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Celebration Day

Inevitably, your statement elicits the question 'why' accompanied by looks ranging from puzzlement to horror. You think about it. Sincerely ponder on the whole gamut; possible reasons, theories, answers, clever retorts...

You seriously consider replying with 'Because', pause (wisely, in this day and age) & then gently shake your head and stay mute, hoping that the zen-like expression on your face will suffice as an answer, explanation or whatever else. If they had to ask, then nothing you could say would ever satisfy. Ergo, you silently thank your guardian angel that no real melodrama ensued.

Kshitij and I left from home at 6:20 am, knowing we had a long ride ahead. There was a hint of anxiety in the air because the most important component of this trip (apart from ourselves) was the motorbike... the TVS Star DLX that had never been further than Lonavala, a distance of about 50 km from Pune. On the 1st of October 2008, the very same bike was going to be ridden roughly 470 km... to Goa.

It was Ashish's idea that I meet him in Kolhapur and that he & I continue onward from there to Panaji. It was my idea to not tell him that Kshitij was also going to be coming along and it was Kshitij's idea that we might as well bike it. Everyone was having great ideas, as it were. Ashish, being an experienced biker & on a Bullet to boot, made it all the way from Bangalore to Kolhapur by about 10:00 am, still under the impression that I was plodding along by bus. He may also have been helped in that impression by the thoughtful hourly messages I was sending him describing the non-existent bus driver's antics. This was Kshitij's first long-distance bike trip and I will take this opportunity to tip my helmet to his riding skills and stamina.

The NH 4 is a delightfully well-constructed road, although its ease and proximity to small villages and towns does take the edge of the solitary motorbiker mystique, somewhat. Besides, after about 12 hours of riding, only the fanatic would be put off by the comfort of the NH 4. At 11:45 am, turning off the highway into the Loksatta Gates and into Kolhapur, my cell-phone began to ring. Knowing it may have been a by now rather irate Ashish on the line, I chose to ignore it. Spotting him standing by the side of the road with a less than welcoming expression on his face may also have played a part, I don't know. He looked quite puzzled when a TVS Star DLX stopped next to him and the guy riding pillion jumped off, greeting him very cheerfully. Puzzled, because that pillion rider was expected to be hopping off a bus, not a bike.

The expression on his face was priceless as he realized that not only had I not reached by bus, but that Kshitij had also come along. And we'd done so by motorbike. Questions may have followed, but 'why' was not one of them. See, like I said before, if you have to ask...

Ashish will not.

Gagan Bhavda Ghat
From Kolhapur, we rode onward to Panaji via the Gagan Bhavda Ghat. We made it to the border by 5:50 pm and with a whoop of joy, crossed into Goa about 10 minutes later. It had rained earlier that afternoon and so, 3 pleasantly exhausted guys on motorbikes skimmed across the road to Calangute. I had the luxury of being able to look around and am therefore able to describe the following scene:

The sun sinking rapidly, the western sky was awash in golden evening light. A fading rainbow framed the horizon to the east. The air seemed heavy with the promise of some indescribably delicious joy as our tired eyes were soothed by the combination of dark-red earth & emerald-green hills.

K & A

Welcome to Goa...

Song for the moment:
Holiday - Greenday

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