My Realm

Meet me - know me - read my posts and try to figure me! Well I am someone who is always thirsty for adventure, someone who simply hates playing sheep(u know the types - follow the herd!). An enthusiastic trekker, who loves to travel and ever ready for one of those wierd new found sports- luv to make new friends and njoy being my family's pet :)!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Weekday past 2am... Pashi in town.

Its been a long time since I laughed insane, its been a long time since we all laughed insane and its been even longer since we laughed insane for no reason!

Pashi was in town, and that mandated a meetup. The birthday put me in the host's seat. Picking Andya from his place at ~8:20pm and then Pashi and Nilya driving down to me house had us munching over mouth-watering gulab jamuns and a lot of snacks,mom had prepared, over some hilarious scenes from "The Angrez". Pritam was next on the accused list, many phones and laughs later the car rode us to Pritam's (~10).

Pritam has not changed one bit. Its been ages since I've met him :). Bear hugs and "kya yaar " "kya rao " "hey man" "yoyyoyoyo" 's later, I was commanded to take us to a hotel- where I did not know. Oasis made sense, so on we rode past FC, Ganeshkid to Pashan Road. All sorts of amazing discussions engulfed this leg of the drive. So many catch up's and mises from our void -it was amazing.

Soon we took the Sus left and headed for Chandani Chowk and eventually onto dark-dark :) NDA road. Being a weekday, the couples were missing from nooks and corners- but that's about when we spotted a few and on came the HI-LO beam game. Oasis made its appearance in the dark corner, without a slow-down we took a sharp left down the uneven path to the car-park. "How did we reach so soon?" I thought. It was ~10:40pm.

We picked ourselves a table away from the crowd for the predicted boasts, loud noises, laughter riots and what not- and yes we were true to our word. The drinkers got their vodkas and we non-sinners got ourselves exotic mocktails (names like Namibian Nights, Pink Panther and Fiery Ice makes them sound Exotic!). The waiter asked us to place all orders since the kitchen was to close soon. The discussion went on through all names in the menu card to all confusion over what sort of Rotis to order! Usual confusions later we had some chick dish for starters some veg-platter(that never came) 2 vegs 1 daal a Roti ka Tokri :) and rice. Roti Ka Tokri was the best decision -it had all and no confusion, was filling and bang on.

The discussions soon wavered from serious talk to lighter hickups to mindless rant. Andya kept starring at his glass and kept munching on peanuts, I blast out laughing "You are drunk without a sip man... munching on Peanuts !" "Aye Vindya .. you are drunk without a drink -check your Namibian Night if that had anything .. laughing for no reason!" chuckled Ands. That was enough for the chuckkles to set in -I was getting out of control. Pashi kept patting my back "Controool man.. controol". I don't know, maybe its something about being surrounded by good friends that pushes me way into my comfort zone and go insane... I really don't know.

Then came little stories of how an irritated Anil once shouted to a bystander who was asking for the time in marathi -"Mala Marathi yet Nahi!", we all were in splits. Then came in various stories from all around the place. Anything anybody spoke or even uttered let the loud "HA" with repetitions with a mouth wide open so loud that we had to console ourselves to dimer volumes. Prasad was engaged and the time was 12am -we decided to pick on him.

Pashi did the honours to get snores to breaths and hisses to words -Prasad was awoken:). The round robin had us asking Prasad questions and answers to teases and irritations- what better way to irritate someone in the middle of the night just past commitment to mindless rant and laughter.. that too over phone! Prasad was happy we were all the same and perfectly normal.

Soon the dinner onslaught came to an end after a few more mindless laughs over Andya's new dumb-bells :). Nilya was getting late and was in a hurry. But we had to drop Pashi. The car took the dark NDA road past Sus- past Abhimanshree- past Parihaar- past Breman- past Aundh- to the Khadaki railway crossing where we took our first halt. We had to, the gate was down for a slow goods train to pass us. We imagined the train stopping for us (played Hi-Lo just to add to the giggles). After the long wait the gates eventually opened and got us to the other -uneven Martian surface- side. The road was bad but soon past the Bridge it got wonderful.

Zipping at insane speeds and then taking a central lane we reached Chinchwad. Himesh and many singers kept us company as Nilya and Pritam took turns snoring. Eventually a few turns later we were at Pashi's place- The place where I was once introduced to a "Nirdosh"! Yeah... whatever. Chatted for a few minutes before bidding our farewells back to the doggy streets to the highway. (~1:15).

The road then got us back via Aundh to SB road to FC to drop Pritam at his place. Nilya started getting his calls. Soon we reached home and decided to trail Nilya (he insisted he'd take his scooter back home despite my repeated persuals to drop him by car) all the way to his place at Wanowari(~2am). Andya and me kept discussing -LIFE :), and kept consoling as we trailed onto Wanowari.

Soon we reached Nilya's (2:20am) bid our farewells before zipping back to Andya's place at Sahakar Nagar. Had a lot of mature talk - I guess, its like, when a person gets too sleepy he probably feels he is too wise and.. for a blabberer like me it means I start sharing the wisdom. Hmm. Andya kept saying I made sense- maybe I am good -..... Naaat.

It was past 2:30am when I got home, mom said "So you are back haan..." "Sleep" said dad :).


Sunday, September 21, 2008

The day they saw blunts...

Once upon a time, Avik came by my cubicle and handed over a box to me. It looked different and unlike other boxes. It was a box cigars. Why me!? I do'nt smoke!

Well his philosophy was different, he just wanted to get rid of that box. He probably thought I did not smoke so that box would be preserved for some more time- actually my cube was adjacent to his. Sanjay was dead angry and frustrated with him at the time " विंडी तो पीता नहि है, &%#(% @( उसे काहे दे दिये सिगार? एएए मोटाईमल बताओ तो... सब बरबाद कर दिये।"

Well I managed to keep that 5 pack with me for roughly 3 years now. Nachiket, Piyush, Mandar were amongst the consistently persistent ones for getting their hands on that box. I did not even give them a glimpse of the pack. Maybe I was trying to be a "messenger of good"- thou shalt not drink Cigars :)

One fine day, I was tired of keeping that box and being nagged at all times. Mandar and Piyush were in a discussion -Plop- I tossed the box on the table "ले ऎश कर।". Both of them starred at the box, then at me, then at the box and then at each other -wide eyed. "क्या है ये ?" asked Mandar "सिगार का बो़क्स- क्या बात है विंडी!.. क्या हो गया तेरेको?!" expressed Piyush "रख लो..." I said.

Have you seen a kid(really small.. like say around two) with a packed Birthday parcel, the enthusiasm and eagerness with which it tears open the wrapping and at the end of which it gives the tounge-out smile with saliva bubbles popping off the edges and then goes slap slap over the box. I witnessed a similar but marginally mature behavior that day with two twenty something year old kids :).

The discussion stopped, the outer lamination came off in a jiffy and then rose a sweet aroma- a very familiar distasteful in a way but still a sweet smell. Then out came 5 dark beige-brown-greenish (lets call it the cigar color) cartridges. Each wrapped in it own separate plastic covering. The many years of preservation had taken its toll, the covers clinged to each other and needed an ant effort to get them apart. Piyush and Mandar smiled like they were looking at a stick of Ambrosia. Then came the moment- one Cigar was selected to be peeled off its plastic jacket -off it came as all of us peered down at the cut end to the flakes of dry leaves and twigs (tobacco) stuffed in.

"यार इस्को फ़िल्टर नहि है।" I commented.. "अब्बे, ये सिगार है सिगार ।" both pounded over my sarcastic comment. By now each of us held a cigar in our hand and Vito Corleone and LOIN ( सारा शहर मुझे लोइन के नाम से जांत है। fame) made their spirits felt in no time -all sorts of dialogs from various celluloids and immense know-hows on how to hold and smoke a cigar ensued the next few minutes. Nachiket teamed in.

"ओय होय.. क्या बात है!" Nash was elated. The discussion continued over the Ubuntu screen swirling around from Epanny to Firefox from one Cigar know how to the other. "एक्स्पैरि डेट काकुच पंगा है क्या.. विंडी ने सडा दिया सब सिगारस को। " Piyush barked. I always thought Cigars were like Wine- older the better. Yiekks!

No one bothered about the expiry and decided "पियेंगे यार .. एक दिन शान से". I returned to my cube with one bargained Cigar- afterall a momento was mandated though I never smoked.

The "पियेंगे शान से" day came in a week. The usual post office 7 something O'clock all of us walked down to the 3rd floor terrace with smiles and enthusiasm of little college kids ready to do and dance over something unheard and undiscovered of. We borrowed a cutter to get rid of the blunt end. With the honors done, "बहुत लाइट है रे.. म्म ह्म्म.. इतना मज़्ज़ा नहि है।" "दे तो ज़ारा.. हां.. लैकिन वो मांन्युलि जो सिगार बनाता है, उस्से तो स्ट्रोंग है.." "दिखा तो.. हां, सहि बात है.. लैकिन लाइट हैयार-गुडांन गरम जैसा हि है.. " "बता.. क्या है यार.. कुछ भि नहि, हुक्का इस्से स्ट्रोंग है, ले।" "ओय.. क्या बात है.. .." "चल छोड.. जाता मैं घर, बीवी राह देख रहि है.." "चल बे.. .. .." "मैं फोनकरके आया। " "बस कर, पूरा पियेगा क्या?" ".. .. खत्म करता हूं .. .. .. .. .." "क्या हुवा?" "बुजारहा हुं, नहि होगा, दस बज जयेंगे खत्म करते करते। ".

Back at the cubicle, "चल विंडी... आज से मैंने सिग्ग्रेटस छोड दिये।" blasted Piyush, "और क्या... सिगार चालु कर दिये?" smirked Mandar. "हां..." all laughed. Sorry Avik, your cigars are now in the open :).


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Daaay... Mind it

Our product was being used by an esteemed customer in Chennai and they were facing some problems with the same. Our Sales and Support folks made sure they let us Engineers know the seriousness of the issue. Managers realized the seriousness and asked me to backpack to Chennai. I was apprehensive at first, somehow I never liked the prospect of visiting Chennai.

Its been over 8 years since I visited that part of India. The last time I did it was humid summer but yes did enjoy the visit- visiting relatives, the temples(there is something about visiting 'non-hyped' temples in the south), going around the city etc. but I hated the climate and since I hardly ever speak tamil -had a tough time communicating.

Despite my apprehension, managers and various colleagues managed to lure me to the prospect of the visit stating it would be a great learning curve and others chided me to other obvious know-hows. Well I had to and I did. Dad 'n Mom were elated -their Marathi tounged lad , MBCT (Marathi Born Confused Tamil), was actually traveling to Channai - ALONE!

Armed with a backpack, laptop, lots of sweat and nervousness I took the "Red" flight to Chennai. At first I did not have a clue as to how I was going to solve the customer issue, but had a few tricks in my bag -it was tough depending on those. We flew up above the clouds and back down black clouds as the captain announced "The temperature outside is 30 deg. Cel.". Old memories engulfed me -the humidity, the sweat and white folded veshtis and cycle rickshaws all around. The pink make-up and red lips shone "good bye sir.. have a nice day" as I stepped off the flight.

It was cloudy and not humid, it was warm. Sultan was my buddy cabbie -it took me the entire trip to realize, I actually was an executive! Chennai did not look like Madras, it looked very familiar, it looked very open very ... cosmopolitan. Lungis were replaced by jeans , TVS-50's were replaced by various 4-wheeled drives, little dusty roads were taken over by wonder-full black roads. Chennai looked different. Maybe I am wrong afterall...

The rest of the day was spent with me at the Customer site tackling the issue till late midnight. "Everyone" spoke tamil around me but "we" communicated in English. I understood every word being spoken, and really wanted to jump in with "aaman.. correcttee.. illai " etc., but decided not to -since that's the only tamil I am confident with. On the way back 2 of my colleagues -a tamil and a kerela born tamil- were surprised and floored to learn I was a tamil as well. MBCT- that hardly mattered anymore, it was the 'T' that made the difference :).

With a resolved case, I had the next day all to myself. Ajay was in Chennai- Kodambakkam. I liked the name, asked him to skip office. The ride went via many names, Neelambakkam, Ashok nagar and what not and also a short cut that took us via an army area and a village with a huge suclpture of a king (some deity maybe). Finally we were at Kodambakkam next to a girls college. I did spot old memories here -veshtis and TVS-50s.

Ajay has grown thinner, "Mujhe motta hona hai yaar, bachha hoga to utha kaise paunga .. wo laath marega mein peeche gir jaunga.. dhek mujhe mein office se college, college se school jane ke tayari mein huun:)". Yes we are happy close buddies, had a great time spicing up all sorts of things at his place. For lunch, he took us to a place I always loved for food in Chennai- Sarawanabhavan!

Sarwanabhavan, idlis dossas and loads of sambar and chutney start flying around my head. Sarwanabhavan, make me stand next to a foul garbage bin and I would still smile with the smell of fresh curries and rice dollops in my head. We took inner roads to get to Arkot Road.

I remember this place, I had been to this branch once- its much bigger now. I decided to buy some stuff from the outlet, Mysoor paak and nendranga chips. "Mysoor Paak irukkange?" I asked "Evloo?" she asked.. I got confused- I am bad at numbers in Tamil "kaal kilo" I blurted. Whats kaal kilo!!!? "Paal Mysoor Paakaa? .. Gheeaa?" she asked Ajay "Oye Vindy .. mennu bachao yaar .. gaali derahi hai mennu" reacted Ajay "Ghee Ghee" I intervened. (Kaal kilo is 250gms :) .. mom told me later)

After that, whatever it was- I was out with 2 packets, we had lunch. Decided on having Thaalis, they had many thaali options. I picked the costliest of the lot, Ajay took the next one. The plates were full- I mean they were roughly my forearms length in diameter and full of katooris. ~12 bigger ones took the outer diameter and 7-8 smaller ones covered the inner void - all were full of some curries or the other, many I recognized others I could relate to. Soup, One immeriti (Jangri in Tamil), 1 papad, 1 paratha (I ordered another) and a load full of rice! Ajay and me stared at each other and dug right in. In no time the handkerchiefs were out and we braved the battle. It was a fight to the finish before we ran bash to the wash basin content we were out of the sweet torture! Back at the table there was 1 banana and 1 paan an icecream for me. We forced the stuff down our throats and decided on taking a walk before actually getting back to the car.

Mom, Dad said they wanted some more stuff from the outlet. Bought those -spoke in English this time around. Back at Aj's room we had another great session Jumping and laughing for joy before I bid my farewell as I had a flight to catch.

The ride to the airport, made me wish I could stay longer and spend more time possibly roaming around the city and visiting relatives and also possibly pay a visit to some temple. Alas as the roads kept speeding back and the sign boards for International cargo and airport made their presence, I knew it was the time to say goodbye.

In flight a book that spoke of south cuisines and stuff interested me in particular- maybe its my recent stint at Chennai that got me all mushy about this :). Back in Pune, the cabbie asked me "Tumhche naav Marathi vatat nahi .. pan tumhi spashte marathi kase kay bolta ho??". So yes post trip I realized the MBCT I am -just that it introduced me to the 'T' factor.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Stress ride to Lonavala

Again the trek plan took a hit and had to do something about it. So effectively on Saturday morning Jayram and me met at Chandani Chowk and after a few ideas decided to ride down to Sahara City/Lonavala area via the Mulshi route.

This was one route I had always wanted to do for a long time.

On we rode the smooth roads that led to Pirangoot(~9:30am). The weather was pretty dull with clouds all around but with no trace of humidity. Jay was all attired in his 4500/- armored riding jacket :). Soon we rode past Bhugaon and post a few misses finally synced up near Manas. Riding past Pirangoot Ghat- Pirangoot- Sutarwadi we eventually neared Paud. Decided on taking a breakfast halt past Mulshi at one of the dhabbas. As we rode on the city/town scape was taken over by the rich green landscape. The roads seemed to have been laid through a meadow of wild shrubs. The temperature dipped.

We stopped just before the Mulshi dam road-fork. Jay mentioned of a road that goes by the fork to Lonavala, but we decided to stick to our plan of riding past Tahmini and taking the notorious path to Lonavala. The ride ahead made the distant plateaus and green mountains with clouds perched atop them visible. Soon we were riding along the Mulshi waters. Here we took a break at one of the roadside dhabbas and relished on Pohe and tea. Surprisingly my grumbling tummy seemed content :D. I was ~10:30am.

The ensuing route had me trailing Jay. The water body to the right and plateau for us makes this section of the ride amazing. That's one of the reasons you have so many tourists visit these parts. The scene remained more or less the same with the roads twisting and skirting the Mulshi lake. Roads too were pretty decent. A couple of halts for snaps and we continued on as I loudly hummed tunes from "My Fair Lady " and "Singh Is King !!!!" :)).

Soon we rode past Tahmini village as were headed steady to the distant mountains. A few of them clogged in dense clouds. "Humara rasta wahin se janne walla hai boss" commented Jay. Amazing, we will have rains or so we thought as we neared the point for the Lonavala bifurcation.

The path leading straight goes on to Dongarwadi while the one to the right led to Lonavala and inner Mulshi villages. A group of riders -possibly headed towards Dongarwadi saw us coming and gaped as we took a right and stopped by the bridge. What we saw was nerve wrecking. The "kuccha path" led over a little bridge took a left and climbed over rubble- yes rubble! It looked like a landslide and nothing more or less.

Jay and me exchanged glances and he persuaded me to lead the rest of the path :). Packed with confidence and a cool head we slowly chugged to the landslide. Soon we were over loose stone and gravel. It seemed many heavy vehicles had passed over this terrain as the tyre tracks layed two little compact rubble paths - we rode on those. Slowly bouncing /skidding /jumping /throttling and playing with all sorts of levers we were atop and saw the beautiful landscape spread ahead of us.

To our lucky stars nothing was broken and we rode a little ahead and took a butt break. An S.T. bus rode in the opposite direction and over the rubble as it took a left to get down the landslide! So yes this path is ridable. From here one gets the view of the Plus valley from a different perspective you are standing lateral to the ravine facing a huge rockface of the mountain across the valley. Snaps and laughs later we rode on. The path got from worse to bad to good. The road seemed new, we rode by a Yoga ashram. Soon we took our next immediate halt.

These parts are so beautiful, it s a tough job to get over the temptation for nature-gasping while riding. We got off road over the plateau to a vista point near the valley. This spot was even more amazing. Distant waterfalls over the rockface and dull clouds over the sky simply made this place heavenly. We pondered over how one can get to the mountain across and possibly sit at the mouth of those gushing falls! We had to move and so we did.

The ride went though a jungle and open plains and rode by little water dams as we neared our second bifurcation. The road straight ahead-which was good- led to the village of inner Mulshi while the one to the left went over a bridge and eventually over rubble and sharp stones with loose tyre track paths. We stared at the road ahead shook our heads and took the path. Slips and dances over the vehicle was a norm for this section of the ride. We rode over low-bridges and eventually past little hamlets. Many school children cheered along as we rode down and up various inclines over rubble. The torture seemed endless. In reality it was not that bad - There were a few meters of bad tar roads for every kilometer of rubble :). Eventually the rubble and bad roads gave way to better ones.

We could spot Korigad in the distance and the various neighboring hills. We took a halt by a stream, freshened ourselves in the cool fresh mountain water. The only thing we kept repeating "Arrey kya mast jagah hai yaar ".. "sahi sahi.." .

The ride went went over various water puddles and bad and good roads in patches and soon we were nearing various hills. At one halt we did spot Telbaila engulfed in clouds in a distance and made calculations over where Ghangad and Sudhagad could be. The ride went past some weird mountain formations and soon we could spot Ghangad in a distance. It was barely some 5-6 kms away. For any other given day we would have made a dash for a climb, alas we had to return by evening. The sight was beautiful. Telbaila too made its majestic appearance in the near vicinity. The cattle enjoyed a lazy bath in the near waterlogged farm which spilled water over the roads. Here we rode by some nature eco-tourism site and eventually by the bifurcation that leads to Telbail village.

The road now ascended though a thick jungle and got really bad. Lots of craters and blind turns got us atop the hill as the road got better the path took a downward plunge. The roads were lined with blue flowers -"Karwi"! Atlast we spotted what I really wanted to- the flower that blooms one in 10-12 years! Jay confirmed it was the rare blossom post some close inspections. The place was beautiful and perfect for a long halt - a near gushing stream by an old moss ridden temple, the roads lined with blue bushes and not a hint of daylight down the thick canopy of trees.

The path soon went down the hill and just as immediately we were riding on air! The road was now smooth "Tarmac"! We were nearing the SaharaCity bifurcation . At the bifurcation we took an immediate left and decided on ditching the rich City. Roads were awesome, simply magnificent- a 2 laned well divided road with smooth tar all over. The wheels and engine loved the smooth touch. We did take a halt to click some more "Karwis".

Riding on we got to a major 'Y' bend and post some inquiries for Mulshi took a 'U' bend and rode on. We were returning back via the path Jay mentioned at the start of the trip. The time was near ~12:30. We were without water and our last food was that at Muslhi.

The roads were pretty wide and decent. At one point we did loose track but then rode straight into a "Road closed" gate, the guard there said "This road goes to Sahara city, for Mulshi you need to take this thin one by the side". The thin road was again a kuccha road and ascended alongside the adjacent hillside. At one point Jay pointed to a kuccha path that lead to Tungwadi inwards to the left- the road looked bad. We rode straight on. Enroute we did spot many little tuns that had a "Road Closed" gate - all lead to Sahara City.

At one occasion we did come to a prominent fork and simply decided to follow our instincts and ride straight on. We were not sure where we were headed. The ride went past little make shift looking hamlets with no inhabitants. Maybe these were displaced villages due to the Amby Valley project or possibly the workers for the same I thought.

The ride and road was relentless, simple torture. Our backsides were pleading for mercy. Many an occasion we would stop part way and wonder if the fork we left behind was indeed the correct path. Korigad was now visible from the other side and that confused us further. We did not know what to do and decided to ride on.

At one village, the villagers did confirm the path led to Mulshi. But the path seemed endless,we were continually riding alongside a hill. We took our major butt-break. Jay was frustrated and exhausted over the torment,I decided to ride back a few meters where a couple of bikes were parked, hoping to meet some people - I did! The farmers seated under a tree did say the road led straight and went all the way to Paud Gaon. Joyous and content got back to my compadre who was now off his riding gear and seated on a pile of mud. "Baith ja yaar" he said... :)

So we sat and simply did nothing and in a few moments starting yapping. The clock ticked past 1:30pm. A few moments of rest and assurance that the path did go the right way we dressed back for the ride ahead.

The path now went twisting and twining down as we could spot some major water body to the right. Possibly this was a rivulet from Mulshi we thought. An Endavor trailed us for most of the path and we lost him as soon as path went bang into a village. Riding past, the road widened but was a mostly a mud path as it ascended to another village full of cows.

We skipped the "does this road go to Paud" talk and rode on. Soon we reached a high point and could spot the huge water body in the valley at a distance. Took a halt. We walked over the hillside and were Jumping For Joy, when we realized where we were! We were bang on the opposite side of Mulshi lake. The water body below had various little islands and also a conical island behind which lay "Kailasgad". We were riding along some right track, we assured ourselves as we spread on the green pasture.

The sun was beating down refracting through the grey clouds, we slipped into a peaceful nap for a few minutes. The meadow our bed the light breeze our blanket and the open skies our roof- perfect. In a few minutes a couple of "firangs" dropped by astride bicycles. They were lost and were adventurers. We did help them with a few directions and they kept calculating distances on their GPS system. Bidding our farewells we rode down as it went twisting down below near the waterfront.

Riding over bridges and many bends we started ascending a hill, soon came to a high point where we could spot a dam in the distance -Mulshi dam! We were on the other side of the dam. From here we could see the road as it serpented down the hillside alongside the dam to the Poud road below. We kept laughing aloud as we spotted the Mulshi road, the poud road and the bifurcation near the dam. We were correct and were coming down the very road we had decided in the first place! Perfect.

Soon we rode down various twists and blind bends and over a bridge alongside Mulshi dam, eventually took a left that got us to the point where we contemplating on the road to take many hours back. It was now ~3pm.

We caught hold of a roadside hotel and munched to glory with a few new made four-legged friends. Here Jay displayed his armored handgloves he did not wear the whole ride "Arrey.. I still need to get used to it man!". Preplanned to take a halt at one of the HP petrol pumps near Paud we rode on. Soon we arrived at the pump and fueled in. Post this I decided to take the lead and do something a ride mandates -speed and lean the bend. Pirangoot ghat saw me do that riding at 70+ leaning at the bends I let Jay get ahead post the ghat. The one thing I noted about Jay- he is a rider who exercises utmost caution, and this kept our speeds well within safe limits for all of the ride.

We took our final preplanned halt at Chandani Chowk for tea, where we ended up gulping coffee. The ride was amazing and perfect -adventure to the fullest. We did thank our lucky stars we did not have to face any mechanical or tyre failures. Bid our farewells. No sooner did I get home did I crash to the bed. It was ~4pm.

Late that evening, we office friends did have a family get-together at Chandani Chowk. This time I took my car :)

Jay's version of the story
A few snaps from the ride

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Drenched to the N*&&s

It was a wonderful day, had a beautiful ride on Saturday and here I was all ready to gym on Sunday afternoon. Took the long Sus road and burnt some fat, on the way back at about 5pm I decided to pay Sheetal a visit. Called him to ascertain he was around. He was.

Took the motocross path to reach Sheetal's place. The roads were wet with the recent showers. Had a wonderful time chatting out at Sheetal's place playing with his kid and relished some moth-watering idlis prepared by his wife. The discussion went all the way from good 'ol days to the current maket situation to Tom and Jerry! :D

It was 9pm and I had to return, the lightning bolts with thunder was simply unsettling. It was geting late with the rains picking up every minute. Eventually after checking a few times I decided to ride the rain. Sheetal and his better half persuaded me to wait on for more time, but it simply was too late and the rains too tempting. Accepted Sheetal's wind-sheeter to settle him down and stepped into the shower.

The rain was mild when I left and picked up as the engine roared to life. It gained some momentum as I got onto Aundh road and eventually struck hard at Breman circle. The university road stretch was like riding in an ocean. Water puddles everywhere and the clothes I wore made no sense. The wind-sheeter helped keep the needle drops away while the helmet protected my grey. In a few seconds I was sogging wet. My speed was at 50, the visibility was at a bare minimum with my fogging visor. Up it went. The cool drops kissed my face as it trickled down to wet the foam in the helmet. My eyes sensed the cool water as it itched and burnt my globes to free it of all dirt.

The water pounded against me as the skin shivered helplessly to the lashing streaks. The diminishing vision and the lowering speeds with some chilly gusts striking hard rattling my bike over to the untarred side of the tarmac. The puddles lost my tyres grip as I balanced the monster to the dark waters. Loosing direction and barely missing a tree I was back on the road. The cool -the chill -the shiver -the water seeping deep in my chinos, I was helpless. The wrist gripped the throttle as I hummed a few songs to keep the spirit alive. It helped. The University singnal came close as I rode on to S.B road.

The rains seemed relentless, my body grew warmer. I was sogging wet as I rode the empty stretch. The rains seemed invisible to me, it felt like petals flowing against my direction. The open visor let in the cool breeze as my wet face took every drop to cherish its presence. I looked up and around, the rains were there to stay, I smiled. Started humming some beautiful numbers and aloud at that. It was wonderful, simply seemed great -did not want the moment to end. Then came the signal. Somehow the rains seemed foolish at the signals, came straight and hardly got me wet. Many riders next to me were sogging wet as some shivered, some simply got comfortable with the conditions and others doned raincoats -YUKKKK! Why do you need rain coats ! (I ride wet to office as well man... common... enjoy the rains!).

The ride ahead saw the rains diminishing and eventually to drizzles. It was pretty tough to get off the seat, my clothes were a storage of water and each move got the pool cool touch from the wet fabric. I was back home - the ride had come to an end. Mom, Dad simply shook their heads - "When is this boy ever going to learn!.. atleast pretend!!"

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Ride to bliss..

Being fit and off injuries I really needed to do something over the weekend, the trek that was getting finalized never made it to the fin-ale. That's when Nachya told me of this TP ride to Thoseghar.

Saturday morning Nachiket, Amit, Ankush and me left from the sinhagad phata after the usual delays and troubles. Was there something on at BVP, many cars stopped by asking us for directions... Anyways, a hot cup of tea later astride our bikes we thudded down towards Katraj tunnel.

The weather which seemed to be gloomy in the morning gave way to white clouds and a glowing sun. Why did we get our set of change of clothes?! Old memories from the mega ride took over the senses as we zipped down the road at an average of 80kmph (it was sort of pre-decided -this being a short ride we don't do something stupid). Following lane rules and basic riding sense prevailed throughout the trip. We soon zipped past Natraj hotel and took our first break at the Bharat petrol pump. Nachya's bird started showing signs of the usual oil leak, but all was well and nothing serious. Amit got himself a new CBZ tyre for his Pulsar :-) but kept saying it was not grip-py enough, with a bent frame I fail to understand how can any rear tyre be grip-py. With the bike bellies full, we rode down the stretch of black tarmac.

Here we kept getting our bouts for the need for speed. Amit managed to touch 125 while I loved leaning low at various bends at over 90 (no I did not get to touch 3 digits). Nachya and Anky(pillion :D) simply thudded constant like sensible cruisers all the way at a near 80. Here we did some good riding as well, at a point we overtook an St. bus and the 3 of us simply rode like a chain, overtaking the bus- time seemed to pause as we rode at a constant 80 and the bus seemed to slow down as the lead pushed his left indicator and then we did as we serpented in front of the Bus and rode on. It was like one of those moments you get to se on TV, I witnessed it - one of the advantages of being a trailing rider :D.

Soon we arrived at Shirwal, our next planned halt and the odo clocked ~50kms. It seems Shirwal is famous for Wada paavs, so we took a halt at the famous Wada Paav center and ordered ourselves plates and plats of fresh wada's pohe sample etc etc. This place does seem to be a famous spot, many travelers had stopped by and then 2 bus loads of college/school goers got off to add commotion to the serene spot. Stuffing our mouths full with the left-overs we dashed away from the place and thudded on towards Khambatki.

Leaning and speeding Amit and me took a breif halt post the Khambati toll for the thunderbird to thud in. As it did we rode on, just to loose the bird to its constants. Khambatki Ghat is one awsome ghat to nourish and file your riding skills. Taking over buses and errant car drivers was a piece of cake, overtaking an SX4(for one)- who was plying smart ass was the best of the lot: Amit took right and me left as we got ahead leaving the driver with a wide open mouth.

The ensuing ride involved us geting ahead of each other at numerous ocations as the average speed shot up from ~80 to ~90 in my case. Eventualy came Satara Phata and soon directed everyone to take this exit, all assumed we had to take the second exit - whch was not the case.

Geting off the highway and riding down the single laned road to Satara city was cool and quiet. Geting off highway driving to city took a few minutes to adust so thuding by we came to the fork that would lead us down to the base of Ajinkyatara fort via the old city and eventualy Thoseghar.

We wanted to have tea, but no place around here offered tea so we rode down the very narrow streets of the old city as we came to the road end to take a right to the tunnel. I must say, we were quiet a sight - 4 riders all in attire and riding with a calm head (something that might be alien in these parts).

Post the tunnel we took a halt, just to regroup and Nachiket pointed to a sign board that read "ठोसेघर ला ज़ाणारा रस्ता बंद आहे ।". Oh common! Well so we caught hold of some locals and they said that bikes can go over the road, as I shed my philosophy of riding over landslides might be possible by bikes Yiekkes! Amit relished the distant sight of the windmill clusters oacross the valley behind Chandan-Vandhan forts.

The scene transformed from roads, vehicles and houses to distant mountains, a single grey carpet of road, green fluorescent pastures all around and the constant ups ad downs along the ride. The scene was beautiful and the helmet visor was a distraction - Up it went. The cool fresh breeze, the chirping of the birds, the soothing hues of green, the muffled thumps from our bikes, the riders going sea-saw over the carpet road at a constant pace - Bliss!

We stopped by at a couple of places asking for tea, and were directed to a place beyond a bridge where we would get some. Soon came the bridge and then the shop it had a board hording "wada paav, misal paav... ...". Amazing this was our next halt.

A couple of people in the shop said, the road was open and that bikes could go across, as the workmen at the site made sure bikes could get across. We were relieved. Here we befriended a dog. He seemed vicious at first- all black, lean-mean with deep tangy orange button eyes. A few whizzles and he still did not show interest, a couple of biscuits and he was all wags and kept stretching himself and came off his lair from under the bench and wagged to glory next to us. Anky probably presumed he should have been a public service guy as he posed in the drivers seat of a rickshaw. The tea was amazing and the biscuits were relished by all 5 of us (our new 4 legged friend remember).

A few bells and whizzles later we took the road leading to Thoseghar. The climate was fantastic and the views were crystal-clear. Sajjangad never looked better! The ride continued as we rode the wonderful tarmac in the blissful green surroundings. Soon we started riding over a ghat and eventually alongside Sajjangad but continued to our destination -Thoseghar.

Anky was riding Amit's pulsar took a turn at the ghat and slowed down. We thought, it could be the bad roads. Then we witnessed what the other guy meant when he said the workers made sure bikes could cross the road! The statement was literal!

The ghat road had caved in to the valley below, there was a huge trench in the road. The workers worked over the trench stuffing it with mud and all that can fill it. There was a small temporary plank set up against the hillside over the cut with various bamboo sticks acting as support pillars for the plank. The road was nothing more of a mud bath before that plank. So off we got our rides and pushed 'em across the makeshift road one at a time. The plank was strong, as the workers and various bystanders gave s huge smiles as we came to the other side.

Flashing 32 teeth later we rode on, the roads were lined with trees on both sides, the speed fell down to a soothing ~50 as we maintained good distance as we rode alongside green fluorescent pastures over the dips, rises and turns of the road. Soon we arrived at a board that read "दबदब्या कडे". We were at Thoseghar. Here we decided lets ride to Chalkewadi Windmills first and then get to the waterfall.

So on we rode, the road went up a hill and swindled around to the plateau on the hill the other side. Windmills started sprouting in the distance and the farm made itself visible. Here we took a halt, some snaps, enjoyed the views and injected ourselves further into the farm. The roads got from good to bad to worse. The distant valley across the plateau seemed beautiful as some mills were lost in clouds. The dark clouds with a mix of fresh white ones with the blue skies made for a wierdly sultrish and cool weather. We halted next to a functional huge windmill.

"Thrummmmpp.. Swooosshhh... Whisssskk..." The blades rotated with the breeze. Many of the mills were standstill. "Maybe the power supply is off in those mills" Amit joked. A few clicks, lots of art snaps in various angles against the sun made for some really cool snaps. Alas, I was tagged "talented photographer" and my mates were the lucky subjects. Many snaps later Anky said we had enough windmills for the day lets see something different like a waterfall maybe :).

So back we took the route downhill that twisted down to the signboard. From here we went a little ahead and took the little path to the Thoseghar dhaba. Parked our vehicles, and made ourselves comfortable at the eatery. Here we had to place our order before getting to the waterfall. So 8 pitla-bhakris (bajra) with some patal usal and anda burji was the order. Placed our helmets and jackets at the managers desk and made our hike to the waterfall.

The path was from behind the dhaba and down a fleet of steps. We kept gossiping and discussing all sorts of things, soon we came down to the concrete platform that was full of people. Three of four waterfalls were vibrant and the river down below did not hold a lot of water - just a reminder that it did not rain too much in these parts. Soon the group dispersed and we had the platform all to ourself to test our photographic talent.

A few minutes of snaps and off we were from the platform and found ourselves a new pathway along the hillside that in one way or the other led to a little bridge and across to a fence that eventually opened to the river that made up the waterfall. A group of people were already jumping for joy in the cool waters. Made our way over the rocks and enjoyed the wonderful scenes of little waterfalls and the rapids that let to the final fall.

Anky Nachya and me went over to the water while Amit decided to guard our bags. Nachya decided to head back and the 2 of us got off our shoes and crossed the water over to a little rock posing for snaps. The water packed a lot of force and that in itself explains why so many people loose their lives here on a regular basis.

It started drizzling and we headed back to the dhaba. This time we took a walk till the "waterfall" board and the road back to the eatery. The weather had gotten very humid and somehow all the colours around us were at a +10 contrast ratio.. everything seemed bright and the colours striking. "Maybe the city pollution dos'nt let us see clearly u see" commented Nachya.

Amazing lunch and a few extra bhakris made up for the course of the meal. Had a great time relishing the simple and lip smacking delicacies and the complementary "मिर्चि चा ठेचा". Of course a round of tea always ends a great meal :). The waiters, the hotel owners and the sneezing canines made us great company throughout the process. Post lunch we contemplated paying a visit to Sajangad. But with the clock showing 2 we were not too sure as we had to get home by dark. Amit insited we go there since wehad come here all the way.

The ride back was again cool, but faster (somehow return trips always seem to be fast). We quickly got to the cut road and with and instinct trodded across to the other side and rode on till the start of the Sajangad bifurcation. Our bullet that stayed behind simply thudded upwards, we were visiting Sajjangad.

The road to the top was narrow and full of mud. Lots of twists and twines and bad roads later we got to the parking lot atop. No one really was in the mood of climbing the steps to the top, so we decided to simply spend a few minutes. Chito chat and exploring my hydration bag later we got back to our saddle to hit the road.

The ride back was through a few light showers and wet roads. The speeds fell down. We took our next regrouping halt at the tunnel. From here we made our way to the city and took the old city roads after a few misses and back to the road that led to the highway. We could spot multiple cloud bursts in the grey skies at a distance. We touched the highway.

The speeds rose from a steady 60 to 80 in no time. The weather now, was still pretty humid. Our speeds were pretty consistent. All of a sudden the atmosphere got very cool and really cool like someone had opened a refrigerator door. It stayed this way for a few minutes as we rode over some wet patches on the highway. The water sprays from the rear wheels of the various vehicles made it seem those vehicles rode on air.

Then it happened a few drops and then more and then I could see white fog.. my visor was fogged up and the rains had picked up dropping the visibility considerably. Quickly spotted a tree, and took shelter under it. We waited for the picking rains to subside, a calf behind us also shivered in the cold. Here were discussed about how we missed the rain and got that as well -making this trip complete. The rains slowly subsided. We decided on our next halt at Shirwal post Khambatki.

The ride went on a few minutes over dry and wet and slippery patches as we averaged at ~80. Then the drizzles seemed to pick up near khambatki again. With an instinct all 3 rides stopped just before an exit.
Me : "Do you think it would rain man...what should we do?"
Nachya: "I guess lets keep going.."
Amit : (pointing a few meters ahead of us) "Look its raining there and nothing here"
Allof us laughed, and the rain picked up all over us as we scurried for shelter kicking the engines back to life!

Amit and Anky took a tin roof for shelter while Nash and me picked a hotel. The rains were bad and seemed merciless. We stood at our respective spots for about 15 minutes but the rain gods seemed to be too pleased with us and decided on not shutting the tap. Soon we called Amit and Anky to the hotel and settled in at a safe (non-wet that is) table. Amazing tea (2 for me) and lot of chats ensued this phase of the halt. Each one of us were in splits when we spoke of the way we scurried for shelter. The rains simply did not seem to settle.

The clock ticked from 4 to 4:45 at the hotel. Riding slowly in the rains too was a foolish decision to be taken so we decided to wait it out. At ~5 the rains seemed to give way, and we kicked our engines back to life over the wet roads.

In no time we were in the Khambatki ghat tunnel and the speeds still were at a good ~70. The rains were gone. Here Amit and Anky sped off at bottleneck speeds while I trailed Nachya for the rest of the ride. The weather was beautiful and all I could think of were songs... So many of them, I sung one after another also lost control a couple of occasions that mandated a high pitch selection :). But this was easily one of the best- technically sound parts of the bike ride - follow the lead, follow the rules, don't get intimidated by anything! We neared the toll Plaza near Shirwal.

We regrouped post the toll gate and decided on meeting at a pre-decided hotel post the Katraj Tunnel. The ensuing ride saw loads of traffic at Shirwal but effectively decent stretches till Pune. Riding through the Katraj tunnel was bliss with roads all to ourselves. A couple of indicas enjoyed driving alongside us but seemed to have a tough time keeping up with us.

Eventually we got off the highway near Sinhagad phata and took a break at the hotel. Exchanged high-fives a few stretches and an amazing round of tea. Lots of talk later we decided to call it a day before making sure -make it to another similar ride very soon!

Amit and Anky took the highway and that's when we realized the bird caught her first flat in 27K kms! We did had to spend a few minutes at the tyre repair shop where the mechanic had a tough time getting the wheel off the ride. Well eventually in about half hours time the deal was done and we took back to the polluted interiors of Pune city.

Needless to say, I lost Nachya on the way back home just to reconfirm his arrival on SMS. We eventually were back home :).
Nachya's version of the story.
Pics from the ride

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