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Monday, September 1, 2014

BiKronicles 2: Mini revisits (Panchgani-Mahabaleshwar)

Deep ink blue. That’s how I feel this morning. To replicate that heavy feeling is a looming dark cloud just outside my window with ‘Monday’ and ‘Long weekend is over’ etched in it somewhere. I can’t shake it off with my cuppa chai or even exchanging sweet morning msgs with my love. All I can do is wait for more colors to dissipate this one.

My excitement post getting our babe (REClassic500) was synonymous to a 5yr old being told they can go to Paris. Disney Land. Sit on ALL rides. Buy everything they touch. And the likes. I think it made me happier than Abeer to get her. I haven’t stopped planning trips, gear, safety, routes and what not. The last week of August took both of us by the neck. We were burned out, exhausted and I hadn’t slept in days staying up from 3am to 3am literally. It was a 4 working day week and that Friday was off was the bane and boon of our existence. It meant long weekend at the cost of a short weekday. We didn’t have the capacity to even sit and consciously map out where we were about to traverse. But I found the time to bug friends who had been on this route many times. Thus, fell our plan into place.

The day before the trip, I was zombied and my worst – a state my friend Simin and I used to synonymize with the zombies of the ‘Walking Dead’ series. I was battling some serious workload, packing off 2 stubborn cats with help from my momma and staying up all night. This resulted in a bit of a delay the trip day and forgetting my helmet at home causing the grump start. Helmet retrieved, arguments done, we started off. I was in severe discomfort and pain due to my monthly monster cycle coupled with no nutrition or sleep. If I thought I was in trouble, 3x that was the compromised safety of my boyfriend aka rider. I controlled myself from not physically assaulting him. He was loving and sweet and managed to make the journey bearable and as we intended all month long.

Our 1st detour from plan was to stop in Pune and stay the night rather than continue nonstop to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. This was for both our benefit. The Ganpati weekend provided enough maneuverable traffic and obscene volume of music everywhere. We crashed in, slept like 2 heavy logs, did a bit of sheesha at a shady outlet named Jashn and then some amazing sizzler dinner at 11 East Street. Ambition and some lightheadedness from the hookah made us wanna catch a late night movie. Instead we called it a night cuz my man here loves a 5am wake up and a high-speed readiness to take to the road. I am now used to this routine and can only stress on the benefits of always hitting the road early; NO traffic, NO pollution, NO annoying people, NO heat dust or smog, NO dullness and so on. It’s beautiful and romantic I might add.

Day 2, 30 August, we left for an all day trip to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. I learned a lot about Abeer on this trip. It’s not just a ride or a trip, it’s a journey. He just pauses, breathes in places, checks his watch and is ready to move on… very characteristic of his own personal attitude. No looming, lingering, or hovering. I, on the other hand, am all about the loom, hover, hang. Until I have not completely soaked in what I needed to, I just cannot leave. My logic was we traveled all the way; hence, we must do justice to the destination. Our time allotted to the justice-ing was off between each other. But as always we found balance. We let each other be but we couldn’t be more in sync if we tried. He is kinder, softer and more attentive on such getaways. The phones get some rest and I get so much more face time with him. That’s why I’m addicted to these times and journeys. In the city, it’s a challenge. The phone (his Nexus 5) is the 2nd wife I have had to adopt and give an occasional smile to. Anyways back to the road. We battled some pleasant and not so pleasant rains. The not so pleasant part is attributed to bad roads, potholes the size of craters and not so easily visible until too late and Abeer’s not so strong vision. Managing the gear, a huge helmet and glasses is not as easy as it looks convenient. I just kept his and my spirits up; we played road games scoring how many potholes he missed versus not and then kept count. On a long open road with no visible vehicle either in the front or back of yours, silly childlike games keep you going J When I would be upset and not respond and sit quiet for hours, Abeer, my love, would break that monotony with a big 5 in the air out of nowhere and I would wonder what just happened. I would see he just dodged a pothole and was scoring for us… we would burst into giggles and there would end our pseudo-feud. Silly me.

After what seemed like 3hours straight, we were up a steep hill climb, the valley view getting more picturesque, and the turns getting more sharper and dangerous. The view immediately took me back to the time I would be dropped off to boarding school by mum at the start of the academic year. The treachery of knowing I wouldn’t see her for a year would be eased by me riding in an expensive comfy cab in her lap. Here I was, behind my man, showing him parts of the state (Maharashtra) and places of my childhood. He loved and marveled at everything. We reached Panchgani at early noon, after a brief stop at Harrisson’s Foley. We went straight to Table Land and witnessed the lake, the valley and a bad angle view of the Devil’s Kitchen. Little walks and views were followed by some much needed Maharashtrian infused lunch. Dosas (very different), missal and ussal pav and what not. We rode some more down the road, passed my school Kimmins High school where I just HAD to squeal, some ogling at lovely homes and properties, and straight through a divine road with intervals of Malas and Mapro depots and signs. Mapro of course dominating with Malas as its sidekick. For the lesser informed, Mapro and Malas are brands/companies who specialize in sweet treats, jelly and fruit confectionary, berries and jams, crush and syrups etc. A whole load of sweet to put you in confectionary heaven. THAT is what I will eventually use to describe the Mapro Farm (an absolute must visit). We were disappointed not to find any fresh strawberries or mulberries that we so desperately chased but realized it’s out of season. We settled for their homemade ice cream and toppings and bought some amazing organic honey and jams to take back. I also shopped some ridiculously cheap scarves and a pair of biking gloves at a Kashmiri handicraft store. In Mumbai, there would be attempts to rip me off with 3 figure demands and much haggling. Here the digits fell to 50 bucks and 250 bucks, respectively. I got greedy and didn’t haggle at all :D

We rode further down to Mahabaleshwar. Going to some signature points like Kate’s point, Echo valley etc. spent much time there and moved on. It was breathtaking and I managed to steal a pic of 2 haggard, roughed up bikers standing next to each other. Hardly the loved up scene I wished to capture. We stopped by the town’s only CCD and paused for a good amount of time. Drank 2 coffees as my biker boy exclaimed that we were ahead of schedule so we had that precious time to waste and while away. Which we did where our numb behinds finally had restored sensation. Coffee and recommended bathroom breaks after we rode back to Pune. The ride was fantastic through Wai until we hit the traffic of Pune. The welcoming pollution and maneuvering traffic was worse than the downpour we endured on our return journey. We went straight home, cleaned up and went to Dorabjee’s where I ate like I hadn’t been fed in a decade. Wolfed down was more like it with one leg on the chair like a Panchayat head. Everyone else around me thought what a pretty but hungry girl. Wonder why she looks so starved. Hahaha. The rest period was good bonding time. Checks and gossips over music and what we can do next. What trips and what routes. What scenes and what gear. What went wrong and what we can do better. Our amusement for the day was when we passed a group of seasoned Royal Enfield riders who took great offense to our new tan Classic version overtaking their hierarchically synchronized ride. They eventually made some dangerous cuts in traffic on the National highway to prove a point and overtook us… I think my bubblegum pink Vega helmet added insult to injury…. Lol… Boys…

Abeer and our bebe
Mumbai return trip was beautiful and perfect. Relaxed with stops to the smog engulfed Lonavala valley, a cup of boiled butter corn from our usual suspect and going through dewy rainwashed routes. We stopped briefly parallel to Khopoli on a lone route taken only by bikers once you get off the expressway. The scene was straight out of a book or photoshopped magazine cover. We paused to take some pictures which eventually earned us rave reviews and a great many fans (miniscule but great for us). It was EPIC. The city entry was divine followed by nightmare of sore backs, painful legs, near-exploding bladders, growling stomachs and torrential downpour. It was probably the 1st time in 3 days I just wanted to get off the bike and lay flat and not get back on. Yep it was the too-much-of-a-good thing syndrome. Abeer was exhausted. Through this journey I solemnized that I would fulfil my dream of learning to ride one of these babies and have the ability to take over when Abeer needed a break. If we were gonna be biker hogs then me riding pillion forever would be a very selfish move for him as well as for my dream. So I returned with a good trip, good memories, loads of newfound love for the road, our trips, new passions and my man. I also came back with determination for a better week, a new journey to plan and to learn a new skill :)

Watch out for BiKronicles III. For pictures of the journey, visit my Instagram handle (gatacdo7) and Abeer’s (tipsies).