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Ride to Be a Content Writer- Jamshedpur to Mumbai (1,900km +) Day 1


Right Before The Start-At Jamshedpur

July 17th 2012, has been the most anticipated dates of my life since past two years as none of these previous years missed to bring forth something that wasn’t a landmark day of my life. I got my job offer confirmed to work in an IT firm as a content writer and I chose to ride down to Mumbai to join the office on my 1968 makes 350cc STD Royal Enfield Bullet. My father was a bit stressed as according to him it was not at all a good idea to ride down when I had only 3 days to cover more than 1900km (official map distance), with just three additional buffer days in hand. Well, well; I was to realize that fact in the very first 200km’s from my home in the Saranda Jungles.

So after winding up a lot many things and preparing for the ride on a very tight budget with just the necessary bunch of things, which I would be needing on the way and after reaching Mumbai, I declared the day of starting my ride to be 26th August, 2012.

Date: 26th August 2012
1st Lap Jamshedpur-Chaibasa-Noamundi-Badajamda-Badbil-Joda-Koira-Tensa-Lahunipada-Barkot-Kalamati-Deogarh-Kopasira-Sambalpur (500Km approx.)
Start: 7:00am
Halt: 10:00pm

All the things were settled by 6:00 in the morning when Praco came down to see me off (this guy has been at my place to see me off for all my major rides since 10k-Ride last year!) I got into my riding gear and asked him to take some snaps of me, he obliged and took a couple from my Penasonic TZ10 Point & Shoot. I rode off exactly at 7am and crossed the Kadma-Adityapur Tollgate within 15 minutes and reached Chaibasa through Adityapur-Gamharia within next one and a half hour. It was time to take a little break so I had the famous “Gulgula” of Chaibasa with some tea for breakfast.

En-route NoamundiFrom Chaibasa I moved ahead to Noamundi on the famous Chaibasa-Megahatuburu road that was responsible for the fall of state government. 8 years ago if I would have come down on the same road with the same load on my bullet, it would have been a disaster.

The road is the finest now, even if it’s in the iron-ore mining zone it is one of the best roads of Jharkhand where a two-seater aircraft can land without any difficulty but only in the day. I stopped on the way and had some water while few bicycle riding students gathered at some distance to gaze over me and my babe. This time I started and crossed Noamundi township where I started my career right after my college as a mineral trader and transporter. I reached Badajamda, Orissa and entered Badbil through the interstate check-post of Jharkhand-Orissa. Now the roads were bumpy and 6-wheeler trucks loaded with iron-ore were driving in a very unsafe manner all around. Scary but never mind if you are on a Bullet, everybody makes way for you.

Till the outskirts of Joda, Orissa I was sure of the route but then I had to ask the truck-drivers for the direction to Barkot, which would be 150km from Joda on NH6. The truck-drivers were amused to know that I was riding down to Mumbai on my Bullet (very common emotion!) I took a turn on the small road that led me through the hilly township of ‘Tensa’ where the Narayanposhi and Koira Iron-Ore mines are situated. Tensa is a small township in the middle of lush green jungle that is closer to proper civilization with a SAIL (Steel Authority of India Ltd.) colony. You must be thinking it was all easy from that turn, no; not at all. First I came across a small airstrip and stopped to take some photos of it (indulging in illegal photography) and when I started, it poured from heaven. After the rain ceased I continued feeling all good that I’ll be riding in cooler weather without any further disturbance as the sky was clear. Little did I expect that I would be about to get the same experience I had at Leh a year ago but with wet soil rich in red oxide.

Red Airstrip

10Km from the air-strip I passed beside the first iron-ore mine, now the zone of red wet-slippery broken road commenced that was to make a good troublesome experience for me. The rain has already filled every pothole on that broken road and because of the iron-ore fines the path was absolutely slippery. Time and again I had to go through knee deep potholes, which turned my shoes and jeans completely red. Fun, it was until a truck loaded with mineral, braked some 10 meters ahead of me and slipped towards me. Fortunately it stopped but not before it kissed the right side of my babe’s leg-guard, I fell. That was the first fall to put the stamp of the Koira mine zone on me. I managed to get up with the help of the driver and his helper, kicked, climbed, rode. A few minutes later I was in the middle of nowhere, a tribal hamlet where the road was non-existent and red mud spattered everywhere. A thought flashed in my mind, DAMN; what if I fall here?

Next thing I knew, I was in the middle of the muddy road, on my left side with the engine still running; it took me a moment to slip out beneath my babe and get up. The left side of my jeans and rain coat was was all red, so was part of my helmet and riding gloves (courtsey of Arun). However, the knee guards (courtesy of Mad Teddy) and the body armour saved me from any abbrassion but not from the sticky red mud. sing 2 liters of precious drinking water, I cleaned myself partially. Settled and kick started to continue. BANG!!! This time I fell on my right side. Two falls within a meter and in 5 minutes, this called for a little break. There was a small hut where a Ho (that’s a tribe from Kolhan region) woman had her tea stall, she was kind to show me the way to backyard where they had a drum full of water so I may clean myself properly. Clean, clean, all cleaned but still feeling dirty because of the wet cloths drenched in fines.

After many falls, we both took a break beside that red-road.

After a cup of hot tea, I kicked but she won’t start, I sat and rolled her on a slope with sudden gear change in an anticipation that she would start. She didn’t, it was a matter of fuel overflow in the combustion chamber while she was down. I had to pump-kick her for half an hour to clear that extra fuel from the chamber. She started and voila. I was happily on my way. Though the worse was still ahead, Tensa; the township was still 10 Km ahead and there were no more roads but just the leftovers with large rocks and tracks for water to flow. It was the same situation as it is always in Leh but here it was all RED. I somehow managed to cross the path and reach the township. The moment i crossed the Tensa SAIL Guest-House, the road was smooth as silk with multiple hairpin bends. The surface was excellent but the traction of my tyres was gone because the mud was wrapped all around it. I stopped and cleared it with a screw-driver.

This particular path till Barkot was all green with paddy fields on both sides of the roads. It didn’t take me long to reach on NH6 from where I proceeded in  a haste to Raipur, Chattisgarh where I was supposed to halt at Rahul’s place. An old friend from IofC Panchgani/Jamshedpur. However, it was already 1:00 noon and I was hungry like hell. I decided to cross the first town and then stop on the road side Dhaba. A decently clean Dhaba with less people in the day time is my favorite eating joint, as not many people stare at me or my babe, while I am on a road trip. One that would serve hot scrambled eggs with some steaming rotis was indeed a heavy task, for I found one after asking at least a dozen road side hotels. At 2:00pm having my favorite food for lunch on the highway was a bliss after that gruelling 300km of wet red terrain.

Decorated in red, she looks gorgeous!!!

Here for the first time in the whole day, I was gazing at my babe who was standing tall with the same regalia, which I always admired. Although she was covered in red but she was looking akin to a victorious athlete who finished the marathon. The owner and the staff were bit amused to see me and my babe, they were curious. They asked me tonnes of question and were flabbergasted when I answered them about the mileage.
“Kitna deti hai?” (How much mileage does she give?)
“Zayada nahin. (Not much!)
“Fir bhi kitna?” (Still, how much?)
“Itna sara load le ke highway pe 48-52 de diti hai.” (With this kind of cargo and me on her, she gives around 48-52Km/Litre)

That shocked everyone in disbelief, even you I guess. There is no magic to how I get this kind of mileage from a 350cc engine, which is almost 45 years old. It’s just the way I ride it. After lunch I hurried but 110Km before Sambalpur my front tyre was punctured; fortunately. It was good in way because it was already dusk and there were few shops that were open around the area where the tyre deflated. The nearby shopkeeper was very kind to help me out by giving me a lift to the puncture repair guy on his motorcycle. he even brought me back straight to my babe. I aligned the tyre and rode back to his shop to have some snacks and chat. It was 7:00pm by now, there was no way I could have made to Raipur before 3 in the morning with sufficient breaks and safe riding. The shopkeeper suggested me to put up at Sambalpur on some roadside hotel or lodge. That would be convenient too, for I needed to get out of those clothes and take a shower.

It took me 3 hours to reach Sambalpur for I didn’t want to get into any more mess as I already had a fair share of it. Right before Sambalpur city bypass I met this young man who directed me to a nice lodge, which was not so nice. The lodge was beside the highway so it was ideal for my night stay and early morning departure. The only available room was tagged for INR500 but it was dripping with wet floor so a bargain made the charges down to INR 250 with a parking space inside the premises. What else would a rider in red from red oxide could possibly want. Dinner was overdue, so ordering it to be delivered in my room was more appropriate rather than wasting time in bathing, getting ready and then going out myself for meals. The staff were prompt to get my order and perhaps they have some sort of image of the men like me that  they brought me something more.

My jeans covered in red-oxide!

Jeans in red-oxide!

It took me less than 5 minutes to get out of my cloths and get under the shower. I cleaned my clothes superficially so they may dry enough by morning that I would wear them comfortably and ride. Rest of the moisture would be gone with the wind (reminds me of the famous novel.) While I was busy hanging my cloths on the clean bungee cords the door bell rang. Dinner!!! I jumped to the door and the staff brought in hot rotis and scrambled eggs. I know, I know what you must be thinking, but I can’t help it, those are my favorite. The staff wanted to say something very reluctantly, it was a desire for a little tip may be, so there went a stripe of INR10 to him for tip. He was a happy boy but he was still there so I had to say;
“Aadhe ghante mein aana, aur saaf kar dena.” (Come back in half an hour and clean up the table.)
“Thik hai, aapke liye special intazaam kar dein?” (Alright, shall a special arrangement be done for you?)
“Jo bhi hai, saath lete aana, par accha nahin hua to maar khaayega mere se.” (Bring forth whatever you have but mind you, if its not good you are going to get bashed up by me.)
Though the boy was a bit frightened, he got my point very well.

Dinner was delicious and ample for me. Exactly in half an hour the bell rang and since it was kept open by me on purpose so I don’t have to bother opening it again and get disturbed, I shouted;
“Andar aa ja aur saaf kar de.” (Come in and clean the mess.)
So the boy came in and cleaned the table and went out. The door was opened again and the boy walked in and stood for another tip. I was a bit annoyed but the boy really did everything promptly so I pulled out another ten from the pocket and turned to give him a tip.

Petrified with surprise, yes, that’s what happened with me. It was a young lady standing in my room and it was just the two of us. Seeing a ten in my hand she smiled and said;
“Itne se nahin hoga, mein to poore 500 lungi.” (This won’t do, I would take INR500.)
Awstruck, my brain started running faster than any moment it may have in the whole day.
“Tu galat jageh aa gayi hai ladki.” (You have come in the wrong room girl.)
“Arre ladke ne bola ki tum ko raat ko chahiye. Ab to mujhe bhi chahiye. Accha lagega to paisa dena nahin to koi baat nahin.” (The boy told me that you need company at night. Even, I need one. Pay only if you like otherwise I don’t mind.)
She was getting on my nerve, moreover; the situation required an immediate action. Without uttering one word I went to the door and opened it wide for her to leave. She was smart, she left and I breathed again.

What a day!!!

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Categories: Ride To Be A Writer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ride to Be a Content Writer- Jamshedpur to Mumbai (1,900km +) Day 2

Date: 27th August 2012
2nd Lap: Sambalpur- Bargarh-Patewa-Raipur (300Km approx.)
Start: 01:00am
Halt: 08:00pm

Mahanadi!

Waking up 7:00am in a room that has its roof dripping on one side and wet floor beneath your bed is not a pleasant sight, first thing in the morning. But did I have any option the previous night, when I was red, wet, dirty, tired and hungry? I don’t think so! To top everything off, the hooker who was ready to jump on me the instance I would have said yes, was definitely a very scary situation that I didn’t want to think about. Today I wanted to go as far as possible but then why not go and stay with Rahul for the night as I told him last year itself that if I would cross Raipur in any of my road-trip, I would stay at his place for at least a night.

I know, I know, you must be thinking that this man woke up at 7:00 and left at 1:00 in the noon, what was I busy with for so long??

“Hell!!! I have to pack up, load and move, better get going Raj!”

That was what went into my mind after I decided that I am going to see Rahul and spend the night at his place in Raipur.

At night I didn’t wash my jeans though but just beat off the dried mud off it, which left it with a very powder like a coat of soil that would not go even if I gave it to the dry cleaners. Spoiling the other jeans was not an option, so packing it up was the first thing to be done along with the other red oxide laundry. Packing done, riding gear ready, time to load and roll. I called the attendant, the boy was a bit more scared than last night.

“The hooker must have bashed him up for making her night have a bad deal,” I thought to myself.

The boy took the bags and I walked behind him with my helmet and other accessories, which I didn’t want to carry down with me on my own with the other things that were up in my room. He carefully kept all my stuff on the table next to my babe, and stood silently for my next command may be. I told him to go and he shall be called if so required. The boy walked off quietly. It was time for me to load up all the things and then get dressed and get going to have lunch with Rahul. It was already 8:30.

All loaded, covered and tied up to perfection. I turned and went up to my room, there was still a little packing to be done after finally freshing up; one last time. All small things that could have fitted in my tank bag were settled, the camera pouch was to be worn at the end. Since the jeans was already packed so the knee-guards would be going over my bare knees and shin. Yes, me in my boxers wearing knee-guards and the track-pants made by thin parachute material to protect my skin from the extremities of weather. The expandable T-shirt was the only linen beneath the body armor I was to put and over that it was the red old hoodie. The rain-pants were resting in peace, in the garbage bin for they were torn and dirty to be of any use, anymore.

So Raj all loaded to roll, went out the room, locked and down at the parking lot. I pulled the babe off her main stand and out under the open sky. The best start of the day, the front tyre was again inflated. There was definitely something wrong because the previous day the same tyre was inflated and repaired. No other option but to detach the tyre and get it fixed. I got my tool-kit out and removed the tyre promptly. The shop that fixes punctured tyres is at a walking distance, that’s what the boy at the hotel reception told me. Walking distance my @$$, it was a good long stretch of a kilometer. The repair guy was amused to see me there, maybe it was my attire. We removed the tyre from the wheel and pulled out the tube, the tube was old and would not run anymore for long. He suggested that we replace the tube with a fresh one. There was a shop nearby, which kept tyres and tubes on the way whilst I rolled the tyre to the repair shop. Immediately went and bought a tube and voila, 15 minutes and the replacement is done, old tube is fixed for spare usage, if so required.

Already 11:30am but going back to the lodge was very fun as there won’t be a flat tyre anymore, on its own. Little did I anticipate what was awaiting right next to my babe. Reached, fixed, checked and confirmed the fitting of the screw on every bolt that kept the apparatus in its place. Can’t take a chance on the open highway. Time to wash my dirty hands and rinse my face before I put on the balaclava and helmet to leave. I looked around and no one was there, yelling at these scenes help.

“Koi hai kya?” (Someone there?)
“Jee sahab!” (yes, sir!)
The hooker from last night, but in far sober cloths than the night. I was taken aback, what is she doing here?
“Kya chahiye saahab?” (What do you want, Sir?)
“Haanth-munh dhona hai. Paani chahiye.” (I need to water to freshen up.)
“Aaiye sahab.” (Please follow me, Sir)
Reluctantly I followed her. She led me to another corner of the lodge where a bucket full of water and a mug was kept, a tidy corner to be precise. She filled the mug with water and gestured me to come forward and take her help. It was cold, very cold water but refreshing. I thanked her and she  just smiled and said;
“Aap acche aadmi hain sahab.” (You are a good man.)
That was a compliment I heard after a very long time. I smiled in reciprocation and walked back to my babe. Got ready and rode out, she shouted;
“Thik se jana saheb.” (Go safely.)

Boarder check-post of Orissa – Chattisgarh

The Barren Land and my Babe!

For the first 200km I rode without taking a break and halted right 100km before Raipur to take a little break and let some blood flow through my sore buttocks. I called Rahul and told him that it will take me another 3 hours to reach. The landscape around me was barren fields, nothing was sown there to reap. Pity, such huge chunk of land and no agricultural activities, but that has to be due to the apathy of the government. The break was over and I continued towards Raipur till someone in an old Ambassador car didn’t overtake me to slow me down. I stopped and they indicated towards the rear of my babe. I looked and noticed that my umbrella was almost at the point from where it could have dropped off the edge without even making a noise. I smiled and waved at them, and they did they same before accelerating away.

Tha Mall on Highway!

Photo Courtesy: Rahul Khan

Photo Courtsey: Rahul Khan

At 8:00pm I reached to the largest mall right before Raipur where Rahul asked me to reach and call him. I reached and called him, and he was fast to ride down to the mall within 5 minutes. This guy is punctual all the time, every time. He came and was astonished to see the way I appeared in real on the babe. Till now he only saw the pictures. He asked me if I would like to eat first and then go home or go home, freshen up and then come for dinner. No more rides for me that day so I took the first offer. We rode to the nearby Dhaba, an ordered the fine delicacy made of cheese and potatoes. It really felt good to be with a friend over a meal in a long lonely ride.

Dinner with Khan-Rahul Khan

Delicious Dinner!!!

Zeera Soda

After dinner we rode straight to him place, a nice 2 bed-room, 1 sitting-room, kitchen, covered garage area but bit far from the highway. Never mind all that, I was at my friend’s place who is more like my own brother. I parked the babe and removed only those things, which were necessary for the night. Rahul’s room mates were very kind to let me into their shared house and stay for the night. Once inside and done with my shower, we chatted till 1 in the night before we all went to sleep.

I really appreciate Rahul for coming to receive me and hosting me at his place. His roomies are no doubt, excellent. However, I should have stayed a bit longer in Sambalpur and chatted with the young lady (won’t call her a hooker anymore) to know the side of her story, which seemed way too different than the previous night.

A very friendly fruitful day went by but a long ride was still ahead in a couple of hours.

Categories: Ride To Be A Writer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ride to Be a Content Writer- Jamshedpur to Mumbai (1,900km +) Day 3

Date: 28th August 2012
2nd Lap: Raipur-Nagpur-Amravati (500km approx.)
Start: 08:00am
Halt: 11:00pm

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.

Both of us in front of Rahul’s house!

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.

Chinese stall serving us south Indian delicacies

Rahul having Idlis

My Favorite Medu-Vada in Sambhar!

Disaster struck…
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.

A little dry to rest on the way!

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.

Perfect room for the night!

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!

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