Journey

12 03 2010

Gaurav, Satbir & Saurabh The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ~St. Augustine

I have always enjoyed riding. Till the time I was in Noida, longest rides used to be to Gurgaon for a cup of Coffee or Maggi, visiting India Gate for Chuski with my friend was another favorite route on weekends. But that was it, I had never thought I will get to ride across cities. I always wanted to buy a Bullet but was discouraged by its price and comments from my college friends who used to say “You will look like a fluttering Dupatta tied to bike’s handle” because of my skinny body. That was past, I have put on enough weight and am happy about it because I don’t look weird riding a bullet now.

Turning point was probably my stay in Pune for a year and 3 months. Made best of the friends and probably learnt that I need to live my life to fullest, chase my dreams and there is life beyond office as well. Made friends who had passion for bikes and who were ready to ride. My first ride was from Pune to Murud, Kashid, Ali Bagh with Kaizad, Satbir and Gaurav, I named my photo album “Bikers Trip on West coast”  (http://picasaweb.google.com/niceseth/BikersTripOnWestCoast?feat=directlink). Honestly we had just touched the west coast and was quite happy calling myself a biker after clocking few hundred kilometers. This was a memorable trip, 4 different personalities, Gaurav, Kaizad, Satbir and me enjoying ride on curvy roads of western Ghats. We started after our shift on Friday and covered what we call “West Coast” over the weekend.

This was followed by our trip to Goa. We were little better than the previous trip this time. Got to know what bungee cords are and knew how to carry bags on back seat rather than carrying them on our shoulders. Reached Goa from Pune with just one break considering we were riding after working our shifts was an achievement. Again, bikes clubbed with prawns, fish and beer on top of it atmosphere of Goa made this a memorable trip. We missed Kaizad this time, he had to go to Phillipines for work. I was still riding my 150cc Pulsar and was super happy with its economical performance, Satbir loved his yellow Karizma whom he had named Ayesha and Gaurav looked great on his ROYAL Enfield.

Two trips in 6 months provided us enough confidence to Plan a trip to Leh – Khardungla Pass to be specific, the highest motor-able road in the world. We were getting better, having bought Eicher Road Atlas made us felt like Columbus, all of us pretending to be a gyani of how to read maps and plan routes. We decided May 29, 2009 as our date of travel and started to plan the trip. Reading several blogs, checking weather.com, registering on xbhp.com and other rider community website were the only things on agenda.

Satbir and Gaurav managed to get their leaves approved and I managed to decide on quitting the job. I anyways was planning to do that for long and this was probably the best time. Again, pretending to have learnt all about bikes after visitng local mechanic (as if we will be able to fix any damn thing) and having bought all the spares, saddle bags, riding gloves we were ready for this trip. Satbir’s cousin Karan from Shillong decided to join us in Pune for the ride as well. More the merrier. Scrapping the idea of putting our bikes in a train, we decided to ride all the way from Pune, after all we were “BIKERS” :-). We started our journey on the night on 29th May, 2009, my last day in the organization that I had worked with for 5 years. It was a nostalgic moment for me, and this ride was symbolic in many ways. I was starting a new journey to roads I had never travelled before and was leaving my comfort zone. Trip to Leh was memorable, I will never forget those 16 days on road. Memories of our photographic endeavour only for Facebook, Riders who carried Sunscreen, Clean and Clear, Deodorants & Moisturizer. Satbir’s yellow colored t-shirt and bag to match his yellow colored bike and Karan’s confused state will never fade. We proved in this trip that we can practically sleep anywhere, even while riding. We realized no matter how much we carry puncture kit and tools, we can’t change punctured tubes. We infact punctured new tubes while trying to replacing the old ones. We realized there is nothing like itinerary or travel plan chalked out in the format “Day 1”, “Day 2”. We realized Maggi is the ultimate food and is available everywhere irrespective of the altitude. We realized you gain respect from people when you do something different or achive something big in life. We realized CC and bhp of the bike are irrelevant and have no role to play while enjoying the beauty of nature. Pics @ ( http://picasaweb.google.com/niceseth/TripToLeh?feat=directlink )

I always thought Pune – Leh was my last trip on bike and nothing like this will follow, I had even considered buying a car and selling off my bike. Than I met Nishant Jha who took my interview in my new company. Discussing bikes and Leh trip in my interview was the last thing I expected. Having learnt about his group after joining the company and after reading the well written blogs, I was now sure that I was buying a bullet. Considering I have put on enough weight I knew I will not look weird riding one. I am now a proud owner of a Royal Enfield Classic 500 cc.

Reading various blogs and emails of BOP (Bulls on Parade) was enough spark for me to plan another Ride, this time to Rann of Kutch. We had thought of doing Pune to Kanyakumari but getting 2 week leave was impossible. We knew Rann of Kutch can be done in 5 days. Luckily Satbir, Gaurav and I managed to get leaves and the planning started again. This time we planned it differently, there was no fixed itinerary, we knew the places we need to visit and had saved them on GPS on my phone. We had checked out routes and Map My India at least thousand time and now knew which city is located in which part of Gujarat to decide on our destinations on the spot. Ride to Rann of Kutch was a learning experience; Visiting Harappa Excavation site, Mandavi where woodden cargo ships were being built, learning how salt is made, our interaction with BSF Jawans, visit to Gurudwara at Lakhpat where Guru Nanak Dev Ji stayed before visiting Mecca, knowledge about our border with Pakistan, windmills, getting to know how Earthquake can be a blessing in disguise for a region, how human behaviour can change from one village to another. This was a different trip altogether. More than the destination – Rann of Kutch, we enjoyed the journey. It was an enriching experience. Deciding to visit Pune instead of going to Ahmedabad from Bhuj was a surprise for my family and friends but thats how we are, we no longer plan our destination, we focus on our journey. Pics – ( http://picasaweb.google.com/niceseth/RannOfKutch?feat=directlink )

Arunachal Pradesh and Kanyakumari are still on my mind but as I can see all of us getting ready to move on to next phase of our lives, I am not sure if we will be able to ride together in near future. We will cherrish every single moment we have spent together on these rides. Pics of our rides have always been a stressbuster for us and I believe will act as a spark in future as well.

Thanks to our Parents who have been understanding and have never discouraged us for these trips. Thanks to EICHER for superb Road ATLAS, to DIAMOX for saving our life in PANG 🙂 , to Friends who liked our pics and encouraged us with their comments, to Facebook for giving us a forum to express us on the move.

I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine. ~Caskie Stinnett

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