Tuesday, September 1

3 - Cool Confusion

Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart

- Marcus Aurelius

Often, I wonder if that motorcycle-trip would evoke such strong emotion in us to this day, had it all gone according to 'plan'. The plan incidentally involved us sprawled lazily on a beach with a crate of Kings (a beer found only in Goa), watching the sunset. Which would have placed us on the beach around 6:30 pm.

We will never know.

At 2:00 pm we set off from Kolhapur, supposedly on our way to Goa, via the Amba Ghat. Now, over the years I've come to understand from experienced bikers that a 6th sense clears it's throat when something about the journey does not feel correct. Being the amateurs we were, that sense stayed stubbornly silent for about 2 hours. In that time, we made our way on to a highway that was rather bereft of vehicles & pedestrians. A very scenic ride, the highway cut through lush forest-land & meandered over heather covered hills. The superb lunch induced a pleasant soporific effect but any sleepiness was brushed away by a gentle breeze. What are popularly referred to as optimum riding conditions.

To this day I cannot explain why a faint stirring of unease seemed to ripple in the air when it did. We had been riding for over 2 hours & while there have been faint misgivings about the rather desolate look about the highway, we were also somewhat caught up in the scenery & the ride itself. I remember the moment clearly; we had come to a fork in the road, taken the right & stopped for a drink of water. A man strolled passed us, his limbs moving with the steady rhythm that suggested he'd been on the road for quite a while. On a whim, we asked him if we were on the correct road to Goa. He said we were on the correct road to Ratnagiri.

Whatever else Ashish, Ketan or I may be, we are not particularly slow in the head. If you look at the road map of Western Maharashtra, the road to Goa follows South from Kolhapur. We had been earnestly riding West. Even then, realising what had happened, we did not grasp the enormity of the distance that lay ahead. What we did was turn around, take the other road from the fork & hoped for the best. It was around 5:00 pm & the sun descended ever so slowly but surely toward the hills. Even as we rode on, we tracked it's position because one thought reverberated at the back of our minds - that we had been warned not to ride on the highways at night.

I could feel the urgency that had crept stealthily into our riding. We rode faster & a tad recklessly, all the while aware that dusk approached. Time & again, we calculated what our average speed had been, reassuring ourselves that we did not have to ride for much longer.

At twilight hour, in deepening gloom, 3 steadily tiring men on 2 motorcycles careened past a green signboard, looking out for one name. It said:

PANJIM - 350 km

Night fell.

Song for the moment: Highway Star - Deep Purple


Ashish said...

Building it up well, aren't we? :)

Piggy Little said...

although i do feel your plight ALSO. ;-)

girish said...

@ ashish - danke!

@ neha - Right. Your sympathy comes across clearly despite your amusement :P