Tomorrow morning I’ll be up by 4, ready by 5, and on the road by 6, before any traffic, before the heat.
*11 am* Fucking shit ass piss horse penis donkey balls cow vagina.
I am a master procrastinator. If procrastination could make you money, my name would show up on top of the Panama Papers leak. I’m so good at procrastination, that sometimes I find myself procrastinating about procrastinating.
It’s not a good thing, I have little to no control over my life. In the biking department, things aren’t too rosy either. Getting up early and covering miles in the cool breeze and on the empty roads is something I’ve always dreamt of doing, but never actually achieved till date.
I don’t know if things will change, but if they don’t, I’ll probably have to just give up everything and go sit in some cave in the Himalayas.
Since it was already 11, I thought what the fuck, we’ll have lunch and then leave. At this point it’s worth noting that I’ve always recommended everyone NOT to ride at night. It’s also worth mentioning now that I rarely follow my own advice, so neither should you.
A shortcut detour
Just as I was about to leave, got a call from Ram of MotoArmor. He told me there’s a shortcut towards Hyderabad from nearby his shop, much less traffic too. I was there in an hour.
MotoArmor is probably the most good-looking riding shop that I’ve seen, if you are into such a thing. It’s in a mall, glass all around, with great interior work and almost all brands that you’d want at a place. Ram himself is a rather chilled out guy who loves RDs. I chatted with him and his assistant for a while, and then it was time to fuck off.
I knew it’d be night before I even get close to Hyderabad, but the only good thing was that I’d miss on the evening rush hour for sure. I was in no hurry, in fact I wanted to enter the city as late as possible, close to midnight would’ve been awesome. But there was one small thing I hadn’t factored into my plans, a tiny detail that has little or no consequence to our everyday existence.
As I mounted up the bike outside Ram’s shop, I could already see the clouds darkening the sky, the wind picking up, and that smell of distant damp soil was simply unmissable. Time to unleash all the 44 horses then, make them fly!
When you are a dumb cunt
This was the final exam, the climax, the crescendo. I had been running away rather successfully from the clouds till this point in the trip, but could I outrun them this one last time? The good thing about the Hyderabad-Bangalore highway is that it’s flat as a pancake, including everything around, which means that you can see rain that’s falling probably 20 kms away. The bad thing is that the highway doesn’t always go straight, it snakes around, which meant that sometimes I found myself going directly towards the massive black monsters, and sometimes they were behind my back.
I’m generally not scared of rain, if anything it helps move people off the road, and keeps the Duke cool, but I had some major issues this time around. First off, I was carrying no rain gear whatsoever, not even the waterproof covers for the bags. I’m not really sure why that was so, but I believe the reason was because it was supposed to be the middle of the fucking Summer. On top of that I was carrying a shitload of electronic items, DSLR, Gopro, and a damn laptop too. I rarely used any of these items on the trip, but still lugged them around over thousands of kilometers for no particular reason.
While reflecting on my epic stupidity, I took a little piss break. Checked my messages and found that it had rained hell just a few minutes after I left Ram’s shop. Damn that was close.
Onwards we go again, bored, but ready for more.
Whenever I feel bad about riding on such long and shitty highways, I remember how much worse things would be if I was in a car, or a bus, or a train, and that makes me feel a little bit better.
The road from Bangalore till Anantpur is slightly more beautiful than the next part till Hyderabad, at least this section has some personality to it. You get a few turns, a few small hills, and a few uphill/downhill sections. I knew there was nothing much to enjoy further ahead, so made full use of this stretch as much as I could. I couldn’t stop though, because the clouds were there, following me like a serial rapist stalking his next prey.
Go little Duke, show us what you can do!
Public pit stop
I was pushing quite hard, speeds must’ve been upwards of 130. I felt I could win this race, as I had many times during the course of this trip. You feel kinda awesome in these situations, like you are more powerful than nature itself. Just a gentle wring of the wrist, and you can outrun the wrath of Zeus.
But then the fucking low fuel warning came up.
Shit. Pull off the next flyover, find the pump, fill up in a hurry and get pushing again. I could clearly see the rain column now, a curtain of grey against a background of black, like when someone uses the burn brush too many times at the same spot in Photoshop.
“Common you little piece of shit, I don’t want to get wet.”
But the bike did, apparently.
It started slowly, the visor got a few spots and I knew it was all over. I still kept pushing, denial works pretty rarely, but sometimes it does. Not this time though, because it was raining bricks and balls and I had to find shelter.
But wait, this is a highway.
The next few seconds were sheer panic. The highway was closed from the left side, and there was the divider on the right. Even if they weren’t there, I couldn’t see any shop, shed or stop anywhere close. I didn’t want to turn back, so I did the only thing I could, molesting the throttle.
Science says if you get caught in rain, go as fast as possible to stay as dry as possible. I can tell you from experience that doesn’t work. The faster I went, the harder the drops hit me, and after a point I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I’m a lucky cunt, and so I wasn’t surprised to see a small bus stop in the distance. Gunned it like never before, but things didn’t look too rosy as I approached the place. It was already pretty full, and rather small. There was a pick-up track parked at front, along with a Police jeep plus a few bikes, and there were some 8-10 people inside that shelter, which was leaking from many places.
No time for excuses.
As I reached the place I braked gently, downshifted, reached the shelter and kept going until the bike was parked deep inside it, surrounded by people. They were rather surprised, and the cops looked rather pissed. I got off the bike, greeted them all, and positioned myself between 2 old gentlemen in a place where a constant drip of water was falling on my back.
Since this is India, it’s impossible to be somewhere and not be a part of an impromptu quiz contest, I found myself answering questions put forward with insane speed by a wide variety of people around me. The cops apparently found me interesting, as I could tell from the kind of questions and the reaction to my answers that I saw.
I’ve noticed this a lot, whenever Indians start talking to a traveller, they always talk about the time when they were travelling, but unfortunately had to stop for one reason or the other. There’s always a truck driver in there somewhere, who talks about going from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on shit roads in a shit vehicle. There’s always someone who thinks bikes are far too dangerous for this kind of trips. And there’s always someone who asks about the mileage and top speed, looking very despondent on the former, and very surprised at the latter.
I don’t mind it. I’ve seen many riders who kinda get defensive when random strangers start interrogating them. I usually just smile and answer as truthfully as I can.
You would be surprised how many people have dreamt of doing things that you are doing, and even more surprised by how many never did anything about their dreams. Meeting people like us makes them happy, and their inquisitiveness is nothing but cute in my opinion.
Gay pride parade
But then the rain finally abated, and powerslid out of the wet bus stop, straight onto the highway and onwards home. Riding just after rain is probably the best kind of riding there is. The temperature is cool, the sky is grey, and there are rainbows everywhere. I stopped plenty of times to jump up and down in the small streams that were running by the left side of the road, to take photos, and to wave to locals passing by.
As mostly happens, I don’t remember much about the last 200 kms or so. It got dark shortly after the rain therapy session, and I crawled slowly towards Hyderabad, blinded by the oncoming high-beams, blinded by the high-beams shining in my mirrors. I stopped for fuel, multiple times, and then stopped to have some dinner.
It was something around 9, I was still some 100 kms from the city. The dhaba owner was Punjabi, but I never told him I was too. I can read Punjabi, write Punjabi, but whenever I try to speak Punjabi it’s a fucking mess. People from Punjab sometimes take it very seriously that I don’t know how to speak the language, so I generally don’t bother.
My menu on the roads is pretty well set, I have a completely non-spicy Paneer Butter Masala, along with roti/naan, and some cold drink. I’ve eaten the same shit all over India, and even outside.
The quality of this dish varies from place to place, but I’ve lost most of my taste buds over the decade that I’ve spent outside home, so I can’t really tell the difference.
The road not taken
After a sumptuous meal, I was out there again. This was my first time entering Hyderabad alone, the last time I was here Nic came and escorted me all the way home. I had the phone holder with the GPS set, so I was pretty confident, until I happened to find myself on a flyover with no two wheeler in sight for kilometers.
Not only is Hyderabad a completely fucked up city to a biker in, it’s basically run with retards who have no understanding of basic human decency or intelligence. The most beautiful road in Hyderabad is the Outer Ring Road, a sexy 12 lane expressway that surrounds the city. Bikes aren’t allowed on it, because a cricketer’s son killed himself on it on a superbike.
The elevated expressway on which I was is one that vastly reduces travel time from South to North Hyderabad. Bikes aren’t allowed on it either, for no particular reason. I didn’t know it, Google Maps didn’t care, and there were no boards or nothing anywhere. Once you are on the flyover, you get barely 2-3 exists over the next 12-13 kms. I was pretty happy to begin with, I could see the gridlocked traffic under me, while I was doing 120. Then slowly I realised there were no bikes around, not even one. This was strange, because that never ever happens. Then I started praying for 2-wheelers to show up, but none did. By this time I had understood bikes weren’t allowed here, but I was in too deep to pull out. I thought of taking the initial few exits, but then I was like Why? If I get caught, I’d prefer if it was being completely wrong, not half-assing it.
Since it was some 11 in the night, nobody caught me, and I did that section in some 20 minutes that would’ve otherwise taken me the good part of an hour.
But the ordeal wasn’t over yet.
If you’ve read the first chapter of this travelogue, you’d know that I was living in Sainikpuri, a huge defence area with a few residential bits in it. Many of the roads that go through this area are not public ones, but owned by the Army, who close them off by 10 in the night. I had no idea which road to take, so once again stuck with Google Maps, which again deposited me deep into a cantonment. Luckily there was nobody around to stop me, and so I wriggled my way through the stops and made it home.
But the ordeal wasn’t over yet.
The gate of the building was locked, and the watchman was fast asleep. I tried calling him, to no avail. I didn’t want to start blaring my horn, because I hate it when other cunts do that. So I jumped over the gate and knocked hard on the watchman’s door, but nothing moved. I removed the luggage, threw it over the wall one by one, parked the bike in some bushes, loaded the bags in the lift, and was about to move when the guard came out the door.
Went to the room, deposited all the luggage, came back down, extracted the bike from the bush and parked it inside. It had been a long journey, but like all of them, it had been a memorable one. But right now it was time to crash and die.