“Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting”
— Steve McQueen
The prelude to the storm –
In the vast concrete jungles of Mumbai, there exist millions of disparate & disenchanted souls! For India’s financial capital has been perennially teeming with masses – ever so transactional in their monotonous routine, they harbor a deep desire to break free and run amok!
A constant existential angst the only binding thread among them!
Two batchmates from SIMS, Pune working in the “lush” corporate environs decide to do something about the constant melee they were dwelling in. After much deliberation, they decide to embark on a trip to Udaipur (Hopefully we will cover Ajmer & Mount Abu too!) on motorcycles traversing a distance of 1600 km over a period of 6 days!
The riders –
D Vishwakant aka Rookie
Prasenjit Debroy aka DTSI
The weapons of mass deliverance (WMDs) –
2014 Hero Moto Corp Achiever 150
2015 KTM DUKE 390
Day 1 – Bombay to Surat – 30th October
After an exhaustive day at work, rookie started for the rendezvous point at 8 am from Kalyan – a city on the outskirts of Mumbai. It is at an inflection point currently – a city battling the throes of development with rapid urgency!
I had reached the convergence point by 9 am. Rookie finally managed to reach at 9:30 am – braving incessant potholes and combating chaotic traffic! After a quick breakfast of medu-vadas and cuppa of tea, we pushed on for Surat – our target for the day.
We resided at a hotel on the NH48 overnight. At this point, it is essential to mention that I had only heard of Gujarat having some of the best highways (6 lanes no less!) in India – now I also experienced them! One can ride the pitch black tarmac for hours at a stretch – unbroken, next to zero potholes, super smooth. We were the explorers of the unknown!
I used to stop/slow down every 15-20 min on our ride (Sometimes I was asked to!) as I was overshooting rookie by a long margin – clean, clear, open roads & a warm, sunny, ever so blue sky can make your inner butterfly soar up so high and fast!
Day 2 – Surat to Udaipur 31st October October 2016
After a scrumptious mélange of idlis, sandwitches & cuppa or two, we started for Udaipur!
But, all was not to go as per the plan!
We had targeted reaching Udaipur by 6 pm, which would have given us sufficient time to scout for a suitable nesting place for 2 days – A place located equidistant from all the major tourist attractions, pocket friendly, having access to bountiful eateries, yet not too far from the main city, ample (Read: safe) parking for 2 motorcycles, WiFi and a clean & comfortable bed!
What we did not factor in was – incessant traffic in stretches across the small towns, a commute through state highway with bad or non-existent roads which slowed our average velocity, the fact that after sunset, you can’t ride fast on the highway and the most incredulous of them all – huge truck drivers can drive without headlights till they don’t realise it’s dark (Like on the wrong side of a black hole!) – which is usually around 8 pm or at the last completely blacked out patch of NH! For some reason, the lorry drivers seem to rely on – street lamps to guide them on the path to victory and other automobiles headlamps for lighting up the roads in blazing glory!
Upon reaching Udaipur outskirts finally around 9 pm, we got to know that almost all of the hotels have been booked! After rummaging through multiple hotels, we found a place to crash for the night – Matt’s hotels & resort. It is perched atop a small hillock, overlooking the NH48. Everyone who crosses in/out of Udaipur is greeted by Matt’s!
Time to call it a day! (Or, night!)
Day 3 – Udaipur (Day 1/2) 01st November 2016
Dude, where’s our hotel?
For some reason, most of the hotels in Udaipur are concentrated in a dense pocket near City Palace. After 1 hour of fervent searching on Google maps, asking passersby and shopkeepers, we were nowhere close to our hotel! Fatigue was creeping in, the urge for a bed to plonk on was getting higher by the second.
Itni galiyaan kyun hai bhai?
After umpteen rides, we figured out we had crossed 2 points multiple times in our quest to find our dwelling for the day!
Phone – Lost!!!
After giving my phone to rookie, we had just started to go towards our hotel for the nth time. At the next turn, we stopped to check our directions. Rookie laid out his hand to reach my phone.. only to find nothing there! Turns out, he had kept it lodged between tank and knee for quick access, but due to my Spiderman cover being a little slippery, the device was now not to be found!
We retraced our steps from City Palace, where we had stopped and started from, but no results! A few frantic calls later from rookie’s phone, someone switched off my cell. I shrugged and let it go as a life learning lesson – never to be too dependent on technology!
Freak Accident – Motorcycle vs Activa
We stopped at a small shop in one of the countless bylanes of Udaipur, to seek directions to our humble abode for the day. Turned out that the hotel was the building next to us! In our over-enthusiasm, rookie turned his motorcycle only to brush an activa parked directly behind and the front part got scratched!
What ensued was out of a hindi potboiler movie! We tried to explain to the gentleman that it was a freak accident and that we are tourists on a long journey, late, famished and dead tired. But no sir! He would not listen to anything. Seems he was more interested to make a quick buck! After haggling with us for over 30 min, rookie finally relented and paid-up 1000 INR for a part which would entail a maximum outlay of 300!
Freak accident 2 – Helmet
Next thing I know, my helmet fell and a part of the right rachet holding the visor together gets broken. It should not have broken ideally and neither should my helmet have fallen in the first place! Turned out, that no matter what we tried – superglue or tape, it would have to be replaced. My helmet being an exotic breed – the part was only to be found in Mumbai!
Thaanedar part 2 –
We went to Udaipur police station to file a FIR. It took us 30 min in all, but in the end we emerged with a copy of the FIR lodged.
Day 4 – Udaipur (Day 2/2) 02nd November 2016
Bagore ki Haveli – A cultural extravaganza
The haveli is located at the foot of Lake Pichola! It is decked up every evening for an elaborate display of various traditional dance forms and folk music prevalent across the length and breadth of Rajasthan! The puppet dance & pot dance are the highlights of a culture potpourri great enough to regale kings!
I open at the close! – The Good Samaritan
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”
– Ralph Waldo
I had lost all hopes of ever seeing my phone again. I could not blame my friend for a tragedy which quickly cascaded into a domino effect for both of us!
Last night in Udaipur. I start my other phone to check for any missed calls or text messages – it is an old phone of my younger brother, a very nondescript Nokia model.
Imagine my surprise when the 3rd miss call was answered by someone stating that my phone is safe & would be delivered within the hour!
The story goes like this; a lady had picked up the fallen phone outside City Palace itself. She very swiftly removed both SIM cards from the device to disable location tracking, only to be overcome with a sense of self-realization/fear of being apprehended by the authorities. She gave the phone to a nearby shopkeeper. The shopkeeper could not unlock the password protected smartphone, so he was unable to contact the owner.
Come evening, his son came to the shop for some chores. The son was able to view 2 numbers on the ticker, “Prasenjit Kumar Debroy XXX XXX * For Your Eyes Only*“. He picks up the phone to call my number, only to reach voicemail! The number was switched off!
They kept on trying to contact the owner, but in vain!
I am reunited with my phone (A 2016 Motorola Moto X Play) after an agonizing 36 hours! The device battery was down to last 7% owing to their countless attempts to unlock the phone. The shopkeeper’s son had been quite gracious to ride all the way from home – a distance of 10 km no less, just to return a lost phone to its rightful owner!
It proved to me that good-hearted people still exist in today’s apocalyptic world!
Day 5 – Udaipur to Surat 03rd November 2016
Day 6 – Surat to Bombay 04th November 2016
The Beginning of the End – Doctor Strange
We ended our trip on a mystical high – watching a first day screening of the latest Marvel cinematic universe (MCU) motion picture. A movie which alters the way we perceive reality and time – pushing the boundary of the human mind! In many ways, the movie reinforced what I had already experienced on this whirlwind trip of a lifetime – the fact that sheer will & belief can give shape to one’s dreams, hopes, aspirations and suddenly, bring them to life!
The movie finished so soon! – time flies fast when we put our soul into an action! I reckon Albert Einstein was right after all!
And suddenly, it dawned on us that our trip was finally over and we had to get back into the grind after a day!
Ajmer – Cancelled as we were too tired by the journey to Udaipur!
Mount Abu – Ditto!
This was truly an invigorating journey. In many ways it was life-altering. It has proved to me that the human mind can achieve anything! The more we push ourselves, the more we can attain – personally & professionally!
For rookie, it was a cathartic moment when he finally crossed 60 kmph on his ride, for the first time in many years. To top it off, he gunned the throttle all the way to the wrong side of the 80s very soon!
Like me, he believes that we are limited by our own thoughts!
Unlike me, however, he takes calculated risks. I am more of a wildflower – I firmly believe it is better to learn from making mistakes than to let myself be drowned by the mundane activities that perhaps a calculated and measured (Read: corporate) life has to offer!
Rookie has since shifted to Pune in November 2016. However, our adventures & stories continue unabated for the foreseeable future!
The End of the Beginning –
“Passion will keep you going when the going gets tough.”
— David Copperfield