True Wanderer 3 – Talks at India Bike Week 2015

My brothers and sisters from the biking fraternity, before I give my presentation let me first explain what true wanderers ride is about;

Every year Wrangler launches the TW platform where motorcycle travel enthusiasts like you and me can submit a travel story; a story which you think has been most exceptional in your life. Nothing less than a thrilling saga of adventure.

Hundreds of entries pour in and after the deadline; only 10 best stories make it to the top ten. Most people assume the judgment is based on popularity and voting but truly it’s on how you write, what you write, the photos and videos, the aesthetic feel and the inspiration factor …and the overall presentation.

I too submitted my entry and found myself among the top 10 travelogues.

The next stage comes in. We 10 are then required to ride anywhere we like, any destination of our choice and route we want to undertake and live blog for 7 days a fresh story. Main rules remain the same best photos, videos, inspiration and motivation factors but above all the best write up, the story.

Only 1 winner will emerge and he or she will be awarded a grand motorcycle. (In my case the Kawasaki Z800 )

Allow me to share a fun fact, on a different contrast. In my schooling days my English teacher used to get very angry with me. Would always shout, “Mr. Vaikul you’ll never be able to write a proper essay. Your stories are non-sense. ” And she use to throw my paper in the dustbin. I felt very bad at times. 🙂

Here I stand today because the motorcycle travelogue I wrote in 2014 stood first among hundreds of entries. If only my English teacher could see this.

So here is,

LESSON 1 of Life – In your quest for success and learning, there are going to be obstacles and challenges only. Some situations are going to stop you and beat you down. But the only thing that can truly stop you is your conscious itself. Your will is the only thing you need to hold on to, to keep moving forward. By your dedication, your fate is compelled to open the doors of success in your life.

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When I earlier mentioned that one has to submit a motorcycle travel story to participate in the contest, it’s obvious I also submitted an entry. But the story that I submitted, I had no intention of writing it down in the first place. I left my job and undertook a 36 days trip in the Himalayas on my motorcycle and it was purely for my pleasure. A much needed break.

A friend of mine, Anahita Pagdiwalla, knows me by the skin, insisted to write down this story and submit in the True Wanderers 3rd edition. I was not keen, least interested. But knowing her its best to do what she says than face her fury.

I did what she asked me to do and here I stand today as the winner of TW 3 and proud owner of a 4 cylinder motorcycle.

So LESSON number 2 of Life – Behind the success of EVERY man there’s always a woman. She can make you, she can break you. Please be nice to her; she will stand by you through thick and thin.

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Coming back to my ride story;

The first thing I did was checked who are the other 9 finalists. And to my disbelief, 7 out of the 9 guys I knew well. By well, I mean they are excellent photographers, good in writing, creative in video shoot… basically serious competition.

I felt discouraged, the final ride had not even begun and I already had my hopes killed. Beating these guys was like going after Osama Bin Laden with an air gun.

But then again I remembered how a small candle can brighten the darkest room. And every champion was a rookie at one time.

The 3rd LESSON – The world fears a rookie, for they know what new will be unleashed and nervousness kicks in among the champions. For the rookie, he has to focus only on giving his best. Concentrate only on the bulls eye. (Those who follow MotoGP, you know what Marc Marquez did.)

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So now when the stage was set and I had a fair understanding of my competition, it was time to chart out a route. When readers come on my blog I wanted them to be amazed from my act. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for me and I wanted it to have a grand opening.

Hence I picked a route that would endure my mind and body to a level further. I chose to ride from my home in Mumbai to a place called Chandrashila in the Himalayas. Its at a distance of 1800kms from my residence, going over 4 lane highways, few cities enroute, mountain roads and a trek of few kms.

On paper it’s not quite practical but to do something extraordinary was my determination.

For the first time in my life I prayed to God in desperation to bring me back alive and safe from this one.

And yes he did, on the night of the 7th day I came home; tired, exhausted …but at peace.

route map

The 4th LESSON – To taste success hardship is the only way. Shortcut will only give you temporary boost, but to experience heavenly glory, your metal has to go through the process of seasoning and sacrifice. No other way.

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What happened in those 7 days, time is too short for me to narrate the true episodes and experiences. I’ll share the ones that are very dear to me and I hope you find them inspiring.

This ride started when the summer was at its peak. On day 1 itself the wind was warm and the temperature was close to 45 degrees Celsius. Not quite a pleasant day to ride and a mammoth of 1000kms I had to cover to keep with the schedule.

Just covered roughly around 300kms and stopped to capture the sunset. The theme of TW 3 was ‘chase the sun’. So I took some pictures of the sunset but the next thing I remember is I’m lying down on the side of the road. Out of fear I got up and realized that I think I fainted a while back. Is it that Hot! Or Am I not feeling well? Many questions hit me hard. And the most important of all, should I continue to ride on? (If this would have happened while riding then I was a goner!)

5th LESSON – Body is the temple of God. Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; Be carefully careless.

So did I ride on? Of course I did.

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Another episode.

Many of us have heard this, ‘Lord works in mysterious ways.’ In this episode I actually got to live it.

I was fixed on my route and had no intentions of altering it midway. But when I took a random halt to relax my muscles, just in the middle of nowhere, I read a sign board saying picnic spot and view point 6kms left. Since I was seeking interesting stories, I took the chance and went ahead to see what’s this place about.

Upon reaching the site I realized that it truly was a scenic place, very pleasant and peaceful; and I met a guy there who takes care of the tourists who visit the place. Cooks food, makes camping arrangements, looks after the plants and trees around.

When he got to know why I was there and what I was doing, he took me to his house, gave me food and told me some interesting facts about the trees around the place.

I’m glad that I met him and today I have shared his name and contact details on many travel forums. Some of my friends from north have made a visit to this place after reading my story.

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LESSON number 6 – ‘Lord truly works in mysterious ways. When two souls come together there’s always some purpose to it and when two souls are brought together against all odds, there’s always a divine purpose at play. What is the finest education in life? Is to understand how nature serves its own purposed through you. Our lord has written the play, your job is to act well and retire.’

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Here’s one short episode,

One of the places I visited on this ride was Lansdowne. It’s the home of Garhwal rifles — Finest soldiers of India and expert in mountain warfare. There is museum maintained by the army and I went in to check out the place. No camera is allowed inside so left my pack with the guard outside.

The place is filled with mountains of information, stories and artifacts. I really wish I could photograph some.

And just when I was pondering over the letters and documents kept for viewing, this one line I read that really brought tears in my eyes. My feeling of empathy was quite shaken.

Let me read out, ‘‘To those who read this scroll, ………….for he left his loved and dear ones by the call of king and country, to face hardship and danger and later pass out of sight of men. He sacrificed so his people can live. May his name not be forgotten by the time ahead. For we breath in freedom and price was paid by his blood.’

The 7th LESSON – A soldier fights for the people he doesn’t know, he dies for the people he doesn’t know; all he knows is that he gave up his today so we can have a better tomorrow. The freedom we enjoy today must not be taken for granted, for someone is paying the price by his blood.

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Moving on to another short episode,

What does an old lady do? Nothing but cares for the young ones.

On the narrow lanes of Lansdowne an old lady spotted me strolling up and down many times and finally stopped me to ask if I was looking for someone. I explained her why I was here and what I was doing. She was glad to hear me out. She gave me a cup of tea and told me to be careful on the road ahead from the town. It’s all downhill and steep. Don’t ride after dark and stay alert. For someone who had met a stranger, all she showed me was care and guidance.

The only frightening thing to come from her mouth was a blessing that I get married soon. 😛

Old Lady

My LESSON number 8 – Our elders want only the best for us. Though we may disagree with them on certain times, but their care and love for us is immeasurable. In their old age, our unconditional support acts as boon their life and living. When you go home tomorrow show some love to your elders.

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Coming to my most favourite episode,

Chandrashila is a beautiful peak high in the Himalayas. The trek of 3kms looks small but takes some effort to reach the top. And the last 500 meters steep slope is always covered with snow.

At that altitude, I was told that it’s easy to spot a Himalayan Mongal. It’s the state bird of Uttarkhand. And while going up the trail, I met many enthusiasts who were able to capture some photos of this bird.

Here I was, reached at the summit, took some photos and videos but no bird. I was happy with what I experienced till that time but was hoping to photograph the bird for good finish.

First time in my life I prayed in desperation and cry; gave myself a silent 2 minutes… and voila, a bird just ran in front of me and went behind some rocks. I got to see it for split second but realized that it was surely a mongal, its outline is distinctive. Slowly I went closer to the rock and in that 3 second moment I was able to capture 1 photo of this beautiful bird.

Himalayan Mongal

So here is the LESSON 9th – A true prayer can bring magic in your life. Keep praying with faith and gratitude. A prayer can get you long way.

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The last one,

On the 6th day while returning from the Himalayas, coming back into the plains it was past midnight. Since I had only 1 day to reach back home I had to reach the mainland anyhow before I start my final run.

At 3.am when finally my body was giving up, I felt it’s time to check into a hotel but what will I find open at 3 in the morning.

3 hours prior, at midnight when there was a chance I didn’t take it.

For the first time I thought Himalayas are divine, people of the mountain treat it as their father. So let’s leave it to him; he shall take care of me.

In the next 20 mins just upon a turn I was surprised to see a lodge open. I immediately checked in; they also gave me some food and nourishment. And I learned that due to election campaign going on; they have been told to keep the lodge open till late hours.

Most important LESSON – Sometimes in Life you have to take a LEAP of Faith. Then rest everything falls at the right place automatically.

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Thank you MTM and IBW for giving me this platform today; my utmost respect to my parents for supporting me always in this journey. I would like to conclude with this small video I made during this ride.

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5 WTF Moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride

You read my Spiti Bicycle Ride Notes, your saw the photos; you liked it and appreciated it. Many thanks…

Now on a lighter note, here are my favourite WTF moments from the Spiti Valley Bicycle Ride.

1. 21kms for that 3kms We had taken a couple of days halt at Tapri; and at least I in my mind was relaxed because next day we had to cover only 25kms to reach Reckong Peo, of which only last 5kms is uphill. Rest all just a cruise parallel to the river.

But when we began this day, within exit of Tapri we saw a 21kms uphill diversion to Chooling due to landslide. Chooling my friends was just 3kms away from the diversion via the regular route.

For a mere 3kms we were off on a uphill path of 21kms.

WTF; Shoot me now.

2. Why Pedal Downhill! All this time we were enjoying whenever there was a downhill stretch. It was a moment to take a breather from the constant pedaling. But here after entering Spiti Valley I don’t understand; why on some downhill paths we had to pedal.

Despite the decline the bike was not catching up any speed.

It was strange and silly experience.

WTF; somebody give me a rocket booster.

3. Wind in My Face, Please No Thanks On a motorcycle the wind in your face is quite pleasing; but here on 0 BHP wind in face means pedaling against the wind to the last light.

Post Rampur we always got head wind after 3pm until Manali.

WTF; The feeling was like pedaling on the indoor cardio cycling machine with constant level 10 mode.

4. Where the Hell is All the Food Going By day 8 of the ride we could feel a shift in out metabolic rate. Whatever we eat was getting instantly digested.

We were hungry after breakfast, we were hungry after lunch and… we were hungry after dinner.

WTF; We were craving for sweets and beer always …and liquids throughout the ride.

5. Mr. Turkey Somewhere in the middle of the ride we got this pride and ego in ourselves. Any motorcyclist who use to pass by raising a thumbs up, we were enunciating ‘Bitch Please…’; 🙂 LOL…we were finding it very funny. Everyone tends to glorify their motorcycle rides in the Himalayas nowadays and we were like Bitch Please do it on 0 bhp.

It all went fine for few days until we reached Tabo. Upon reaching a cyber cafe we met a guy from Turkey who rode all the way on his bicycle, weighting 80kgs. (A Grand Bitch Please to us.) And over that he says I don’t feel I have cycled enough until I cover at least 20000kms. Our jaws dropped upon hearing this.

After this incident we were brought back on the ground; and in Abhilabh a Russian spirit came in (though the guy was from Turkey :-D) Hence onwards Abhi spoke everything in Russian accent. It was a ROFL acts to the end of the ride.

Why WTF!? …its because every time we were climbing steep slopes, he would do his Russian accent and smash all the focus and enthusiasm accumulated. I myself slipped on my own pedal once.

Hilarious it was..

Spiti Valley on a BICYCLE

Full Set of the Photo Album of Spiti Valley bicycle ride uploaded on my Flickr Account.

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When we did the Chandra Tal trek, Jamaica requested me to make a video presentation of it. This is the one I was able to cook up. Dedicated to Jamaica and his service to the people visiting Chandra Tal.

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Notes

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“Great Things are achieved Only by Sacrifice”

In life, you don’t feel you have lived until and unless you do something crazy. Something you survive and live to tell the tale. Something that makes your heart warm; Something that burns the incense of passion inside you; your blood turns hotter than lava and the sound of your breath is looking to reach higher decibels.

No matter what logical decision your mind tells you to make, your heart is always ready to sacrifice something to be in that moment which gives you the utmost bliss.

With similar thought process and feelings running inside me I was having these ideas of doing a bicycle trip in the Himalayas. Atleast once in my life I wanted to register this entry in my day log of karma. I’m not sure how, but even the place hovering in my mind was Spiti Valley, specifically. I have seen those mountains over a couple of times and yet my focus was back on the same place.

I didn’t argue with myself; locked the destination and prepped for it in 3 months time. A new bicycle, gear and some practice for the muscles, back at home.

Usually anyone would train for atleast 6 months but I knew my mind and body was ready for it. It was a calling that I couldn’t doubt.

Going solo or not was still a question but sometimes words are released in those moments that you feel the control of external forces. I shared the plan with a friend of mine and he with another; And locked the group to 3. All this happened in a nick of time.

And so it was decided that we 3 will ride together on our bicycles to Spiti Valley this season of 2014.

We all had our frights and fear; but making it through was unquestionable in our hearts. We knew this was it.

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Here I present you 10 notes that took birth in this bicycle ride up in the Himalayas

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Note 1: People Lack Patience to Practice Patience

In today’s time one really needs to be patient. If he or she cannot remain one then during restless times one’s mind becomes annoying as a fly.

We took train from Mumbai to Kalka. Our bicycles were booked in the luggage car and we were rested in the 2AC compartment. Best place to be in the hot summers of Central India.

The train journey was quite long; sitting with hardly any activity to do requires tremendous amount of patience. In the first 6 hours itself my mind was going nuts. And to top it up, the seats occupied by the people opposite our birth were the only noisy ones in the whole compartment.

Jesus, …it was like ‘KILL ME NOW’ moment.

I came pretty close to snapping a few times; but calmed myself and went into deep silence to find peace and perspective in the finding scenario.

You know in difficult times I always remember the teachings of Dalai Lamba; to beat your own misery you need to visualize someone’s greater misery. Someone in this world, your brother, your fellow kind is going through much painful days than yours.

I immediately jump to positive feelings whenever these thoughts I recollect in my head. Today is a gift, it is a present. Perceive it in a way that you cannot see at first sight.

Interacting with the noisy family and neighboring passenger helped calm those annoying hours.

Really I need to start practicing patience to deal with annoying situations; you really don’t want to blow up yourself. Making yourself better and helpful is the sole purpose of one being.

Note 2: Holy Moly – The Reality is Tenfold of What We Thought

We prepared ourselves by cycling regularly couple of months before this main feat. We ate right and we packed right. We had all the things we need and we were high on confidence that we’ll be able to do this with some efforts. Hey! We had the youth on our side; so big deal!

We were foolish.

The moment we pushed that first pedal, the thought of reality kicked us hard. In fact kicked us right from the the south direction straightway up.

Within just 4 kms after embarking from Kalka we were “little” tired and muscles feeling heavy.

Plan was to reach Shimla in next 48 hours; with a night halt at Solan.

Every km being uphill, the climb was a staggering effort. Breathless, tired, exhaustion, thirsty, frustration, annoyance were the only words ringing in our heads. And the last few kms of the attempt were like ‘Forget the ride just bury us here.’

Regardless of how and what we were going through, somewhere in the back of the mind there was always this small candle of hope. Nothing but just desperate and urgent emotions of triumph and victory use to set in at moments.

We made it on time as per itinerary and also feet anchored to the ground. Reality plans now, no cloud 9 display.

Note 3: Reverence to The Body

Just when you think the tough part is over you realize everything was just warming up.

In the hours of our climb to Kufri and following day to Hatu peak, we realized our bodies are truly limitless. But you need to be patient for your physical being to come in terms with performance level. When it’s ready, you’ll know it.

Push it to build, not to destroy. It was the time that at least I started respecting my body on a whole different level. In the scales of physical endurance it was becoming stronger but needed continuous feed of my patience.

You may be last in the race but you are not done yet. Only inside you, you know, and are fully aware that there is so much yet to yield and deliver. It’s the only thing you need to keep in mind to pull such an act of adventure.

And in testing times, you’ll always find a helping hand to cheer you and bless you on your journey. We found this feelings in the lady who fought on behalf of us with the bus driver who almost dashed into us, we found it in the local guy running a adventure shop who saw our parked bicycles and stopped for a chat, we saw it in the local tourists who were cheering us when climbing steep slopes and… we saw it in invincible forces that were flying with us for our protection.

Today we now find ourselves in a position to do the impossible. The spark and potential has been awaken, now its time to move this body to greater heights.

It’s well said that body is the temple of God, adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy; carefully careless. Quote, my Guru.

Note 4: A Skill if Unproductive is Never a Waste

Many of us in our lives learn something out of context; we pick up a few skills along the journey of life; Most land up being unproductive. You are a professional banker but you are an awesome gardener too. The latter might not be earning some bucks but it’s the skill you possess, you have been defined by it.

Believe me none will ever go to waste.

In an incident where my bike met with an accident; only the skills never used by my fellow cyclists came to the rescue in the need of hour. None of those skills were put to use in daily routine but today they stood to be heroes. There is a fine line between living and truly living.

Skills are your best weapons to emerge victories in any stage of life; no matter how diminutive they are, each set can be those drops that fill the ocean.

So in life pick up some new set of skills wherever there is an inner calling.

Note 5: True Test of Patience

Losar just 3kms away but why it feels like 300? You are at your full strength but why do you feel weak? You ate well then why are you feeling hungry? You had a good sleep then why so much fatigue? You trained well but why cannot see any results? You carried 4 liters of water then how come only half left when you are not even halfway across? Its downhill then why the cycle is not going fast?

In events like these you only feel, oh God let this moment past asap. But the truth I realized that until one doesn’t start enjoying these moments no matter how much baffling they are, every second passed will feel like endless hour.

Yes I’m in a pickle and I’m not able to figure out some things. But this scenario is just a part of your pursuit to success. It’s what going to make you. One needs to accept it, challenge it and resolve it by keeping self calm and composed. Then every longing second will feel like a fast paced moment.

Being aware and alert is the key of performing a patient activity. You are high on pain and my god, you love it. When finally that particular timeline has passed, your inner self screams in roar of rejoice and victory.

Yes you have made it. And shall do it again…

Note 6: Offcourse an Indian Can Do it

While crossing Pooh, we came across a small army post where the head officer asked in a little strong tone, ‘which country?’
I replied in the same tuning, INDIA.

He was shocked, surprised and later overwhelmed to see Indians on a bicycle in the valley. No backup, no big group… Just 3 people on bicycles.

We were brought inside on orders to have tea and snacks with them. Have a little talk and then carry on ahead with the ride.

A thought started pondering in my head that why sometimes some people assume Indians cannot be seen doing something like this… or something else; some other adventure feat.

We see many foreigners pedaling across the Himalayas, and I take inspiration from them only to execute on parallel lines. I believe there is nothing an Indian can’t do. And I also say why first of all bring nationality into it. If you are human, then you are limitless. One should learn how high he/she can excel in this God given life.

This was the very moment that gave birth to another ride on my bicycle, in my head —  A K2K : Kashmir to Kanyakumari SOLO 😛

Hopefully in 2015.

Note 7: There is No Harm in Asking for Help

Often I have seen that many of us especially in our youth refrain from taking any help when in trouble. It’s obvious that our pride and ego drives us into this thinking mode.

When climbing up Nako, we were determined to go all the way up pedaling. And honestly we did quite well; pretty impressive for first timers. But just 5kms before the village our body gave up. Physically, mentally and emotionally we were totally drained. There was nothing in us that could boost up our enthusiasm. And it was already past the last evening light.

Thankfully there was a small hotel coming up nearby and the restaurant was already functional. When we got speaking with them we got to know they are just packing up and will be driving to Nako where they stay.

It was a Mahindra Max and enough room at the back for 3 bicycles and 3 guys. We asked if they could drop us up and they casually answered in positive.

On our way up I realized that stubbornness is a quality that needs guidance. Yes I was stubborn. I wanted to go all the way up pedaling. But when I have mentioned before ‘Body is temple of God, Adequate care should be taken to maintain its normalcy. Carefully careless’ I need to know when to stop and give it a break. Who knows, maybe next time I might be able to do it faster than just going all the way up pedaling.

Note 8: And I Thought Downhill Will be The Most Fun

The moment we started pedaling in the mountains, I had a feeling that going downhill must be super fun than the never ending uphill. That slow pace requires tremendous patience, so downhill will be pure compensation — was my belief. But in reality, we did not see this coming…

The first long downhill patch welcomed us post Narkhanda. It’s almost 40kms to the bottom of the hill from the popular hill station.

Within 5 minutes of the start we caught up speed and at the first turn I skidded a little. Almost fell you can say in fact.

Lesson 1 – Bicycles with luggage are not meant for cornering the way I’m imagining.

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On a straight downhill patch almost touched 50 speed and felt a wobble.

Lesson 2 – Going fast downhill with luggage onboard is a stupid idea.

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Already so much weight on bike and the weight of the bicycle pushing downhill in concern to speed, mass and gravity; most likely to get punctured.

Rear tyre gets its first nail on the trip.

Lesson 3 – Best to go fast on smooth surface than otherwise.

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Who said body will be at constant rest when going downhill?! A stupid assumption.

Lesson 4 – Your forearms and palm pain like hell because entire weight is falling on them while descending rapidly. The bigger you are the stronger it’s going to hurt.

“Uphill se darr nahi lagtha hai sab, Downhill se lag tha hai…” Dabbang style 😛

Note 9: Chacha Chachi

I don’t even need to explain this note. Those who have traveled Spiti thoroughly will know who are truly called as Chacha Chachi.

In this bicycle trip to Spiti Valley, 3 days spent in Batal at Chacha Chachi’s Dabha were the blissful moment of this epic feat. Their warm hospitality is unbelievable and immeasurable. Until you meet them you won’t even accept the fact that people like them exist even in today’s time. They have defined how a human being should live and behave. Their life there is also a testimony to the limitless potential two people have when they come together.

The food and talks just made us hung on to the place like bees on honey. We had to push our mind to come out from that comfort zone so we can move ahead in our journey. Otherwise who knows we would have lived there for more time.

Few moments of my life I shall surely dedicate to this beautiful couple living deep in the Himalayas. A gift to them is a must.

God bless them.

Note 10: Hidden Power Wakes Up

You don’t need to be exposed to gamma rays to become Hulk; not get bitten by spider to turn in Spiderman, not take boosters to become like Captain America… or wish you have super powers like Krissh. The Hero is already inside you. Strength and Bravery are already lurking inside you. The capsule of wisdom is too present in your diet; all you need to do is wake the hero, launch your strength and push the bravery sky high; …absorb the knowledge from the surroundings dispassionately. And transform into an ace human.

You’ll then realize you are already capable of performing miracles. The magic was already in your hand, you just have to start swinging the wand for the greater good.

This bicycle ride made me realize what I’m truly capable off and how much there is still inside me that needs an eruption.

All this time I thought I’m just a motorcycle enthusiast and Himalayan lover with a zest for photography. But now I realize there is more ‘stuff’ hiding in this body, soul, mind and heart. I cannot see it immediate but seek it with meditation and faith. I learned to trust my own self in ways I had not seen before.

It’s truly said that humans don’t fully work on their potential; how beautifully true it is, when here it took me 28 years to understand this… how much time it will take for others.

We all have hidden powers in ourselves; each one having a unique strength, a feature… a unique identity — spark. Try to take on something impossible that shall open the gates of that hidden dragon inside you. It’s time to come out of the ashes and take the flight of phoenix.

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Discoveries of Spiti Bicycle Ride

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There is no such thing as ‘Been there Done that’ – Many of us have this tendency to say this statement. It’s a way to make one sound cool. But I now realise the truth is otherwise.
No matter how much time you have been there or done that, every new time will always give a new perception. If you cannot see it then you are not seeking it.

Muscles are your best friends – You strength and muscles are you saviours for any such feat. We don’t take care of them enough; it’s high time we do the needful.
Making them stronger and flexible is more important for this generation than it was for the previous one.

Value water like nothing else – We get it’s regularly uninterrupted supply so we tend to take it for granted.
That feeling of quenching your thirst when you are desperate for some water is unexplainable. Water is life, value it — respect it.

People deserve respect, no matter how small – In today’s time the one who is highly qualified and become a big man gets the most respect. But we forget that by default in our hearts even today we generate respect for those who hit our chords gracefully. Rather than the humble receptionist of Shimla hotel, I felt a warm affectionate feeling towards the house owner of Losar where we stayed one night.
A small man from a small village won our hearts by just few graceful words from his illiterate being.

Skill is your qualification, not graduation – In the era where graduation is very important for teenager, learning few set of skills is getting ignored.
In life some skills that you pick up come to your rescue at desperate times. Its important to learn a thing or two once in a while.
Learn different types of knots, learn how to fish, learn sewing, learn to defend… atleast learn how to fix a puncture. 🙂

A herbal tea can do wonders – Drinking tea and coffee everyday is just useless and waste of money. We already know we get the 7th grade supply down to us and all above are exported; then what’s the point of having poor quality products for living.
Just move to herbal tea; it has so many benefits that you’ll see the results in just few days.
The herbal tea we had at Kye monastery, I felt its benefits in the same hour itself.

Inspiration and motivation are the only thing that drives you; seek it – These two things will always be the driving force behind your living, your activities and your behaviour.
The moment it starts diminishing, you tend to change in unpleasant way.

Burned enough fuel, now it’s time to give back – All these years we have burned enough gas to fuel our passion of automobiles; it’s high time we give something back to the environment.
Start by taking up a bicycle ride. Burn those calories instead of octane. You’ll surely benefit in the long run; and the respect you earn as a residue is an addon.

Abundant energy lies in small moments of joy and happiness; spread it – It’s something we know but always undervalue the concept.
One does not realize the powerful energy hidden in the joy of little things in life.
You get a top job in a big multinational company, you are happy, you are at the top of the world… But it still can’t beat the joy you experience when your baby first time calls you mama, papa.

It’s not the tea at Cafe Coffee Day but the cutting at Batal Dabha gives you warm and homely feeling. A feeling that ignites caring thoughts for our brothers and sisters on the planet. And our extended family among the animals.
From these small moments you’ll derive great amount of energy that you’ll never run out of enthusiasm.

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Last Note from My Journal

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The ride ended with some realization of truth and a sense of maturity. I promised myself that hence onwards I’m not gonna stop bicycling.

Be it for health and fitness or just mere commute or even some good long distance touring; bicycling will be an integral part of my lifestyle.

So the story of this ride ends but a whole new chapter in my life opens up.

The Air Up There | Himalayas

36 days in the Himalayas; 1 Man – 1 Machine

(Talking to myself inside the helmet); it’s been 12 hours since I left Kargil and entered Suru – Zanskar Valley. Couldn’t find an ounce of food to eat. Have been just on water… Yeah! This ride is definitely the most testing and challenging one done till date. Common Om focus; one mistake and you gone forever. It will take weeks just to know you are missing.

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I never imagined my life would revolve around Biking. May be it’s a passion or just an addiction but Motorcycles and Biking is now a culture, a family, a place where you make good friends; I’m grateful for this and the fact that it has given me the ability to reach any corner of the country in any environment. Freedom to explore the world on two wheels. Is it possible to push your limits in this world and to know where you stand by? Can two wheels teach you lessons of life? And what happens when you fall! So why not take it to the extremes and test the limits of man and machine, a place like no other, The Himalayas.

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Hi, my name is Om Vaikul and I set on a journey to the mountains for 36 days, covering 8000+ kms through 7 states, 9 valleys, 9 mountain passes and came back in a state of bliss. What makes any of this even more special is that I made this solo on my bike – on a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500.

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The joy of being in Himalayas for me is unexplainable. We all have one place in our lives where we come to in peace with ourselves. For me Himalayas has always been the answer to the chaos in today’s living. Material, Spiritual and in Superficial terms, being just in Himalayas has become an annual thing. They are not just the youngest mountain range in the world but also the liveliest ones.

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Why Solo?

Till date I have made 6 trips to Himalayas and each time I was fascinated to hear some stories off this and that valley or come to know about some amazing place across a river that is very less explored. Also in each trip some of the places from the plan use to get skipped because of short of time or road block; some reason or the other. So once I had decided that a trip to Himalayas solo is a must. And it’s the only way I could quench my thirst of photography in the mountains fully.

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Why Thunderbird 500?

For the simple reason, I had carried ample luggage on this trip. Something that may or may not come handy was also in the bag. Couple of places was quite off the map, remote and isolated so carrying atleast 10 litres extra fuel was mandatory. And I wanted to enjoy this ride in a cruiser position; also not compromise anywhere in power. I saw Thunderbird 500 has the only option that fit aptly. The 20 litres large fuel tank, tried and tested 500cc engine from the best selling Classic 500 and the many other modern technology incorporated in this bike, made this a feasible choice.

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Priceless Experiences?

From the whole 36 days. I would like to narrate 9 incidents that made me think in a renewed way towards life granted by the almighty one.

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1st Incident | Location: Somewhere on the highway

Just when I had taken a small tea break by the highway, a guy riding a motorcycle came and stopped besides me. He seemed a local fellow and I guess was also stopping for tea. When I turned and looked at him properly, my glass almost fell off after the sight I witnessed. The guy had no left arm; yet he rides a motorcycle properly.

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I exchanged few words with him, took a photograph with his permission and carried on. He was such a casual personality as how we express ‘no big deal’ phrase. The only thing that kept rotating in my mind was ‘Impossible is truly nothing.’

2nd Incident | Location: Chail, Himachal Pradesh

It was past 5 PM and I was coming down on the Chail Kufri road to get back on the main highway and as per my itinerary, today’s halt was in Narkhanda. As I was cruising, calculations were in full flow in my head that in an hour I’ll lose the day light and Narkhanda is still another 2 and a half hours away, max, that too if I rush a little. One thought was, maybe I’ll check in to a hotel nearby. Probably before the sun sets! And just after passing of this thought a hotel kind of thing passed by. I was little fast so couldn’t get the whole glance. I stopped ahead and thought for a second whether it was what I saw or may be try my chance little ahead!

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I don’t know why and how, but the next action came naturally. Without wasting a moment I turned back and went there. Parked my bike, removed my helmet and took in the whole view of the place. It was quite something. A hotel which looked like a home, totally built on a slope with stones and concrete pillars. When I was bargaining for a fair deal, the lady who came at the door told me to go up at the top and her husband is sitting there, please speak with him.

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I met him on the terrace of the hotel and spoke with him for about 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised to know that it was not at all about the rate or tariff to stay here, he was curious to know why I’m traveling alone, who I am and the curious questions usually asked to a solo traveler. After a moment of silence he started praising of what I am on to and wished me the very best for the journey ahead.

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The lady got me some tea and then finally topic came on the price for the accommodation. Rs. 500/- was finalized. I was little tired that day and the owner also insisted to sit and relax for a while before going down again for luggage and stuff. Here is when a new topic got initiated. In that moment I got to know from him, this place is their home and now made into a hotel, their village is close by and this was their parents’ dream. Many other little and big intimate details of the place I was told. I also got to know he had given a job to someone to make a website for his place and the guy never corresponded back. This is when I interrupted and told him it’s not that difficult to make it. It is hardly expensive to make just a simple static website for a place like this on a platform called WordPress. I quoted him a small figure of Rs. 2000/- that is sufficient to create one.

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He asked me do you also make a website. I replied yes. Here are his next words, “Son, please make one for us and don’t pay us anything for the stay here. Enjoy 3-4 days here. Have the best of food that my wife will prepare. My sons will take you around and show you the place.” I don’t know how and why but to this I agreed so spontaneously that I didn’t even understand whether I myself said yes or just my soul was answering. For the first time I felt of higher powers at work.

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I stayed with the family for 3 days. Each meal given to me was king size. I ate with them in the kitchen as well as the dining room. On cold night, food was served to me in my room. Every item consumed is grown there and like he promised, his 2 sons took me on a tour of the whole mountain. Before leaving he even told me, “I have good contacts further ahead in state, if any help needed then do not hesitate to ring me up.”

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When I reached Mumbai after 30 days from their place, exactly on the 35th day I got a call from them to know whether I have reached safe and was my journey a success! I was touched by their approach. I’m still in touch with them and have been invited to come there again in winter months to see a whole different Chail. First time I realised the meaning and got a true experience of the phrase “Guest is God”.

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3rd Incident | Location: Maling near Nako village, Himachal Pradesh

When I was closing in on Nako village I got to know via Bcmtouring.com that the Malling Nallah area has a disastrous drop. The road has totally gone down. And no way will it be ready in the next 15 days, that was the degree of damage. I still took my chances and settled in at a home stay in Nako. It’s a very remote village high in Himalayas so accommodation charges amount to hardly an expensive figure.

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On Day 2, I made reckon of the situation and decided to give 7 days’ wait, for it to improve. But right after passing of the 3rd day I realised this is no way going to get ready even for lighter vehicles like a bike anytime soon. I was discouraged and disheartened. But just when I was getting ready to turn back, an army fellow met me at the village. There was a wedding in the evening so some army guys had come down for some work. He told me that he was observing me since last 3-4 days and inquired about my intentions. The next thing to come from his mouth was, “Sirji you come up tomorrow morning with your bike, with luggage and everything. We have just put a railing on the patch and with some efforts we might be able to get you across.” I was delighted to hear this. Very eagerly I waited for the next morning.

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At the first light I was full ready to roll. Even before breakfast I was ready up there. The same army fellow met me and gave me 2 helpers to assist me out. And with some daring efforts, me and my bike were taken across. I could not express the joy of the current happening. Some other labour or person would have asked for money or some compensation. But the moment I went across and looked back, the 2 people immediately went back to their camps without showing any expectation. I whistled and waved to show my gratitude. I experienced the phrase, “Yes, even today there are people who will help you whole heartedly.”

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4th Incident | Location: Chandra Tal

During my 7 days stay in Nako, via a working cyber café I was communicating and updating on BCMT forum about the road status here. I didn’t realise who all were reading or following it. After my departure from Kaza in Spiti valley I arrived at Chandra Tal. Kept my stuff in a camp and headed towards the lake. I met a guy over there ‘Jamaica’ and with just some talks exchanged he recognized me the one who was in Nako for 7 days. He was overwhelmed to meet me and I was taken away by his hospitably.

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So many mutual friends and topics opened up that an amazing bond got created with the man. He made an amazing food for me that night. It’s not easy to cook non-veg items at that altitude in severe cold weather. Also insisted to come and have breakfast with him next day morning. He prepared everything by himself. At the end of our meeting it happened so that he didn’t take a single rupee from me for his services offered. People ask me; tell me a person who will work not for money? Today I can proudly say, come with me and I’ll not just tell but show HIM to you.

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5th Incident | Location: Keylong

I had plans to explore the hike route to Keylong monastery before I set riding for the day. I started at 6 in the morning and since there was nothing open at that hour, I just grabbed couple of bananas for the trek. Within 40 minutes of climb I was lost and the 2 bananas disappeared in my stomach. I didn’t want to go back, was totally determined to make it to the top of the monastery. So finally after zig zag climb I was inside the main building. Totally drained, hungry, thirsty and exhausted enough to fall down. Over the top I got to know that all monks have left for the Hemis festival.

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Just when hope was dying out, I was greeted by 2 little monks (kids) who took me in the kitchen. I think they noticed me tired and exhausted because the next thing I see is hot herbal tea and a jar full of biscuits kept in front of me. I was trying my level best to control the tears that were trying to burst out. Both of them gave me a tour of the place before I started downhill back to the hotel. Quote, “God walks with you. He takes care of you. His love can take you across the universe.”

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6th Incident | Location: Leh

When I reached Leh I was looking for the cheapest possible accommodation and close to the main market as much as it can get. After some snooping around I finally found a homey stay that fit my budget. My very thought before closing my eyes was that after 5 days I’m gonna have a royal English breakfast at German Bakery. A must do for bikers coming to Leh. Next morning, excited, ready and just when I was about to exit the room, the house lady grabs me, “Hello ji good morning, where are you going in such a hurry, come have breakfast first.” I couldn’t say no and sound rude. So I agreed. When I went in the kitchen I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a royal Ladakhi breakfast, homemade, just for me.

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Here is my point, for the 4 days I stayed in Leh home stay; the house lady didn’t let me leave the house without having breakfast with them. I was given variety each time the morsel was presented to me. What makes this special? On the 4th day when I was clearing the payments for accommodation and food, the house lady refused to take money for the food. I couldn’t do anything but bow in front of them. The only line that kept going in my head that day, “Who are these wonderful people, I know nothing about the real Indian.”

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7th Incident | Location: Rangdum village

Deep inside the Suru – Zanskar Valley is the village called Rangdum. It consists of just 4-5 houses and 1-2 hotels (namesake). Before reaching Padum, one night has to be spent here. It’s the only feasible halt in between the journey of 300 kms off-road stretch.

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I stayed in one such home stay and didn’t dismount much luggage from the bike; just got the camera bag with me up in my room. There was a hotel at walking distance on the other side of the village and I had inquired that dinner will be available but served after 7-8 PM. So till then I rested for some time in my room. By night it was so cold that even stepping out of the room was discouraging. And yes I was hungry enough; since morning I had nothing but a cup of Maggi noodles.

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Just when I couldn’t make up my mind, the man of the house arrived. He looked very aged but strong in stance. The first thing he said was let’s get your luggage inside. Since you are traveling alone, you don’t want to risk your luggage here at this place. Surely nothing will happen but theft doesn’t come in definite conditions. I was speechless. I agreed to him quickly. The next thing he asked me was whether I have eaten? My expression was enough to speak out the answer. He immediately tells his wife, please serve him too, with the food prepared today. I did mention to him that don’t take any trouble as I was about to go to that hotel, he replied, they serve only junk food. No taste, no nutrition. Eat here at home.

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I was presented with rotis, vegetable, curd and Tibetan bread. Prepared exactly how they eat and quantity that will suffice 2 people. I ate and never in my life slept so peacefully. I realised, “Food is truly Brahman; and Vishnu can get him to you in any form, any way and any manner. And Allah blesses the Family who treats the guest as their own.”

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8th Incident | Location: Pensi La

A very small incident took place at Pensi La that left a big impact on my thinking and approach towards life. I closed in on Pensi La pass and took a break near a view point. I noticed a man standing there and staring at me. It didn’t bother me at all. I even exchanged pleasantries with him.

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Just when I was about to pack and move ahead, he stops me and gives me black tea. For a moment I assumed it’s a stall kind of thing he is running under the shed at the corner of the view point structure. When we were talking, the next thing he serves was hot fresh puris. I was totally taken back at the availability of this delicacy at this altitude and weather. I enjoyed every bite of it.

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So what was the big impact? The moment I asked him how much do I owe him for the tea and snacks, he was shocked. In a very heart touching tone he said humbly, “What Sir, you are guest in the Himalayas. To serve you is to serve our father.” (Pointing to the Himalayas). I later got to know that the man was just up there to collect some dry grass for his village. It will take him the entire day to do so; hence he carried materials to make his own meals till sundown. On seeing me, he shared what he had made and forever changed my perspective towards life.

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Values of Being Human are deep rooted in us. We have forgotten them, but somehow our soul still knows it. Only incidents like this, it takes, to re-activate them. No education, no money, nothing but just a humble gesture.

9th Incident | Location: Karsha Monastery

When exploring the monastery on foot, I reached to the top and was busy in photography. A very old monk came by and asked me something. I could not figure a single word that he was uttering. But I figured this much that he is asking to stay for some time. I gladly obliged. I had all the time to give. In about 20 minutes, many little monks came running and this old monk grabbed my hand and made me sit next to him. The next thing I know I’m having my lunch with them – white rice and a boiled egg.

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Food has never been so tasty. Not my stomach but my soul was fed by the Lord himself.

36

The 36 days on the highway has taught me lessons of life. Lessons you can’t read about or see on TV. I rode and lived my life in a perspective not seen by many, to a place where you can’t afford any mishaps of judgment.

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I conquered my fear, received the love of my people and country, driven by willpower at times, composed myself in situations of threat and got in touch with my true self.

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This journey made me a better man and I feel privileged to come back alive.

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Checkout all the 600 pictures from the ride HERE.

– Om Vaikul

The story was also published in MotorBeam mag; you can checkout the link Here.

The Modern Motorcycle Diaries

Alex Chacón is a fellow biker who has done the ultimate motorcycle expedition. He calls it ‘The Modern Motorcycle Diaries‘.

Rest of us can only dream of doing something like that. He sold off everything to collect funds for the expedition and rode from Alaska to Argentina in 500 days through interstates, highways, dirt roads, no roads, mud, rivers, through hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, rain, hail, sun shine, snow, ice roads you name it and made it back! And all this was to raise awareness and money for Children of Uganda.

Here is a 9 minute video he uploaded on YouTube recently that went viral instantly.

Would you like to do the same?

Get inspired from the real biker (Alex).

[vsw id=”85VErvTqgWc” source=”youtube” width=”600″ height=”360″ autoplay=”no”]

 

The bike he rode in this trip is a 2007 KLR 650 and he prefer it over the likes of BMW and KTM.

Keoladeo National Park India: A Cold Weather, Beautiful Birds and The Ninja 250R

A Quick Log of Keoladeo National Park India Trip:

The Keoladeo National Park India or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that plays host to thousands of birds especially during the winter season.

– Wikipedia

The place is a paradise for bird watchers and photographers. During the winter months the sanctuary is flocked by noisy tourists, annoying kids, avid bird watchers and photo enthusiasts – Amateurs & Professionals.

Keoladeo National Park Trip Collage

This is one place that has become a ritual in my annual rides. Its now the 3rd year, during winter I have rode to the park from Mumbai. Every time the ride was at ease but this year time was the biggest constraint. January 26th had comes on a Saturday and Sunday is the usual off. I just took Friday off from work and left from Mumbai on Thursday evening.

Based on the calculations I had made on distance, along with other study and analysis I was totally aware that I’m gonna play chicken race with time. But knew the gravity of the situation so I was mentally and physically fully prepared for the ride.

Bike Ridden:

Kawasaki Ninja 250R, 2010 Model

Total Kms Covered:

2600+ kms via NH-8 and NH – 3 spread over 4 lane, 2 lane and single highway, with little offroad and traffic jam city roads.

Lessons Learned:

  • 1 litre of water should always be in your bag.
  • 1 pair of cloth comes always handy.
  • Keep a very cool mind in city roads of any State.
  • Fuel up much before the tank of Ninja hits reserve.
  • Do not ever underestimate cold of the North.
  • Dry fruits now should become a must for long rides.

What Was The Best:

  • The Super Duper cold wind blowing on my face near Udaipur.
  • The cheapest and comfortable stay at Bharatpur.
  • New contacts made with authority people of the park.
  • Covered almost the entire park (25 sq.kms) on foot.
  • Some of my best bird shots.
  • Longest night ride ever; 10+ hours.
  • Endurance has gone a level up.

What I Missed:

  • No python shot this time either.
  • Was very keep to take photographs of Woodpecker and Siberian Crane.
  • Boat ride in the park.
  • Full frame DSLR.

The Story:

Day 1 (At Dusk): Realizing Cold

Started the ride around 4.30pm from Mumbai on 24th January, 2013. Plan was to reach as far as possible by midnight. Reality is that I was so excited I landed riding all the way upto 6 in the morning and reached somewhere near Udaipur.

The weather was so cold that despite wearing all layers and jacket, it was becoming unbearable. So I checked into a hotel for few hours nap and a break from the chill. By 11am I started the ride again… with least number of halts I was in Bharatpur by evening 7pm.

Found a very cheap and clean place to stay for the 2 nights and prepped my gear for tomorrow’s shoot.

P.S. The vegetarian food of Rajasthan is just finger licking delicious.

Day 2 (At the Park):Nature at its Best

Bharatpur park is 25 sq kms in size. The cycle or rickshaw are good options to cover the park but nothing beats walking in the entire region to shoot some good bird photos. I have always taken the 11 number bus and had the same intentions this time too.

Within just half an hour of entering the park already I got 5 satisfactory shots. My joy and excitement was totally at the top and I spent every minute looking for those rare and exotic birds.

By lunch time I covered one side of the park and reached the canteen. Got my energy level up and stuffed myself with some nutrients and drinks.

Around evening 5pm I covered almost 80% of the park and was very happy with what I captured since morning. Once it was fully dark I got one rickshaw who for a nominal fare dropped me to the main entrance of the park.

Hotel was just 5 mins away. Went back and got everything ready to leave early morning tomorrow.

P.S. Food in the park is not great; best if you pack your lunch with you. And more than the main track in the park, you’ll catch the real action on the pathways made by the authorities.

Day 3: (At Mad Rush): The Bullet Train

Since beginning I was totally aware that the only tough day would be today. Weather would be bone chilling cold. Strong wind, 4 lane, 2 lane and single lane highway; to cover distance of 1200+ kms… and all this in less than 24 hours.

Without wasting a single minute I started at sharp 6am and just blasted my way through NH – 3 until I hit a 2 lane highway. From here on it was a steady pace under 80km/hr.

After covering some 500+ kms I started to wonder when the hell this highway will turn back on 4 lane. Called up few friends and got to know from Indore onwards is my runway.

But by the time I reached Indore it was past 6pm. Almost sundown.

Even though the night was dark, the 4 lane highway is in such a good condition and I was able to keep pace at 100 mark.

It was tough after 8pm. The moment I had some dinner, I felt the sleep and exhaust slowly creeping in. Had to stop a lot of times to give a break to myself.

Tiring times, but this is something I really enjoy. Pushing the limit and setting new bars for myself.

At wee hours of morning, 4am, I was in my residence. Going flat on the bed just for couple of hours and immediately back to wok (office) to move on with the rest of the day.

No Pain, No Tiredness and No Aches. I think my body just got a level stronger compared to my previous long run.

 I wanted to keep this blog a short one but some how the word count has gone over the top.

Now no talks; enjoy the pics.

Bharatpur National Park
Bharatpur National Park

Just for the birds and not photography

Tourist flocking Bharatpur National Park

The Real Alloo Paratha

Flying Bird

Painted stork

Angry parrots

Antlers

Nil Gai

Owl sleeping in Bharatpur National Park

Evening snack

Painted Stork

The Woodpecker

The END? 😉

RAJASTHAN jaunt 2012

It had been over 6 months since the Spiti Valley trip. And had just come home from Goa where I had gone for the New Year 2012. Rides were going good but still felt some thing was missing.

Just two days after this thought a friend from my first Leh trip back in 2008 mentioned about riding to the state of Royals… And yes Rajasthan plan was ON.

In just couple of days our itinerary was ready and we were ready to make the circuit this winter.

I won’t be able to make this log in a full story as I have been on a hectic schedule in recent times… so this will be a full photo feature entry.

Hope the photos are treat to the eyes…

We were 3 on two bikes. Me on Ninja 250R and Varun – Anita on the Classic 500.

Our ride went from the coldest part of Rajasthan to the remote region of Dholavira, up to the Golden city and far east to the life in the wild – Keoladeo National Park.

And so it begins on a fine morning...

Green on Green terrain

Jodhpur

Colors of evening.

Winter effect.

View from our room, Jaisalmer fort.

The Dual.

Painted stork.

Abstract.

I was so jealous here...

The Model of the ride.

New Terrain.

The only photo of all 3 together.

The Blue city

Jodhpur puppets

Meherangad

Our machines

Snapshot

Checkout where my bike was parked...

Attitude parrots

Mafia stare

SAM

Twins

Mt Abu sunset

Dholavira stay

Trevor's tank

Winter effect

Fire God arrives

All dressed up

Where is the father...!! jerking..?

Umaid Palace

A Local

The Model of the trip

At Mount Abu hotel.

At top of the fort.

All twinkly

Jawant Thada

Colos of night

Check out the bull.

Light as feather I hope.

Clouds of evening

The red face monkey

Peahen beauty

Desert storm in a sand storm

Road to Dholavira

Trying the impossible.

The Green Machine

Morning sight in Dholavira

Biggest sunset of the trip.

Getting the evening colors.

Sunrise at Dholavira.

A new friend.

At the edge.

Lunch time for the kid.

Quenching thrist.

Morning flight

That will be a big hangover.

Entertainment inside fort.

The young one.

Nilgai

He looks tasty.

A good looking bird.

Thats the fun in wildlife photography.

Parrot home

Blending bowl.

Long tail bird

Elastic neck bird

Treading the paths of wildlife.

Fat parrot

Spotted an Orange bird.

This will make a good dog bone.

Wish I could get little more closer.

Giving a guest appearance.

Trying to camouflage.

Evening flight

White spotted deer.

Sleeping time

Sharp as it can get.

DOF

Brahmi ducks

At Ranthambore.

Looking for food.

Standing tall.

Mortal combat

Our Driver

Going offroad

Long walk

Cigarette is not the answer

Solitude

Friends among, no religion bias.

Dual flight

Mirror effect

Young photographer

Dusk closing in

Best way to travel in the park.

Creepy lake

My favourite bird

Nice peak

Handsome bird

Dusk at park.

Thats a huge water tank on a remote place.

Boeing 747

The ride ended with a good note of making back together safe and sound. A new dawn awaits to head back on the highway. But until then, its the office office game in foreplay.

Happy New Year – Mandrem Beach Goa 2012

My dream was to spend New Year in Goa at least ones and finally in the end of 2011 it came true. 2012 began on the sand of Goa. A trip to remember for life time.

I’ll not go in the detailed log but I’ll just say I had lots of fun. Here are some pictures I took, they themselves will speak a 1000 words…

Happy New Year – Goa 2012

Mandrem

Colors of evening

Sunset of Mandrem

Flying fish

And the backflip fish.

Wave jump

Our stay in the backdrop.

Cute couple

Snake eyes and Duke.

Gorgeous

Full English Breakfast

Gorgeous

Kingfisher king of good times.

Run Man Run

Walk on the beach

The wind is high.

Lunch

Hulk and the Gang.

Fashion angle

The clean and clear waters of Mandrem.

Cleaning time

Our stay in Mandrem

Tuna fish finger

Super Human

I want to learn this...

I love this beach

I can go flat under those shacks the whole day.

Kunal trying something, I think.

Our neighbour

The loby :-)

Night jam session

The 2nd day sunset.

What was he thinking...

For love and romance.

Goa's drink

Morning exercise

And he comes on the ground finally...

For humans and animals together...

Business as usual.

Should have carried a tripod...

Click...

All ready for tourists

Its Goa, what are you doing on the laptop...!

Power naps

Crab print..!!

Trying geometry

Looking out

A Family

I would love to have a house like this.

And they say we don't care...

He looked freaky.

Adventure is the real thing.

Ways to see...

Colors of interesting building around.

The sunsetting and flag hoisting...

A little daredevil.

A floored night

Camera shy people

Oh God no...

For the lovers and the alone.

Sales and Marketing on the beach too.

Waiting for after dark.

Boating in fisherman's boat is a fun thing to do on beaches...

Getting ready to attack me...

Here he comes again.

He looks in sun bath mood too...

All making efforts to get the sand hulk ready.

Also the croc from before.

Thirsty Hulk

DSC_1858My morning companion.

Run man Run

The Big Hulk.

A colorful morning.

Some pannings.

Oh God no again...

OMG what happened Nilesh...!

Just a fruit...

The way to ride in Goa...

The kekada man.

Shopping to make sangria

A clean and less populated beach.

I think I can settle down here ;-)

A sunset to remember.

The croc ...a practise before hulk attempt.

Brothers in arms.

Getting him out.

The art and the artists.

Cleaning after

He was totally numb.

Even they are wondering whether its real or not...

What are you trying...!!

The most common pose but still favourite.

The big leap.

The kekada man again.

The cake before we began from Vashi as it was Nilesh's birthday too.

Alien

Alien revealed

The new year creation.

The table of getting high.

Takes significant amount of the beach.

Last sunset before the new year.

In a different white balance.

The creator.

Tripod tripod tripod...where are u...

An evening to remember

Minus the water from the earlier pic.

Just before we left from Mumbai.

The zooming Palm beach highway.

Foggy cold NH-17

Bullet needs some poha.

Fixing the bikes somewhere on NH-17

Finally me in frame.

Waiting for a big wave.

Check out my footwear.

Snake eyes.

Water fun

Take off

Relaxing.

Getting little exhausted now.

The ideal beach shoes.

Effect of very big wave.

Here comes a big one.

Full front impact.

Jumpin

Wave stoppin but I'm not Rajnikanth.

Water play was super duper fun.

Western style

Human whale

Martin gave this to me for my throat and it worked swell.

Tp outside shack in the night.

Gossip evening

Oh I miss this food.

My hobby and profession, the one on the left ;-)

Now I'm hungry.

The night scene.

Hilarious menu

Heading in the waters for Goa.

Return we had a warm climate.

Caught an interesting army vehicle on return.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I have decided that my New Years will be in Goa only. The fun I had here I don’t think I’ll have anywhere else.

A Lazy Sunday – Bhandardara Dam

Monsoon had already come in full force and the terrain all around us was turning lush green. The weather had now turned cool and breezy – much relief from the scorching summer heat. I was eager to ride out and start my opening chapter of this year’s monsoon.

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Mutual Interest 

I called a few friends to check if any of them would be interested in riding with me. Within an hour, a friend called back to confirm that he would join me. It was a date!

The Mean Machine

I have a Ninja 250R and an Impulse in my shed, but for this ride I got my hands on the Austrian beauty, KTM Duke 200. With the orange beauty, biking gears and other stuff, I was ready to hit the road.

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Oops! The alarm didn’t go off! 

I tend to get up on time, however late I hit the sack, the previous night. Even if I do doze off, my dog licks my face till it’s dripping wet that I have to jump off the bed! However, this time around, I slept through the alarm and my dog chose not to disturb me just this morning! I woke up with a start only to realise that at that very moment I was scheduled to meet my friend at a common point, a good 20kms away from home! I phoned my friend and had to reset the meeting time to an hour away, despite the angry sparks that came my way!

46.

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A King’s breakfast

An hour later exactly, we met! A cordial handshake later, we mounted our bikes and rode off to Igatpuri without wasting any more time! We finally reached Manas Resort for breakfast!  The buffet served was awesome. I devoured the delicious food like never before! The next hour was a feast – neither of us spoke till we finished!

Leisure Run 

The next halt, we decided, would be Bhandardara dam, which was about 40kms from Igatpuri. This time, we rode leisurely, halted at every scenic corner and clicked away!

The road to Bhandardara is purely scenic. Waterfalls, valleys and green fields made for several beautiful photographs! We finally stopped right on a river bed. While cruising, we noticed a road near a bridge, leading down to the river bed. We simply could not resist the idea of riding down on the track and spending a few photographic moments there.

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The Shocker and a quick decision

Finally, we reached the dam. Much to our dismay, though all the gates were open, there was no water.

We quickly decide to waste time no more and head straight to Malshej Ghat via Otur road. Malshej Ghat was a good 60-70kms away. The road slowly ascended up a hill and narrowed down to a single lane. What we noticed here was the terrain had not turned green yet. Dry grass lands stretched around us for over 30kms.

We decided to go off road for a while—I shot pictures, while my friend explored the hills.

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Sundown and a sound sleep

By the time we reached Malshej ghat the sun had set. We snacked a little and prepared ourselves for a wet ride down the hill. The torrential rains came lashing down on us and we were wet to the bone! Once we crossed Murbad, traffic began gaining momentum and cutting through turned into a nightmare!

Nevertheless, after a day long ride, there is simply nothing like reaching home to some hot food and a warm bed, with new memories. As I texted my friend, informing him of my safe arrival home, my phone beeped with a similar message from him! I rested my head on my soft pillow and sunk further into my bed, and as I slipped into blissful sleep, I could see the snapshots of the day that had gone by, in my dream!

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Also published in MyBikeMyWorld.