Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Re-defining adventure...

Sometimes you meet people who change the whole way you perceive yourself or some other thing.

Now as far as sheer adventure is concerned, I know i'm not a tattooed, long-haired, devil-may-care dare-devil who climbs up rugged mountains (and says- cos its there..), jumps out of flying aircrafts (sky dive), go scuba-diving with sharks or even go on off-road expeditions to off-the-beaten-track places.

BUT still, I've done rafting in Rishikesh, skiing in Auli,trekked from Rampur to Mussourie in fading light (and lost my path finally getting stuck on a goat path with the cliff-face on one side and a deep, deep valleyon the other. Finally, we found our way when a goat herd magically appeared looking quizzically at this bunch of crazy city brats with no clue [ I personally think he was a guardian angel]), para sailing in Goa, banana ride in Goa (You are put on a single tube raft attached to a speedboat.Then, you're dumped in the middle of the ocean while your chaperone/guide/angel/devil swims effortlessly with a silly/sinister/scything smile [please register alliteration] on his face while you flounder around spluttering and stuttering with your life jacket coming loose.Then you're supposed to climb back on the raft and go through the ordeal/fun {?} again..and again.And I did this without knowing how to swim.[I still shudder to think what I put myself into because my companions were egging me on. It was the most irresponsible and stupid thing I've ever done and I would seriously remind everyone reading this post to NEVER attempt this. Its just not worth it and figures really poorly in the logical/rational behaviour scale]), ridden on the doors of rush hour local trains in Mumbai, been driven at 160-170 kmph on Indian roads, ridden pillion behind Sardar, given vivas to Patel sir, sat through Dr. Raju's classes and gone on many trips on very short notice with just a bunch of friends.

So all in all I thought I was quite a good sport, reasonably brave, decently enthusiastic about exploration, and a good enough urban-normal-adventurer who laughed at people who stayed at home all the time and

And then I met Siva.

Siva is a friend of Shambu (works at my office). We met up for dinner on Monday. Siva had just returned to the city. From a two month motorcycle trip.12,000 kilometres. Alone.

Route: Bangalore, Gokarna, Daman, Ahmedabad, Jaisalmer, border, Amritsar, Delhi, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Dharamsaala, Rishikesh, Benaras, Allahabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore.

Meeting people like these just turns the entire way you look at things. Now, he is a rather regular looking fellow, reed-thin with kiddish looks, even slightly delicate. (you'll notice that this is the exact anti-thesis of the tattooed dare-devil that I thought would do stuff like this. I guess I was confusing them with wannabe hell's angels). AND he has a regular job.

And he's already planning his next trip.

A few things I heard about the trip:

* In Rajasthan, the area with the sand dunes gets so cold in the night that the only warm spot is the tarmac of the roads laid by BSF. So in the morning, around 5, you can see snakes, kimodo dragons, lizards even camels sitting on the tarmac trying to absorb the dying embers of heat emanating from the dark surface of the road.

* There is a post- 6 pm curfew in army camps near the border in Rajasthan. No civilians are allowed in the area. There is a camp 60 km away where civilians can stay.

* Asking for directions in Punjab is an hour long exercise. They make you sit down, tell them all about your journey, have a glass of lassi and only then are you allowed to move further.

* There is an armoury of cutting weapons outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The guard, after speaking to Siva decided that he was a warrior, and should've been born a Sardar. He gave him a kada and a kirpan .

* The drive through Chamba valley is one of the most scenic in the world.

* Benaras is a very dirty town where almost everyone you meet tries to fleece you (I was in Benaras for a couple of weeks, and I concur)

* Beaches north of Daman have been severely hit by the refineries dotting Gujarat.

* When camping outside, you should camp away from the road and also try to ensure that you are not visible from the road.

* You can spend two months in each state of India and still not have enough of it.

* You stop boasting or thinking you're cool when you do a trip like this. You are just humbled by the sheer beauty and diversity of the great nation you are born in.

All in all it was great to meet this guy and check out his 350 cc Royal Enfield Thunderbird ( )

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