Solo ride to Chail

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During the past few months I have spent a lot of time in office and the only time I spent with myself was in gymnasium.  I like to wear myself out during the day so that when I hit the bed at night I don’t have energy to think and can simply crash. As there were too many thoughts and too less of time to process them, I didn’t bother.

23rd May 2013 (Thursday), 11 pm:
It was not Friday but I got into the weekend mood, picked my motorcycle keys and stormed out. My backpack contained just a water bottle and my mobile charger. I was wearing the gloves as well as the mask which helped in holding the earphones in the right place. I had not decided where I would go yet, and simply turned on the music. The song made me pull the throttle harder and I was on the Himalayan Expressway in no time.  Learning from my last ride to Shimla, I got the tank re-filled at the first petrol pump even though I almost missed it and had to take a U-turn.

Though I was driving at an average speed in the beginning, there was no looking back after crossing the timber trail. Whether it be a truck driving on the wrong side or a fellow speedster overtaking on a curve, nothing could stop me. It was an assiduous effort to get high; as high as 2,444 m which I achieved eventually. Shimla was just 30 km away when I slowed down at a check-post and looked at the sign boards. The name ‘Chail‘ struck me as I had heard about it from my friends and probably read about it online as well. This made me realize that I had never been to Chail, and hence began my exploration.

The road got narrower and the turns got sharper but there was less change in my speed. The first few miles were easy as I was driving down the hill. As it was past midnight other vehicles were seldom met and thus I started using both sides of the road. It helped in speeding through the curves and getting the adrenaline rush used. The road was not well maintained and I almost skidded through the gravel sometimes but it was all intended. Finally I reached my destination which was a sleeping town. I parked my bike near the post office and started walking. The night was so quite, I could hear the wind playing with the dry leaves. As I lied down and looked at the stars, I started thinking and got overwhelmed with memories. I stayed there for 30 min, took a picture for my XCD collection and kick started my return.

The battery of my phone was running out so I could no longer play the songs. I was more relaxed while coming back and took halts to absorb the view. One of these stops was just 3 miles from Sadhupul where I noticed the Himalayan prayer flags tied across the trees. I often wonder what it could be that inspire the people to make these flags, climb up the tree and hang them with the rope. These flags were not put there for decoration, they carried wishes and blessings. I have always been mesmerized by them and thus continued my self-talk.

There were instances when I reached crossroads and had to search for a sign. Most of the times I just trusted my intuition as it anyways didn’t matter where I reached. I noticed later that I had used a longer route to Chail as I could take a turn from Solan instead of Kandaghat. The purpose of this ride was to get one with myself, to be alone and to spend some time with ME.

P.S.: I hope I’ll be able to follow my heart and trust my intuition when I face more crossroads in life.

New Year Ride to Shimla

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I didn’t have much plans for the new year’s eve and the only places that were open for party in Chandigarh were either discotheques or high-end restaurants. As the open DJ night in sector 17 got wrapped up early, I had no certainty about what I’ll do at midnight. I was suggested to go home and sleep peacefully, but that didn’t sound exciting at all.

I decided to celebrate the new year at my friend’s place and left with him after having dinner. We went to the nearby shop, bought some fruit juice and shared a South-Indian dish(Images in gallery). When we got to his place, his four flat-mates were already there and were watching an award distribution show on TV.
It was 11.30 pm when we got this idea to get pastries, and thus we left on our bikes to search for a place to buy them at this hour of night. Finally we found an open shop and reached back home well before midnight. Just when the minute and hour hands of the clock were coming closer we started dancing. Slowly it gained the momentum and reached its height during the final count down. We continued to dance for another half an hour.

Just when we were sharing jokes, one of them asked me to tell him when I go on my next motorcycle trip. I straight away said, “If you are interested in a trip, why don’t we leave now?”. I suggested all of them to get on their bikes and leave for Patiala to eat the well-known “rajendra ke paranthe”. After much ado, finally the two of us decided to go on our own even though we were redundantly warned about the drunk drivers and strict police.

We wore the jackets, took our back-packs and started off on separate bikes. Just when we were about to take a turn towards Patiala, I stopped my fellow rider and asked him, “Why don’t we go to Shimla instead? road to Patiala is not that fun.” He thought about the weather, speculated the chances of frost bite but finally gave in. We got on the Himalayan highway and after riding a few miles I told my friend that I need to get some petrol as my bike was already running on the reserved fuel. It took us 3 U-turns, 6 closed petrol pumps, about 10 extra miles and a whole one hour to finally get the petrol filled.
After that we took just one stop which was much-needed as our hands were aching because of the cold. We had some tea, shared one ‘parantha’ and continued our journey. All this time, we were riding past the drunkards who were probably coming back from Shimla after celebrating new year. Some of them parked their cars on the roads, played loud music and were dancing with liquor bottles in their hands. There was a lot of traffic from the other side and I had to open my helmet’s visor so that the high beams didn’t affect my vision. This made riding even more difficult as I now had to bear the cold air on my face.

We finally reached Shimla at 4 am and roamed on the Mall road while clicking pictures. There was not even a single soul there, and it was indeed a unique experience to find peace on those roads which were known for their hustle and bustle. After walking through both the upper and lower Mall Road we finally found a shop open where tea was being prepared. We also ordered some buns with butter which turned out to be one of the most delicious breakfasts I have ever had.

We left from Shimla at around 6.30 am and reached back in about 3 hours, as we drove fast through the curves and turns while enjoying the empty roads and magnificent views.

 

Speedoholic – my twitter handle

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I am writing this post to describe the word “speedoholic” which I started using long time back. While creating online accounts dedicated to motorcycling I needed an alias, and that is when this word came into picture. After realizing that my twitter handle need not be my name, the only word that I could think of was speedoholic. Though you will find it’s meaning in the Urban Dictionary it is still not a proper dictionary word.
I gave this definition to myself because it was really hard for me to drive slow as a teenager. Even today I can not promise that I won’t get another adrenaline rush and start speeding through.
I have been through accidents, I have claimed insurances and I have broken my bones. But I have been addicted to this thrill and the only thing that scared me is that I may hurt someone who wasn’t expecting any such fortuity. Though I always knew this fact, I never tried to understand it truly. There’s always been a counter question, “Even crossing a road is risky, then should we simply stay on our side of the road?”

I may be capable of driving fast without causing any accidents because of MY own mistake, but I also know that driving safe is going to cut the chances of accidents that are caused by the mistakes of OTHERS. Someone told me that one should never expect other people on road to be driving in the right way. One of the reasons being that most of the licenses that are issued are claimed to be made illegally without conducting any tests. Moreover there are vehicles like tractors, drivers under the influence of alcohol and we can’t keep slapping every other pudding head on the road.

I am able to write this post with a changed perspective because I have driven below 50 kmph since two weeks already. The reason at first was to make sure that the newly installed piston can correspond with the engine.

Motorcycle Engine work

Anthony working on the engine

I had to get the engine work done just after 29K kilometers because the engine oil leaked out during one of my long rides.
After riding with the experienced bikers like DBBR and Free Souls I am confident about driving with composure. As for pure thrill, I have found other means of living it and I would only do stunts at a place which is meant for them.

Narration of my HR Interview (Infosys)

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Following is an approximate narration of my HR interview with Infosys. The answers mentioned here need not be correct. But I managed to stay confident and somehow got selected. (I couldn’t remember all of it, but it’s nearly the same)

Note: Most of the questions are raised from your resume, so always have enough knowledge about each thing that you mention. I hope it can help.

“Good afternoon sir”

Good-afternoon, please have a seat.

“Thank you”

Fill up this sheet.

A sheet with columns for my rollno, name and signature was filled.

Give me your resume.

I opened the portfolio, took out the resume and handed over gently

So your father works in NTPC?

“No sir, my mother is a school teacher there and thus we are living in the quarter allotted to us.
My father is a businessman”

What kind of business?
“He deals with plastic bottles and their marketing”

Only marketing? No manufacturing?
“Manufacturing as well, but not on that level”

Interviewer analyzes the resume

What is this KPS?
“It is Kalka Public School in New Delhi, I lived there in a hostel during my +1 and +2.”

So what difference did you find in the hostel life?
“I learned a lot of things in the hostel, being independent and understanding people are some of them. Also, as I am the only child of my parents, I learned sharing stuff and adjusting with my room-mates there.”

Other than the unavailability of home-cooked food, what problems did you face in the hostel?

“I missed the guidance of my father, because at home he was always there for me guiding me through every walk of life. This was something I had to learn to live without.”

I am talking about the problems in your hostel.

“Oh! In the hostel itself, brooming and washing my clothes was a new thing for me as I never did it at home.”

So how did you manage?

“I learnt it eventually as I had no other option; moreover all my fellow hostellers were facing the same problems so we all helped each other.”

After what time did you wash your clothes? Once a month or once a week?
“Once a week, because I had enough clothes with me to manage for that period of time”

So how did you get into this University, via AIEEE or what?

“Yes, I came here through AIEEE. There was a counselling organized by PTU and as my rank was good enough, I got the seat here.”

So where are you living now?

“I live outside the university in a rented room as I couldn’t get the hostel in the first place due to the shortage of rooms”

How many roomies do you have?

“Earlier I was living alone, but now there are 3 of us.”

Who does the cleaning here? Do you have any turns for that?

“No sir, we don’t do it by turn. All three of us clean the room together once a week by dividing the work. Like… one of us would be brooming while the other would be cleaning the stuff, etc”

And what about the food; who cooks?

“None of us can cook, so we have our food outside. As the university allows us to open an account at the hostel mess, we used to eat there but these days we are relying on the outside restaurants and Dhabas, because we found that the food quality is good here.”

You didn’t find the food quality good in Delhi?

“We have all kind of food in Delhi and with pretty good quality as well. But the hygiene and quantity was not that good as compared to Punjab if we talk about it at the student level. I mean within my budget.”

And what kind of problems did you find here?

“I didn’t find many problems here, as the people are very helping and friendly. I made friends quickly and managed well. Of course the language problem was there at first because I didn’t know Punjabi, but I got over it soon.”

So how many friends do you have here?

“Well I don’t have an exact count of them coz there are many, actually I have been hanging out with a lot of people”

And what about good friends?

“Again there are many and for my birthday if I treat all of them, the count reaches about 40 easily. But if being together all the time is your concern, then there are just 3 of us.”

Which stream do you have here?

“Computer science”

You had it by choice or by default?

“By choice sir!”

Which is the mother branch of computer science?

I am not sure about that, but it is a kind of science. So maybe the mother branch is Science only”

(Please email me the correct answer at kushal.ashok@gmail.com)

So where did you do your summer training?

“I had my summer training at HCL CDC Ghaziabad and made a project using Dot NET, but I really enjoyed my training at MSME in Delhi, when I learned Mobile Phone repairing. We learned how to check all the components, by using the circuit diagram and a lot of other things.”

Do we have the same circuit diagram for all brands of mobile?

“No sir, each model has a different circuit diagram. Of course the components are mostly the same, but knowing the circuit is very important for repairing.”

Where do you get this circuit diagram from?

“All these are easily available at Gaffar market in Carol Bagh, Delhi. Rather one can buy the whole mobile repairing kit from there as it is the hub for mobile phones.”

So if we bring a mobile from America, can we make it work here in India?

“Yes sir, we can make it work, because the technology used behind is the same these days. The only difference might be coz of the radio frequencies.  If the phone supports enough frequency bands, we can make it happen. Also, there are certain codes and methods which can unlock the phone and make it work in a different scenario.”

What are the main causes of defects in a mobile?

“There are three major causes… moisture, dust and shock. For those with shock, we mostly need to check the components but we can try getting rid of the dust and moisture by cleaning the mobile with acetone.”

And you like motorcycling?

“Yes sir, it is my favourite hobby. I have joined a club in Delhi and we organize various trips which are open to all. Generally the motorcycling clubs have some restrictions like… you need to own a particular kind of bike like Royal Enfield. But we never had such restrictions in our club.”

But one still need to have a motorcycle to join, right?

“Yes sir, but one can be a pillion rider as well and we encourage and arrange the rides for those who don’t have a vehicle but want to join”

Do you have 2-stroke or 4 stroke bikes?

“2 stroke motorcycles are not in the market sir, most of them are 4 stroke”

What do you mean by 4 stroke?

Sorry sir, I do not have the answer for that. But I always try to learn more and more by paying attention and learning from my mechanic when I get my bike serviced.”

(The four strokes refer to intake, compression, combustion (power), and exhaust cycles that occur during two crankshaft rotations per power cycle of the four cycle engines. reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-stroke_engine )

But as you are so much interested in motorcycling, you must know this right?

“Definitely sir, but I am still learning and as you have mentioned it I am certainly going to Google it when I get back home.”

Which bike do you have?

“I have a Bajaj XCD right now”

What is the horse power that it provides?

“It’s around 12 bhp”

What do you understand by rpm? And how does it affect a bike?

“It is rotations per minute. When one needs to buy a bike, the one which can produce more bhp at lesser rpm is considered to be more powerful. Also there is a bore to stroke ratio which is directly proportional to the engine’s output. The bore means diameter of the cylinder bore and stroke is the length through which the piston moves.”

Ok. Do you have any questions?

“No sir”

Thank you

“Thank you sir, it was really nice talking to you”

Delhi Bikers Breakfast Run (Hodal)

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Click here to visit the corresponding Flickr Set

Alarm was ringing, I was about to snooze it when I suddenly recalled I had to leave for the breakfast run. I threw away the blanket and jumped out of my bed as I was 40 min behind my schedule. After stuffing the backpack with an extra pair of clothes I left in haste. The distance (60km) which takes about 1:30 hours to cover was covered in just 50 minutes.

I was wearing a plastic sheet over my shirt and was soaked from gloves to socks because it was raining cats and dogs in the area I came from. I reached the meeting point on time and was so charged up (or rather lost I should say) that I applied the brakes at the very last moment which made my motorcycle skid in a drifting fashion. I was kind of embarrassed as it was perceived that stunts were not encouraged here at all. But I got over it as Joshua came and shook hands to welcome me. I mentioned that it wasn’t done on purpose.

Soon, it was time to mingle with other riders as I started talking about usual stuff like whether it was their first run and all. To get rid of the wetness I changed at the rear side of the petrol pump. (This is where my extra pair of clothes got utilized) This also gave me the time to arrange my regular stuff like waist bag, camera, mobile phones, earphones and wrist watch etc.

We just got the morning tea served when the Harley Davidsons and Suzuki Hayabusas drove in. It’s always a treat to eyes watching the HDs rolling. They parked the motorcycles with as much respect as they deserved and it was soon like an Auto-Expo with flashes coming from all the sides. Of course this was the time to draw out my digital camera and start clicking; and so I did:

I just couldn’t get enough of it as I kept clicking them from different angles:


My dream bike was right in front of my eyes; Hayabusa which was the fastest motorcycle (248 mph/397 kmph) in the world until the freaking Dodge Tomahawk (350mph/560 kmph) came in. (Although I don’t consider it as a motorcycle coz it’s more like a 4 tyre Quad)
Then I heard a whistle and I knew it was party time. Joshua was standing on the pavement announcing the procedure and rules. Almost all the things were already mentioned in the message we all received on facebook; except from the fact that we were being served omelette in Hodal. With all due respect to my favourite breakfast, I would like to add that I was very less excited about it, as there were some other things propelling in my mind already.

We were supposed to drive in a 2X2 fashion with the headlights set at low beam. I was lucky enough to get space beside an HD whose pillion was a kid (as much equipped as the rider); and the whole setting seemed perfect. We drove together up to the next stop which was about 40km away from our destination and it was indeed a pleasure for me.

This is where my friend Sameer joined us who suggested the HD’s logo to be clicked:

He was riding a Yamaha Fz and the helmet and gears gave him a pure wheeler look. We decided to get ahead of all so that we could record the campaign, and certainly we got a magnificent video recording (which I might be uploading after some editing). We reached Hodal in no time and managed to get these clicks:

Soon it was time to have the breakfast and we all moved into a hall where all the arrangements were already made. There I met the HD rider (whom I drove with) as he somehow recognized me. :/ He (Mr. Titus Koshy) was so down to earth and friendly that he earned my respect in no time. I told him about my trips to some hill stations like Morni Hills, Chakrata, Tiger falls and Hatkoti as he listened patiently. I learned a lot from him as well. He told me about various things a biker should take care of. I even got a picture with him while we were coming back to Delhi:

Not to mention; he was not the only one who was humble and easy to break the ice with. As Sameer had to leave early, I talked with new mates and now I am having lot of new riders in my friend list.

There was also a guy named ‘Swapnil’ who made the environment quite musical by using his guitar and singing.

After the breakfast, we went outside to enjoy the view of lake where gooses were already waiting for my camera:

And then after stretching our backs we were ready to motor again. Although some of us went to different destinations like Agra and Vrindavan there were still many motorcycles lined up all smoking. This time I made sure that I’d be the last guy to leave as I wanted to get more photographs.

Although they vanished like mountain fog I reached them in no time. As it was getting hot I decided to get back to my usual driving style as I started taking over the lots. Although I did try to drive along the royal HDs for a while I guess me and Vishal were among the very first ones to reach Delhi. This was an unforgettable experience for me and perfectly served my motorcycling ardour.