3 July: Ajmer

Since the previous day was long, I woke up late but immediately began to think of things I had to do in Ajmer. My KTM needed a wash, chain needed to be tightened and the front wheel needed to be checked for air loss as it had 2 light dents on it. Apart from that, my mom had asked me to visit the famous Ajmer Sharif Durgah and I wanted to visit Pushkar. It was late already since all those things needed to be completed on the same day as I had decided to head towards Chandigarh the next day. My destination to the ‘no destination‘ motorcycle tour began to come to form when I closely considered the amount of wanderlust appetite I had fulfilled, but I still gave very little consideration to the number of office leaves I had left. By noon, I packed up and went to Ashu’s shop for breakfast where he offered me a filling Paneer Kachori whose recipe was invented by his father. I also got some Khaman Dhoklas and chai that brought a big smile on my face. I advised Ashu to open a chat shop in Bangalore, people would drool around his shop all day but then he revealed the secret ingredient to me- the water of Ajmer is the most important addition and influences taste in a big way, hence it would be useless to setup business elsewhere. When we bitched about office since he had worked with me, I realized that my 2 week leave period was about to end on that day and I wasn’t even heading towards my hometown. We decided to head to KTM Authorised service center and think there about an excuse that could stretch my vacation by another week or two. When it comes to living your life and doing what you like, I believe in being transparent to my employer as I expect them to understand and support me in doing the same. I believe every employer should be this way, else you should look for another one. But my American employer was torturous and uncooperative so I decided to have things my way, regardless of the number of leaves I got. You can always get another job but nothing in life can beat the experience and feeling of a long solo motorcycle tour. After my tour was over, I interviewed Mr. Watdafaa in who worked for an American Corporation back in Bangalore and he expressed a shocking account of the crap that goes on in there, read it here.

chats in Ajmer
Tasty chats available here

The KTM Ajmer service center (SVC) is a bit constrained in terms of space but the technician did a fine job in handling the motorcycle and gave it a brilliant wash. We then checked for air loss on the front wheel. Luckily, there wasn’t any. What I liked the most about KTM Ajmer is that they hadn’t sold many motorcycles there since it was new, hence the service center was empty and my motorcycle was dealt with, immediately. Now, many KTM centres in India are facing a shortage of parts, there’s hardly any stock available. I don’t know if they’re doing that on purpose or what that but that is a good excuse I could give my team lead back at work. Ashu thought it was good too since blaming everything on health would be cliche. My eye brows sky rocketed when I received a bill of INR 1,000 for a motorcycle wash, chain tightening and chain lubing. I had never paid so much for a bloody wash! Chain maintenance across all KTM SVCs I’ve visited costed INR 150. I felt I was being looted so I gave my justification and paid the showroom manager INR 400.

KTM Ajmer
Duke going in for a wash at KTM Ajmer

Coming back to office leaves, I called my lead over the phone but he wouldn’t answer so I sent him my excuse through a message saying that my KTM had broken down four days ago and needed an engine head replacement in Ajmer. Since there was no stock of the engine head with KTM, I had to wait for another week for the parts to arrive. I didn’t get a reply immediately but the advantage of it all was because I had to rely on another ‘party’ for the well being of my motorcycle, I couldn’t even specify a date of reporting to office. 🙂 As Ashu and I laughed about it, an extremely bright, heavily stickered, fancy looking KTM Duke 390 turned up at the SVC. The rider on it was surprised to see me- a little man ride up all the way from Bangalore. What I was even more surprised about was the fact that he was one of the Khadims (priest) of the Ajmer Sharif Durgah. I witnessed a priest riding a KTM Duke 390 for the first time! After talking for a while and informing him about my wish to visit the holy place, he happily agreed to take me inside the Durgah that evening since there would be too much rush during the day. What a coincidence! I took his number down and then left with Ashu to his house for lunch.

Fool the boss
My team lead at work had high expectations 🙂

Home lunch at his place was absolutely delicious and reminded me of the food my mom made. It was very nice of his mother to have prepared so much. Ashu then showed me around his house. I loved the the old fashioned style and the way in which even the smallest of space was utilized for something or the other. What appealed to me most was the amount of sunlight and ventilation the house received- a point that I would consider the most on the day I buy one. As we went to the terrace, I noticed the surrounding houses were old as well, most aged over 40 years! The aged homes emitted feelings of simplicity, humility and peace. I wish it stays the same and doesn’t downgrade in the name of commercialization. By the time we left towards Pushkar, it was 5 PM.

home food in Ajmer
Home food after a long time
Ajmer town
Old is gold
I get hit by a horsecart in ajmer..

Ashutosh had a very important thing to do on the way though- meet his girlfriend who was on her way  back in a bus from Jaipur. He was in hurry, she was getting donuts for him after all. He suggested of going to Pushkar and coming back in a jiffy but I didn’t like the idea very much as exploring needs to be done peacefully. We did hurry a bit through the narrow streets but then arrived an intersection where I stopped because a taxi blocked me on the right.  Ashu passed the taxi with ease because he wasn’t carrying wide touring luggage on his Duke 200. I saw a horse cart (Tanga) approach me from behind on my left, it was close, so close that the cart’s wheel literally hit my left hand side pannier and tipped me onto the stationary taxi. The right hand side pannier scraped over the Taxi’s doors whereas the right end of the handle bar hit the taxi’s rear wheel, thereby breaking the hand guard instantly. The Tanga wallah was a complete asshole because he didn’t stop! A crowd gathered as I tried to lift the KTM from the clutches of the Taxi’s wheel. My left leg incidentally was over the exhaust pipe, thanks to my riding boots for bearing the burn. The hand guard took a lot of the impact but my right wrist got a tissue issue. I could still move it freely though, except that it hurt when I tried lifting something heavy and its affects are seen even today but thanks to my gloves and the Duke’s hand guard, it could’ve got worse!

Broken Duke 390 handguard in Ajmer
Broken hand guard

The misery didn’t end there, the taxi driver claimed that he never saw the Tanga and assumed that I lost control of my KTM and fell over his taxi. There were 2 policemen across the road, we decided to settle things there. I asked Ashu to look after the motorcycle. The policemen looked least bothered when the taxi driver explained things to them and blamed the whole thing on me. I meanwhile shrugged my shoulders and put it on the runaway Tanga wallah. The cops checked both vehicles out but by looking at the damage, they asked us to drop the matter and go our ways. Out of nowhere, a passenger popped out of the taxi and asked the driver to move on, he seemed like a businessman and was clearly in a hurry. On my head though, thoughts revolved more around the availability of hand guard stock at KTMs SVC. I asked the taxi driver to move on, which he did regretfully. I examined my KTM once again and we headed off to the SVC. I was a bit cross with myself for hurrying up, but I think it’s a sign for me to never hurry unnecessarily on a motorcycle tour, definitely not for Donuts! Fortunately though, hand guards were available so I bought the pair did asked the technician to replace only the broken hand guard. There was a Ninja 300 for sale there so I tested it while the Duke got a new hand guard. I was back after a short spin though because I didn’t like it. Since a lot of time had passed, we thought to go meet his girl first and visit Pushkar afterwards, that happened almost immediately as the bus depot was near by. She got off as soon as the bus arrived, met Ashu for a mere 10 seconds, said something to him, handed over the donuts and left with her relative. Ashu made me speed around town, I got pushed by a horse cart, injured my wrist, replaced hands guards on my motorcycle, only so that he could meet his girl for 10 seconds! Since my logic was unable to perceive any of that, we immediately rode towards Pushkar.

KTM Duke 390 accident in Ajmer

Pushkar was hardly 35 Kms from Ajmer, we rode peacefully and the increased pace in the mini ghat section, ultimately reaching a lake by the famous Lord Brahma temple- the only Brahma temple in the world! We chose to not enter the temple but cherish the fresh air outside. I came across a foreigner with a local agent who was very high on some really bad stuff. Then I met a solo rider from Chennai who started his trip from the southern tip of India and was on his way to LEH Ladakh on his Royal Enfield. He was amused by a little boy displaying magic tricks and agreed to drop him home. As usual, we had interesting conversations and then parted our ways. It was dark so Ashu and I decided to head back home as I was to visit the Durgah. We had a view of Ajmer city from the ghat and soon headed back to his house where we parked our KTMs, covered our heads with kerchiefs and walked to the Durgah.

The Brahma temple

Night view of Ajmer city from Pushkar

Walking through old- age narrow lanes was a vintage experience. The Durgah was just a kilometer away, but crowded. It was nice of the Khadim to wait for us at the entrance as we were a little late, he had a movie scheduled for 9 PM. I bought the offerings that one gives to the Durgah and then he directly took us inside so we didn’t have to stand in a queue. Once we were offered blessings, he gave me a blessed thread and another one for my motorcycle. He then took us outside and explained to us about the history of the Durgah and showed us a HUGE container where food is cooked for people turning up in high numbers on special occasions. We took a walk outside the holy place and spoke about motorcycles as usual. The Khadim was fond of Harley Davidsons, I’m surprised how he had ended up with a KTM. After a while, I thanked the kind khadim for his help and bid him goodbye. We walked back towards Ashu’s house and fired the KTM’s engine up, I had to end the day early so I bid farewell to his family as well. We headed towards the hotel and had hot Dal Chawal for dinner. I was skeptical of receiving my clothes from the hotel dry clean as I had given them on short notice but to my surprise, they were ready! I bid Ashu farewell too and parked the KTM in a safe place for the night. Ajmer is one vibrant and beautiful city!

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