Skip to main content

2 - Endless, Nameless

It's hard to write about a journey made 6 years ago without getting sidetracked into nostalgia & painting whatever memories are left in a genial light. My reasons for wanting to make the trip were twofold; the need for a holiday & having done precious little in the reckless line of activity, a need to rectify that. The others had their reasons also, which are their own & it'd be pointless to wonder what those were. Suffice to say, the collective yearning of 3 very different guys metamorphosed into the events of one week.

In 'Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance', Pirsig speaks about how different the same journey can be when taken by motorcycle & by car. Very true. A car journey, while comfortable, seems to isolate you from the road. There is no such feeling on a bike. You are there, in the moment, for every kilometre that you travel, willing the wheels to eat away the space to your destination. The bike ride makes you conscious of every part of your body, especially when your back & posterior begin their indignant protest. I could have easily romanticised the experience for you, reader, but this is my version of events & I try to stay true.

For one, the initial thrill of embarking on the journey wore off after about 2 hours, to be replaced by the knowledge that our destination was a long way away. The road after Katraj Ghat was terrible, full of potholes & detours since the NH - 4 was being reconstructed as part of the Golden Quadrilateral. We did not have mp3 players to break the monotony of the grey landscape & resorted to crooning songs until our throats gave up the exercise as a bad job. Personally, the hardest thing to do is to stay awake, lulled as you are by the steady drone of the engine and the soporific scenery. After 11 am, the October sun beats down with a vengeance and the road begins to shimmer. I have a faint recollection of Ashish yelling my name out once with more than a tinge of alarm in his voice since I'd begun to noticeably list to the right.

To combat this, we took breaks ever so often. I tell you this without any shame; the feeling of stretching your legs & letting the blood flow to the nether padding is positively glorious. Naturally, the discomfort increases in magnitude as the hours go by & you find the riding time between breaks becoming shorter. It's all part of the experience. Around 12:30, about an hour from Kolhapur, we halted under the blessed shade of a few lonely trees bordering the road. There was an earnest discussion about hunger & the massacre of food that would take place at Kolhapur. The silence thereafter was heavy, leaving the crickets to pierce the fatigue with their cries. Not a soul in sight besides us. The road behind us was impassive & the one ahead was indifferent. Right then, in the middle of nowhere & out of nowhere, a man selling Kulfi appeared in front of us. Perhaps I was slightly stupefied by the heat but there would have been no surprise evinced had he unfurled wings & announced his divinity. We duly contributed enough money to ensure that his children would go to Harvard, ate our fill & carried on.

Lunch at Kolhapur was supposed to last half an hour at most. We did not move for about 2 hours. The superb food induced some reluctance in our gung-ho no doubt, but it was the sol kadhi that ultimately seduced us completely. Looking back, perhaps this was the universe's way of preparing us for what lay ahead.

Kolhapur onward, Ashish had been instructed to take the Amboli Ghat but there was some hesitancy on his part as to the veracity of the information. So, 3 innocent young men did something that made sure we will remember this journey till the day body & spirit part ways. We asked a waiter how to get to Goa via the Amboli Ghat. There was a pause, the shortest of pauses that suggests either hesitancy or recollection as the 3 worlds held their collective breath & watched. "अम्बोली घाट नाही, तुम्हाला अम्बा घाट घयाचय" (You have to take Amba Ghat, not Amboli Ghat).

We left Kolhapur at 2:00 pm... & rode on.

Song for the moment: La Partida - Gustavo Santaolalla

Comments

Piggy Little said…
likes :-) there is an earnestness to your description of your travelogues on the road.
maybe, you want to consider becoming a travel writer ;-)

n.
Anonymous said…
:) Just today, I read a few articles on how to write a travelogue badly. I've kept some of those ideas in mind while writing this one. Still, I'd already decided not to embellish the recollection to ridiculous proportions, giving people an idea that it's a dreamy, 'have to do before I die' activity. It's not for everyone.

Thank you, though.
bhumika said…
what a read. i'm waiting for post number 3 :)
Anonymous said…
thank you.
number 3 is up.

Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…

Country Comforts

Part 1

With timing that was far more impeccable than their usual service, the MSRTC went on strike 2 days before Diwali over a pay dispute. I've traveled on their buses for close to 9 years and know full well just how popular they can be just before a major holiday. The chaotic crowd at Dadar is so dense, one would only need to introduce a few Naga sadhus into the mix and hey presto! we've got ourselves a brand new Kumbh Mela. Albeit one where getting out of Bombay ASAP is the only kind of salvation devotees seek. 

News and newspapers being what they are at present, I was unaware of the jolly bus crisis until Wednesday morning when a well-wisher asked how I proposed to go home for the holidays, flourishing the paper in my face with the reluctant panache of a small-town magician. Realising the gravity of the situation, I looked up train schedules and was stunned to find General category seats available on an outstation train departing later that afternoon. As far as I could see, …