November 2015 – Twinkle Twinkle Lots Of Stars

Fresh into my new 6-day-week start-up job, website launch unrealistically planned a week later, and tonnes of bugs to resolve and test out over the weekend, a ride was the last thing that could fit into my schedule. And there I was finishing my critical tasks at 6:30 am on Saturday morning with an ambition to reach assembly at 8 am with packing still pending. Bath is so old school! Stuffed a tee, a trackpant and toothbrush in the little shoppers stop bag and caught an auto towards Thane. ‘Bhagaao bhaiyya!’ said I to James Bandya, my rickshaw driver.

Ride #63
Location : Tikona (Hadshi)
Distance : 260 Kms
Month : November
Route : Mumbai / Pune – Lonavla – Hadshi – Lonavla – Pune / Mumbai
Experience Shared by : Priyanka Digamber

So just the previous day, AS, my assigned rider, had withdrawn from this ride and my dreams of sitting on a newly installed Enfield sofa set had gone down the drain. God bless Malvika’s boss as he cancelled her leave and now I had, again, a nice Enfield pillion seat to sleep, uh, I meant sit on! And God curse Picrum for offering me that dream pillion seat on Friday and re-offering it to someone else on Saturday morning (assuming I am still sleeping and won’t come on the ride)! The only pillion seats that were now empty were on Duke 390s and I swear the product designer for Duke reeeeeally hates pillions! Settling down behind Nicc, I neatly folded my dreams of having a comfortable sleepy ride and stuffed them in my… shoppers stop thaili!

New rays of hope arose when we reached Datta Vada Pav, our second assembly, and I saw no face behind Nish. It was a temptation too hard to resist and again, the newly fitted cushioned seats welcomed me as their own! Riding with Nish, a little way further, the continuous smell of fuel started bothering me and I asked Nish whether this was normal for his bike! ‘Arre paagal, petrol pump gaya baju mein! Uska smell hai!’ and he ignored my suspicions! Not until the ad hoc halt somewhere before Khandala did he also identify the smell which had gotten stronger now. The neighboring 4 bikes halted with us and Eureka! we discovered a leak in the fuel tank. Quick attempts to stop the bleeding went futile and we emptied the full tank, bottle by bottle. Happy Dukes for getting free fuel! We loaded the bike in the Break Down Vehicle and continued towards our destination. Fate plays evil games sometimes and there I was, placed on a Duke again! But this time, I thanked God for that!

Gliding through the sexy curves of the Khandala ghats, stooping to the left and then right and then left, feeling closer to the tarmac than ever before (while sitting on a bike), it was an experience like none I’d never had. One of the rare times that I realized, there are things that a Duke can do and Enfield simply cannot! With the gushing adrenaline, we continued on an almost off-road patch. At the end of that patch, I had acquired good horse riding skills! Being in the air half of the times (I now know what popcorn feels like), I had no option but to have faith in God that I’d land back on the bike (the same bike I mean). And after forever, we reached a small rusty house¬†with a large expanse of land to camp on, a little lake inviting for a quick cool off and pretty mountains to gaze at!

The first task after reaching the site was autopsy on Nish’s bike. People swarmed around the bike and collectively tried to fix it. Success couldn’t dare to evade and he was on his bike again! Meanwhile, we explored the place as our food got ready. The rural flavour of the food reminded me of childhoods spent at my native. Post lunch, teams were formed and tasks assigned. Some started with setting up the tents, some began the preparations for chai, burgers and the barbecue planned for the night, some showed that they were working hard to find and collect firewood for the campfire, and slowly the sun set out.

Dusks are beautiful. Specially in the country-sides. Surrounded by fellow musafirs, mix of my favorite people and strangers waiting to turn into friends. Earthy aroma of the tikka’s being grilled on charcoal. Plastic glasses being poured in. Chairs arranged around the crackling fire. Enter dear ones who left Mumbai after work and bouts of overacting to show surprise at their arrival. No booze can give you the high that a musafir ride dusk can give! And we entered the toxic night complete with introduction of newbies and oldies, rounds of chicken and paneer, chats by the lake, staring into the starry night, discussions about Afzal Khan, blinding torch lights, blatant singing sessions and finally settling into the cozy tents.

Woke up to one thousand selfies and groupies that I didn’t want to be a part of. I wanted to sleeeeeeep! After being tossed and turned and being tried to shake up and wake up for various hours in various ways by various people, I finally woke up for the final group photo. With luck, there was some yummy poha left at the bottom of the kadhai. Lunch took unusually long to come considering the hangovers and heat that we had to endure through. But in the end, it was all worth the wait with the pithla bhaat. Musafirs never disappoint with food, advantages of having foodie crew members.

Bhagwaan ke ghar der hai, andher nahi. My childhood dream of settling on an Enfield pillion seat came true and I was riding with Vikram again (sorry, I didn’t mean ‘again’, forgot he ditched me the first time). With short halts and petty breakdowns, we reached dissembly at a decent hour. My first camp out ride with the Musafirs in around 25 rides that I’ve done with them overall. One of the most memorable ones! Many more to come! Ah, waiting for the next one eagerly!

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