ride.
We did a lot of taxi rides – day one to Botanical garden, doddabetta and tea factory, day two to Pykara falls, Day three to Mettupalyam. We went to Mettupalyam by the Nilgiri express. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is considered a marvel engineering skill in the construction of railway lines. It is the only one of its kind in India which runs on a rack. You got to check this link out if you have any regard for your ingineering degree, here.
At a height of 2,623 metres, Dodabetta Peak is the highest point in the district. Situated at about 10 km from the Ooty town, it is one of the most prominent view points around Ooty. The top of the peak remains covered by mist most of the time but on a clear day, you can have a look at the landscape as far as the plains of Coimbatore and the Mysore plateau. On our way down we went to the Tea Factory.
Pykara Falls was also amazing, breathtaking scenery. We had good kadle kaay, bajjis and raided a restaurant on our way back from there. I did some trekking in the hills. Sri also supposedly followed me, but I am not sure if he was trekking too.
There were loads of stuff – gyan sessions, shopping, nostalgic moments, duck outs, talli times, and cartloads of crap.


I woke up to the Saturday morning headlines and a paper full of how India was to take on the mighty South Africans at Bangalore, with all efforts of beg-borrow-steal a ticket gone futile, I was settling down for the live telecast. And then my stars turned at noon and within 2 hours I found myself in the G-stand on Chinnaswamy stadium, thanks to my friend Srini.
My first ODI in a stadium, under lights, India on a winning streak, formidable opponents in SA, white ball, green grass, perfect ingredients for a memorable experience.
It was so much better than watching it on TV on so many counts. For one, you didn’t have that dispensable commentary, replaced by the shouts of “bharat mata ki… jai” and the “India India… clap clap clap”. The idiot box was still around in the form of the big screen showing only random replays, and a lot of commercials, and the scorecard. It is somehow weird that people have their eyes fixed on the giant screen while the match is actually happening live right there!! Talk about addiction to the idiot box. I must admit, I did scan the screen often too, so that I could see the pretty faces in the crowd that the lens captured. Guys, I think there is a big fraud here, those gals are not in the stadium, I didn’t see them at all.
I was close to the third man position on the pavilion end, which meant you can get a good view irrespective of the bowling end. The barricades separating the stands, the net to prevent the bottle throwing and all the kakhi-clad ‘spectators’ (read cops) questioned my evolution and I was feeling caged at times. At other times, it was as if I was in a coliseum, a la Gladiator style.
There was this mad rush for the one-minute-fame of being on TV. What all people do to be catch the attention of that camera.
The first half was very uneventful, no great entertainment. I remember I yawned a few times too. Then the lights came on, the looong lunch ended and the Indians came on to bat. The stadium was packed (not uncomfortable, I must add) then. The Mexican waves (countdown for which is provided on the big screen too), the cheering, followed by the oooooooos started off. There were some real entertainers (sober?) in my stand. There was one who was dancing all the time, much to the irritation of the guys behind him and to the amusement of others. The cops were entertaining too, maybe they felt they were not getting too much attention. Once in a while, the entire battalion would move from one end of the stand to the other, catch hold of some random guy, the rest was lost coz of all the people standing to see the performance.
And despite all this security, there were cameras flashing around. And you wont believe it, junta were bursting crackers at the end of the match. And like in the matches of the 80’s the crowd from one section, ran into the field after the wining shot was played. So much for security!
Good match, good crowd, good weather… thanx srini…

Dakshina Kashi Antaraganga

Its has been a longtime since you hit the highway. All the bottled up frustration of riding the TB in the chock-a-block traffic, shifting gears, stopping, braking,honking, cursing… it had to be unleashed. And then an announcement finds its way into your inbox… the RTMC is going on a ride on the 13th Nov, Sunday. Get your bike ready!!
I had my childhood friend (chaddi dost), Udu coming down from Univ of Nevada, Reno. He rides the Honda Hurricane CBR1000. He was more than happy to jump on my pillion seat, inspite of the we-need-to-leave-by-7 clause.
I spent the Saturday in Teknik motors, my bike was due for its 3rd month birthday gift – the 'free' service, change of oils, routine check up (oh ya, you can actually celebrate B’days like that, try that on ur GF next time around).
The ride was to a place called Antaraganga in Kolar district. The bulleters were to assemble at 0730hrs at Mekhri circle. This was my first ride in a group. There were about 17 bikes, I guess. It wasn’t entirely bullet gang, one BMW 650 and one RD 350 blended well with the big bikes. We had to fill the reservation quota for girls - two of them made it on a RX 100.
We were definitely on Indian Stretchable Time, which meant we left Mekhri circle (in IST time zone you don’t keep track of the actual time). It was a great sight indeed, when you have 15 odd big bikes parked in one line on the road. And ofcourse, the omnipresent mama paid us a visit waving his fine book. Imagine the dub-dub-dub of 15 bullets as we left Mekhri circle, that alone was enough to set your adrenaline pumping. It is said “Everyone makes way for a Bullet” and when there are 15 of ‘em… am not giving that one easily, guess guess...
Bikers joined us at Murphy’s Road and KR puram and we rode off on NH4. My pillion rider was awestruck seeing the direction boards and all and nearly fell off the bike when he saw the ‘rope bridge’ on KR puram. The road was pretty good, and most of the bullets sailed at top speed for long distances. The traffic was also manageble (still thinking of the Everyone Makes Way…??). We stopped at a highway hotel - Kamat for breakfast after about an hour of riding. It was a superb sight, all the bullets parked there, with the onlookers gaping at the roadies.
The gang reached Antaraganga at 1130 or so. There is a stretch of bad road, left turn off the Bus stand that leads to it. We parked the bikes in front of a abandoned police outpost. There was a general chat session, intro and stuff, followed by bike tech discussion, riding ettiquette and experience sharing. Everyone wanted to share their experiences on the long rides. But it can get boring to the listener, coz no amount of words can really describe the feeling. Remind me this, when you are on the wrong end of my narration, if it happens.
Antaraganga is a spring which is believed to be connected to Ganga. It is called the kashi of the south for this reason. Some 200 odd steps take you to this pushkarni and a temple for pilgrims to take a dip and a bath. This is halfway to the top of the hill. A few of us climbed some more. The city of Kolar was spread out below and the view was great.
There is supposed to be a motorable, muddy road that takes you to a village on the top. Uday and I had to get back by 3, so we had to split away from the group, as they continued for lunch. We hit the NH4 by 1345. The traffic on the return trip was heavy and it took us close to 90 mins to get back to Bangalore.
Good trip, nice fun… RTMC, here I come… (waw, I should try poetry)
I know you have been dying to hear this, I should give this to you if you have read this far.
“Everyone Makes Way For A Bullet” And When There Are 15 Of Them, They Make 15.”

Fotos available at http://photos.yahoo.com/manojbhat1

Singapore is a fine city, lah

I know, I know, you have heard/seen that one before. But there is no fine for plagiarism, is there? It does make a nice opening line lah.
I was there for the whole of october, enuf time to look around, see places, hang out in the shopping malls, try some beer, make observations, draw conclusions…
here goes... in no particular order...
The Work
The work/training was good. I got a glossy certificate at the end of it. It did a whole lot good to my ego as well. It’s not everyday that you get to answer tricky questions and nearly top the reviews and tests; all that without too mucha effort, and I promptly attributed it to the stuff between my ears.
At the training room by 9 and out by about 7 in the evening was the schedule. Office was excellent with a nice view of all the flights landing at Changi. Every time you looked out of the window you would be assured of a flight landing or taking off. The Changi Business Place was dotted with many big firms. And as you would have guessed, the “diversity” ensured that you used up the entire lunch hour, filling more than just your hungry stomachs.
The Condo
Superb condominium when seen in isolation. But at the cost of staying in Hilton or Le Meredian, not too good. Check out the snaps, there a couple of snaps we took, of course after the maid had done her tidying.
I got the master bed room. On the 12th floor, with balcony and a glass wall on one side, the view had to be good. The condo had a pool, sauna and a gym (ya, do I follow it or is it the other way round?). It is a feeling to relax in a pool after the days work. I tried the sauna a few times, thou I not too sure whether I like it or not.
The Highways
“Hougang (pronounced AUGAN… with the last ‘g’ eaten up), Hougang street 91, Take the TPE highway”. That would how a typical cab ride home would begin, with yours truly in the navigators seat. It’s no fun riding/driving on those highways – cars stick to their lanes, everyone is at about 100kmph, hardly any overtaking, no squeezing between cars, no honking… so apart from a motorist who zips past you at 100, there’s nothing that is even remotely as 'exciting' as riding on Hosur Road.
The Bikes
The most common bike around is the Honda Phantom which is anywhere between 150 and 250cc. Our good ol’ Yamaha 100cc were also present. There are also loads of small scooty kinda bikes. A visit to the happening places of the city and there are lots of sports bikes the Hondas, the Yamahas and a few Harleys. Bikes still serve the purpose of transportation maybe a substitute to the very expensive cars. So you see a fair number of bikes on the roads. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see any Bullets. Royal Enfield has a showroom here in Singapore.
The Shopping
Lots of shopping malls and maals around to ensure you shop till you are dead or run out of dough.
Mustafa center - Under its modest exterior, you’ll find every conceivable item here at some of the lowest fixed prices in Singapore. This is also close to Little India, a place where there is an aberration to the Singapore rules of no littering and no spiting. Maybe becoz they don’t want you to miss India.
Sim Lim Square - Row upon row of shops on four levels deal in stereos, tape decks, CD players, TVs, VCRs, laser disc players, cameras, handy cams and anything electronic. You need to do the Burma Bazaar kind of bargaining here.
Then there is Bugis, Orchard street, Suntec, etc, etc, etc.
The Gals
Guys wake up and catch the first available no-frills flight to Singapore. I fell for almost any chinki babe I saw. And in case you are wondering, there is no fine for gawking. (and btw, I traveled IA, cant promise the same if you travel anything else.) I had a Singapore colleague and he showed us around places. The city wakes up at 12 in the night and never sleeps. There are dance clubs that are filled to capacity on the weekends. I really mean it when I say filled – at 2 in the night, when you want to shake a leg, or a hip, or anything else on the dance floor, all that you can shake is a neck!! There is no room for anything else.
Zouk, Top ten and some-name-i-forget are some cool ones that you shouldn’t miss.
Hey, did I digress from the main topic? Cant divulge the details here, treat me out somewhere and I may loosen my tongue a bit.
The Ppl
Most of them are from outside. You can find women (n men, of course) of all races here. The reason why the government encourages people to make children. I have heard that it sponsors the upbringing of the “third” child of the same parents!!
I would get confused living there. There is no, one culture/religion that people belong to. They seem extremely paranoid about everything. You have signs and warning notices and endless announcements about even a very unlikely danger. Many sings are superfluous and downright ridiculous at times. Like this one in the men’s room that says “Please aim before you shoot”. Sometimes I wonder if this curbs creativity, leads to very compartmentalized thinking. And I am not merely referring to that comment in particular.
Okie there is one other notice that I read somewhere which I deserves a mention here.
Our Aim is to keep this toilet clean
Gentlemen Your aim will help. Stand closer, it is shorter than you think
Ladies Please remain seated for the entire performance
But I should add, the people are extremely helpful and make tourists very comfortable.
The places
I visited Sentosa and the zoo. Check out the hyperlink for more info. Truly fabulous places both. I got to do a bit of cycling on East Coast Parkway as well. I am running out of time and space, else I would have written about my Malaysian friend,etc, etc... but...
Ps: fotos at http://photos.yahoo.com/manojbhat1

Kumbakonam, Tanjore, Trichy and Srirangam

My parents planned this trip to see some temples down here. They came to Trichy on the 17th Sep and we did visit Kumbakonam and Tanjore on the saturday and Trichy and Srirangam on the Sunday. No, i cud not do this on the Thunderbird and had to be restricted to a taxi.
There were loads of stories associated with these temples and I did a bit of asking-the-priests, reading some 'stala purana' books and good ol' googling to get this on this blog. What follows are the stories assosiated with these temples. You may not really be interseted or associate with this coz u didnt get to see them. Nevertheless, it makes a great reading.
The 'wow' kept repeating on my lips for most of the 2 days, a fascinating experience indeed.
Here goes, in the order of the temples visited:
Swamimalai Temple at Swamimalai near Kumbakonam: The Subramanya shrine is built at an elevation and is accessed through a flight of stairs. It is said that once, as a result of the curse laid on him by Bhrigumuni, Lord Siva forgot the Pranava Mantra. He immediately sent for his son Subrahmanya and asked him if he knew the Mantra. The young Subrahmanya smilingly replied: "Yes, I do "Know. If you are prepared to learn the Mantra in a proper manner, I shall teach you". Thereupon, with folded hands and bowed head, Lord Siva stood before his young Guru (Subrahmanya) with great veneration and learnt the Mantra. As this incident took place in this sacred place it came to be known as Swamimalai and the deity as Swaminatha, indicating that the son was superior to his Father.
Patteswaram, located at a distance of 4 miles from Kumbakonam, is a Siva temple of antiquity with many rare specimens of architecture, probably constructed by the Chola princes the great builders of the past. The peculiar name of the Siva Linga is derived from the legendary worshipper called Patti.
Location: 3 miles from Kumbakonam, a sacred Vaishnavite temple exists known as Uppiliappan or Oppiliappan temple. The deity is known by various names as Uppiliappan, Oppiliappan, etc. The Goddess is known as Bhoomi Devi. Here fortunately we had the privilege to see the deity from very close quarters and got to spend a lot of time in the sactum.
Find some stories associated with this temple here
Sarangapani Temple – Kumbakonam
This ancient and beautiful temple dedicated to Sarangapani - Vishnu is one of the 108 sacred Sree Vaishnavite shrines and its praise has been sung by the Alwar saints. The sanctum is designed to resemble a charriot with wheels, elephants and horses. Initially we were wondering why there were elephant sculptures which held the sanctum up. We then realized that it was in the shape of a sanctum.
The legend connected with the origin of the Sarangapani temple is as follows can be found here.
The temple of Lord Sarangapani is given the third place of importance among the shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the first being the temple of Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam and the second that Lord Venkatachalapathy of Tirupati. The temple of Sarangapani was built by the Nayak kings. Its main gopuram is 146 feet high, measuring 90 feet by 51 feet at the base - an imposing structure of 12 storeys with numerous ornamented figures.
There are two entrances to the shrine (sanctum) of the Lord-one on the southern and the other on the northern side. As the devotees are required to enter the shrine through the entrance on the southern side during the period of Dakshinayana, it is known as the "Entrance of Dakshinayana" and for similar reasons the entrance on the northern side is called "Entrance of Uttarayana."
The Dakshinayana entrance is also known as the "Entrance of Marriage", as Lord Sarangapani came out first through this gate and soon after married Kamalavalli. The legend connected with the two entrances provided to the shrine of the Lord is that once the two Devatas now in charge of the Uttarayana and Dakshinayana entrances prayed to the Lord to attain divine powers and eternal bliss.
Mahamakham Tank
There are many teerthams in Kumbakonam, of which the Mahamakham tank is well known. The tank covers an area of 20 acres and is surrounded on all sides by picturesque mandapams. These is a belief that it contains a number of other Teerthams in the form of wells. Every year in the month of Magha (February-March) a festival is conducted here and the image of Lord Kumbeswara is taken out in a procession.
It is believed that on this auspicious day the tank receives supplies of water from the Ganges and eight other holy rivers and all the deities are said to remain present here on that occasion. This has been surrounded on all sides by 16 beautiful mandapams which are stated to have been built in the year 1542!!! (come on now, ask me how I know this)
Suryanaar Temple
Suryanar Temple at Suryanar Koil near Kumbakonam: This is a one of a kind temple dedicated to the Sun God and it also houses shrines to each of the other eight celestial bodies - the Nava Grahams. Suryanaar Koyil is located in the hamlet of Tirumangalakkudi near Kumbhakonam and Mayiladuturai near Thanjavur. This is a one of a kind temple dedicated to the Sun God. A standalone temple for Surya is more of an exception than a rule.

Suryanaar Koyil was built by the Chola kings. The Suryanar temple faces west. The presiding deity here is Suryanarayana in a chariot like vimaanam, representing the sun's chariot. This temple closes at about 1:30 like many others, you know how to plan in case you visit sometime.
Brihadeswara Temple – Tanjore
My personal favorite this…
Some key highlights of this temple:
1. The Great Vimana built over the sanctum sanctorum is 216 feet high with 14 storeys. The style of construction is peculiar to the South and is akin to Orissan art of construction of temples, like Bhuvaneswar.
2. (In the south, generally, Gopurams or towers at the entrances to the four sides of the outer walls or Prakarams are of great height; the central tower or Vimanam over the sanctum sanctorum is usually over- shadowed by the height of the Gopuram.)
3. But at Tanjore, the main temple rises above the Gopuram as if the sanctum is in a gopuram itself.
4. It is interesting to note that a very large sum was spent to construct scaffolding to carry the central stone of the Vimanam, to the summit (right on top of the 14 storeys), for which an incline four miles long (!!!) on scaffolding had to be made. The huge expenditure and the labor involved can well be imagined.
5. In the sanctum sanctorum stands the Mahalinga like a huge hill, all glowing with lustre. The beauty of the tilak and the purity of the white cloth - on the Linga are unparalleled. There is nothing like this anywhere else in this world. It is unequalled and beyond description. The Avadayar (the lower broad stone) is 54 feet in circumference and 6 feet in height and the Banam. (The upper cylindrical stone) is 231/2 feet in circumference and 9 feet high.
6. Nandi, the great Bull, is placed in a mandapam in the forepart of the temple and its size is striking. It is 12 feet in height, 19 1/2% feet in length and 8 1/4 feet in breadth, weighs 25 tons and is made of one stone. This Nandi is considered to be the second biggest in the whole of India. Tradition says that this Nandi at Tanjore also was imperceptibly growing in size every day. For preventing its further growth a nail was driven on its back. There are paintings on the ceiling; the colours have not changed over the centuries.
Don’t miss the description of this here.
Saraswati Mahal
There was a tanjore store here where we did a bit of shopping, they have a good collection of tanjore paintings for sale here. The museum itself was good. Check out this link for more
Srirangam Temple
We went to Srirangam at about 10am and were greeted with a huge queue for darshan, something which we were spared for all this time. It took us about 2 hours to finish the darshan here.
Check this.
There is a very ancient temple of Lord Siva in Tiruvanaikkaval about half a mile from Srirangam. The temple is built in the midst of a big beautiful grove. The Lord is installed facing towards the West and the Devi (Consort) facing towards the East.
Nice tradition attached to this temple, is available here.
The Maariamman Temple at Samayapuram in the vicinity of Tiruchirappalli, is one of the well visited shrines in Tamilnadu, dedicated to Maariamman, a manifestation of the primeval energy Shakti as the mother Goddess.
Legend has it that Shiva created Kali, out of the poison that he had swallowed, and decreed that he kill Daarukaasuran. Having originated from the Kaalakoota poison, she assumed the name Kaali. Mariamman is believed to be a form of Kaali, and is also known as Mahamaayi or Seethala Gowri… interested??
Rock Fort
The Rock Fort is its pride and, is situated in the heart of the Trichy. It has both a mythological and a historical tradition and attracts thousands of devotees and visitors. This is counted as one of the famous sthalas because of the temple on the Rock dedicated to Vinayaka known as Uchhi Pillaiyar. Its here, in case you want to read on.
Kallanai Dam
The Kallanai , also known as the Grand Anicut, is is an ancient dam in Tamil Nadu state of southern India. The Grand Anicut is the most ancient surviving irrigation work in the Cauvery River Delta. It is attributed to the Chola king Karikalan, and is thought to date back to the 1st or 2nd century. It is considered the oldest water-diversion structure in the world still in use. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Anicut for more of this historic structure.
Indeed a beautiful place for photographs and for spending some time at the river bank.
We had traveled in all about 400miles in two days doing this… it did send us way back into history many many more miles than that!!

Trip to Thiruvangadu

Date: 07 Sep 2005
Destination: Tiruvangadu
Distance on road: 394kms
Hi ppl,
The temple darshan seems to be endless now. My colleague Swami and I planned to visit the temples of Mars and Mercury near Kumbakonam on Ganesh Chaturthi holiday.
We left just before 6 in the morning and were back after putting in about 394 kms in 12 hours after having visited nearly 4 famous temples – Vaidyanathar temple, Tiruvenkaadu, Mahamaham tank and Tanjore temple.
Vaidyanathar temple – Reached here by 10. We made a stop at Kumbakonam for breakfast of pongal and idlys. Encountered some real bad roads for a stretch of 5kms at Mayavaram en route to this temple. Bike was dripping of mud when we reached the Vaidyanathar temple.
Shiva is considered to be the Divine Healer Vaidyanathar. There is also a shrine dedicated to Dhanwantari here. Jaggery is offered here at the temple tank - Siddhamrita Theertham. It is believed that a person’s diseases dissolve like the jaggery dissolves in this tank. Offerings of salt and pepper are made in this shrine. Rama, Lakshmana and the Saptarishis are also said to have worshipped Shiva here. It is also believed that Rama performed the last rites to Jatayu here. The Angaaraka (Mars) shrine here is also of great significance and is indeed unique to this temple.
Tiruvenkaadu temple – a short-cut (read bad roads) took us from Vaidyanathar temple to Tiruvenkaadu. We reached there at about 12, fortunately both the sun and the rain gods had shown mercy on us so far. This is a vast temple known for its shrine to Aghoramurthy (Shiva), Mercury – Budhan, Bhramavidyambika, Meedaavi Dakshinamurthy and Nataraja. A huge temple with three tanks - Soma Theertha and Surya Theertha. The temple in Chidambaram is supposed to be modeled on this one and the Nataraja dome in this place in copper is similar to the one in Chidambaram where it is in gold. Every temple had a story which the priests were more than willing to share with us.
We left there and after a heavy lunch at Kumbakonam, went to Mahamaham tank at Kumbakonam. The tank has some 16 gopurams. Some 50 lakh people wash off their sins in this temple during a Mahamaham festival that is held once in 12 years.
My Thunderbird crossed it second milestone – 2000kms on the way to Tanjore; 2000kms within 25 days, with 1400 coming from long rides !!!
We reached Tanjore at around 4:30 or so in the evening. Since it wasn’t late we decided to pay a visit to the Thanjavur Brihadeeswara temple. The temple is truly amazing!! The gopuram houses the Linga which is about 20ft high. The gopuram is itself a mammoth 200ft in height. The nandi in front of the Gopuram is some 12ft high. The temple is 1000+ years old.
We sure wished we had more time to spend in the Brihadeeswara temple. But we had to leave early so we could miss any late rains and reach Tirchy before sunset. The highway from Thanjavur to Tirchy is great and we reached Tirchy in no time, at times touching max speeds of 95kmph.
Check out all the fotos at http://photos.yahoo.com/manojbhat1

In search of Meenakshi

Date: 04 Sep 2005
Trichy - Madurai - Trichy
Distance on road: 394kms
One more trip that i made alone, this time it was Madurai. Left early on 3rd morning
at 5:30. There are two routes to Madurai from Trichy - one slightly longer but good
via Dindigul and the other shorter but not as great via Melur. I decided to take the
Dindigul road for the forward journey and return via Melur.

I don’t know how, but I lost my way somewhere before Dindugal. Didn’t take me long to figure that out. After pronouncing some tongue-twisting town names, I got back on track. The road from Didugal was great, it is also the route from Bangalore to Madurai. I also passed thru Kodai road, so-close-still-so-far. Kodaikanal is about 75kms from there. There were loads of hills on the way, many times it felt that the road ended in those hills. It’s a great feeling to ride straight into some mountains. With some of them kissing the clouds, it was very to take the route to Kodai, that will happen too, someother time – not alone for sure ;-)

Reached Madurai at 9:30. An apple I had on one break, kept me alive. The temple was first priority now. One guy on a pulsar saw me asking for directions and directed me a long way. It was the KA registration that was the link. His bike was from Bangalore too, the big bike connect! The temple was great, lots of ppl, pillars, sculptures, etc, etc. Always make sure you take the special entry ticket, it saves time and you can get to see the deity from close quarters, proximity also means more blessings. The goddess Meenakshi looks really beautiful. The other deity there is Sundareshwar.

I left the temple so that I have time to make it to the Thiruparamkundram temple before it closes at 12:30. Almost all temples have this closing time between 12:30 and 4:30, incorporate this in your schedules, in case you plan to visit any of them. Thiruparamkundram temple is one of the 6 adobes of Murugan. It is on a granite hill, a huge temple that climbs along the hill. It wasn’t far and I got back to Madurai near the temple complex by 12. I did a second visit of the Meenakshi temple, had a quick lunch of curdrice and milkshakes at Arya Bhavan.

Next on the list was Azhagar Kovil, about 20 kms from Madurai. This is on the Azhagarmalai hill. Here 'Vishnu' presides as Meenakshi's brother 'Azhgar'. The temple was closed when I reached there at 2:00. It would open at 3:30 they said.
Palamudhirsolai, one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya is on the same hill, about 4 kms above. This temple was open throughout and I visited that first. A natural spring called Nuburagangai where pilgrims bath, is located here. A small trek takes you to the originating point of the spring. I went till I could continue no more and then turned back. The trek brought back those kumaraparvata, sakleshpur treks streaming back. Good times those.

When I left Azhagar Kovil by 4:00, there were huge dark clouds looming up. Rains in this part of the country pour like mad. I now had to race a unusual competitor – the thinderstorm. It did catch up with me, thanks to my stopping by for photographs. I rode about an hour in the rain, till it became impossible to see where I was going. I stopped by at some abandoned shack, with a cowshed across the field it faced. I was drenched all the way down to… After about 20 odd minutes when the rain receded a bit, I started off again. In effect, I rode about 3 hours in the rain and later when in reached Tirchy, in traffic and high beam headlight to reach my guesthouse at 6:30.
One helluva experience that was!
check out the snaps on http://www.flickr.com/photos/manojbhat/sets/908847/show/ in a all new format, thanks to prakruthi.

Velankani Trip

Saturday, 20th August 2005: This is how this trip started. My colleagues were making plans to work on Sunday to finish off some backlogs. I had to escape! I made some quick enquiries – Madurai, Pondicherry, Velankani were the prospects, all within a radius of 150kms. I put off Madurai and Pondicherry for another weekend, with some good pillion rider ;-) I had no clue about the place, no idea what to expect, but one thing was for sure, I would head for the highway on my TB at 6:00 in the morning.

Sunday, 21st August, 2005: It was a pleasant morning, although there was no cloud cover. I enjoyed the ride in the first few hours in the morning. I guess, I will start real early, before the crack of dawn, next time around. I started on the NH-67 which is the route to Tanjavur, covered some ground before I reached the Tamil University. There were good sculptures, which caught my eye and I stopped for the first break there. This stretch of road, till I took the deviation off the Tanjavur road was good. The place is the granary of the south, with lots of paddy fields adding to the scenic landscape. Slide the visor of the helmet open and the cool, fragrance of the paddy fields greets you. It made me nostalgic, reminding me of my childhood when I would spend a lot of time in the fields during my vacations at Udupi. All along I had been cruising along the banks of Cauvery, suppressing the urge to stop at every curve of the road for photos.
My next stop was under a pipal tree on the banks of the cauvery (perfect setting for a small trishul and some worship?). I got into conversation with this farmer guy and guess what, by the time I left after 15 mins, we were chatting about BHEL disinvestment issue!! As I passed Thiruvaiyaru, I had breakfast at a Hotel Park Inn or something. The lodge had no guests, it looked like, the restaurant was empty too. Two plates idly and one filter coffee cost a mere 16 bucks. There was now some 40 odd kms to go. I reached Velankani in scorching heat at around 10:45. After parking my bike close to the Our Lady church, I headed off to the beach.
The beach was pretty disappointing, after all the riding, I deserved a better crowd. There were numerous structures being built for the stalls for some festival next week. Most part of beach was also devoured by Tsunami Dec 26, last year, killing nearly 4000 people. I spent sometime in the beach. No, I did not take off my shirt, I told you, the crowd was disappointing. I met Reva and Eeta – two german gals and their dirty puppy (who they carried in a basket all the way!) who had come from pondicherry on a scooter. I went to the church and offered prayers. Just before leaving Velankani, at about 12:30 or so, I met a South African couple. The guy was totally impressed with my Thunderbird. He said, when converted in to Rand, the price would be about 15000 rand and a similar bike in SA would cost 90000 rands. He made some plans to purchase some silencers and helmets for his bike from Mumbai. He happened to be one those ubiquitous software engineers.
On the way back, I visited the Tyagaraja temple of Thiruvaiyaru. The temple has a great history, built by the chola rulers. It was blazing hot and walking barefoot on the corridors of the temple, makes one remember all the gods he knows. The temple was closed till evening, I wish I had done this during the onward journey, would have really enjoyed it.
I was back on NH-67 at by 1400. My bike had made 950 odd kms and I was excited about reaching the milestone. As luck would have had it, as it turned from 3 to 4 digits, there was a small temple. It had been exactly 10days since I had got my bike and I had done 1000kms. I stopped once more at a Asphalt plant. Crushed stone and tar are heated at high temperature to make the asphalt that goes on those beautifully laid roads that we drive on. The temperature was so high, I felt you didn’t need those furnaces to heat mix.
I reached Tirchy at around 1600 in the evening. The trip was good, if only the heat had spared me, I was truly enjoyed it. I had a clear line of demarcation on my biceps, between the part that was covered by my tee and what was not.
Moral of the story: If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
And while you are at it, you may want to check: http://www.davidpbrown.co.uk/poetry/mary-schmich.html
For all those fotos check out: http://photos.yahoo.com/manojbhat1

The allure of the biker guy

and while you are at it, you might want to check this forward that a colleague sent this morning

My ride to Trichy on 15th Aug

Well, I now had a thunderbird who is simply great on a highway. And I had to go to Trichy. Put two and two together and hey, I have a neat little trip ahead.
That was the plan in the first place, to take the thunderbird on road for the entire 330 kms (or that is what I thot the distance was at first). I had done my homework, enquiries, maps, and timelines. When it came to the pillion rider, my dad was my first preference and he never looked like saying ‘no’. A once-upon-a-time Jawa 250cc rider himself he had enough experience and stories to share all along the way.

The bike had made about 300kms in its first 3 days. I took it to teknik motors on the Saturday to ensure that everything was in place. The mechanic ensured me that it would be no problem whatsoever, so long as I kept within the speed limit of 60kmph and cooled the engine every hour or so.

We left home at sharp 5 in the morning. I hoped to carry minimum luggage, but a bit heavy rucksack with my laptop was unavoidable. In the beginning, we had the rucksack in between us on the seat. We hit the highway in our windsheeters and helmets, as Bangalore was just waking up to its 58th independence day. The route was NH-7 from Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Dharampuri-Salem-Namakkal, a deviation from the route into Musri and then Trichy.

As if to bid us good luck, there was a mild drizzle even as we left Bangalore. NH-7 is a beautiful highway going all the way down to Kanyakumari, this six lane road is any bikers paradise.

We saw the border between Karnataka and TN and the welcome-to-TN signs soon. Hosur is home to a number of manufacturing facilities like TVS group, Ashok Leyland. Our first stop was at outside Hosur at a little past 6am. We parked the bike and were munching on some biscuits that we had brought with us, when a man in a turban and lungi walked towards us. He had a good look at the bike, then in tamil asked us why we had bought this and not a Hero Honda model. We gave him the reasons in broken tamil. It turned out, this man himself had a diesel bullet for the last 25 years and told us some anecdotes about how reliable and how safe the bike was. I was glad we both were on the same side, the last thing I wanted was an argument with some truck driver in the wee hours in the morning.

We took to road again making the steady 50-55kmph on the speedometer. This time around we had the rucksack out of the way, safely saddled on the fuel tank in front, making it comfortable for both of us. The road continued to twist and turn around some rocky hills. The road was truly very well maintained, markers, dividers, road signs and all. We reached the tollgate at Krishnagiri and it didn’t look like we were in India anymore - with ppl wearing uniforms with reflectors, waving flashing lights, diverting the traffic to the appropriate counters. We stopped for a brief couple of minutes for some snaps. We met another thunderbird from the opposite direction, a happy couple returning back to Bangalore after a weekend at Kodai, I suppose. Hmm, some ppl get to have the cake and eat it too. We reached Dharmapuri at around 9 having done the 130 kms. We stopped over at a “high class veg restarant” for breakfast. At 930, after having pongal and dosas we were ready to get back on road.

Salem was another 40 odd kms from there on. We did a bypass around the city and didn’t get to see much of it. There was some indication that the city did celebrate its independence day, with some flags waving here and there.

From Salem we were headed towards Namakkal still on NH7. Flat roads, very little traffic, steady speed accompanied with the steady thump of the engine, things were starting to get a little monotonous when we stumbled upon a jaggery making unit. We were by now close to our scheduled pit-stop, so we thought we should stop by and have some jaggery. Got to see the entire process from sugarcane to jaggery balls here. Took some photos, had some samples of the fresh jaggery and we were on the way again.

After Namakkal, came Musri, from here all the way to Tirchy we had an unusual companion - Cauvery. Thanks to the Karnataka government, the river was flowing full and a delight to watch as it gushed into the canals and filled its banks. The road ran along the cauvery banks all the way up to Tirchy. Surprisingly, the weather was very pleasant all along, slightly overcast kept the sun out, and the winds of the aadi month, ensured that we did not feel even a hint of tiredness. After Musri, we took one more stop after about 45mins. We finished off the last lap of about 30 kms to Trichy. We reached Trichy by 3:30 in the afternoon and were stretching ourselves in the guest house by 4, after having traveled 375kms in about 11 hours with some 8 stops and wonderful scenery all along.

My dad did not complain of any soreness whatsoever and made it back to Bangalore by train that very night. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and am waiting for the running-in to be done with, so I can take the bike to the speeds that it is made to fly in.

There are some photos you can view. Check out http://photos.yahoo.com/manojbhat1 if you are still reading this.

This is how I got my first Bullet

I had been thinking of doing this for sometime now, and finally it happened on the 11th.

Like most of you know I am now in Trichy, the place has a stretch of about 5 kms to my guest house with practically no living soul on that road. I was thinking of the bike and then saw my driver ripping on this road and thought ‘why don’t I have it yet’. Some amount of googling, fone calls, mails and I had all that I needed to cross the line.

I took 3 days off from work before the long independence-day weekend. Dad and I went to Teknik motors on CMH road on the morning of 11th loaded with cash for what was the first bike I buy for myself. The dealer had promised a delivery on the same evening, almost off-the-shelf. I took their test ride bike to get used to it, so I would be comfortable when I actually take it in the evening. I freaked out with it, knowing that, I wouldn’t be able to race immediately in my own new bike till I went over the 2k kms barrier.

That evening as I was waiting for the delivery, I had my tryst with the devotional following this bike has, reinforcing my already strong conviction to go for the bike. A short, fair, software engineer types, northy walks into the showroom and registers for the test ride. As he stood there later admiring the bullets, he gave me gyan about how to maintain the bike and how it lasts long after you are gone and stuff. He shared with me his dream of owning the silver bullet electra one day. He almost worshipped the bike on his way out, stroking the fuel tank of the displayed electra, feeling his grip on the handle for a few secs and simply staring at it. The look in his eyes said it all, sending some shivers into me. They mean it when they say the bike is worshipped.

Later that evening, the gleaming sliver ash, thunderbird was mine. It was a great feeling riding it back home and showing off to my family, esp to my nephew who was as eager, if not more, as I was to ride it.