Saturday, October 06, 2007

Head West, Head East

1300kms, 40lts of petrol, 1 breakdown, 27 highway hours, 29Sep-02Oct’07

It’s one of those rare phases in life now - a very pendulous phase, with contrasting emotions that are hard to explain. A depressing morning lending itself into a refreshing lunch break, the dangling blue ear-ring erasing the etch of static cubicles and walls, the locked battle of the convict and the romantic. While outwardly, nothing has changed at all; I am still the IIM grad, employed in a MNC, still single and happy, internally, I have been traveling miles and miles of agonizing turmoil putting each of these superficial statuses to risk, every single day.

The idea of a matching physical torture probably brought in an iota of sadistic pleasure to my melancholic mind. And I was tricked into ‘looking forward’ to a weekend of long rides, long run and friends.

Either I could head west, travel 270kms to Madikeri, to the RTMC 6A party, or head east to Pondicherry, travel 330kms to meet the gang. The pendulum of indecision put its ugly head up again, I was unable to decide which of the two to let go. Unlike life, though, riding on a bullet provides at least some answers - the answer was simple, ride west, then east. Maybe all answers are indeed simple, my optimist-self reassures me that, there would be a su-someone who would add the rang (color) to my meandering existence. (Are you listening??)

T h a t was the mood as the weekend began to roll…

RTMC 6A at Madikeri

The Anniversary rides are the biggest and promising events of RTMC, the Bangalore Bullet Club. It seemed like yesterday when we partied all night long at Yercaud for the 5A. There were some 40 bullets that lit up the roads as we left Town Hall at 640am. The high point was the participation of Mr. Bose, the grand old man of Bullet racing, even after 50years of riding, there is a sparkle in his eyes when he talks about his Bullets. There were quite a few from the Madras Bulls (MadBulls) who had already traveled 300kms to join us. The regrouping points were at Kamat Lokaruchi and at Srirangapatana, they had to be long to accommodate all varieties of riders and Bullets. There were patchy stretches of bad roads near Periyapatana. We took the deviation to Siddapura.

Its always such a pleasure riding in Madikeri, the roads are narrow and winding, foliage thick, the routes green and the climate cool. And despite all this, my thoughts kept swinging back to the workplace mischief, bringing a boyish grin inside the visor. And somewhere on the highway before Hunsur, my Bullet passed yet another milestone - 30000kms on the odometer, yoo-hoo!!

The RTMC party was at Capitol Village about 3kms from Madikeri on the Madikeri-Siddapura road. The place has a rustic feel to it, with a small lake, tiled cottages, corgi-styled balconies and decent view of the fields. For want of space, a few of us were booked at Crystal house, a hotel at Madikeri. There were 100 bullets which made way to the party.

My Party in the wild

Long before the party was set to start late evening, the preparation had begun – liquids of all colors being concocted into the cocktail, grass being rolled to give the various degrees of high.
I had my own plans to get there – my dope of endorphins was waiting for release; all I needed was my pair of running shoes to inject the pain.

I ran down from the room to Capitol Village and looked conspicuously out-of-place at the party in my shorts and dry-fit tee. But the short 3km run had already gotten me hooked, I wanted to do more. I borrowed Shakti’s torch and even as the blaring music began to play to the head-bangers, I started to pound the roads.

As I left the party behind, at 915 in the night, the mist and eerie darkness welcomed me to my first night run. And what a run it was, the ghostly silhouette of the tress, backlit by the grey skies and mist, the firefly trail decorating the dark shrubbery, the cool air swelling up my lungs, the crickets chirping incessantly at the unusual visitor.
I had only planned to set out to my hotel to change and get back to the party. But by the time I reached Madikeri, I was deeply engrossed in my thoughts. I turned back to face the hazy and obscure road, praying and begging for some clarity, some light to pierce this mist, some answers to the questions that haunt me.

And like pure magic, in the middle of all this, the naughty smile kept coming back, briefly translocating me to my office cafeteria. A sharp loud (in that silence, even the pitter patter of my shoes could be called loud) barking of two dogs, snapped me back, sending a chill down my spine and the barking grew louder and nearer. It started to rain on the second lap, and I tempted to abort my run and head back to the resort at the end of this loop. As I neared the resort, my ears picked up faint rock music in the distance; my party was not over yet. I turned back to the road, I needed all of those endorphins, pain is what I have to get used to after all. Is that the answer, well, maybe not, but hey it always helps to experience the possible worst-case. From there, it can only get better.

And better it did get, literally. When I got back to Capitol at 1045, the beverages were flowing, the dancing souls were subdued and I attacked the food and desserts with delight. That is one run I will not forget in a hurry.

Madikeri to Pondicherry

Sunday turned out to be a full day of riding, nearly 14hours from start to finish. I started from Madikeri at 7am with Sumanth. The route from Siddapura was so good, I was tempted to try to shoot the stretch of the ride on my Nikon S10. I managed a bit, check it here, any guesses how I managed this stunt?
Breakfast happened at Maddur Tiffany’s and all was going well as hit Bangalore well before noon. I pulled over at R1 Plaza just outside Hosur at 1pm for lunch. With just under 300kms to go, 6pm at Pondi seemed very possible and I extended the lunch break to 2pm. But just as I started from there, as I was settling into a cruising mode on the fantastic highway to Krishnagiri, the speedometer started to behave erratic like the Indian cricket team and the Bullet came to stop. It was a definite problem with the electricals and I tried a bit of troubleshooting for the next 30mins. When nothing happened, I pushed the Bullet a good half a km or so to a mechanic. A loose connection in the coil in the clutch case was the culprit. It was 4pm when I rejoined the highway again. I decided to ride non-stop for the next couple of hours to make the max of the daylight. And when twilight faded, I still had to cover 95kms from Thiruvanamalai to Pondi. Braving high beams, flies and fatigue I reached Pondi at 8:30, it still took me another half hour to get to Le Club, where Raghu, Raaji, Ada, Tima and Shamji were chilling out.

Forth is deceptive. There is this one kind of it, when served chill in a mug is supposed to refresh (I personally think it is the world’s biggest hoax, let’s discuss this over a beer sometime). Ok, the other forth – bubbly and unconstrained, until it comes in splashing all over your face. Yuck, salt it is. We sat on the rocks on the beach at 12 in the night soaking ourselves, trying to stare the waves in the eye (yeah, what!!). But it’s amazing how when you are pals, any froth – salty or bitter tastes so sweet, no.

Aurovil Ashram

The place is fantastic, independent cottages built to give it a rustic feel that makes you feel at home, instantly. It’s a great place to stay if you are planning an extended holiday at Pondi. So much silence and peace of mind at that kind of price is a steal.
The real holiday started on Monday, the real holiday is when you don’t do nothing. You should read about our other real holiday here. We undid some millions of years of evolution, re-evolve or something (I think it is called revolution, I know that word from somewhere) when turned hunters and liars again (Charles Darwin would never tell you they were liars, it would have created a revolution, I think). We played bluff for as long as I can remember and then went hunting for food to the Aurovil village. It was some Seethusamudram strike in TN and Aurovil is in TN and not Pondi (not a bluff that one) and we literally had to hunt around for grub. For dinner we had to get back to basics – fruits, bread, jam and omelets minus oil. I don’t know, we started off making half boiled which became omelet and then started off making omelet which became scrambled eggs. At 230 in the morning, no one complained. It was a difficult night as we discussed issues close to my heart (wink). Words, laughter, advice, serious debate, thoughts, spirit and bluff filled all the space between us friends. Friends… what can I say, you guys are great!!

My Bullet needed a little attention in the morning, some welding and a visit to the mechanic for some peripheral work and it was back to being great.

Road Humps Ahead!!

I like this road sign the best and always look out for the humping when I pass it!! But in this case, the road hump was inside the Ashram, sans the sign. Well, the ashram is a place for solace and silence not for some cheap rallying thrills, he he. All that makes sense till you break the rule once. In the night, when Adarsh and I were getting back on the Bullet, we tried a bit of wheeling… we nearly had orgasmic pleasure (eeikes) taking the bullet off the road over a couple of steep declines in the road within the ashram. We came back to do some more in the morning, its so much fun to do it in the morning (lol).

We slept through the spectacular sunrise at the beach but woke up in time to leave the ashram by noon. We had brunch at Pondi and hit the highway by 1230 or so. Shamji took up the pillion seat for the first 50 odd kms, from then on Adarsh and I rode together, enjoying some good music, decent roads and pleasant riding conditions. I stopped a number of times en route and shot some high energy videos of some kids in the villages in an attempt to make a short congratulatory video for a friend.

The road trip has probably not done anything to make the blue earring any less elusive, but the smile that it will bring to my lips would surely have broadened by some unforgettable memories from there.