Officially, my journey back home began when I took a U turn at Marhi and descended towards my hotel on the outskirts of Kullu. The next day, I started pretty early from Kullu towards Chandigarh considering the fact that the Duke had to be serviced on the same day in order for me to reach Jaipur on the third day. Surprisingly, I got an idea on my way back. Mandi was a town I would cross after Kullu and it had a KTM showroom right on the highway but I wasn’t sure if the service center was at the same location as well. I wished it was there as I was pretty convinced of the service center not having a queue of bikes to service, at least not as much as the queue you would find in a big city like Chandigarh. Fortunately, things went as planned. The service bay was right behind the sales showroom, there were 2 mechanics and both of them were free of work! I only advised them to replace usual items like engine oil, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter and spark plug as everything else had been taken care of, in a long term fashion by my service engineer back in Bangalore. 90 minutes was the time it took for both of them to service the Duke and that by far is the quickest time I’ve seen a Duke being serviced in. 🙂
Since the engine felt very smooth after service, I gave it good power, especially while exiting curves and reached my hotel in Chandigarh at 7 PM. I was really thankful to all those souls who helped me with this trip that exposed a small part of the hilly wilderness. I was extremely content and relaxed on my way back, that happy feeling you get when you know you have nothing much to lose. Chandigarh to Jaipur route was again a maze consisting of Sonipat and Panipat. I left the hotel by noon and had brunch before leaving but by 2.30 PM, I felt hungry again. There wasn’t a good place that I could find in Sonipat so I halted at a small sweet shop to have traditional Indian sweets for energy. I met another customer there called Paramjeet who after knowing about my solo ride, insisted that he show me some better eateries and sweet shops in Sonipat. Since I didn’t have time, he insisted that he ride with me on his bike for about 10 kms as a hospitable gesture since I was a guest in his hometown and they don’t just bid guests goodbye by waving hands. He made a living as a bus conductor in Delhi but his hometown was Sonipat. He rode with me for a couple of kilometers and then I stopped after 7 kms to thank him for his kind and hospitable gesture. I did make sure to let him know that it is the love and kindness of people like him that add values and memories to an adventure like mine and also encourage travelers to exclude all negative feelings like fear.
I found myself on the national highway soon though. There needs to be enough number of signs and directions to guide people but were clearly absent. At 6.30 PM, I was still pretty far from Jaipur but got hungry at the same time, a couple of sweets weren’t enough. A halt was made on the first Dhabha that arrived. Since my mind and stomach were at peace again that made me reach Mr. Rajeev’s (foga bhai’s friend) house in Jaipur at 8 PM as it was inside the city. Another biker named Hardeep saw my luggage and approached me when I stopped to check the GPS. I spoke to him for about 15 minutes but had to carry on, you can have endless conversations with somebody who travels on a motorcycle! Thanks to the LED spotlights and the stock high beam, they kept that pitch black highway ahead of me, well lit! Since Mr. Rajeev was at a party with his family, it was nice of his friend to have escorted me from the highway till Mr. Rajeev’s residence. I freshened up immediately after which I was dropped to a nearby hotel for dinner. I had a lot of food that evening and made a few calls. By 11 PM, I met Mr. Rajeev and his wife after reaching their residence and called it a night at 11.30. I got some great sleep that woke me up directly at 9 AM. We had interesting conversations over the tasty breakfast and then I lubed the Duke’s chain. It was extremely nice of Mrs. Rajeev to have packed some Parathas and pickle for me. I bid them goodbye by 11 AM and was then guided by Mr. Rajeev towards the highway by following his car as he went to work from there.
Udaipur was again the next city to halt in. With Mr. Rakesh’s help, I stayed in the same hotel and left to Vadodara the subsequent day to Foga bhai’s place. Since I didn’t know the address to his residence, I got a police escort through Vadodara city, it was fun following a police car with lights flashing and all! Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay an extra day in Vadodara too because other places to explore around Gujarat were pretty far under the rain and I now wanted to head back home and recollect how life over there was. I headed towards Mumbai the next day after noon with a lot of chain slack. From 2000 RPM to 5500 RPM, the chain kept spanking the swing arm as it was approaching the end of its life. I thought I’ll have that checked in a KTM SVC in Mumbai and trotted along. It was extremely sweet of Foga bhai to have made snacks arrangement for me on the way, he has a lot of contacts. I stopped at the hotel he suggested where his friend was waiting for me. He was in the police too and was a great company. Mumbai could’ve arrived earlier but as you know its Mumbai, there was traffic 25 kms before the city limit so I reached home by 7 PM.
I stayed in Mumbai for 2 days. Day 1 was for catching up with people and for a movie with the joint family. Day 2 was for getting the Duke’s chain adjusted. Just imagine, for 22 days, I was alone and life was really peaceful but now, I was entering a theater to watch Baahubali with 15 other people, everybody was a foodie and everybody loved to talk a lot. It was a bit challenging to adjust 🙂
Nevertheless, I enjoyed pretty much, except for a few loud noises from some corner or the other. On day 2, I checked the Duke’s chain and found that the chain slider rubber had worn out too. My biker friend Ram Soni took me to his trusted mech’s gargage as KTM SVC was pretty far away. The mech concluded that the chain had mostly worn out and the chain slider needed replacement. So I planned of heading to Navi Mumbai on my way back to Bangalore, get it checked there and continue riding. I planned the ride as Mumbai- Hubli and then Hubli Bangalore on the consecutive day.
I left Mumbai on the 15th of July at 8.30 AM because it would take me an hour to 90 minutes to reach Navi Mumbai where KTM Seawoods Service center would open its doors at 9.30 AM .I got screwed quite badly in hot traffic until I reached Seawoods at 11 AM. It took them a while to diagnose and check everything, the chain slider was replaced and the service manager assured me of my KTM reaching Bangalore with the worn out chain and sprocket. I also received the contact of the service engineer of KTM Hubli in case I needed assistance on the way, thanks to Chandrashekar (KTM head for N. Karnataka) for that. I was quite amused at Seawoods SVC as there was a female rider waiting for her 390 to get serviced. Of course, she was with another guy but it is an unusual sight you see. 🙂
I made another friend there too, it was Dinesh, the supervisor of the SVC! He now works for Royal Enfield though. By the time I left KTM Seawoods, it was 1.45 PM. My chances of reaching Hubli before sundown were bleak so I changed plans. Destination for the day changed to Ginger hotel in wakad, Pune and I chose to ride peacefully. Throughout my journey I noticed so many milestones/ mile markers with incorrect reading on them! One of them was totally off the line though in Lonavala. The distance to Bangalore city displayed on a board in Lonavala was 749 kms. Pune was 50 kms after Lonvala towards Bangalore but the actual distance from Pune to Bangalore is 850 kms. That is an error of approximately 150 kms!!
As I rode towards the hotel, what appeared all of a sudden was a Boeing 737‘s tail wing! As I got nearer, I saw the plane on a vacant piece of land. I continued riding in awe and was bewildered so I made a U-turn and went to it. Some kids around said that the junk aircraft is used for shooting movies. Since they seemed trustworthy, I asked them to take some pictures of me. I checked into my hotel at around 6 PM, fortunately a room was available. After checking in, I reviewed my pictures of the ride and then had dinner by 8 PM. Feelings were mixed, I was returning home after 22 days so I was content but at the same time, a long ride was coming to an end. I made some calls and ended the last night of my 2015 West India tour.
On 16th July 2015, the last day of my tour, I started out early in the hope that the spanking worn out chain would help me make it to Bangalore. I luckily found a functioning petrol bunk at 6.10 AM, tanked up and took rode the smooth way back. It did rain many times on the way back, all part of the ride though. After Hubli though, my fuel showed low level warning. I couldn’t find one in a jiffy so I had to ride into town, withdraw money from an ATM, skip two petrol bunks since they weren’t functioning and then have the tank topped up. Close call that was!
I reached home at 6.45 PM, thanks to Bangalore’s intolerable traffic. My mom and sis had a welcome celebration planned for me and had prepared lots of food, most of them being my favorite dishes! 🙂
This long solo ride taught me a lot, like literally a lot, so much that it has made an everlasting effect on my life. I was already interested in conspiracy theories and believed in organic ways of living a life but the solo ride just amplified these feelings. When I got back to office, my colleagues told me I was more at peace and wasn’t bothered by whatever anybody said to me. I haven’t watched TV in a long time, my friend circle has reduced too as I chose to stick around to people who matter and not for anything else. Not that I don’t intend to make new friends, but I do prefer to interact more often with people who resonate with my thought process. I think the last movie I watched was about a year ago as I’ve found myself being allergic to bullshit, only. Scientific, thought provoking movies or documentaries are fine! Even after excluding quite a few things from life, I still don’t find time to do a lot of other things I intend to do. Desk jobs, MNCs too are things and lifestyles that don’t make sense to me at all, sitting at a desk, attending some meetings, stressing your butt out for pointless reasons all day to earn money is a stupid way of earning money to me. Yes, we sometimes don’t have a choice, else I wouldn’t have entered the boring board meeting room the second time. All these things have had a ripple effect as well so I don’t even like using disposable plastic anymore and am looking at ways I could stop myself from depending on it, I dislike editing photos unnecessarily nowadays because it just turns a real scene into a fake one, especially nature and wildlife ones. Correcting a photo is a different thing! I only edit photos that I click for promotional or other purposes that hold some motive. There are many more changes that have occurred and are still occurring. Such changes could be blissful to some whereas for others, it may cause distress as they will find themselves becoming obsessed with truth. Such a state of mind could lead you to finding purpose and truth in almost everything you do. I don’t know about what that could do to one’s relationships but I’m pretty sure, that it does bring out the ‘I don’t give a fuck attitude‘, especially when others want you to bring forth that attitude. You bring forth that attitude only in occasions where others prefer to keep their mouths shut. In short, you become a rebel of some sort 🙂
As I write this, I have some more adventure up ahead. I’m sure that too, would implement its own share of changes eventually. I just need to go with the flow and not restrict myself from letting them happen.