Raghu (‘keet) has been a part of my life now, since my engineering days, easily my best pal. Raghu and I decided to ride down to Manipal to attend Raaji’s convocation at TAPMI. Raaji, my junior at Hassan, also a close friend.
I was like this director guy, Manoj Butter, who was shooting for this fillum “Ragu and Raji”, where this heroine sings “I knew ki meraa shezaadaa, Ghode pe aayega” (any resemblance in tune, to the Neal and Niki song is purely coincidental). Only for this song sequence, I rode on a Bull and Raghu rode a Ghoda (I thought the avenger fitted the horse description well). And we had to rescue this heroine from the clutches of this villain who keeps saying “TAP MI” “TAP ME” in the Mogambo-Kush-Hua style. “Raghu and Raaji” - Coming Soon at the multiplex near you. Not bad na.
Now, the more serious stuff...
I wish I could describe this ride in words. Seldom on a ride, do you look back, look forward, look beyond and look deep into yourself.
Raghu and I rode down the memory lane, reliving the wonderful times at Hassan.
For Raghu and Raji, it is a time to look forward, in more ways than one.
The picturesque landscapes, the estates, the western ghats, the temples makes one commune with one’s future.
The endless depth of the ocean, the white sands and music is truly transcendental, making you retreat into your own soul.
Little did we know when we started, that this ride would be so fulfilling. The excitement was building up throughout the week. It was the first real long ride for Keet, and for me it was a solo after a long time.
We left my place at 530 on the Saturday morning. The first stop was at Bellur Cross, we did good enough to give a few cars on road some complex. One chai and we were off again. This time, thou, the story was a little different. We ripped. The average speed on this stretch to Hassan must have been 90kmph or so. We reached Hassan at 8 something. Breakfast happened at the MCE canteen. “Open Dosa” and “Benne Kaali” still cost 10 bucks; insulated from inflation!! And it tastes just as good. We exchanged some recognizing smiles with the canteen guys.
We left Hassan at 930, passing Sakleshpur we headed towards the western ghats. The Ghat section spans to about 50kms, I guess. The view from a few places is awesome. It was downhill most of the time. It is amazing how you can settle down to a regular pattern after a while of riding down – see the hairpin sign; stay on the far end of the road-turn left-let the bike fall to the right-hit the back and front brakes as you reach the end of the hairpin-tilt the bike to the left-release brakes-open throttle and off you go.
I scraped my foot rest and my stand a couple of times during the ordeal. We stopped over at Gundya to give our butts a break. From Gundya, we rode without a break to Manipal. After 7 hours on road, 8.5 hours in all, we had reached Manipal. There was no trace of fatigue on Raghu, completely lost trying to figure out why. Guys, in case you have the ideas, please leave the comments.
We booked into Udupi Residency and later in the evening attended the 20th convocation of TAPMI’s graduating students. Raaji was on the top of the world, and looked great in the red saari, with the gown and all.
Early Sunday morning, we visited the temples at Udupi, then some of my relatives. The plan was to go to Turtle Bay at Maravante, some 40kms from Udupi. We reached there late, lunched late. Keet and I figured, there wasn’t much two guys could do in such romantic settings. We did some unromantic things like snooze on our bikes, take pictures that can make to an art exhibition, and scare turtles (I had plans, but I guess, they heard the bikes and ran, don’t ask me how)
We decided to camp at Manipal for the night. Raaji had, by then joined us and suggested Murudeshawar. Whatever other plans Keet had, were subdued by the majority.
We reached Murudeshwar at sunset and were so glad we made it to that place. One, the route itself was fabulous, with pristine scenery. There is this stretch of 2 kms, where you have the Arabian Sea on one side and the river Sowparnika on the other. Two, the statue of Lord Shiva – Murudeshwar. Awe inspiring, imposing statue of the Lord is, I read, the largest statue of Shiva in India. The smile on the face and He overlooks the white-sands on the beach is what draws you to it. Thanks to Raaji, for having insisted we visit the place.
The return journey was very eventful. It was 6:40 when we left there. We had to cover 120kms, I guess before 9. We raced the first lap of the ride till Bhatkal, so long as there was daylight. The stretch from Bhatkal to Katpaadi, was my first night riding experience. There were no street lights, my high beam was not working, there were many villages doting the roads and Raghu right behind flashing his highbeam, creating long shadows in front. If it sounds like good ingredients for an accident, you guessed right. I killed a puppy (Keet tells me later it was half dead). I felt terrible, but had no choice, it was running fast and there was too little time to do anything. We were very careful throughout that part of the ride. It requires full concentration. You are very impaired, not able to see clearly in front. For me it also meant that had to put up my visor and brave the dust and the wind in my face. We did well in the end and saw off Raaji’s parents at 9.
Dinner happened at Dollops in Manipal and crashed for the night.
The return journey was great too. We started from Manipal at 645 and reached Bangalore by 5 in the evening. The ascent up the ghat section was more enjoyable that the descent had been. Once you get the line right, and time the change of gears, it is simply sooper, I say. Both bikes responded well to bear the torture, Hassan happened before schedule, by 1130.
We reached our campus once again. This time we parked in front of the hostel. I was disappointed in a sense, there was NO change at all. A place can’t be so insulted from change. It was the same mess workers, same blocks, same trees, same rooms, the same pan-spit walls. We had lunch at the mess and were not surprised. The taste of the curry, the chapattis has not changed too. Very nostalgic, indeed. The unbelievable fun we had in this place.
The ride from Hassan was boring – we missed the ghats and traffic badly. That is the problem if you have every good roads with no traffic. How long can you belt at 100 and not feel bored. It ensured, however, that we were back to base by 500.
No human casualties, no bike breakdowns, but plenty of memories – that was in a nutshell, my ride to Mangalore.
Raghu made this collage. You should check him out at his blog
More of these at http://www.flickr.com/photos/manojbhat/sets/72057594094912087/