Everything seemed ideal at the start of my journey from Allahabad to Mumbai. I had skins to comfort me in the hostile winters of the three states I would ride; his backpack hung happily on the left side and most importantly, the sound of Kartoos (my motorcycle) was horribly hungry, impatient to swallow the 1400km. I was excited and excited about the solo trip. I’ve always loved riding alone because it gave me the freedom to stop anywhere, light a cigarette and look around.
The first day of my trip was traditional as I started at 1 pm and expected to reach Jabalpur at 8 pm and take shelter in a hotel. It was not easy to cover 400 hundred km in 8 hours. Road conditions and other drivers such as drunk and sleepy truck drivers make the transition very challenging.
After leaving the borders of Allahabad, I entered the terrible region of Reva, which I call the Red City. Red soil flying off the ground creates blinding layers of dust. The roads are completely torn by numerous ‘dinoholes’. Definitely the most dangerous road I’ve ridden in my 15 years of riding experience; While it took me 3 hours to go over 25km, my knuckles were aching with pain to manage the clutch of a 500cc engine and balance the 200kg meteoric machine. Oddly enough, this town’s red seems chillingly synonymous with its bloody past. TRUE; It is rated as one of the most violent in Uttar Pradesh. Anyway, I reached Jabalpur around 9pm and took shelter in a hotel on Russell Street, but nobody knew who Russell was.
The second day started early and I left the hotel around 5 am with the intention of fast crossing the 250 km between Jabalpur and Nagpur. The roads connecting the two cities and the two states can also be used as a runway for private jets, as they are an attractive width for 25 km, leaving no trace of human presence. It opened up my throttle and I had some serious fun at this stretch.
Traveling 250 km in 3 hours should confirm this statement. But soon it would all end like a bubble burst.
When I entered Maharashtra it rained and it surprised me. As it didn’t rain in November, keeping me busy hoping the rain would stop soon, I tried to stay calm for the first few minutes and was indifferent to the scary thought of driving in the rain.
Seeing no diminution in his determination to deprive me of my riding rights, I stepped aside and lit a cigarette this time, not to look inside or open any imaginary windows of my mind, but to console my now anxious nerves. I decided to have a cup of tea and thought of strategies to deal with the beautiful enemy. By now I was completely wet and the cold rains had done what it could; I was starting to freeze. Sitting on the cot at a dhaba in the Nagpur district, I started calculating the pros and cons of riding more; I’ve come to some depressing conclusions.
Rains make roads wet and slippery, which impedes the speed of a motor bike, and things get worse as the human body is directly exposed to the lashes. This meant that I would suffer excruciating body pain over the next few hours. Wet glasses blur the vision, and my comfortable glasses had no vipers and I had to get rid of them, which made my eyes sore. In addition, all these rains create a deceptive environment for both drivers and drivers.
As a result, I had my first nervous breakdown after calculating the lightning bolt of these plagues that would unleash upon me if the rains did not prevent it.
Finding no solution to these dreadful problems, I got back in the saddle and started riding again. Meanwhile, my efforts to find a wind swindler continued; Surprisingly, I couldn’t find one in the right sizes until I reached Nasik (600km from Nagpur).
As expected, speed was significantly reduced due to wet roads and rains that impair visibility. I continued driving in wet clothes and boots for another eight hours, with frequent stops at the highway dhabas. It had become a tradition to invade dhabas every 50km and almost melt my body while standing close to the tandoori. Thanks to these tandoors, my bones remained usable for the second 12-hour rain drive.
I have witnessed about 8 to 10 accidents involving vehicles of all shapes and sizes between Nagpur and Mumbai. Most of the accidents were caused by unpredictable rains and overwhelmed road conditions.
At least 50% of the highway from Allahabad to Mumbai is being overhauled according to the Golden Four plan launched during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister. The Akola highway is also part of this renovation plan; Therefore, intensive work continues to improve these roads. And government workers can use sand, tar, blue metal, etc. He was too busy to realize that building materials were scattered all over the highway and could lead to disaster. The combination of water, pollution, and dust had just been perfected, with tar and blue metal blended with the tops of countless pits. Now it was harder to see and ride.
Sometimes the pits appear shallower than they really are; I underestimated the depth of such a pit. While trying to overtake a truck, I crashed into a very deep truck that gave me wings. I felt the rear tire lift off the ground as the Kartoos’ front suspension got into it.
Despite the lethargy that reigns over one’s mind after a battle, I had developed a habit of always running to the beast and inspecting its wounds before examining mine. In this accident, too, I tried to continue with my own unwritten contract. I ran to Kartoos, picked it up and pushed it to the side of the road and parked it on the center stand. Then I sat with my back against a tree and lit a cigarette. I had multiple small cuts and bruises on my palms and knees, but my right calf was a bit too burnt after contacting Kartoos’ tailpipe.
After the accident, I sat on the side of the road for an hour, rubbing toothpaste on my burnt calf, Kartoos standing in the center stand still looking impregnable, Trucks and ST buses moving at a snail’s pace.
There was no civilization for 100 km. back and forth. I had bruises on my body after the accident, but my mind was almost in the hood. I felt miserable, helpless to reach home and feel the warmth of my cave. I tried to call my loved ones but my cell phone couldn’t find a signal in this God forbid land. Fortunately, Kartoos forgave my insanity and started on the first hit. I had to ignore the bruises, get back in the saddle, and keep riding.
“A journey is like a marriage. The surest way to be wrong is to think you’re in control of it.”
– John Steinbeck.
I continued to drive as darkness covered the land. I was too tired to examine the road I took at 9 in the night; I continued to follow the taillights of ST buses and big Trucks to cover seemingly endless distances. Combination of water, tar, and oil with fragmented paths is lethal. If it weren’t for these larger vehicles, I might not actually be able to reach Mumbai for another 3 days.
That night I regretted being alone for the first time in my life. In these difficult times I was traveling on desolate roads where there was no civilization in which I could find solace; The only objects moving around were nervous vehicles with closed doors.
Thinking about the terrible conditions I was in, I prayed for my life and hoped not to die tonight. There were many possibilities that would play an important role in the fulfillment of this prophecy, such as deep potholes, desolate and slippery roads through virgin forests, drunken truck drivers who didn’t hesitate to run over a motorcyclist, local vagrants giving the driver wings. by driving a lathe into the front tire and then stealing his stuff, maybe his life. What if no one discovered what happened to me.
When these cynical remarks shook my frayed senses, I thought that it would be easier if someone I knew and trusted accompanied me. People always criticized me for being reclusive, eccentric and selfish, and tonight I wished I wasn’t so raw. I rode alone most of the time. Going to the movies and eating out alone; I ignored my friends, my family, God, and regretted it all tonight; When the fear of death took over my mind and loneliness stings me like a poisonous snake, I understood the importance of relationships, friendships, and love.
Then, I immersed myself in the process of answering creative questions why we live together in societies, why do we talk to each other, why do we look at each other, because it is a human desire to be loved and cared for. to be touched, spoken to; It was as if I had finished the true meaning of life.
And while I was contemplating these illuminating results, I saw a sign saying Welcome to Nasik, which meant that my ordeal was almost over.
Being too meticulous about the cleanliness and other amenities of a hotel room was not on my to-do list that night. When I entered Nasik, my task was to seize a warm bed; I drove towards the first hotel that appeared on the horizon. I carefully parked the Kartoos, released the backpack attached to the left side of its rear frame, and occupied the hotel.
An elderly Sikh man in his 60s was sitting at the reception in the dimly lit center of the hall, and a gilded framed photograph of Baba Nanak hung on the wall behind the desk above us all. Trembling like a possessed person, I walked up to him and asked, “Khaat milegi tau?” I asked. He looked at me suspiciously and asked if I had ID, and immediately began blaming the latest bomb blasts for his rude behavior. “Sure,” I said, and bent down to open my wet bag, which had spilled water and wet clothes were hard to hold. As I searched for my wallet, I looked up and saw the old man squinting at me with his shoulders resting on the counter. I did not blame him for this; I actually looked like a fugitive suspect.
Finally I found my wallet and gave my driver’s license to him, he read it thoroughly and called the room service guy Ganesh to take me to my room. I asked permission before lighting a cigarette and waited for Ganesh to come and take me to my room and the cute thing called Bed.
A young boy came immediately and asked if he could lift his backpack for me, I refused and told him to take me to the room right away, which he did; He was smart enough to understand my desperation. We went one floor up and reached the room where I was going to spend the big night. He opened the door and I saw, I felt the holy bed calling out to me with its arms open.
Ganesh asked if I needed anything, when I gave a firm no, I obediently left the room and locked the door. Then I went to sleep after taking a short bath with hot water.
I woke up around 11 am and felt refreshed after a deep and comfortable sleep. I stood in bed with my back against the wall and thought about the things I’ve done and the torture I’ve been through in the last 2 days. I remembered the thoughts that haunted me the night before and how I had endured it; The human will to survive is ambitious. I got up and opened the window pane and fresh breeze filled the room. I looked out the window, there weren’t many vehicles on the street even at this time of day; A public holiday was declared due to the evil rains.
I went out into the street and found a windbreaker that fit me in a clothing store. I cut my bill at the hotel and came to Kartoos. Kartoos stood by me like a true friend throughout all this, I conclude. I swung my right leg, settled into the saddle, and aristocratic exited the city on the road that took me home through the beautiful Kasara ghat. The rains kept on attacking but couldn’t bother me anymore as I told myself and the rains “I’ve had the worst”.
This journey has not only changed the way I think about travel, horseback riding, people, God, love, family, life, death, loneliness, it has also changed me as a person. I continued to laugh at the circumstances, although at times I was frightened and often felt very badly at the agony of the unexpected November rains.
The man who entered Mumbai’s borders on November 16 was not the same as the one who left him 15 days earlier. These were arguably the most complicated days of life.