I woke up peacefully the next day morning and immediately checked if all the clothes had dried, it seemed like they needed another hour or two to dry completely. At least the undies were wearable. The view from the hotel window overlooked the Mumbai- Pune highway on which I heard and saw a Suzuki Gsxs-1000 go by with another naked motorcycle following it (don’t remember which one). That’s a good way to start off with the day.
After breakfast, I departed the hotel at 12.30 PM. Fuel level in the motorcycle indicated that I should soon find a petrol bunk. The weather seemed like the rains were gonna be all over me in no time so, I had my rain gear on. The Duke’s chain needed to be tightened and lubed at a KTM SVC as I had travelled 850kms the previous day. I then heard some weird sound on the way to the SVC, thought it was from a tempo beside me in traffic. Hell no! It was from my Duke! I hadn’t noticed that the chain was bone dry due to last evening’s rain. I had never encountered a chain so dry. I feared that the chain would come off because it was loose too as I had previously heard of cases where the chain had jumped off the sprocket due to poor maintenance but fortunately, the SVC was just 3 kms away. The folks at KTM BANER were very courteous. Once the chain was dealt with, I immediately hit the highway and noticed that the foot peg vibrations had reduced since the chain was lubed and adjusted. In my experience, the foot pegs vibrate more and feel rough when the chain is dry and vice versa.
I wanted to admire the views and ride on peacefully to Mumbai as the distance was a mere 150kms. If you are able to ride 850-1000 kms with ease in a single day, then 150 kms would seem like going down the lane to your nearest grocery store. I followed the unlawful law and took the old Pune- Mumbai highway that was meant for motorcycles and not the expressway. A lot of time was spent in clicking pictures on the way, the clouds hovered a few metres above my head in Khandala and after crossing Lonavala, it began to pour heavily. I treaded along gradually as I was keen on enjoying the moment. Sometimes, I just HAD to take pictures because of the sheer beauty of nature and I didn’t mind wetting by iPhone a little bit. A waterproof case for the Xiomi Yi action Camera was ordered but it arrived home when I had reached Rajashtan! The rains were scattered and conditions looked like they would remain the same till I reached home in Mumbai. Ideal riding weather is how I would describe it.
I carried on towards Mumbai and as I had mentioned in my earlier ride to Mumbai, the old highway I was on ultimately joins the expressway which didn’t make any sense to me. I stopped at food mall to have roasted corn and then sodded off. When the next toll gate arrived, I was stopped by the cops. The officer told me that motorcycles are not allowed on the expressway and I was riding over it illegally. I argued stating that the old highway ultimately joins the expressway but the cop reverted saying there was another diversion on the expressway near khopoli where I again had to get off the expressway, onto the old highway. I clearly remembered seeing the sign that guides one towards khopoli but there was no sign board with instructions on it for motorcycles to deviate onto the old highway. I said the same to him but he insisted that a board there exists. I decided to annoy the cop because firstly the concept of getting onto the expressway and off it was totally illogical and unplanned, who would create such a shitty expressway model where motorcycles aren’t allowed on it in the first place, apparently for safety issues but then motorcycles are allowed on the expressway for a short distance, only to get off the expressway through pockets of deviations on it. It’s like an examination rule where you can’t copy but you can glance through the text book for 30 seconds every 10 minutes. Whoever planned a road network like this one must have had extreme, wet mood swings. The second thing that pissed me off was the officer lying about a signboard near Khopoli. I didn’t want to pay the fine for their fault. The officer knew my argument was a valid one. I acted being an extremely confused victim like I had just incarnated on earth who didn’t know jack shit about how things work and annoyed the officer by asking him multiple questions. I then heard him order his subordinate in Marathi to ask me to leave as he was irritated. Bingo! His subordinate asked me to get off the expressway and showed me the way to the old highway. I annoyed the officer with a few more questions and then left 🙂
To my surprise, I was awed my the sheer beauty of the old highway. It was drizzling, hilly, lush green on both sides and the road went like a snake. If I met the officer again, I would’ve definitely thanked him for showing me this road as it was way better than the arrow straight expressway. Mumbai did take a bit longer to arrive but it did arrive at a time when even the most foolish person wouldn’t think of stepping into the city- at 6PM! The bridge over the sea that connects navi Mumbai to Mumbai had been conquered by heavy crosswinds and rain, I rode on it with the motorcycle tilted at an angle.
Once I was in Mumbai, I got lost for a while and found myself in a huge vegetable market brimming with people and with buses running over tomatoes and potatoes. Thanks to the friendly people there, I ultimately joined the Western express highway in Bandra. My halt for the night was with my relatives in Borivali which was as far as 15 kms.
The western express highway is the main highway that runs across Mumbai, it is the easiest way to get from South to North Mumbai but not during peak traffic hours. As I entered the highway, I saw thousands of vehicles lined up on the entire stretch. The Worst case scenario had just arrived as it had stopped raining and my motorcycle’s radiator fan remained on all the time because of the heat. It was humid and I perspired under my rain liners like a wild animal. The heat from the engine began to sneak into my crotch and suddenly, a dhoti seemed like an item of luxury to me. For once, I envied guys riding in Dhotis. I couldn’t even stop anywhere because the traffic kept moving so I got off the highway and removed my rain liners and it felt like the end of a sauna session! After being grilled in the traffic for 3 hours and a few minutes, I reached home with a swollen index and middle finger (it was unusable) of the left hand, a sweaty body and with a low fuel level warning on the Duke’s instrument cluster. I wanted to be splashed with cold water so badly that I fancied a riot so that the cops could shoot me with water canons but the ritual of being greeted by relatives and me touching their feet was still to go. If I lived in Mumbai, I’m sure my motorcycle would have never known how it is to be ridden inside the city, you’d need to have a cool head to live in such a hot concrete jungle but it’s the same people of the city who help in keeping your head cool. Well, at least some of them.
I slept well after midnight but was forced to remain in Mumbai for the next 2 days. The news channels went mad over rains lashing parts of Gujarat’s coastal areas. Yes, rains could cause chaos when there’s too much population in an area. Our country’s population is extremely high and a large part of the population is deprived of many things, hence regardless of whether it’s monsoon, summer or winter, people will suffer and news channels will continue to make it seem like a phenomenon that has never occurred before! I had plans to reach Vadodara from Mumbai where there were no rains at all but my relatives in Mumbai and Bangalore chose to believe an imbecile belonging to a news channel who does nothing but shout on camera. I’m a person who does not read newspapers and neither do I watch news on TV, except for times when I want to know if it’s a holiday the next day or not, in case there was a strike or something. Strikes are nature’s ways of telling you to consider an unplanned, last minute ride. Why would someone take news so seriously when it is being broadcast via an object called the idiot box?! I had heard that news instills fear in people, fear about things that would never happen to them, fear which resides in their subconscious minds and converts into belief. As a result, they are unable to take decisions or do certain things because the same negative belief holds them back from doing so. This theory is now my belief though as I lived and experienced it.
Time passes like a superbike in Mumbai but that wasn’t the case with me, hence I killed time by meeting up with old friends over chai and by looking up the weather forecast. I was asked by relatives to wait till the news channels gave out news about rains reducing in Gujarat. I realized that in doing so, I would waste all my leaves by staying in Mumbai, it was a stupid idea to wait and for conditions to become bright and sunny when they already were bright and sunny in reality. The route I chose seemed dry and I confirmed that with a family friend in Vadodara as well. I explained to my uncle that I HAD to continue my tour so he did the same thing, confirmed with relatives in gujarat and they all gave positive confirmation.
Finally, I could see the signal turn green, I soon packed my stuff and got ready to hit the highway on 27th of June. I had a plan at the back of my mind as well in case I wasn’t allowed to continue my tour-sneak out early in the morning 😀
The good part ahead of me was the clear weather and the fact that I didn’t have to stop in a relative’s house!