Monday, May 17, 2004

Tamarind Highway Day 2

Day 2

Morning dawned with the realisation that the day was getting to be very hot. We freshened up as the rest were still dozing. A couple of us who were up and about decided to go get some breakfast. We had not arranged with the resort to provide us with food. We found a joint very near the resort and had some tea and biscuits and some nice discussion with the Madras Bulls guys... Some of the madras bulls had already left Pondi in the night.

I guess it was a good ride to and back since it was not too far from Chennai. Since most of the guys were still sleeping when we were back, we decided to strike out to by ourselves to the town. We would not be coming back this side so we said our good byes to the Madras Bulls, Dodo, Brijesh, and all of them who were so cool to sponsor this stay in Pondi. We said our goodbyes to the rest of the guys and left for the main town. The sun was already beating down pretty harshly and it was not even 9:00 am.

We were familiar with the town so wanted to just "surf" the town, lets say !! We went down to the Beach Road where we had breakfast by the beach cafe and chilled out by the sea and then decided to cruise around the colonial area of Pondicherry and in that process did some shopping...

There is a good market for handmade goods which are pretty cheap and useful ... which become painfully expensive the moment they reach Bangalore...

Do not forget to rest a while by the shades of the big trees in the park near the Beach Raod. We relaxed for sometime there. of all places this is my favourite place to be in Pondicherry.. by the beach road in the evenings and walking through the park in the daytime.. the wonder of it was that while it was burning hot in the sun... the moment you stood under the trees, it was like you had reached natural airconditioning zone.

I have not experienced this difference in temperature in bangalore when in the shade....that makes you appreciate the summer all the more... Since it was a Sunday many had come down to spend the day in the park and all the sitting areas were full of kids and families just enjoying their Sunday... once side I could see two sisters playing hide and seek, on the other hand I could see a group of elderly people playing cards... and then some women sitting in a circle talking... I guess they were taking stock of the week's work ha ha !!

But this moment, seeing everybody busy being happy in their own relaxing without the hurrying made me appreciate the quality of life there... Yes I would like to do that someday .. live in that area and go to the ashram, sit by the sea or the park and then just reflect... and then go back... maybe to Auroville... ah yes time to reflect...

By this time we were having tiny hunger pangs and then mulled over where to go for lunch.. Of all the places Rendezvos was the nearest and the best. So decided to head there... I have become a die hard fan of this place by the way... LOL. By this time the rest of the group also flocked in. Praveen, Mahindra and JFK. Tiwana had decided to go via Chennai. Keerthi and Soup decided to stay back for one more day and enjoy the place...

We had another amazing lunch here and then headed out to the highway by 3:00 after the guys did some shopping for themselves... courtesy yours truly... I was the only woman in the group and urged them that if they did not take home such nice gifts for their family it would be a sin... hahaha !!!

Anyways, on and on we went. We had to reduce speed since Praveen and JFK's bikes were running in so we kept a steady but medium speed. We stopped after every hour or so and then carried on..

On reaching Gingee, we stopped again for some photographs... JFK did some cool and freaky posing ... and I obliged him by capturing the Alpha male moments .. with a profile and then both the man and the profile... and he was mighty thrilled with the portraits... of him and his new baby... ( he had just bought the STD 500 you see and had got it with him to Pondi for a spin) and you thought that women were narcissistic... LOLOL !!

Reached TV Malai at dusk and had some snacks at one of the hotels...

My ordeal started when it was dark.. firstly I could not see anything but the stars and then I was so inspired by the feeling of riding under the starry sky that I thought out a poem... well a sham of a poem which went like

Under the starry sky as we ride
without a care or a sigh
the cresent moon is shining shy
watching us head home cocooned in its soft light....

Well guys that was one of the rarest occasions when I could come out with something resembling a poem... I was feeling raelly romantic riding through the wilderness with only the mountains and the stars as witnessess... its a heady feeling...

Mahendra ( I just got that his name was Mahendra and not Mahindra ... sorry about that Mahendra !!! ) was riding pillion with JFK since he had packed his bike to bangalore. He then took turns in riding Praveen's and JFK's bike.

Now this guy had the tenacity not to doze off while riding. And I was amazed at that...since he said that no matter what he could never sleep while riding. JFK who was by this time very tired and sleepy just wanted to reach home. He also gave the bike up to Mahindra while he dozed as pillion.

Mahendra then started to play with him ... just when JFK would go off to sleep he would accelarate and JFK would hit his helmet ..* tak* on Mahendra's and wake up.. Mahendra continued this till JFK came up with a defense policy even in his sleep LOL... mahendra gleefully recounted the phase when we were taking a break... haha to the utmost consternation of JFK.

Now where yours truly was concerned, she was fighting a losing battle with the sandman and was trying her level best to keep her eyes wide open...but it was a constant struggle...

The whole time I would try to concentrate on the inky blackness and *tap* I would go off to sleep. And I was also * tak taking Rocks helmet with mine.. Once I almost

Believe you me !!!! Its no fun sitting pillion at night and the road being so smooth...

My endless struggle with my sandman and my dream catcher was making Rocks very edgy and he was shit scared that I would fall off and I was trying my best not to fall off.. Little did he know how I was trying to battle the onslaught of sleep...even though every time we would stop and I would wash my eyes with precious water.... nothing was working

Beat this... you are travelling on a smooth straight road in the inky darkness and the speed is some 50 to 60 kmph and add to it the constant thump of the machine...and cool breeze swhishing by..... even a crazed incomniac would have fallen asleep. And I am a person who appreciates sleep so it was touch and ZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZz for me !!

Anyway this time luck was on our side so we reached the end of the Tamarind Highway pretty fast. Here we took a break and the night and the hour inspired us to think about ghost stories.. JFK told us an almost-ghost story... well my imagination was fired up anyway.. so Mahendra ( the great strory teller ) tempted us with a tantalising ghost story which we were eager to listen .. we breaked for tea somewhere insignificant near the highway and Mahendra started his storytelling which turned out to be a welcome break from the sleepy ride and had us splitting in laughter.... By now I was wide awake... and we had reached the outskirts of Bangalore... soon after we reached home feeling fulfilled and exhausted... yet another journey finished and yet another day ends.... but with warm memories of percolating Pondicherry.....

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Percolating Pondicherry ..Cruising the Tamarind Highway

Day 1, Arpril 24th 04

This trip write up was long due and was thinking when I would have the time to put it up .. anyway... this trip was being planned for a long time and we had just done our Coorg trip. We were thinking of giving it a miss. The trip was about Madras Bulls celebrating their annversary and they had invited us for a ride to Pondicherry. It would also be a ride when we would be also remembering Varun, our dear departed friend.

We were eager to make it but then decided against it. I think both our consciences were not agreeing to that. So after a late party at a friend's place we decided inpromtu that no matter what we would make it and it was about 12:30 in the night and we had not done any packing.. so after rushing in with the packing we crashed at almost 2:00 and after 2 hours of sleep we were up and about putting the stuff in our bikes and off we went to meet the other bikers..

Sijan ( JFK)

JFK had brought in his bike with a towing rope fixed on his handle. I teased him about it and he was telling me that it was style... and later on this rope was the one which saved our day.. Kudos to JFK's sense of bike fashion.

In the meantime some of the riders had already gone ahead the previous day to Chennai and they would reach Pondicherry by the same day from Chennai.

We met up with the bikers at the Hosur flyover and continued on to Krishnagiri where had a cup of tea and continued on our way.

After a while, we took a left deviation to the road which connected to the highway leading us to Pondicherry. This is the best road to ride while riding from Bangalore to Pondicherry. This road is trimmed with tamarind trees on both sides and its a ride worth the while if you just want to cruise. On the other hand it could get somewhat boring.. for the rider and one had the risk of falling asleep if one was not used to riding long roads...

It was almost noon and we were tremendously hungry. I had got some sweets from home and some oranges. We munched on that. This highway is devoid of any dhabas. We were hoping to make good time and then have some breakfast somewhere but there was no scope of that. We were kind of getting real hungry.

Finally we spotted a small town where we had some dosas and then continued down the highway. The weather was getting warm but as long as we were on the road it was pretty cool . We took short stops and relaxed our behinds beneath Tamarind tree shades.

The highway is a cool one without the disturbing onslaughts of truck and bus drivers. Nice scenic view.. a little too nice for my tastes... a ride is not a ride without winding roads and some rough roads... :)

We went through Tiruvanamalai. TV Malai was a crowded town but moving traffic. This place is known for its temples and we crossed quite a few of them. Nestled at the foot of the mountains, this place was a buzz of activity and very soon we left the town behind. Then it was about 3:00 and we entered Gingee. This appreared to be a historical place with Rajgiri and krishnagiri fort on both sides.

It was a majestic climb and I could imagine how it was to have lived in those forts with a spectacular view of the state. We promised ourselves that we could explore the fort some other time but now our main objective was to reach Pondicherry which was hardly some 50 odd kilometres away.

Hardly had we ridden 20 kms, we saw Mahindra stopping by the side of the road. He was telling us that he was having engine problems. We could not figure out the problem since it was inside the engine and no one was stupid enough to open the engine in the middle of the highway. So I just prayed that somehow that baby would run.. We were just 40 kms from Pondicherry. We decided to let the engine cool down a bit and then start again.. So mahindra would ride some 2 to 3 kms and then it would stop... and doing this we were losing time and Mahindra was also getting pissed off. All of us tried to cheer him up... He is a guy who can make your journey very interesting. He has so many stories to tell. He was quiet and brooding since his baby was not functioning well.

Finally 20 kms away from Pondicherry, JFK decided that he would tow the bike. His stylish towing rope then came into use... the same rope about which we were teasing him. Mahindra was in two minds. Since he was not used to being towed, he did not take to the idea very well. But we including mahindra thought that he could give it a try. We were nearing the town now and it would be getting dark in few hours... so mahindra's bike was tied to JFK's bike and he led him. In the beginning it was like dicey with Mahindra getting pulled and trying to keep balance without his engine working .. Tiwana and our bike kept a close distance. After sometime both of them got used to the towing and they were moving quite fast, to the extent that they manged to overtake a bus in the town... and we were like GAWK with our mouth open.... and just hoping that both of them would make it..and they did quite triumphantly .. haha

The public in Pondi was looking at us wierdly.. imagine... us in the lead and then the two of them in the midle and Tiwana at the rear. That being the situation it did not stop the public from butting in trying to cross between the bikes despite the road but we reached the destination after sometime..Eden resorts ..where we were wecomed warmly by the Brijesh and Harish and others from the Madras Bulls. While Mahindra and JFK went to fix the bike we went ahead to have some foodsince we were starving and I had heard so much about Rendezvous that we decided to try our luck there... Rocks was by this time almost dying of hunger and so was I . Among the three of us , Tiwana, Rocks and Myself, we polished off I Omlette, Shrimp Cocktail, a plate of big chicken sausages, a plate of fish fingers, a plate of mixed grill steak, a plate of hamburger, Butter Chicken and Roti and two scoops of Icecream and the quantity was huge...

After hogging like pigs we went back and could not find the rest of the crowd. Seems that they had gone for dinner and would be returning in sometime. There was some miscommunication and we missed meeting them on the way.. anyways we crashed off in our shacks while waiting for them.. the resort was just next to the sea and our tired senses were lulled to the land of our dreams. As I was closing my eyes I could see the velvety sky of stars slowly fading.

Suddenly after midnight we get up to murmur of voices. It was a little after 12:00 and the crowd had returned. Part of the gang with Tiwana, Mahindra, Dodo, Solomon, JFK, us, Praveen, KJ and a cuople of others sat around a circle with the background of sea waves talked and talked... as usual we exchanged stories. We were too touchy to talk about Varun but we remembered him every moment and we knew he would have been there in spirit with us. Mahindra entertained us with stories of how it was like riding in Leh and Solo and Dodo ( Daniel) entertained us with their own stories. Solo is the only member of Madras Bulls who rode with 60 kph which was another bullet club and they have ridden to many a places. Dodo was telling us about his plans to do Kashmir to Kanyakumari. Solo was one of the members who had gone to the Pakistan peace ride from Chennai. Dodo never got enough of teasing Solo about his fascination with Fair and Lovely. LOLOL . It was pretty funny And with that note we all crashed off... I was thinking that though this was the most impulsive ride we had done.. it was worth it.. meeting everyone and how the Madras Bulls had arranged such a nice place for us...