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.