Friday, June 29, 2007

Hyderabad - Raipur

Hotel Poonam
25th June 2007, Monday
3.45 pm

This is the time i checked in Raipur. Dirty place i have to say. The rain made it more horrible! Approx 950 kms i rode to reach here!!

Left Hyd on the 23rd morning, towards Warangal. It was raining when i left the hotel. Rode slow. Had tea on the way! You should have tea in Hyd, gud tea they make. What i like more is the cups they are served in, cute little white porclein cups! The ride to Warangal was easy! It was a distance of 150 kms.

Went up on NH 202... Reached Mulugu. (I have made a series of videos of this day! I can upload only when i reach Kolkotta; will either make a separate entry for tht, or put the same in between this post).

Video: 1 (will be uploaded later)

The road lead me towards Chelvai & i had to go through a Wildlife Sanctuary of Eturnagaram! Rain again! It looked like the Rain God is playing a joke on me! I would only come to know about this in couple of hours!! As this is close to the borders of Chattisgarh, i was not shocked to see BSF in their civil clothes, carrying loaded guns! Took a break for tea. Bought new plastic sheets to cover my luggage!

After about 10kms, the road hits a small town! Asked the locals if there was a road ahead crossing the river Godavari! There is no road, but have to use a boat!! But to reach there, have to go through a place called Cheruvai, which is located on the river bed! It was interesting to see the reaction on the face of locals, when i tell them i am coming on a bike from Bangalore! The river bed is a very tricky surface to ride on (loose mud)! My bike had its first fall! That is when i realised, how heavy the bike is, & with all the luggage it is worse! No one around, so i helped myself! Found that the left foot-rest got hit on a stone & is bent upwards! So it becomes difficult to shift gears! Found a single path towards the edge of the river after i crossed few boulders! & There is a boat waiting! 10 people! There was a local guy with his wife & his bike (splendor)!

I enquired if it was safe to cross, all of them shook their heads! I had a moment, when, i was not comfi! But there was no turning back! Turn back & Go where!! There was only one way to go, & that was forward!

So, carefully, pushed the bike to the edge of the river! 4 of the boys came to pick the bike up! I warned them about the engine & the silencer!! They nodded! So, with couple of big pulls, the bike was up & standing nose down in the boat! I put in all the luggage! Asked for a hand, & i was in! The guy who handled the boat, used his big long stick, to push the boat away from the bank! The boat shook, twice! There was a huge sigh from everyone & then there was silence! It was stable! My heart skipped a beat! He started the engine! & we were off! I was scared! Very Scared! Always heard about stories of boats capsizing bcos of heavy loads, i wondered if i was in that story!!

Video: 2 (will be uploaded later)

We reached the other side, first people get down & then the loads! My bike first & then the lighter one! The nightmare began here! It started to rain, pouring rain! The other gentleman & his wife, started off. In no time i was alone on the banks! I put my luggage back on! Started the bike (it was too heavy to be pushed), put it into 1st gear, slowly moved ahead! The sand was still dry a little, i came close to the end of the river bank! But ahead was an opening with mud (not sand), soaked with water (thanks to all the rain). I see tht the Splendor guy is stuck! I move the bike, it slides, slips, the rear tyre has no grip at all! I stop the engine! Try to push it; it doesnt budge! Its too heavy! My face becomes red! Try to start the engine & move slowly! Whats happening here is, bcos the rear end is heavy, to get grip, the tyre has to dig deep, so it is picking up all the mud! & the mud is getting collected on the top end of the mud guard! I only come to know about this, when i pass the other guy's bike! I stop immediately, out of frustration & anger, unload the bike, throw everything on the ground! My jacket, my rain gear, helmet, my waist pouch, luggage, all of this comes down! My shoes are stuck! I am ankle deep in mud! I pull my feet out, it comes, but without the shoes! I ignore it! My priority is to get out of there!

A young guy, joins us! He helps the other guy! They both talking the same language! Both the bike owners take a break! Both of us sweating like pigs! Faces red with blood! It stopped raining, & the sun is out! General conversation happens! In about 15 mins, his bike is up! I am getting worried! What if they leave me here! What were my options! What if there is rain again! What if the bike gets stuck more! What if......

I take my luggage up the small hill! (say about 50 ft of elevation, same wet terrain!) On the top, i ask the young guy, not to leave me! He said, he is going to miss his last bus home! I told him i will drop him where ever! He agrees! He knows that i am in bad shape! We both go down again! He picks up all my luggage & goes on top! I look for a small stick/twig! We both start cleaning the front & the rear guards! The mud is so badly stuck, the sticks were too small! I put in my hand! I cant reach it too! I knew that this is not going to end like this! I put in the1st gear, he holds the bike from behind& pushes it! Every 5 ft the engine stops! Its getting over heated! I could feel it! Took us about 30 mins to get up the mountain! The time we reached on top, he showed me the clouds! He said, "Bhaiya, varsham!" (In telugu it means, rain!) The clouds got darker & moving towards us! I thought, this is where the joke went bad of the Rain Gods! & this time the joke was on us! I put the cramsters first! He sat on the rear seat, held on to one of my bags, held his bag! I held on to another one of mine!

It started raining! It was bad this time! The bike moved, but i could feel that the rear tyre is dragging! There was another km to be covered till we hit a tar road! We couldnt go back on the mud! So rode on the grass, small plants, between trees! Anything but the mud! I was bare feet! Slipped again! Fell down, my feet hurt! Got back up again! Finally saw the road! What a relief it was!! He showed me directions to his place, he was visiting his relative! We stopped in front of his place, we both were exhausted! Panting! Sweating our guts off! He offered me some water! I took a snap of ours! Dont want to forget him!

Video 3: (will be uploaded later)

He advised me not to take the route which i had planned! Told me both that the roads were not good & that it has a heavy concentrate of naxals! The thumb rule of riding alone is to always talk to the locals & hear what they have to say! Most of the people you meet are good! & it is advisable to listen to them! This is a decision you have to take!

So, instead of entering Chattisgarh immediately, went to a village called Venkatapuram! Small little place! Stayed in a dirty little room (100rs for a night), ate horrible dinner! Worst rasam rice i have ever eaten! Got up early in the morning & headed to a town called Bhadrachalam! Got my bike cleaned. Ate early lunch at 12pm. The place i ate, bang opposite was the main Bus Stand! Went right in, bumped into the Asst Manager (APSRTC, Badrachalam) of the place, told him my back ground & my story! Quite impressed he was! He made me sit, we struck up a conversation, had tea, gave me the route to Raipur. He wished me good luck, signed on my Message Book.

Took off to the border of the Chattisgarh. Entered the state by lunch time. The border looks like a war zone! Two big posts on each side of the road (well, there is no road), made of wood, cement bags around it, 3 gaurds on it (BSF JAWANS) with heavily loaded guns! It resembled a war movie i've seen! There is a sharp eye they keep on anyone crossing the gates! Its a very errie feeling you go through when you enter this state! I cant explain! Its difficult! I didnt want to speed up the road, after every gap on the road, i came across 15-20 jawans with guns slinged on their shoulders walking the roads (guarding them should i say). I stopped in front of one of the groups, who were taking a break, asked them hows the road up ahead & is it OK to ride alone!? They comforted me saying it is ok, but tense! But no need for concern & that i would find jawans all through the way till a certain point & from there on it is absolutely safe. I wanted to stop at Jagdalpur for the day!

The town is Sukma! Its sort of a Refugee Camp where families from near places come & stay there in make-shift huts! Thousands of them! This camp is gaurded around the clock, it is fenced! There is a market right opposite to the camp. I pass this town. Move ahead! My next stop was at another camp called Dronpal! This was the largest i was told, 17000 people stayed in it! Bang opposite was the camp for the soldiers! There were slogans written, "Kick out Naxalites, Bring in peace".

I stopped in front of the BSF camp, thought it was the best place to rest. I hadnt taken a break from the last hour or so... The bike always attracts attention where ever we stop. So one question lead to another & ended up being a conversation. I love these talks i get to have! The ride being a monotony, it is exhausting on both mind & body! & how much can i sing & talk to myslef! These little conversations give me a relief. I also get to know whats happening locally, is there an issue, is it safe etc etc.

After a break of 30 mins, i move on to catch the road to Jagdalpur! About 300 kms before Raipur! It was begining to rain by the time i reached Jagdalpur. Found a hotel, run by a young entrepreneur! Its nice to see/ to get good service by the people who attend you in a hotel. Considering that this was not a big place, i was made to feel important/nice! Even though i was looking no less than a joker (by looks). As i had lost my shoes the previous day, i rode in my Bata Chappals! Checked in! Took a bath! Had a decent dinner! Went back to room & crashed!
Got up 5. Left the place by 6.30. The roads were good! Something else i shld tell you here.. The entire stretch(except for the last 30-40kms) from Jagdalpur to Raipur is an avenue! 90% of the trees on both sides of the road are Mango trees! It felt really good to ride this stretch. Gud breeze! Little sun! Pleasant journey it was!

I reached outskirts of Raipur by about 3 pm. It took me another 45 mins to get to the hotel which was booked for me! Let me introduce Pallavi here! She hails from Raipur & is also my colleague! Her parents & her twin sisters still live here! Thats why i said, it was booked already!

Something else imp to be mentioned here is the "Traffic-Shock" you come across!

a) You can spit whatever/where ever you find a spot!

b) You can cut across roads (from left to right & vice versa) without having the fear of getting caught!

c) There is no concept of one-ways!

d) You dont have to wait for the signal to turn green to cross the junction!

e) You can park your vehicle where ever you want!

f) You can honk away to glory, even if the traffic in front of you is jammed!

g) There is no concept of a road divider!

Take my words, if you are someone who kinda follows even little traffic, you are in for a shock when you enter this city! My jaws dropped when i witnessed all of this in that 30-45 mins!
So, checked in the hotel, took a bath! Met up with Pallavi's dad! Went out to eat an early dinner! Dinner is not served till 7.30pm. So, killed time. Went back & had a Chicken Biryani(which was sweet). Rain again! Back to room! Was browsing through TV, when i got a knock on the door! Pallu's mom & Barkha (1st of the twin sis). Spent some time with them! Crashed after they left!

Rain in Raipur! Immediate work was to get the bike's 2nd service finished! Gave it! Did some shopping! Lunch with Pallu's family! Checked out of the hotel by evening! The rest of the story later!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bangalore - Hyderabad

20th June 2007
7.20 am
Holy Ghost Church, Behind Richard's Park!!

This is where we flagged off Chrysallis Power of One, Motorcycle Ride!
Only the near & dear were present. The only surprise was Mr. Samson Chacko (Chief Div Manager) from Indian Oil. Friends, colleagues, family.... few late entries (guna & kumar topped it, by meeting me on the Outer Ring Road!) Anyways.....

Gave a small little "Thank You" speech to every1 present! Diana said a few words.. i met everyone present personally... big line of hugs happened! & before i blinked, i was on the bike, set!! Diana & Samson flagged me off, after a little prayer!

The Ride:

The ride was gud on Day 1. But after sometime the bike developed some started missing..& didnt go any faster! It was painful to see a Bullet not go above 40kms... The slow speed was also heating up the engine! I was not happy. By the time i reached Ananthpur, it was 8.30pm. I spoke to Anand (Mechanic, from Tecknik Motors).. He asked me to check the air filter! Now, you will have to know, that i am not a biker dude; which means i dont know anything about the bike, apart from it has 2 wheels, an engine, an accelerator, brake, clucth & gears...& when everything runs in some fashion, the bike moves ahead! Now, to take the toolkit from the bike, i took 30 mins, they should add it in the manual, how to take a tool kit OUT!!! Anyway, thought i will leave it to the experts, asked for a mechanic for bullet. I was shown to a guy! Bcos, i didnt trust him, i asked him to speak to Anand over phone, i think it hurt his ego! After a try, he said, he had no clue how to fix it! Asked him does he know who else can do this, he said NO!!

Went around, asked couple of people, got directed to this cute little chap, Nagaraj! Told him what the problem was, in 10 mins time, bike was running in gud fashion. Over the talk, he asked me wht i was doing here, alone on a bike, told him the story. He was quite impressed! When i asked him how much i owed him for his services, he denied any money from me! I pushed him to accept, he refused! He said, Sir, Think this is my contribution to your cause!! I was touched! Found a hotel, crashed!

Got up at 4 in the morning, set out by 5.45am on 21st towards Hyderabad! It was gud ride! I was awfully asleep! Found some tea shop, had tea & moved on! Had breakfast!

Sometime by afternoon, when i was getting hungry, was going over a bridge! Clear water runnnig under it, people taking bath, few doing rituals over the banks, children using a magnet to pick up coins from the river bed! I turned around, found the katcha path which takes me over... parked my bike, picked up my towel & a soap. Stripped, & jumped in the water! Had a gud satisfying bath!! Found out later, it was River Krishna!!!

After i had lunch, i again had the same problems wit the bike. It almost stopped over a bridge... Put it on the side. Took a break, let it cool down, started again, but this time i didnt go any faster than 45-50kms/hour! Reached Hyd by 6.30pm. Pouring in Hyd. Found out where, D stayed! Checked in! Phew!!!! What a day!!

2 days, 604 kms! I did 373 the 2nd day! Quite a distance!

Ok, update for today, The bike met its doctor! Got ready! Doing gud! I am happy! Ready to leave for Raipur tmrw! Will leave early! Will do my next post when i get time! So, me penning off! CU!! :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Two days to go!!!

Yes, its 2 days to go!

This is my penultimate blog from the comforts of my home in Bengaluru! After which i will either blog from my mobile (Wow, Technology can be so good at times!!) or possibly from a local internet cafe anywhere from India!

If you had asked me 10 days ago, i was feeling jittery! Guess what, i am ready now! Mentally, i am ready to be kicked off! I am not nervous, no butterflies! I am quite! I am relaxed! I am still putting on weight!

We had a good weekend; apart from the Teachers workshop & the Exhibition of Placards i talked about, which hpnd on the 14th in MCC; we had an Awareness In-City Ride yesterday. We started off from an Indian Oil bunk (Hamsa Service Station), between Forum & Big Bazaar; went into 80ft road (Koramangala), right to 100 ft road, took Inner Ring Road to the newly finished fly-over, touched Indiranagar; turned around & headed back to National Games Village, where we ended our ride! We were a group of 14 riders with our pillions children from Samarthanam. We handed out info phamplets & spoke to people on our way! It was a very satisfying evening, brought smiles on all of us!

I havent started packing yet! Loads to be packed! Am waiting for the bike to be set up first, with minor additions & little branding! Am planning to finish off with it by tomorrow! Did loads of shopping today!

I have to mention this; i am also dissappointed in a way! Not sure how to express it... i am dissappointed with the way people (read here as friends/colleagues/who know u or in contact with you) treat me! Bcos by each day passing, it is difficult for everyone to comprehend the way i do things; just to accept that i am normal too! As i said, i am not sure if i am expressing it right.... but remember my early post... i said i would be honest in the way i felt.

Am leaving my contact no on the side bar. Ideal time to contact (rem STD) is early morning or late in the night. If you wanna SMS, write in your name at the end pls.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

2 weeks to go!!

Its official now! I am leaving Bengaluru on 20th June! As i mentioned in my earlier post, we have made little change to the route; instead of going through Pondi & Chennai & then to Hyderabad, i am heading off to Hyd directly. Will touch base with these two places on my way back to Blr.

On the bike front, it has completed its 1st service! I am getting used to riding it for long distances. Am trying to go farther & do more time on it; the highway to Devanhalli has become my new friend!! As it has a bucket seat (which means comfi on my posterior), my back is not taking a beating! So riding happening in early mornings & sometimes in the night!

Have got another mobile no (BSNL). Will put it up on the blog in sometime!

We are holding a Teachers Integrated Simulation Classroom Programme on the 14th June in MCC, at 9am. Teachers from normal and special schools are going to work through a simulated integrated classroom set up, covering basic subjects. This will bring forth the challenges they face and how we can work through it. The integrated classroom is going to be a reality. We will also have children from the respective participating schools.

The same day, from 6.30pm, the Exhibition will be held to showcase all the placards which were made by the children on the 3rd of March this year!

Will pen-off now!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Nobody dies a Virgin!

If you are looking for a post where the king lives happily ever after...or just, say a happy post, you might want to give this one a skip!

The odds are getting bigger! I am losing time! Did a 100km ride in the night yesterday; did it on the Blr - Devanahalli stretch. Gud road! Had to turn back for home, developed a cramp in my stomach! Left for the ride immediately after a heavy dinner, that could be a cause! Also, encountered our Police Mama, when i stopped in front of ITC for a break; he literally shoved me away, probably didnt want any mishaps when he was on his rounds! Never mind the law & order of this place; will crib on it some other time!

Did 1 more round of riding in the morning today; this time (foolishly) took the Mysore road! I covered the same distance as yday night, but in twice the time. Bike started getting heated up! Had to slow down; stopped thrice for 15-20 mins! No sleep yday, so started sleeping/drowsing (am used to this habit) while riding; i turned back towards Blr; didnt want to take a chance with the bike. Had to stop this time, for me! Had tea! The place i stopped had a Peepal tree with a katte (read it in kannada) around it; couple of farmers dosing off. I sat on it, made eye contact with 1 of them, asked if i could sleep & would there be an issue! He smiled! That was the answer i was looking for! Helmet & my bag under my neck, stretched my legs & slept for 30-40 mins! Literally next to the State Highway! Super i felt! Took my time & came back home by 1.30 pm.

Found out that i cant get my Bike's 1st service done immediately; have to wait till Tuesaday! Waste of 2 days, which i dont have! Cursed every soul!

I also pushed my days & changed my schedule a little. Pushed it by 4 days! & instead of going to Pondicherry, i am heading directly to Hyderabad! Will cover Pondi & Chennai on my way back. Instead of coming back on 26th Sep, i am back on 29th. Will have to use up my Sunday & Monday well.

As they say, when things go wrong, they will go wrong!
Nobody dies a Virgin; ......................................