The mood was exciting when I woke up at 6.30 AM, mainly because from here onward, I would be riding on roads there that I hadn’t ridden on before. Vadodara was a mere 380 Kms away. After all the packing, I mounted the luggage onto the Duke of KTM and then had breakfast. I left at 9.30 AM after confirming that there were no rains in Gujarat, just for my Father’s sake. I could sense the fear at home in Mumbai, relatives had all sorts of thoughts and questions in their heads but I had a different kind of fear in my head. The fear of Traffic. Consequently, I immediately got to speed on the western express highway. Luckily, the traffic at the Dahisar Checknaka was bearable and the way ahead opened up in no time, speed remained moderate until Palgarh though due to slow Cagers (people in cars) not giving way. Palgarh was a beautiful, green place and I think it was the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary present on either side. If I had a to make a movie in the future about gorillas, Palgarh would be the location for me.
The heat was pretty bad so I just had to go faster but after a while, it got cloudy and things calmed down. My Friend Ram in Mumbai had suggested a place for Lunch called ‘Parsi da Dhabha’, an eatery situated very close to the Maharashtra- Gujarat border and a Sunday hangout for many Bikers. Theplas were packed for me, a ritual being followed by Gujaratis since time immemorial but I wanted to try the food at the Dhabha.
Vadodara was just another 3.3 hour ride from there so time wasn’t a constraint at all. As soon as you enter Gujarat, you begin to see sign boards over bridges mentioning the name of river you’re passing over and they are mostly funny! I only remember one name though and it was Wanki. The reason I remember it was because soon after I passed the river, I saw hotel ‘Relief’ on the left. Hope you got the link there. 😀
The road was smooth as usual but highly chaotic as there were too many Lorries travelling at 10 Kmph and almost every lorry had occupied the center lane and the high speed lane on the extreme right. What was even more frustrating was their inability to understand finger signs. I witnessed many industries on the way that emitted weird odour, Odour that would put to shame the strong smell of a stomach in trouble. Then there was a lorry jam near a cement factory but there was a separate lane over the bridge for other vehicles. I entered the single lorry lane by mistake and spent an easy 20 minutes in 2nd gear. I witnessed a lorry that looked like it was involved in a head on collision with another vehicle, the driver was still bleeding but there was no lane for a vehicle to come from the opposite side and neither did the lorry in front of it look like it was involved in an accident. That was extremely weird. There were people to help the bleeding lorry driver so I carried on. I didn’t stop for food till I reached Vadodara at 4.30 PM, thanks to the heavy lunch at the Dhabha.
Jogal, or Foga bhai as we call him is a Family friend and a Police inspector in Vadodara and my stay for the night was at his residence. He was on the highway to welcome me on the outskirts of Vadodara city. I was received with positive vibes as he is someone who understood my passion and encouraged me to go ahead and explore. I followed him to the police station and met his colleagues who later guided me to his residence. After freshening up and having some conversations over the phone, we had dinner once Foga bhai was home, followed by some Soda with his family friends.
The ride next day was to Udaipur as there was no point in exploring wet coastal areas of Gujarat. I decided to depart a little late the next day as the distance between the cities wasn’t that long. I just wondered that if the heat in Gujarat was so intense, then what would Rajasthan look like the next day. But little did I know that I would pitch my tent on the Gujarat- Rajathan border the next day 🙂