But as the countdown neared the zilch, of the multitude of people who were gung-ho about the trip, what finally remains is us. Me, on my P180, Modhu on a Bullet ElectraS5 and Harsha(Mindu) the organizer on his Unicorn.
This is the first of 'em very long posts.
A tardy me wakes up at 6:15 when we’re supposed to at the rendezvous at 6:30. I’m still groggy, I was up till 2:30. Confirming to tradition I had saved all my packing, purchases and borrowing [:)] till the very last day. I scurry to get ready; it is soon past 6:30, no calls from the other two. I call them but no answer from either. No bother, they wouldn’t dump me or so I think.
Modhu soon calls to say he’s at Chandhu’s place 5 mins away. I’m still far from done and pretty soon he calls to say that they are already there. I scamper to saddle my bike (put the saddle bags across the rear seats of my bike), I check the gear and decide to include a length of rope for good measure, a thoughtful last minute addition. Well at least as far as I’m concerned. I keep them waiting a full 15 minutes.
Offering my apologies as a greeting I meet up with the guys, my fellow bikers Modhu and Harsha. Some small talk follows, we get on to our dandy looking steeds and begin the long journey that awaits us.
The road trip is now officially a go.
We make a beeline for Mysore Road through the sparse morning traffic and are soon out of the city. We leave behind the work, the chaos of the big city and the grind. The next nine days will be jus me and the open roads.
Mysore Road works are almost entirely complete and is quite pleasant to ride on. I’m glad Modhu who is leading the pack of three, astride the goddess his Enfield Electra, is not pushing unlike the Pondi Trip. I follow in my temptress, an all black, a beauty from hell P180 and Mindu follows me on his crisp sounding Unicorn (Mindu, sorry that’s all I could come up with, the engine’s great mate). We cruise along at a steady 60-70kmph.
It’s a Saturday a lot of people seem to be getting away from Bangalore for the weekend. A fleet of bullets go past us. Cordial waves are exchanged. A few more bikes go by. One of the T’Birds had a pair of horns attached to the headlamp. It looked sinisterly cool.
Our first pit stop, a common feature for the remainder of our trip is a stop of tea about 80 km from Mysore. The waiter asks us if we want “Plain Tea” or “Pyaper Tea”, that’s paper tea in a rural Kannada drawl. We simply say “Pyaper Tea” looking at each other. What is turned out to be is your best too. Its obvious, really.
A good three hours and a couple of pit stops later we’re in Mysore. I’m no stranger to Mysore I spent a wonderful 18 months working from Mysore. I love the city. I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic as I ride past the familiar sights from my recent past.
For breakfast we head to hugely popular Mylari for some delish Benne Dosa and Akki Roti. Sajiv or Jeeves my roomie during the entire course of my stay in Mysore meets us there. Its really good to see him after a long time. The others and Jeeves are batch mates at SJCE, Mysore, so breakfast is spent, recounting the old times and catching up from where we let off. Jeeves helps me locate a Corp ATM, we bid Jeeves Goodbye. Modhu and I get our emission certificates done, its best not to take any chances with the law. The law is not that long handed but get caught you’ll discover how sticky they really are. Long concept short, bad idea to not have your documents in order .
Gundalpet is next on our road. The smell of the cool water on the beaten earth, is distinct, I’ve always loved it. There is hint of rain as we ride further. And soon we ride into a drizzle, it is our first tryst with wet weather. The drizzle is welcome I feel the cool moisture laden wind hit my face. We are riding in open roads, with green fields on the side, the distant mountains, a lake, an open road, an eager mind. The best way to experience this is on definitely on a bike, no other will even come close. The drizzles ceases after a few kilometers, we ride into Gundalpet.
The road from Gundalpet to Sultan Bathery runs through the Bandipur Forest. I’ve heard much this route, an excellent road that runs through the lush green forest. The drizzle is back on. We continue to ride. The drizzle soon blows into rain and getting harder. I can’t ride with my visor down, it fogs up, rain hits my face hard. Its getting harder with every passing kilometer. There is no shelter along this route, tree cover is sparse, getting into the forest is not an option. We ride on till we reach the check post at the Karnataka-Kerala border. The guard there literally shoos us away from taking shelter there. Rules supposedly, yeah right. Left with no choice we ride past the check post into Kerala. Every garment I wear is now soaking wet, I’m freezing to the bone.
Respite comes in the form a road side tea shop. We pull over and run for cover. A hot cup of tea resurrects some life into my freezing skeleton. I’m so cold it doesn’t stay hot for long. I wring my shirt and sox. My all leather woodlands are now just an uncomfortable sheath of wet leather. The rain shows no signs of lifting off. An hour passes, its still drizzling we decide to brave it. Back on the road we ride into Kerala towards Sultan Bathery.
We’re well and truly into Kerala now, the green fields against the tall dark trees for a backdrop looks great in the rain. Kerala is fresh from the shower, boy does she look good.
We reach Sultan Bathery at around 3:00pm we’re hungry, wet and a weary. We head to the first decent restaurant for lunch, I’m glad for the hot water served as default. Outside the rain intensifies someone up there cut open them clouds, or so it seems. I’m glad to have a roof over my head. Lunch done with, the road calls again. Its still drizzling and heavy clouds still threateningly look down upon us. I argue that it is pointless to ride on without try to get ourselves some proper rain gear, the others unwilling agree, but lgad they did agree. We decide to try our luck at the next town. A biking decree of “Shoes only” is broken. I’m glad to be out of my wet shoes, my sandals and a dry shirt on we hit the road again.
Next town, Kalpetta, Harsha stands guarding the bikes and the gear while Modhu and I individually go from garment shop to garment shop looking for raincoats. I find one that stocks it, the shopkeeper takes me to his warehouse where he holds them. I check it out and return to fetch Modhu. With the help of two very kind salesmen who spoke nothing but Malayalam (Joby and Aneesh I think are their names were, an insignificant detail, but they were so helpful they atleast deserve a mention). We found what fits and served our purpose. Now enrobed in proper rain gear we ride on.
Soon we ride past the mist covered mountains of Wayanad, a lake covered with white lotuses. Take a leisurely trip along this route, and you’ll find many places of interest you might want to visit, Pookot Lake, Eddakal Caves, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and more. But time and weather aren’t fighting our side of this challenge.
Guruvayoor our original planned milestone for day one is an impossible task, this we accept and settle for Kozhikode. We reach Kozhikode at around 8:00pm and hunt for a hotel, surprisingly most are full. Finally, we find one, but what luck, it does not offer hot water in the only room available. We take it anyway, I’m only glad to be out of my wet clothes. We lay out gear to dry, shower and go out to grab some dinner.
A simple dinner of boiled(fat) rice, curry, lots of papad later we headed back to the hotel. I contemplate on calling swarup who’s at IIMK but its an ungodly hour to be calling. Back at the hotel, I spread out my gear to aid the drying process, turn the fan on full blast and hit the bed.
An incident filled very wet Day One ends.