Date: 28th August 2012
2nd Lap: Raipur-Nagpur-Amravati (500km approx.)
Glitch in Clutch
The night went fine on a very comfortable bed with no mosquitos to bother me dreaming the roads and the destinations. It was 6:40am and everybody else was sleeping peacefully. It was easy to wake Rahul up for he is absolutely punctual so he was already awake and waiting for me to be up. He told me that it would take only 30 minutes for him to get ready and prepare a cup of coffee for us. I started packing and finally getting ready. It was already 7:30am now. I was anxious to start as I wanted to reach to the Lonar lake and explore it a bit before going any further. By the time I was done with my packing, another roommate of Rahul came back from his home. He was surprised to know that I rode down to Raipur from Jamshedpur and still have to reach Mumbai. Nothing new for me.
After a cup of coffee and few photos, we started at 8:00am, our first destination was a petrol pump where I was to pack fuel in all the three (tank and two Jerricans). Fueling done promptly and we sat beside the main crossroad to have a quick breakfast of ‘MeduVada’ for me and ‘Sambhar-Idli’ for Rahul. I called my friends and told them that in 30 minutes I would start off from Raipur.
My Nokia slipped off my hand and dropped straight into the Sambhar left in the plate of the ‘Medu Vada’ I just had. I picked it up and washed it off with water before removing the battery and sim-card from it, to wipe it dry. The HTC Wildfire Smartphone that I got repaired last year, was not working properly either. Hence, I had to borrow Rahul’s phone and call Sagar, our common friend from Initiatives of Change (MRA) who was to host me at his place in Ahmadnagar and my very close friend Nisha who was the manager of my road trip, keeping a check on my whereabouts (Very Important Task).
It was time now, I had to repack my tank bag and commence the ride when the owner of the small snack stall where we just had our breakfast asked curiously;
Gaadi mein kya laada hai sahab? (What have you packed in the vehicle, sir?)
Kahan se aa rahe ho? (Where are you coming from?)
Kahan jaaoge? (Where are you going?)
The answers were simple and easy for me to give but very complex for them or anyone to understand. I left both the husband-wife duo in utter disbelief and hugged Rahul before kicking my babe to roaring life.
It was 9:00am and the sun was already up and the weather was dry. Perfect for riding but only for the next 20km or so, after which it drizzled all the way till Nagpur. This made my 300km long distance from Raipur to Nagpur a rain drenched experience to my boxer’s final layers. It costed me the time as well, since part of the road were excellently built that if a big vehicle running at 80kph would break 20 meters behind me, it would definitely hit me because the roads were slippery now. Moreover, it was not easy for me to do even a 60kph on that road.
65km before Nagpur was Bhandara, where a dear old friend of mine from the IofC stays with his wife and parents. I met him on my 10k return ride last year and the entire family wanted me to stay back for the day. While crossing the river after the city I could see the alley to his home, but I didn’t go since I knew I could not say no this time if they would insist me to stay back. The camera pouch or the ‘Man-Purse’ as my friends call it, is gifted by Sonu and his wife, which has come very handy through all my trips. The evening has set in by the time I crossed the river and I had to continue as the need to reach the destination within the designated time frame was a necessity in such a bad weather.
10km before entering Nagpur the roads were broken and had multiple water filled potholes, which made my riding pace further slow. I stopped before the main highway flyover to ask for directions towards Lonar Lake via Wardha. That was the route, which I took last year to get myself back home from Ahamadnagar.The cops on the road gave me directions but I thought, lets cross through Nagpur street and halt at Akola as it was already 5:00pm. I crossed the main town and was about to make an exit when the clutch went free. So no clutch grip, no gear shift, and no gear shift, no movement or acceleration.
I had to find a bullet mechanic. I found one just 500 meters away from the main road where I had trouble with the clutching. I would still be looking for the exact directions to the mechanic’s garage, if only a middle aged gentleman would not have escorted me straight to the former. It was a relief to see a full fledged Bullet garage run by a young man. After we got into conversation, I learnt that this guy went for almost all the Rider-Mania organized by the local clubs across India. He has been to Kolkata as well. To top everything off, he let me have a word with Anukaran Singh of Nagpur Bullet Club as well. A fellow rider whom I was suppose to meet last year but couldn’t because he was in North India doing some photo-shoots. This time, it was a short notice.
I called another friend of Initiaves of Change who promptly came down to meet me within 30 minutes. One does make a few friends for life at this magical place in Panchgani. It was good to meet him and catch up on old times. He took me to the shop from where I bought a fresh pair of rain-coat as the previous ones were completely torn so I had to dump them on the very first day. Bless the red-oxide of Jharkhand-Orissa iron-ore mines. The mechanic fixed the glitch in the clutch assembly and aligned everything necessary on my babe. However, as everything took a lot of time, so I though it to be a better option if I manage myself till Amravati and halt there for the night. This would shorten my distance to Ahmadnagar and maybe the next day I can check out the Lonar lake, even for a short while, but I may just be able to visit and take few shots with my point & shoot.
By 6:30pm all was set and it took me another 30 minutes to get out of Nagpur. It was already dark by 7:00pm and I was still in a mindset to reach Akola so the distance be covered and the Lonar Lake be visited with a good time at my disposal. At 9:00 I saw a quite Dhaba and rode right to their kitchen area on my babe to ask them if they can cook Rotis and Scrambled Eggs, it was an affirmative. It took me less than a minute to put my babe on her main stand and get myself comfortable on a ‘Khatiya.’ First came a huge glass of water then the plates and then the question;
Sa’ab, kahan jaa rahe ho? (Where are you headed to, Sir?)
Mumbai. A one word answer to their first question.
Kahan se aa rahe ho? (Where are you coming from?) The second most anticipated question to follow the answer of the first most common question by a curious onlooker.
Jamshedpur. Here I wait to observe the expression of shock on the face of the inquisitor and trust me you, it’s a very pleasant and funny sight to witness.
Itni dur se! Is pe? Akele? (Such a distance! On this? Alone?) Well that’s what one gets to hear in India when they are riding long distance alone, on a motorbike.
Right then the police came in their patrolling vehicle to the Dhaba, they saw me and looked at the owner of the establishment who was still stunned to know from where I was coming from. The incharge of the team came next to me, I looked at him and as usual he asked me in a very rude tone (they all do it in order to inhibited you);
Kaun hai? Kahan se aa raha hai? Gaadi mein kya hai? (Who are you? Where are you coming from? What’s in the luggage?) Pretty obvious question. I looked at him silently and indicated him to have a seat. He reluctantly sat, after which I asked the owner of the Dhaba;
Sirji aur bhaiyon ke liye roti-shoti lagao! (Arrange dinner for the bretherens.) The incharge hesitantly asked now, in a much lower and amicable tone.
Aap army se ho? (Are you from the Army?) This question reminded me of the two Army men and one Airforce Piolet I met last year on my way to Leh. I looked at him, smiled and asked.
Aas paas Army ka koi camp hai? Mujhe raat ko rukna hai? (Is there any army cantonment nearby, I need to make an overnight stay.) Now he was intimidated by me. I apologize to my Army brethren for using their influence but then it is a fact that any daredevil act done by someone is considered to be an army man. He was very uncomfortable by now and said;
Yahan to koi nahin hai, Amrawati bas 20km door hai, wahan aapko hotel mil jaayega. (There is no army cantonment nearby, but Amravati is 20km away from here, you will find a hotel there for lodging.) By then I finished my dinner and paid the owner.
Hmmm… abhi neend to aa rahi hai mujhe, chalo thane, wahin lockup mein need poori kar lunga mein fir kal subeh aage bad jaaunga. (Let’s go to the police station, I am feeling very sleepy so I would spend the night in the lockup and would push off tomorrow.) This statement spooked him, a young army man (supposedly) wishing to spend his night in the police lockup because he is feeling sleepy is something these police men would have never thought of.
Are nahin sahab, aap jawan ho, aap aram se pahunch jaaoge Amaravati, accha sa room le ke ruk jaana, kyun maccharon ke saath raat guzarana chahte ho? (Let it be sir, you are young, you can make it to Amravati easily. Take a good room and stay there for the night. Why do you wish to spend the night with the mosquitos?) He was very apprehensive to even stay there anymore as I was just clinging to him for the night halt.
Thik se jaana aap. Hum chalte hain! (Safe journey, we shall make a move now.) And these police man ran away as if I would feast on their blood that night.
Anyway, I got into my riding gear and rode ahead when I found a huge Dhaba beside the road. I stopped a few meters ahead of it and walked back after putting my babe on her side stand. There was an old man, I asked him if I could spend the night there.
Humare yahan beechona nahin hai. (We don’t have any bedding.) He said.
Mere paas hai, mujhe sirf sone ki jageh chahiye. (I have my own bedding, all I need is a place to sleep.) I answered.
Aap army wale ho? (Are you from the army.) His first question.
Nahin, mein ek writer hun. (No, I am a writer.) For the first time in the entire trip I gave my real profession.
Aap aage dekh lo, humare yahan jageh nahin hai. (Look ahead for shelter, we don’t have any place.) He exclaimed.
Wow! As long as I pretend to be an army man, all the respect and charity is offered, the moment my profession changes, I am no one. Hats off to the Indian Army for their courage and reputation. I had to ride on to Amravati now since I already made up my mind to stay back in Amravati. At 9:40pm I reached the spot where one road was going towards the Amravati city while the straight highway would have led me to Akola, my heart was persuading me to ride towards Akola while my head and body were telling me to make a night halt at Amravati. Logic prevailed and the bullet turned towards the city, the street was deserted and empty at 10:00pm when I saw a boy winding up his shop beside the road. On questioning about the hotels for the night stay, he directed me straight towards the city and asked;
Aap Army se ho? (Are you from Army?) This is a common question I come across, yes Indian Army is among the top best military forces of the world and it would be a matter of honor for me to be a part of it, but unfortunately it is not so. Hence, I smiled in reciprocation and he smiled back at me, it seems he was assured of my positive credentials even whilst my face was covered with a Balaclava and only my eyes were visible. I moved ahead
Hence, by night 10:30pm I was looking for a descent and affordable room for the night. It would be just 500km to Sagar’s home with a short trip to Lonar lake from the heart of Amravati in the morning. Bless the guards at the ATM machine counters at night, they guided me well enough to find a good hotel in a very quiet corner of the town that gave me an entire garage to park my babe without being worried about the rain or thieves to plunder my belongings loaded on her. The room was huge and the adjacent washroom was bigger. I took my time taking a shower and cleaning my stuff as the checkout timing was at 12 noon, so I was relaxed.
The bed sheets were white and there was a television and a water cooler so few of the things, which were wet because of the rain could dry by morning if I put them right on the way of the wind blown by the water cooler’s fan. My night could have been more adventures if that policeman wouldn’t be so apprehensive to host me in his police station’s lockup. But no complaints when I am in a room for the night that is worth INR350 only. One last thing was to be done, get in touch with my manager Nisha and let her know my whereabouts so I logged into my Acer Netbook with the MTS Blaze net-dongle and found her over the Gtalk. She was relieved to know that I found a place for the night and the next morning she was to inform Sagar about my arrival.
All done for the day, a goodnight sleep commenced at 12:00am!